While driving through Southern Indiana, I stopped at a small antique/ junk shop. in hopes of finding handmade objects that reflect the culture, aesthetics and values of the communities that I visit. I rummaged through boxes of several old tools, religious memorabilia (it was a historically Catholic community). In the back o t the store, I found an unusual contraption, a turnip kraut cutter. I had had turnip kraut before, as it seems to be a popular side dish in Dubois County, Indiana, where I was. I had heard several stories from locals about how turnip kraut and turtle soup were the local delicacy looks like a cross between spaghetti and sour kraut. The cutter produces long noodle-like strands of turnips, which are pickled. Now, I am not a big “turnip” fan. My feeling is that the best part of a turnip grows above ground and I like it cooked like spinach, but, if I have to eat turnip roots, turnip kraut is the best way I have found.
While a traditional “kraut cutter” for cabbage based kraut is a board and cradle that slides the cabbage over several blades that shred the cabbage, a turnip kraut cutter is a hand-cranked utensil that turns the turnip over a segmented blade cutting it into long strings. I understand this is a traditional German dish, but I have had something very similar in a Korean restaurant.
Once while I was doing research for podcast about turtle soup, the bartender told my friends and me that a menstruating woman could not make kraut because it would not ferment correctly. I don’t know about that, but I am sure it helped many women get out of this time consuming craft, who really didn’t want to do it.
While my first instinct was to buy this artifact, I am in a “12-step” program to stop buying folk crafts and handmade tools (that I will never use). My aim is that my wife can park her car in the garage next winter. Instead, I took a picture of the cutter to share on my blog. I would love to hear more comments about turnip kraut. Also, feel free to post your pictures and recipes.