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.

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3 Comments on Cut the Kraut (or Jon’s Artifactual Discretion)

  1. Beth Vannatta says:

    We have 2 kraut cutters, brought over from Germany over 100 years ago. The family has been using them regularly since then to make kraut. We love it. Our cutters are not so bulky as the one you show, more stream lined.

  2. david blessinger says:

    I am from Dubois County and our family has a very old turnip kraut cutter that I used growing up. It is similar in design but not as bulky or rounded wood. They still sell new cutters for $200 at the hardware store on the courthouse square in Jasper In.

  3. jerry longville says:

    Can you steer me where I can buy one. My parents had one that was probably 100 years old,but it wore itself out.Our girls remember when we made some and would like to have more.

    Thanks very much

    Jerry

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