Krispi Kraut keeps to ba­sics

South Shore Breaker - - Front Page - SUZANNE RENT

In a brown-painted build­ing on High­way 3 out­side of Lunen­burg, the Rho­d­enizer fam­ily of Krispi Kraut carry on a re­gional tra­di­tion.

Two staff mem­bers stuff car­tons with sauer­kraut that’s sit­ting in large tubs. Each car­ton is weighed and then even­tu­ally de­liv­ered to stores.

An­other ma­chine helps as­sem­ble the car­tons, al­though some cus­tomers buy sauer­kraut by the bucket.

The pro­duc­tion process here is the same as when it all started in 1976 with one recipe from Hovey Slauen­white, who made sauer­kraut with cabbages he bought from the Rho­d­eniz­ers.

“He wanted some­one to make sauer­kraut like he did,” Kevin Rho­den­zier says. “And the rest is his­tory.”

The Rho­d­eniz­ers started mak­ing Slauen­white’s sauer­kraut in 1976. They opened their cur­rent plant in 1978. Back then, they were grow­ing about 6,000 cabbages a year. Now, they grow about 100,000 cabbages, with about 70,000 of those go­ing to the pro­duc­tion of sauer­kraut.

Slauen­white used to fer­ment his sauer­kraut in wooden bar­rells. The Rho­d­eniz­ers, how­ever, mix all the in­gre­di­ents into fiber­glass tanks where it fer­ments for three weeks.

Kevin says they pro­duce about 7,000 to 8,000 pounds of sauer­kraut each week. Their sauer­kraut is sold at Sobeys, Lo- blaws and small in­de­pen­dent stores around Nova Sco­tia and at some stores across the Mar­itimes.

Krispi Kraut is a fam­ily af­fair. The com­pany is owned by Paul Rho­d­enizer. Glen Rho­d­enizer, Kevin’s cousin, is fill­ing in for Kevin, who is re­cov­er­ing from a stroke he suf­fered last sum­mer. Glen’s adult chil­dren, Jes­sica and Justin help out, too, with Jes­sica fill­ing the car­tons and Justin mak­ing de­liv­er­ies.

When he’s not at the sauer­kraut plant, Glen grows the cab­bage or milks the cows at the fam­ily’s dairy farm nearby.

Sauer­kraut’s ori­gins go back hun­dreds of years. Lo­cally, farm­ers made it on Tan­cook Is­land where they grew their own

cab­bage and made sauer­kraut in wooden bar­rells. Each recipe is dif­fer­ent, de­pend­ing on the amount of each in­gre­di­ent used and the process. Krispi Kraut’s recipe is all nat­u­ral and a milder ver­sion of sauer­kraut.

Sauer­kraut has long had health ben­e­fits, first as a way to pre­vent scurvy amongst crew mem­bers on ships. But Glen says sauer­kraut is a pro­bi­otic and great for gut health for those who’ve taken an­tibi­otics. He ate it af­ter a long course of an­tibi­otics for Lyme dis­ease. Sauer­kraut is also high in vi­ta­mins A, K, C and B12 and fo­lates.

Sauer­kraut can be eaten raw or as a hot side dish. Glen’s mother, Althea, mixes it with brown sugar. Glen says there’s a choco­late cake recipe that in­cludes sauer­kraut, too. Tra­di­tion­ally, it’s known as a fall and win­ter food, but the Rho­d­eniz­ers say their sum­mer sales are now the same as their win­ter sales Kevin says when they first started mak­ing sauer­kraut, they thought the de­mand would die off as older con­sumers did.

“The buy lo­cal move­ment re­ally helped us,” Kevin says. “Peo­ple want to know what they’re eat­ing.”

The Rho­d­eniz­ers in­her­ited an­other recipe sev­eral years ago, this one for turnip kraut, which is made in a sim­i­lar process as the sauer­kraut, but has a dif­fer­ent taste, thanks to the rutabaga. That recipe came from Char­lotte Bach- mann, who lived on Heck­man’s Is­land, who taught Kevin how to make it. Glen says turnip kraut doesn’t sell as much as the sauer­kraut and its big­gest fans seem to live on the South Shore.

“We run out of turnip kraut,” Glen says. “It seems like the peo­ple who like it re­ally like it.”

Kevin says while sauer­kraut is an ac­quired taste, he en­cour­ages the skep­tics to give it a try.

“The first time you may not like it, but the sec­ond time you’ll think it’s great,” Kevin says.

Suzanne Rent

Jes­sica Rho­d­enizer, left, packs Krispi Kraut sauer­kraut into car­tons while her fa­ther, Glen Rho­d­enizer, su­per­vises the plant out­side of Lunen­burg.

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