A lot of cabbage was grown in the Amana kitchen gardens, primarily to make sauerkraut for use in the communal kitchens as well as for sale outside of the colony. Seasons of Plenty by Emilie Hoppe relates that in 1900 the kitchen garden for the Ruedy Kitchen in Middle Amana alone produced 100 gallons of sauerkraut for kitchen use, with another 165 gallons being sold to markets as far away as Chicago.
A common way to use this kraut was to substitute it for fresh, shredded cabbage when making German coleslaw, which uses a vinegar-sugar dressing and avoids the use of mayonnaise. While this dish was commonly served in the communal kitchens and remains a frequent accompaniment to meals in modern Amana restaurants, sadly no recipe for it is found in either Amana Colony Recipes or Seasons of Plenty.
Instead, the recipe below is adapted from one found in The Best of the Open Line, a wonderful collection of eastern Iowa recipes. The Open Line began in 1963 as a live call-in radio show in which listeners were able to share their favorite recipes with all the other listeners within the broadcast radius of Cedar Rapids AM Radio Station WMT. So many good recipes had been sent out over the airwaves that by 1969 the show’s host, Jim Lloyd, started publishing them in a series of three cookbooks.The recipe which inspired the following appeared in the initial cookbook in this series, and was shared by an Iowa City listener. Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa and initial state capitol, is one of the closest cities to the Amana Colonies, being only 25 miles distant.
• 1/3 cup canola oil
• 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
• 1 cup sugar
• 2-1/2 pounds sauerkraut rinsed and squeezed dry
• 1/2 cup chopped onions
• 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
• 1/2 cup chopped red peppers
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1/2 cup carrots cut into small dice
• 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1. Beat oil, vinegar, and sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Combine remaining ingredients and pour syrup over mixed ingredients. Stir to coat all ingredients well and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
Note: Do not use canned sauerkraut unless you want your salad to taste like a can. Rather, use fresh-homemade kraut, or store-bought sealed in glass jars or in plastic bags.