Products and Consumption

In the United States, there are essentially only three fermented vegetable products that are produced and consumed on a large scale basis. These include sauerkraut, pickles, and olives. The raw materials for these products—cabbage, cucumbers, and olives—are high moisture foods, with little protein or fat (except for olives), and just enough fermentable carbohydrate to support a fermentation (Table 7-1).

Other fermented vegetables, such as peppers, cauliflower, and green tomatoes, are also produced, but these are not nearly as popular (at least in the West).There are also many acidified or pickled vegetable products that are made by adding mixtures of vinegar, salt, and flavoring materials to fresh vegetables. In fact, most of the pickle products consumed in the United States are not fermented, but rather are simply "pickled" by packing fresh cucumbers in vinegar or salt brines (discussed later). Likewise, most of the olives consumed in the United States are similarly produced.

Although more than 800 million Kg of fermented vegetables are produced annually in the United States, on a per capita basis, Americans are not particularly heavy consumers of fermented vegetables. In the United States, per capita consumption of sauerkraut for the past ten years has averaged about 0.6 Kg. Another 0.5 Kg of olives are also consumed. Although per capita U.S. consumption of pickles is somewhat higher, at about 4 Kg, less than half of those pickles are of the fermented variety. In contrast, Germans eat about 1.8 Kg of sauerkraut per person per year, and Syrians eat nearly 6 Kg of fermented olives. Remarkably, Koreans consume more than 43 Kg per year of kimchi (or 120 g per day!).

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