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It's Grünkohl season in (North) Germany!

It's Grünkohl season in (North) Germany!

Nov 22, 2021

For #FoodFriday we are looking at a North German favorite: 𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹 (kale).

𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹 literally means ‘green cabbage’, but it also goes by the name of 𝗕𝗿𝗮𝘂𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹 (brown cabbage), 𝗞𝗿𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹 (curly cabbage), or 𝗪𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹 (winter cabbage). Like the last name suggests, it is a vegetable that is harvested and enjoyed throughout the winter months.

Most people who grow kale wait until the first frost and longer low temperatures before they pick the kale. When it’s colder the metabolic processes slow down but through photosynthesis the leaves still produce glucose making the kale sweeter. You can’t reproduce these effects by storing your kale in the freezer.

Grünkohl with Kassler, Pinkel, and potatoes. By @mygraphx on pixabay

𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹 (with sugar or mustard) is eaten with

𝗕𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗸𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗹𝗻 (fried potatoes) or 𝗦𝗮𝗹𝘇𝗸𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗹𝗻 (salted boiled potatoes) or 𝘀𝘂̈ß𝗲 𝗞𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗹𝗻 (caramelized potatoes)

and the following meat options:

𝗞𝗮𝘀𝘀(𝗲)𝗹𝗲𝗿 (smoked pork chops),

𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝘁𝘇𝘄𝘂𝗿𝘀𝘁 (goetta, grits sausage),

𝗞𝗼𝗵𝗹𝘄𝘂𝗿𝘀𝘁 or 𝗟𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗻𝘄𝘂𝗿𝘀𝘁 (smoked bratwurst made from lung, pork, and fat),

𝗕𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗲𝗻𝘄𝘂𝗿𝘀𝘁 (smoked mettwurst made from pork, pork belly, onion, salt and pepper).

In Bremen, the meal is called “𝗞𝗼𝗵𝗹 𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝗣𝗶𝗻𝗸𝗲𝗹” and refers to kale with 𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝘁𝘇𝘄𝘂𝗿𝘀𝘁.

Especially in November and December, many friends, family, co-workers, and clubs meet for a 𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗻 (kale meal) in restaurants. This tradition is mostly limited to Northern Germany. Though you will occasionally find kale and sausage offered on Christmas markets, like the Dresdner Striezelmarkt. (see photo)

Grünkohl and sausage on the Dresdner Striezelmarkt. Dr. Bernd Gross - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In Northern Germany you might also see groups of people with a 𝗕𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗿𝘄𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗻 (handcart, also used on Father Day’s tours), walking through the landscape, throwing a small rubber ball, stopping to take a drink (hot and/or alcoholic), possibly singing. These people are on a 𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗳𝗮𝗵𝗿𝘁 or 𝗞𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗳𝗮𝗵𝗿𝘁 or “kale or cabbage walk” which ends with a 𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗻. Sometimes a 𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗸𝗼̈𝗻𝗶𝗴 or 𝗚𝗿𝘂̈𝗻𝗸𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗸𝗼̈𝗻𝗶𝗴𝗶𝗻 is elected.

These 𝗞𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗳𝗮𝗵𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗻 were first organized by sports club, more specifically Gymnastics clubs, in the late 19th century. The Oldenburger Turnerbund calls itself the inventor of the 𝗞𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗳𝗮𝗵𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗻.

Nowadays, you can organize it yourself with a group of friends or co-workers, or take part in walks organized by restaurants and clubs.

Grünkohl in Ostfriesland, By Matthias Süßen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

#grünkohl #grünkohlessen #kohlundpinkel #germancuisine

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