Before we get into how we make our vegan pierogi flavor, we have to answer the question of how our Cabbage Mushroom pierogi became vegan in the first place. Can we say it is authentically Polish?
Turns out, the Poles have been eating vegan meals for hundreds of years on special holidays. On Christmas Eve, they celebrate the "Wigilia" dinner which is a vegan meal due to a long-time Roman Catholic Church mandate that a strict fast and abstinence be observed on the day before Christmas. Although the Church laws have changed, the traditional meal remains meatless and dairy free. One of the most celebrated menu items on this holiday is Cabbage, Sauerkraut, and Mushroom Pierogi. In fact, the family sits around the table making this delicate pierogi all day for the evening feast!
So, we would like to take credit for finding a creative way to make our pierogi vegan, but it turns out that Polish tradition helped us out. In fact, it was our vegan customers that were surprised at the flavor and suggested that we let all vegans know that they can now enjoy an easy to make meal that is free of dairy, eggs, and meat! And for our specific recipe, we have to thank our grandma (babcia).
This is one the first questions when people try our Mushroom & Cabbage vegan Pierogi. If you have ever been to Poland, Germany, or other Eastern European countries, you will notice that their sauerkraut does not have the strong vinegar taste. This is because they use the slower fermentation process with just water and salt, no vinegar. Most vinegar-based sauerkraut is made by using a "fresh-pack" or "quick process sauerkraut" that is made by the addition of an acid such as vinegar and not by the slow natural fermentation of the vegetable. The tart flavor of these easily prepared products is due to the acetic acid in vinegar. In this process, not only do you lose some of the incredible health benefits of true fermented cabbage, but you get a distinctly different taste--the kind that makes you pucker when you take a bite!
Real sauerkraut is just slightly acidic. When making our vegan pierogi, we did not want to compromise any ingredient to guarantee the real taste of home-made Polish Pierogi -- the kind that has a succulent flavor and delicate texture found in Poland. To do so, we found a gourmet Sauerkraut company that is based right here in Sonoma, CA. They make sauerkraut the old fashioned way, from just salt and water!
The other important requirement for us is that the sauerkraut had to have no additives and no preservatives -- which is also very difficult to find, even from brands imported from Poland. Luckily, our supplier also added no preservatives in their sauerkraut, allowing us to deliver a truly healthy pierogi. Although buying this type of high quality ingredient makes our products much more expensive, we felt our customers would appreciate it. As the saying goes, we are what we eat!
After many attempts to get the right mix of ingredients--caramelized onions, meaty crimini mushrooms, caraway seeds, fresh cabbage, and real sauerkraut--that truly mimicked our Babcia's pierogi from Poland, we finally settled on a final product with amazing results. We secretly let people try it that didn't like sauerkraut, including men, children, and even a few 90 year olds! All of them loved it, they had NO IDEA they were eating sauerkraut. It had a nice acidic balance that just cabbage can't provide, but not too much even for small kids. When we told them it was sauerkraut, they actually could not believe it: "But I hate sauerkraut, and I love this Pierogi! That can't be so..."
So one of our first types of pierogi was born. The problem now is that many people still have a strong negative prejudice towards sauerkraut and won't even try a product with that word on the package. So, in order to help people along, we decided to label this flavor "Mushroom & Cabbage Pierogi." For those of you "in the know," you can keep this our little secret. Don't tell your kids, just serve it up and watch the reaction. Only later you can tell them what they are truly eating. And, it will make for one great conversation topic at the dinner table!
To learn more about this vegan product, visit our Cabbage Mushroom Pierogi page.