The Food Issue

Hoganville Family Farms specializes in naturally fermented sauerkraut

When Ray Rome (pronounced “RO-mee”) was a kid in Pratt, Kan., his extended family would gather once a year at a wash house behind his uncle’s home in Hays, Kan., to make

sauerkraut

the old-fashioned way.

The German recipe, handed down through generations, called for cutting the cabbage by hand and letting it ferment for 10 days to two weeks in clean trash cans, then packing it into jars and canning it using the hot-water bath method.

As an adult, Rome continued making kraut for more than 30 years, giving it away to friends and relatives. When he retired, he decided to open a business with his jarred kraut.

In 2011 he started

Hoganville Family Farms

, working out of a commercial kitchen in Baldwin City, Kan. Rome’s kraut, which retails for $6 to $7 per 32-ounce jar, was so successful he outgrew his production facility and moved to the K-State Research and Extension Center in Olathe.

Last year, Rome moved to Olathe to be closer to his children. Hoganville is a true family firm, with Rome’s wife, Susan, and the couple’s four children, Tracie Rome, Maleia Lake, Jeff Rome and Mindy Brenner, all involved in production, sales and bookkeeping.

Even though Rome made 14,000 jars last year, his is still a seasonal product. The kraut is made once a year in fall when the cabbage he buys from farmers in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri is ready to be harvested. Rome’s kraut is thicker-cut and milder-tasting than most commercial varieties, which use vinegar instead of natural fermentation to achieve a tangy flavor.

Hoganville kraut is sold at selected grocery stores and on the company’s website.

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