Saturday, April 23, 2016

FERMENTING CABBAGE TO MAKE SAUERKRAUT



By now, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of probiotic fermentation. It’s a new food “trend” with ancient roots. It refers to a traditional way of preserving food without canning or freezing.

Sauerkraut (German word for sour cabbage) is one of those delicious fermented foods that you can make for yourself in fair-sized quantities. Sure, you would need to do some foot (and hand) work to prepare this healthy food but the results should be well worth the effort.

Now, I’ve been reminded a lot that people, in general, either really like or are completely disgusted with sauerkraut. Beyond that, cabbage, however it's served up, is cheap, healthy, and available almost any time during the year. And in my opinion, that makes cabbage just about a miracle food. And, for people who like sauerkraut, having a couple of gallons of the stuff in the refrigerator is always a real plus.

And almost all the recipes for this food are simple and have the same few ingredients – salt, cabbage and water.  And that's about as minimalist as any recipe can be. There are, of course, a number of possible additions to the basic recipe and personal experimentation is the best way to go.

I’m including a sauerkraut recipe that I’ve used. Actually, it was a friend's recipe. (Thank you, Beth Ann.) She and her husband visited us for a few days, and this was my motivation for getting all this done. It’s very basic recipe but can be endlessly elaborated on.
Everything in the jar and weighted down. Then, the wait begins.


You’ll need a large fermentation crock or glass jar. Sauerkraut can be started up in just a couple of hours. Chopping is the biggest task. 

If you like sauerkraut with a crunch, you could eat it straight from the jar after about two weeks.
Otherwise, you can taste it from time to time, after the first two weeks, to see when it gets the flavor that you are looking for. You'll find it's in its most traditional form and flavor - salty, pungent and acidic - after settling in for a month or so. And it's so much better than the canned stuff.

Sauerkraut recipe

2 large heads of cabbage

2 large onions

6 garlic cloves

salt (any kind but natural sea salt is best)

filtered water

2 large carrots (optional)

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, celery seeds, or dill weed (optional)

How-to
Cut finely or shred the vegetables into a big pot. Put in an inch or two of veggies into the crock or large glass jar and add a teaspoon of salt, sprinkling it around. Then put in another layer. Add salt and so forth until all the veggies are covered. Add enough filtered water to cover the veggies. Stir the mixture to make sure the salt is evenly spread throughout. 

Press down on the veggies with a small plate and some weighted object (could be a stone) and check every few hours to see that the cabbage water level is above the cabbage. Cover with a cloth to keep out flies and dust. Let stand for two days in an area that is neither hot nor cold. Then refrigerate for a week and taste the product. If it’s tasty enough at that tine, go ahead and start eating it. Or wait a few more days or another week. This fermented food lasts for a month or so in the refrigerator. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor. 

Hint: A favorite combo in my family is sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with cornbread and pinto beans.

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