Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fermented Cabbage Experiment...aka Sauerkraut!

After reading Nourishing Traditions, I wanted to try my hand at fermented veggies.  I learned they were super healthy.  I learned they were simple to make.  I just was a bit scared of the process.

My parents bought me an awesome fermenting crock for Christmas last year.  It's been sitting on my counter since then, waiting for me to get brave.  I finally did!  The beautiful cabbages of fall were calling my name, and I knew it was time.

Check out this huge cabbage!
I consulted blogs and articles on the topic.  I was looking for open crock methods, since that's what I had.  I finally combined what I learned, and just jumped in.

I chopped my cabbage by hand since I don't have a food processor or mandolin.  A good washing took place and I started layering some good quality sea salt and cabbage in my crock.  Most recipes called for the cabbage to be pounded. 

Nothing in my kitchen looked suitable for pounding, so I washed my hands and arms and dug in.  I squished.  I squeezed.  I massaged.  The juices started flowing.  I let it sit for about half an hour.  Then I worked on it again.

By this time, the juices were covering the cabbage, so I moved on.  I stuck a kitchen plate over the cabbage and weighed it down with two quart jars full of water.  The brine rose above the plate, and all the cabbage stayed submerged.  I threw a kitchen towel over the top and forgot about it for a couple of weeks. was time to be brave again.  I used a measuring cup to scoop out all of the liquid on top that had been exposed to air.  It was stinky!  In fact...I was planning on the kids helping me.  But when I saw the look on their face in response to the smell I changed my mind.  They enjoyed some extra play time and I worked with my sauerkraut. 

After I removed all the extra liquid, I stuck a knife in and pried the plate up.  My cabbage had turned really pale.  I picked up a piece and gave it a try.  Definitely salty.  I guess I went overboard with my layering.  Otherwise, it had a distinct tang.  I think it is something I will learn to enjoy.  In small portions. 

I scooped the sauerkraut out and stuck it into plastic containers for the fridge.  I need to  bring more jars up from the basement and wash them.  I feel better about long term food storage in glass than plastic.  Project for another day.

I'm super thankful to have made a successful batch.  It doesn't seem quite as scary now.  No weird molds blossomed or anything. 

More fermented veggies will definitely be in my future.  Do you have any recipes you recommend?

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