Saturday, August 24, 2013

Our Sauerkraut

There are hundreds of recipes out there for sauerkraut. But if you have never made it before, it's very intimidating. Especially if you let it sit for a week before you check it and find the dreaded MOLD on it. It's scary, your mom probably didn't teach you how to make it, but what else can you do with all of the cabbage your garden produced?? My recipe will be no better than anyone elses, but perhaps I can give you encouragement to just try it out.

I have made sauerkraut for about the last 5 years, it was my first fermented vegetable. Fermented veggies are all the rage, it seems, and it's a good thing! The more people who do it and experiment with it, the more we all can learn! I just fermented my very first zucchini pickles last Saturday and they are fan-freaking-tastic.

Our Sauerkraut:

One large head of cabbage, about 5 lbs.
3 Tbl of sea salt

Slice cabbage into nice small strips, use a mandolin or slice by hand.

As you chop you can add a tablespoon of salt as you fill up a large bowl. You should have added about 3T of salt by the time the bowl is full, mix up the cabbage, and "punch" it down a bit. You actually want to beat up your vegetable. You can let this sit for an hour or more or put it in your crock or jar right away.

I used a 1/2 gallon jar this year and it worked great. I have a giant wooden pestle from Brazil my friend brought back for me. There it's used to crush sugar cane in their drinks but here in Alaska, we use it for smashing cabbage. Use a wooden spoon if you don't have one or your fist works too, the name on Amazon for the tool I use appears to be a Bar Muddler. Smash your cabbage into the jar. You should have plenty of brine rise up above the cabbage, but if you don't make a salt brine with 4 cups of water to 3 Tbs salt. Heat to dissolve the salt then let it cool before you add it to your cabbage.

This year I made my own fermentation lock lid, it worked pretty well, but I really don't know that it's necessary. If you put it in a jar (put something under to catch the juice) check your kraut after it stops bubbling (abut 3 or 4 days). It should not have molded, try some, you'll like it. If you see moldy stuff, pick it off the top. Fill the jar up with more brine (keep some brine in the fridge) or just shove your kraut back down. Put the kraut in a cool place (I keep mine in my garage) and you can always stick it into the fridge, but it'll keep fermenting and getting better tasting if it's not too cold.

Here's my kraut "posing" for the picture. The fermentation lock was put into the top of a mason jar lid using a 1/2 inch punch and the grommet you can buy with the lock on amazon or at a wine making shop.

There are lots of other methods for fermenting your kraut, but this is what I had so I used it! I ordered myself a Harsch Crock, I'm so excited for it to get here! I have a ton of cabbage this year!

I have cabbage, hear me roar!

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