Ferment That Cruciferous Stuff

Day 30: Kerplunk! Got the younger kidling to school, tucked the (sick) kidling into bed, cleaned the kitchen. Took down the awful, silly valance over the kitchen window. Have Small, Quiet Thoughts of things to do with the bare cupboard ends on either side of the window. Hm.

In other news, it’s official, I’ve become obsessed with sauerkraut. Homemade sauerkraut, not the store-bought stuff. Fermenting my own cabbage is not nearly as scary as I thought it would be, despite the stench when one first opens up the fermenting crock. It’s a very distinctive stench, too. But the end result is so tasty, I don’t even mind.

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(Please ignore the mess behind the jars. Thank you.)

My next experiment is with Savoy cabbage added to the mix. After that, I’m going to try red cabbage. I am Very Excited about the fermentation.

The process is hella easy, too: I cut the cabbage in half, make a triangular cut to take out the core, then run it through the food processor for a nice uniform shred. 1Tb of canning/pickling salt per head of cabbage, toss it all together, then it goes into the fermenting crock. (I found a nice one here.) Tuck the weights in to keep the vegetable mass underwater, add some water so that the weights are covered, throw the top on, and fill the water channel up top. I check the water channel daily, and have become quite fond of the little burping bubbling sound that means the sauer is krauting.

Some recipes call for squeezing the salted cabbage with your bare paws until it’s wept enough fluid to cover itself. I did that once or twice, but then my hands got raw and I figured I could just add water to make the brine, so why bother? Plus, I like my sauerkraut crunchy-crunchy-crunchy. It may make for a slightly longer ferment time (a week and a half, sometimes two-three weeks before I jar it, I know that’s “young” but I like the taste of it that way) but I’m okay with that in exchange for the easier prep. That crock can hold two good-sized heads of cabbage if I pack it tightly, about a head and a half if I don’t have time for the packing. I considered getting a bigger one, but I don’t eat it THAT much.

Yet.

Leave it alone, and it’ll ferment just fine. It’s really just that simple. I don’t know why it took me this long to get around to it, and honestly I wouldn’t have tried it if I hadn’t read that article on good gut bacteria liking home-fermented stuff a lot. (Any weight loss will probably be incidental, since I’ve seemed to have stabilized where my body wants to be. Plus, all the running.)

The brined cabbage (remember that?) turned out okay. The vinegariness wasn’t quite what I wanted, though it was fine for cucumbers, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots. (ESPECIALLY the carrots.) I like the fermenting much, much better for cabbage, and have given away a few jars of the stuff already. So far it’s met with a very enthusiastic reception. Although the kids won’t eat it.

Good. More for me.

Over and out!

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Colleen Champagne
Colleen Champagne

Red cabbage makes a very nice sweet and sour cabbage. I wonder if it needs to ferment? I know it can be “canned”. Yum. I love a good sauerkraut.

Helen
Helen

Sauerkraut is one of those foods I’ve never eaten, and because of that I’ve never bought it either. I’ve never been sure just how it is supposed to be served. Do you just eat it straight, or use it as a condiment, or as an ingredient in other dishes?

Lili
Lili

I use it as a condiment, albeit liberally. I like to pile it on pita chips and eat it for a snack, or pile it on a braut or hotdog. Rich, fatty meats are a good complement to homemade sauerkraut. I also like it on piled on fresh rye bread, with butter and a pinch of salt.

Now I’m hungry…

wolflahti
wolflahti

I’ve gotten very domestic lately, making sauerkraut, yogurt, prune jelly, apple jelly/sauce/juice, and grape juice—all organic from my own trees (except the sauerkraut; the cabbage I got from the grocer’s, as I have yet to plant a cabbage tree). I’ve never heard of working cabbage with one’s hands; I pound the shredded cabbage with a small mason jar. Works wonderfully to release the juices. Fry some brats or sliced Polish sausage in some oil, toss in a bunch of kraut and sauté a bit, add chicken broth, and simmer till most of the fluid is gone. I also add a… Read more »

Lili
Lili

The turn of the season makes me feel a lot more domestic.

Angelika Monkberg
Angelika Monkberg

German housewifes (if they ever do their own sauerkraut) use a stomping tool made of wood. But it comes mostly in cans or even convenience.

Jill
Jill

I always made it in a 5 gallon paint bucket (Clean of course). You layer the cabbage then the salt and pound it with a large wooden spoon or a mallet or a potato masher, and keep going until it’s full, then you stick it somewhere dark for a month or two and voila’! Fabulous sauerkraut!