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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sauerkraut!

This is how I do my kraut. I know that I do it a bit differently than classic kraut, but I get good results :-)
Just so you know, classic kraut is simply shredded cabbage pounded until the juice is released and tossed with plenty of salt. That's too much work for me, lol! So I decided to try the brine method.

First, start with cabbage. I LOVE Sauerkraut, so I make a lot. I usually buy four small to medium sized heads of cabbage - because organic cabbage seems to just be smaller in general, shrugs. I'll put two in each gallon sized glass jar, and IF I remember, I toss between a half and a whole garlic bulb (six or so big cloves) and some dill weed into the jar as I shred the cabbage and stuff it into the jar. I use a food processor for quick and easy shredding, but I recently saw a mandolin that put my food processor to shame!

(This time around, I used onion too :-) )

After shredding the cabbage and packing it into the glass jar, I toss 4 heaping spoonfuls - like regular spoons, the kind you'd eat breakfast with... - of RealSalt brand sea salt into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, then I fill it up and stir it to dissolve the salt before pouring the whole thing into the jar. Then I fill and repeat - adding more water to the jar until it reaches the top.

After my first batch, someone suggested using plastic lids from things like yogurt containers to help keep the cabbage under the water. This is VERY important since the stuff that floats on top can very easily attract mold. Plus, the actual fermentation is anaerobic, meaning without oxygen. That means that your kraut NEEDS to be under the water in order to ferment properly.

So, once the lid is in place, I add more water until I know that it will stay submerged. The salt and water mix is the brine, and it does it's job :-)

Just so you know, many many many experts will tell you that as an anaerobic ferment, kraut should be fermented in a SEALED container, BUT every time I have tried that, I've gotten mold. Instead, I put a paper towel over the mouth of my jar, and then put a lid on that. The paper towel allows the ferment to offgas (avoiding explosions) and breathe (allowing in helpful wild yeasts and whatnot), all while keeping bugs out. Doing it this way, I've not once had a batch go bad..... except when the paper towel somehow formed a seal between the jar and the lid. That batch got a bad case of pink mold and had to be tossed out.

SOOO, in my mind, the cabbage under the brine creates the anaerobic environment, and the loose seal allows in the little bit of air that is needed for wild yeasties and other friends to come join the party :-D

My current batch of kraut. One gallon is garlic and onion, and the other is onion and dill.

Once my jars are packed and "sealed," I place them into a pan to catch the "spit up," lol! Then I let it sit undisturbed for at least a week. After that - not only has it stopped spitting up, but the cabbage has softened just enough that I can pack it into smaller containers for easier storage on my counter. At this point, I start eating it, enjoying how it tastes as it continues to ferment and change :-)

If there's any left at the 6 week mark, I transfer it into my fridge because it's almost too strong to eat by that point, lol! However, if my boys have permission to snack on it, it usually disappears before the 4th week, lol!

And that's it! That's how I make my Kraut :-D

Note, by spit up, I mean that the cabbage will release some juice, and this apparently happens in spurts, which overflow. I had to wipe down my counter several times before I figured this out, lol! The pan catches the spit up, preventing it from getting all over.

Have a happy day, and if you make some kraut, let me know :-D

Update 9-5-14
I repacked my kraut into a smaller container for space reasons since they had stopped spitting up. They were not fully fermented yet - especially not at the top - so they tasted kinda weird to me. More like cabbage and less like kraut. I also think that the garlic and onion one might just be too oniony for me, lol! After repacking them, they'll sit on my counter more or less undisturbed for a couple more days, BUT...

I am officially out of the last batch of kraut I made and so I will more than likely be eating some of this soon, lol!

Lastly, the garlic and onion batch seemed to have a bit of water loss - whereas the other one didn't - so that may ultimately affect the final product. We shall see :-)

2 comments:

  1. I found this report of different jars that were tested rather interesting:

    http://www.nourishingtreasures.com/index.php/2012/07/03/sauerkraut-survivor-final-report/

    I now use the fido jars with good results. I don't even need to worry about putting anything in to keep the cabbage under the liquid.

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