Friday, July 31, 2009

Sauerkraut: How To

Sauerkraut is incredibly simple. I am posting instructions quickly and hope to follow up with pictures soon. We had technical issues this month, so I apologize for how belated this post is.

You will need the following:
A large bowl you can pound in
A pounding pestle (I use the pestle from my mortar and pestle - but I am saving for a real kraut pounder available through our Eugene chapter of the Weston A Price Foundation)
Quart mason jar (you can do larger or smaller depending on how quickly you will go through the sauerkraut once opened)

1 Medium Cabbage
1 Tbsp Caraway seeds
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
4 Tbsp Whey (or 1 additional tbsp salt)

Core and thinly shred the cabbage. I do this with a large serrated chopping knife. I had purchased a mandolin type shredder but found it was more trouble that it was worth and it did not shred fine enough, so I returned it and went back to using my knife.

In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, caraway seeds, sea salt, and whey (or additional salt). Pound with pestle or wooded pounder (or whatever else you might find - like a meat hammer), for 10 minutes to release juices.

Place in quart mason jar and press down firmly with pounder/pestle until the juices well cover the top of the sauerkraut (leave 1" of room before the top of the jar as it will expand during fermentation). Cover jar very tightly and keep at room for about 3 days (more or less depending on temperature - ideal is 72 degrees) before transferring to cold storage (like the top shelf of your refrigerator -shooting for 40 degrees). You can eat it immediately after this, but it will also improve in flavor with age (some say it takes 6 months for sauerkraut's flavors to fully develop).

The lovely thing about naturally fermenting food is that your nose will tell you when it has gone bad so that you have no need to fear botulism. Further, naturally fermented foods are full of lactobacilli which enhances the foods digestibility as well as increases the vitamin levels. Additionally, these foods are living and full of enzymes, natural antibiotics and anti carcinogens. These foods will promote health gut flora which is at the foundation of all good health.

For more on fermenting you own foods please take a look at the following links:
Cheeseslave: Ten reasons to eat fermented foods
Food Renegade: How to make Sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables
Wild Fermentation
Portland Preserve
Sauerkraut: The Miracle Cabbage
and of course, many fermented recipes can be found in Nourishing Traditions

Monday, July 13, 2009

CSA Report: 2st Week of July

Mystery item:
We have received this several times and still have not figured out what it is. Tastes a little like leafy peas...but we don't know. Do you?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July Challenge: Make your own Sauerkraut

The growing season is in full swing, and we have been delighted by the large cabbages in our farm box the last couple weeks. Now is the time to utilize garden abundance to preserve foods for the winter.

In keeping with that idea, the challenge for this month is to make your own sauerkraut. This is actually a very simple and rewarding task that will also be good practice for other traditional preserving later in the harvest season (I am thinking salsa, chutneys, etc).

This challenge is simple, try preserving sauerkraut traditionally (this means fermenting with salt or whey rather than "pickling" in vinegar). If you are already a preserver, study your harvests (or u-pick options) and see if you can figure out how much you would have to preserve to last you through the next season. I noticed that bulk cabbage is on a great special right now through Azure Standard, and since our own cabbage does not seem to have taken well in the garden this year, a bulk order may be in store this month for us.

I will post a photo-how-to in the next week on making sauerkraut, and you can see how simple it is, even without fancy equipment. I will also share tips for some tasty variations (like latin American sauerkraut).

Other things you are inspired to preserve this month? Please share in the comment section!


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