Saturday, September 25, 2010

Preparing for Monday: Sauerkraut

Okay this one I am saving for last because I am a little scared. I have never made sauerkraut, but several recipes reassure me that it is very simple to make. There are some with just cabbage, salt and water, and others add caraway seeds. For simplicity I am going to stick with the cabbage-water-salt recipe.

I have done a similar lacto-fermentation process with these Dilly Carrots, and it was VERY easy. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and various other naturally preserved condiments are all lacto-fermented and therefore contain beneficial bacteria.

By way of clarification, lacto-fermentation includes whey and salt in the preserving process. You can use the term "cultured", by using just salt, usually twice the amount called for in the lacto-fermented recipe. For example, if I am making sauerkraut with 1 Tablespoon salt and 1 Tablespoon whey, then I can omit the whey and just add two Tablespoons salt.

Lacto-fermentation is sometimes called lactic acid fermentation. I like this definition from "The Benefits of Lacto-Fermentation" by The Nourishing Gourmet: "Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria." So there you go! This is how you can awaken your foods into live, cultured, probiotic foods. Think yogurt, but with way more possibilities.

Cultured Sauerkraut

2 heads organic green cabbage
3 1/2 Tablespoons salt

1. Shred cabbage, mix in salt, and put into a non-reactive bowl for 15-30 minutes. The salt will draw the water out of the cabbage, making it unnecessary to pound it.

2. If you have a fermentation crock or fermenting jar, like this one I have, then transfer cabbage to the fermenter. That will ensure that no air is in contact with the cabbage. Cover with a towel to keep light out of the jar. If you do not own one of those fermenters, you can weight down the cabbage with a plate, or bowl, or jar, or bucket filled with water, placed directly on top of the cabbage in the bowl. Just make sure the cabbage is completely submerged. Cover with a kitchen towel to keep dust and bugs out.

3. Let ferment for several days at room temperature. Just taste it every day and see how the flavor is. If using a weight method, make sure you take the weight off and clean it every day, and skim any scum that might appear.

Try to have one lacto-fermented item per day, preferably per meal. Enjoy!

1 comment:

WordVixen said...

Good luck! Making sauerkraut is insanely easy. Making really good sauerkraut is an art. :-D I made one batch that was way too bland, so I kicked up the salt and... got it way too salty. Then I discovered that our local Amish farmer's market has the bestest sauerkraut ever, so I'm sticking to my highly successful lacto fermented salsa as my home project.