Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sauerkraut in 10 Minutes

This might even take you five minutes, or twenty, depending on how fast you can cut, chop or grate vegetables.  Typically, I use a grater or just chop up cabbage and other vegetables that I want to ferment but today I tried out a new cabbage shredder that I picked up at an antique store a few months ago. These seem to be a dime-a-dozen on the east coast in antique stores and you can also usually find one less than $20.

I would also like to add that you can make your sauerkraut more interesting by using other vegetables and even some fruits, like apples or pears. I added shredded carrots to this batch since I had extra in the refrigerator. Some other ideas of things to add to a batch of sauerkraut are ginger, beets, sea vegetables, and cucumbers.

Getting to the process…Before you chop, dice, grate or shred the cabbage, take off some of the outer layers (about 3-4 larger sized leaves) of the cabbage and put them aside for the time being. These will be used in the final stage.  
Then, cut up your cabbage. I use about two whole cabbages for a 5-liter container. If you choose to chop larger sized pieces, then you may only have to use about one and a half. If you shred into finer pieces, I'd have three cabbages on hand, just in case.

Put your cabbage and anything other chopped food you want to add into your crock and fill with water to the point that you can easily submerge the cabbage. Then, add salt (I use a granulated sea salt) to taste. The best way to go about this is put one tablespoon in, stir, and taste. When it starts to taste like ocean water, you'll know you have enough. You'll read in numerous recipes that now would be the time to start pounding the heck out of cabbage in order to get moisture out rather than using water. From my experience, this is a waste of time and energy. Plus, the final product is much crispier without the pounding, so just skip it. Here's where you add the whole cabbage leaves: just on top of everything.

Add your weight to submerge everything and you will be left with some floaty bits on top.

With a slotted spoon, take out as much as possible so that you will have little to no moldy, gross stuff on top when you are ready to eat it. Because these small bits are exposed to air, they will build up bacteria and cause a much more pungent smell.

 For this batch, I'm using this beautiful Gartopf fermentation crock. I highly recommend having at least one nice crock around like this for small fermented batches that you want to keep in your kitchen so that it's easier to get to and keeps virtually all smells away. These are pretty pricey (ours was a wedding gift) but well worth the investment. If you find out you hate fermented foods or don't have the time to invest in making this culture, you can always re-gift or consign it...