Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sauerkraut in Action

Above is a photo of sauerkraut-making in action. Helen of Beyond Salmon tipped me off to this recipe, helpfully reviewed on her blog. My sauerkraut is currently on day three of fermenting, and I’m excited to think that it could be done as early as Friday. Never having pickled anything besides some super-easy pickles, I approached this first sauerkraut-making venture with trepidation. I called my parents for guidance. My sauerkraut-making worried them. "Did you chop the cabbage before putting it in the bucket?" was my dad's first question. "Did you remember to salt it?" my mom wanted to know. They insisted that I’m making a big mistake in not following their recipe. What’s my parents' recipe? It’s sort of like Helen put it:

“Take lots of cabbage, sprinkle with some salt, put in a bucket, and wait for
it to ferment.”

Except after tossing the cabbage with salt, my parents pour in a little warm water mixed with sugar into the bucket to start the fermentation. The recipe I’m using calls for cold water with salt. Whose recipe will yield crispier, crunchier, tangier kraut? Time will tell.


Anonymous said...

Pretty much any real sauerkraut is better than the store-bought stuff. Modern food processing doesn't allow for such traditional "slow-food" techniques as fermentation.

A while back I got a cookbook called "Nourishing Traditions", by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Highly recommended. They have a large section on lacto-fermationation, of vegetables, fruits, and even drinks. One thing interesting about it is that they recommend "cheating"...use active-culture whey as an innoculant in all lacto-fermentation processes, and you're always guaranteed perfect results. Traditionally, the salt is supposed to inhibit the bad bacteria while the good bacteria gets going, but if you add some whey, you give the good bacteria a kick-start. Just go to the health-food store, get some active-culture yoghurt (or kefir), and strain it through a tea towel. Voila! Perfect sauerkraut, pickles, kim-chee, etc., every time! And the cream cheese left over is great for dips or desserts.

Anonymous said...

sauerkraut from a can or jar pales in comparison to homemade. my friend's grandmother still makes her own and is byfar better than the manufactured kind.

looking forward to seeing the development of your experiment. fun post.

Mrs. M. said...

Joel--Thanks for letting me know about active-cultures. I'll have to check out that book.

Burekaboy-- The sauerkraut is still fermenting! Any day now...

Anonymous said...

My favorite application of culturing is mayonaise. I'm downright scared of mayo that will still be "fresh" after a year in the fridge. (Pretty sure some of my brother's has been around that long.) I make my own, using 4/5 olive oil and 1/5 coconut oil. (The two flavors cancel each other out, making it possible to taste the lemon and dijon mustard.) Anyway, normally you'd do well to keep fresh mayo for a couple weeks in the fridge. Put several tablespoons of whey in it while it's making, leave it on the counter overnight, then refridgerate, and it'll last several months.

(No need to worry about when it goes bad...when it does, you'll definitely know, unlike storebought, where you kinda wonder.)

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