September Sauerkraut

Hellloooooo. After a brief summer hiatus, I’m back. I say “summer”, but to be honest, it went by so quickly that I barely feel as though I had one. Not that I’m complaining though. We spent some quality time with our wonderful friends, had lots of family time and, of course, enjoyed the beautiful fruits (and vegetables!) of our labour from our amazing garden. Other than that, we’ve both been putting in some extra time at the office and working our asses off. Now that September is here, I feel like it’s time for me to devote some extra time back to the things I love: projects!

After an unsuccessful powder room lighting project – sad face – I’ve decided to get back in the kitchen and tackle a new food project: sauerkraut! There is a lot of buzz out there right now about how insanely good-for-you fermented foods are, especially when it comes to your gut. We’ve been incorporating sauerkraut into our diet for some time now, with a couple of tablespoons on the side of eggs and bacon being my personal favourite use. While delicious and insanely good for us, it ain’t cheap. So I’m going to try making my own! I mean, why not?

I’ll admit that I always thought sauerkraut would be a really complicated thing to make at home. After a little bit of research, I’ve since learned that it’s actually insanely simple. All you really need is cabbage and salt. We planted 3 cabbage plants in our garden in the spring that are now ready to eat. We harvested two this morning and tackled two different flavours: Classic Caraway and Garlic Dill Pickle. The process for both types is the exact same.

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Classic Caraway Ingredients: 1 medium cabbage, 1-2 Tbsp corse sea salt, 1-2 Tbsp caraway seeds.

Garlic Dill Pickle Ingredients: 1 medium cabbage, 1-2 Tbsp corse sea salt, 2-3 pickling cucumbers thinly sliced, 5-6 cloves of garlic finely chopped, large handful of dill.

Directions:

1. Peel the rough outer leaves off the cabbage, cut in half and chop. If, like me, you’re taking the cabbage straight out of the ground, then watch out for slugs. Bitches slugs love cabbage.

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2. Add the chopped cabbage to a bowl with half the sea salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage using your hands until it starts to wilt and release liquid.

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3. Chop the other half of cabbage, add to the bowl with the rest of the sea salt and massage again.

4. Add other ingredients if you’re making one of the above flavours, or keep it plain by moving straight on to step 5.

5. Start scooping the cabbage into a 1 litre mason jar and pack it down. Like really pack it down. I used a pestle (from one of my mortar and pestles) and it worked like a charm. As you pack it down, you’ll see more liquid – the brine – come out. Scoop and pack. Scoop and pack.

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6. Once it’s all in, you’re going to place a smaller jar with water in it on top to act as a weight. This will help keep the cabbage pressed down under the brine. It is imperative that the brine level stay above the cabbage to allow the fermentation process to happen, without any bad bacteria or mold forming on the cabbage.

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7. Lastly, top the jar with some cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. The cheese cloth will allow air-flow and gases to escape, and will keep dust and bugs out.

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Now, we wait! For the first couple of days, I’ll leave both jars on the kitchen counter to keep an eye on them and make sure that there is enough brine to keep the cabbage submerged. Then I’ll move it to a shelf down in the basement where it can ferment. From what I’ve read, you can leave it for as little as one week, or as long as 2 years. I can’t wait to try it! If it tastes as good as it looks, we may never pay $12/jar at the store again!

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I’ll keep you posted with their progress!

– C

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