Monday, January 5, 2009

Sauerkraut - Not Baking but Fascinating

Trust me this will stink up your entire house. It did ours. I adore sauerkraut - I don't eat as is (ie plain) but chop up some onion, soften that in butter, then add the sauerkraut, some juniper berries and some caraway seeds and I'm done. 

This was pretty amazing. We decided we'd give sauerkraut a go as I'd recently bought a book for school called "Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods" by Sandor Ellix Katz. It's pretty inspiring, and a really fascinating book, part history/culture and recipes it details both the ways people have eaten fermented foods for centuries as well as how we eat them today. The recipes are laid back and not too intense or crazy - but are utterly fascinating. They range from sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, cheese, beer, wind (herbal wines mostly) and ginger beer (which I just started today so we'll see how that goes!). 

The sauerkraut you see above is around 2-3 weeks old. It's so amazingly simple to make, it's simply fresh cabbage, washed and chopped, then you layer the cabbage,put on some salt, beat down the cabbage and then add another layer of cabbage and salt and beat until all the cabbage is used up. Then you keep an eye on it for a day or so to make sure that the cabbage releases enough juice to cover the final layer of cabbage in brine. Then you sit back and watch (and well, let's be honest sit back and smell) the cabbage. You have to watch for mold formation, which you clean off. When the cabbage is ready (it all depends on the heat of your place and the bacteria that are laying around feasting on the cabbage, but 2-3 weeks wasn't quite enough time for our sauerkraut - it was pretty sweet, and I like it seriously sour) you do what you like with it. 

As I write this Josh is making another batch in the kitchen, chopping up the cabbage we bought at the farmers market today (five cabbages!), salting it and beating it down. With the batch we intend to jar it and store it so we can use some in the seasons when cabbage isn't in season. 

Really interesting stuff, although as mentioned before hand really stinky


Snooky doodle said...

didn t know that sauerkraut was made from fermentaion . phew it sound horrible! I ve never tried it so maybe I should before saying its horrible. Anyway interesting info and enjoy it :)

Anonymous said...

I love how you're inspired by things you read... it looks like you have some great finds. If you ever have a minute, please post a book list!