Many of the foods I write about on this blog I’ve been making for years, even decades. On the other hand, one of the reasons I enjoy blogging is that it motivates me to tackle projects I’ve been meaning to do, but never seemed to have gotten around to, like making sauerkraut. I realize that sauerkraut (“sour cabbage” in German) is not universally loved, but it ought to be. Fresh, quality kraut is delicious–tangy, crunchy, slightly salty. It’s high in fiber, low in fat, shares the health-giving benefits of all the cruciferous family, and most importantly, contains the friendly probiotic bacteria which help keep our intestines happy. It’s downside would be that salt is an important ingredient, so people who need to be cautious with salt should probably eat sauerkraut only in small quantities, rinsing it first with water. Sauerkraut, like yogurt or miso, is a live food and needs to be eaten raw. Canned or pasteurized, it loses most of its flavor, texture and nutritional value.
In the photo above, we see the result of day one in my sauerkraut making project. I’ve chopped nine pounds of red and green cabbage, and I’ve mixed in six tablespoons of quality sea salt and packed it down with a big wooden spoon. Next step is to place a weight on top and cover it all with a clean cloth. What will happen next is that the salt will draw water out of the cabbage thus creating a brine in which the cabbage ferments. In order to ferment healthily, the cabbage needs to be covered with brine, so if it isn’t covered by liquid after 24 hours, I will add enough salted water so that it is. After that, it’s mostly watchful waiting, checking every day to see that the cabbage is safely soaking in brine, and that everything is o.k. In two to four weeks, the sauerkraut will be ready (this project is not for the impatient!). Later on, I will post to let you know how my sauerkraut is doing. You’ll find step-by-step instructions for making sauerkraut, along with photos, here and here. If you’ve experimented with sauerkraut making, I’d be delighted to hear what you’ve learned. Please comment!