More Sauerkraut Experiments

If you are interested, I already have a post on making sauerkraut here.

But still I have a hankering to try other ways to make it. There are so many options. The way I made it in the past was fine, but I noticed I did not have consistent results. That is not the cabbages fault. I tend to not measure much. Using the ‘seat of your pants’ method of assembling sauerkraut is my standard. But perhaps there is a better way?

Did you know, for example, that you can either beat the cabbage with a tool or your fist, or you can massage the salt into it?

Or, that you can skip that step and put the shredded cabbage into a mason jar with vinegar, salt and sugar, then just pour boiling water over it?

Were you aware that you can give the jar a water bath, canning it and sealing it, or just put the jar as is on your shelf while it ferments, sans bath?

Or that you can use mason jars or large crocks or even large plastic food grade containers?

Or how about adding flavorings? Like caraway seeds, dill, shredded beets or carrots or apples, ginger or juniper berries. (and where the heck do you get those, except from a juniper bush? I searched in 3 stores before giving up.)

Or that cabbage was so beautiful inside?

20150930_185528000_iOSEach cabbage is unique and beautiful, even though at first glance they may all look the same. Kind of poignant isn’t it? It gives us sauerkraut which has good probiotics in it and helps you to digest your food. Which is kind of strange when you think that many people have trouble digesting cabbage in its raw form, but it becomes just that much healthier when fermented!

Anyway, I tried a couple of new ways to make sauerkraut today and will use this post to keep track of the results in order that I keep a record and obtain more consistency. (Watch out Ms. Frizzle!)

So EXPERIMENT A: Cabbage in a Crock.

Here is me shredding and pounding the cabbage in a bowl. I added about a tablespoon of salt and using the end of a tapered rolling-pin, pounded the dickens out of  it. It made me feel like I was churning butter.

20150930_190749802_iOS20150930_192157944_iOS (2)That is me trying to break down them pesky cabbage fibers amongst the clutter of the counter. Surrounded by pickling salt, half a banana, sweet potatoes, olive oil and maybe a plum?

In this experiment I had to go back to the store and get another cabbage. The one did not make enough to put into the large jar I had in mind. I do not plan to fill it, but did want a bit more than 1″ along the bottom of the jar.

I sprinkled in  the 1 Tablespoon of pickling salt. The salt draws out the juices, which it needs to ferment, feeding the enzymes.

I drizzled in about 1 teaspoon of whey from yogurt that I tried to drain. I would have liked more, but I got impatient because it was draining out of the yogurt so slow. The whey has lactic acid in it and gives it a kick-start. Once in the jar, I used the bottom of a small mason jar to pound it down. The juiced from the cabbage started creeping up the sides. I still added a little bit of clean water to it. The fermenting of cabbage is ‘anaerobic’ and doesn’t like air. Air is the enemy. So you can do two things. One is to make sure all the cabbage is under water.

The other is to submerge it somehow. I chose to do it this way, by putting a bag of water into the jar, on top of the cabbage, which flattened out to fit the inside of the jar. It will, hopefully, keep  the air out.

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You can see some of the liquid here:

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Bag of water on top with a twisty. Now the lid goes on and I put it into a dark cupboard.

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EXPERIMENT B: Green cabbage with water bath.

This time I shredded and pounded the green cabbage, (which takes about 10 minutes, so turn on a Pandora station and boogie!) stuffed it into a mason jar and added 1 teaspoon each of salt, sugar and vinegar. Over this I poured a little boiling water, although it did not need much. It took over an hour to get my canning pot up to the boiling point! (And all for 1 lousy jar of kraut?) But once it was bubbling away, I put in the green sauerkraut and boiled it for 15 minutes. The lid popped when it came out, so all is good. I left about 1/2″ of the top clear for expansion, but after looking at it, I wonder was it enough?  If the kraut needs more space to grow while it ferments, will the lid pop off? Or just bulge? Or go explodio? Both the mason jar and the crock went into a dark cupboard and I will keep an eye on them.

20150930_225358786_iOSYou can barely see the purple cabbage behind the littler green one. Within a couple of days the green one will loose most of its color. I wonder what the purple one will look like? I plan to leave them to ferment for 30 days instead of just the usual few few. That means they should be ready by Halloween! Or have exploded by then.

Last night we went to a friend’s house for a St.Michaelmas feast. Tradition says you have to eat a goose and have a dessert with blackberries. So the hostess roasted a goose, I brought two desserts, one with berries, including blackberries, and everyone else brought other delicious dishes. One dish brought by a sweet Hungarian woman (the same woman who gave me her recipe for Hungarian Potato Bread) was an exquisite dish made with pork, sauerkraut and sour cream. She says she will bring me the recipe on Sunday, and I can’t wait! While I may not be a huge fan of plain sauerkraut, I do love food cooked with it and plan to make this for my family.

One dish I remember as a child, one of my favorites, was spare ribs cooked in sauerkraut. Now, in later years, my mother would bake the ribs and then put sauerkraut over it to finish baking. But when I was little I distinctly remember her fishing out the ribs with tongs out of a big pot of sauerkraut! The meat was falling off the bones and I loved it.

Oh-ooh wait! There was more. She would take canned rolls and put them over the bubbling sauerkraut, put a lid on and turn them into dumplings to go with the ribs! Oh gosh, I had almost forgotten about that. I would pick off the bits of sauerkraut off the dumpling/roll (because I was just that picky) but still loved the sour flavor. I have a birthday coming up. I think its time to bring this old dish back. Canned biscuits and all!

So here we are at the end of this post for now. As soon as I start see results, I will add pictures and notes. That means I will be checking the kraut for ‘scum’ or ‘bloom’ (which is the same thing but sounds nicer) that I will remove from the top of the cabbage. I will check for off smells or off colors and keep notes on this post for future usage.

Toodle-oo! Or should I say Auf Wiedersehen! (and go watch “The Sound of Music”)

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One thought on “More Sauerkraut Experiments

  1. Wow that’s a ton of work!!! Makes me hungry. I may have to go to Gustavs for some yummy Kraut tomorrow! Please do let us know how it turns out!,,,

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