Sunday, November 29, 2009


Part 1

I've been seeing these gigantic heads of cabbage at the farmers market lately. I'd have an image of making sauerkraut, but pass it over in favor of some more colorful harvest food. But the cornucopia of produce has been dwindling as we get into the leaner months of winter, and today Jean and I passed some pale green gigantors for $.63/lb and decided today was the day to try it out. We got a thirteen pounder as big as a watermelon, for about $9.

I've hesitated to ferment anything in my house because it's so small. Where would I put it? I am afraid of little bugs laying their eggs in the room temperature stewy liquid, or a mishap resulting in a pool of kraut to wade through, or even just the smell. In my dream house, I'd have a root cellar or a pantry to store food and keep various microbiological food projects safe and out of the way of my tender nose. But... that might be years from now, so carpe diem.

Brine Fermented Kraut
adapted from here

13 lb shredded cabbage

3 sliced yellow onions

12 tbs salt

handful of caraway seeds

smaller handful yellow mustard seeds

It was a task to shred all this cabbage. Jean hacked it into pieces that would fit in the food processor which I had fitted with the slicer attachment. We did it in two batches because I have no bowl or pot which would hold the entire shredded mass. By the end of the project, there was cabbage absolutely everywhere from my kitchen to my dining room.

Added the salt and seeds and onions to the cabbage in the biggest pot I have. We took shifts mashing the mixture for about ten minutes with a wooden spoon to release all the juices and dissolve the salt.

We had two one gallon jars Jean used to make kombucha in and these were just the right size for this amount. Three handfuls at a time, I stuffed the mixture into the jars, pressing down each layer very firmly before adding more. My hands are pretty parched from handling all the brine.

We put a yogurt container lid to the top of the kraut and a small jar on top of that to keep the cabbage weighed down. Then we covered it with four layers of cheesecloth, and it's sitting on top of the fridge, fermenting at room temperature. We're going to skim any white froth that forms at the top, and daily pick out the bits that turn brown. It's going to ferment for three weeks before transferring it to 1 quart jars and putting in the fridge, where the flavor will intensify. It can be eaten ten days after this, or after a few months for a very aged flavor.

I'm excited....

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