Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making Your Own - Sauerkraut

I finally did it!

I live in an area which is becoming famous for fermented foods. For a couple of years they have had a Fermentation Festival here with classes, talks and demos on fermented foods: how to make them and why they are good for you. Dozens of vendors let you sample the kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, olives, pickles and things I've never heard of, that they have for sale.

I have been getting huge heads of cabbage free every couple of weeks, so I decided it was time. My kraut has been 'working' for a couple of weeks now and it's looking good.

I used a recipe from a local free magazine called "Discoveries: For Those Who Live and Play in Northwest Sonoma County".

These are the instructions I followed and so far it's looking great.

This recipe is for Sauerkraut or Kimchee

Thinly shred a medium head of cabbage in a food processor or by hand with a sharp knife--the thinner the shred, the crunchier the result. Thinly slice 2 green onions using both the green and white parts, and two tiny red Thai chili peppers (or some crushed dried hot red peppers to taste). Add one teaspoon grated ginger and one large clove of garlic, smashed and chopped fine (Other optional ingredients are daikon radish, carrots, beets, dry hijiki seaweed, cumin, dill or parsley). [I used cabbage, garlic, ginger and seaweed in mine because I have had this combination and love it.]

In a large glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl, add 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of sea salt to the shredded cabbage mixture. Mix well and let sit for about 10 minutes until liquid (the brine) begins to form. Mash everything together with a potato masher to encourage brine. (It works!)

Then put the mixture into two very clean wide-mouthed 16 ounce canning jars (or a single quart jar), packing jars full by smashing down the contents with a spoon until the brine completely covers the top of the cabbage mixture. Leaving about 1/4-inch of space at the tops of the jars, screw on the lids, but not too tightly. Set the jars on top of the fridge (in a pie tin, in case of overflow) and cover with a towel.

Let sit two to three weeks or longer. After one month, your homemade sauerkraut/kimchee is ready to eat. You can put the unopened jars in the fridge to retain a crunchy texture.

Note: if you open the lid and discover a bit of mold on top, just scrape if off and the rest will be fine.

I used pink Himalayan salt.
Have another couple of weeks to go for my first batch. I'll make sure and let everyone know how it turned out. Tomorrow, I will start another batch since I just received another huge head of cabbage. I wonder what I'll put in it this time...maybe some chili peppers.

If you want to know about the Fermentation Festival which will be in the fall, you can subscribe to the Osmosis website newsletter to receive updates.

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