Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Focus On Fermentation Week: Sauerkraut

Until I went to Elisabeth's workshop I had not even tried sauerkraut. It certainly is an acquired taste and I use it like a relish, serving it up with salads, or with meat, for added flavour...and for a healthy dose of probiotics. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage and you can use any type of cabbage to make it, even red cabbage. If you use savoy cabbage rather than drumhead, your sauerkraut will be ready to eat in a few days. Cabbage is really interesting to ferment as you do not need to add anything except for salt because the lactic-forming bacteria are already present on the cabbage itself. 

You will need:

One cabbage
A few pinches of salt
Caraway seeds for flavour (or whatever you prefer)
A large metal bowl
A sharp knife
A jar large enough to put your hands in

The first step is to slice the cabbage finely. I removed any chunky bits from my bowl. You then squish the cabbage between your fingers releasing all the juice. This takes some time, and the fellow next to me stepped in to help me 'massage my cabbage'.

You need to keep working the cabbage, adding salt every now and then to help draw out the juices, until there is enough juice to cover the cabbage when you put it in your jar. At this stage we also added some caraway seeds and I love the flavour these add to the sauerkraut.

Once you have worked it enough, you place it into a wide mouth jar (large enough to get your hand in) and press down with your fist until the liquid sits on top. Then you top it off with a couple of discarded outer cabbage leaves to hold the liquid in. The image above is of my finished sauerkraut which has absorbed most of the juice.

This is a rather messy shot of a purple cabbage sauerkraut showing the amount of juice.

The final step in the process is to let it stand at room temperature for five days, then keep it in the fridge. I left mine on the kitchen bench with the lid sealed, but not tight. If you do end up with mould on top just discard the top layer as the sauerkraut underneath will be healthy.

So, there you have it. It's a bit of a messy process but I still have a lot of sauerkraut left and it keeps for a long time in the fridge. You would probably only need to make it once a month or so.

Do you ever buy sauerkraut? If so, have you ever thought about making it yourself?
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