Monday, January 16, 2012

Sauerkraut

Of all the new things I tried making over the last year, sauerkraut was the most intimidating.

1) I didn't know what it should taste like, making it hard to know when it was ready.
2) Leaving food outside the fridge for weeks just sounds wrong.
3) Eating something that you had to skim scum off of regularly is scary.

I spent so much time reading my canning book that everything started to look intriguing, including sauerkraut.  I gave a shout-out on Facebook asking if people liked it.  I got a variety of responses.  It seems you either love it or hate it, and I was warned that it would stink up the whole house while fermenting.  I finally decided to make it, especially after seeing an encouraging blog post here.

I bought a lot of cabbage at a cheap price and already owned two crocks, thanks to my grandparents.  What did I have to lose if I failed?  About $5 and a couple of hours.

As you know, I rushed to make it before Thanksgiving and stuck it in a downstairs guest room to ferment.  It smelled horrid the first few days when I lifted the lid, but then improved.  I checked it every few days and learned exactly what skimming scum meant and how to weigh it down properly.

A week before Christmas, I got brave enough to taste it, because I wanted to share some with my brother, who likes it.  Let me tell you, that took guts.  I'd just finished skimming gross stuff off the top and then had to take a spoonful of food that had been basically rotting for weeks, not even knowing how it should taste.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It tastes sort of like dill pickles.

The night before we left for CA, I removed the top layer (you ruin some every time you open the crock and un-submerge it from the brine) and put it in the fridge.  I didn't have time to can it; I didn't want to keep skimming it regularly; and I'd learned how good for you it can be if you don't heat it.

I made mine layered with caraway seeds and I love the flavor that adds.  It is crunchy and sour, and we both like it.  To Becky J.: turns out it is actually really healthy for you when it's fermented properly and not heated to kill the beneficial health properties.  Mine isn't super salty either.

Nathan has been putting it in sandwiches, but I like it so much that I just eat a few forkfuls a day.  Much less scary now that it's in the fridge.  If you'd like some and live nearby, we have an awful lot and I'd be happy to share my successful experiment.  One step closer to becoming a domestic goddess!

6 comments:

Golda said...

Yum! I love sauerkraut! You're so brave to make it yourself! I know a lady who is really into lacto-fermentation and does it with her green beans also. They're pretty good and also pickle-y tasting.

Danna said...

We have been trying to have more fermented foods in our diet to help with our gut flora, I love kraut with carraway seeds! There is a small company that makes one with apples and cabbage (good!) and one that is dilly (suoer good) also a horseradish and a habinero (not trying). We love it on our eggs in the morning, sandwiches, forkfull... The Nourishing Traditions cookbook has fermented EVERYTHING!
GO SUPER CHERISH!!!

Rebecca H. Jamison said...

Okay, I stand corrected. The storebought kind probably has a lot more salt than yours. I had no idea about the healthy bacteria either. Next thing you know they'll be selling that scum stuff. lol.

Amy said...

You are brave - I don't think I'm brave enough to even try it. (Adam probably would - he's eaten kimche) But I did make hummus this week and tried it for the first time!

Jaime said...

AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

NieleGirl said...

You are AMAZING!!! Seriously... I'm always telling my mom how inspired I am by how freaking BA you are at running a home AND working at the same time! You are SUPERWOMAN!!

Someday, when Sini and I are finally settled somewhere, I'm totally gonna have to have you tutor me in your ways! I'll be your grasshopper. It'll be awesome! :)