|Lactobacilli et al. doing their work (pictured but microscopic...)|
This is a very basic recipe. Over the next weeks and months, I am going to be working on some sauerkraut varietals (wine sauerkraut, juniper sauerkraut and so on). Come back to read about them and my many other projects. You can't hurry fermentation, no matter how hard you try.
I shredded the cabbage with our Cuisinart 14-cup food processor , which has been very useful for quite a few fermenting projects. I used the slicing attachment, rather than the grating one. I suppose you could use the grater, but I wanted the typical long strands of cabbage. You have to cut the cabbage to get it into the food chute. Discard the core of the cabbage.
Then you layer the cabbage into your container along with three tablespoons of salt per five pound(ish) cabbage. If you have a tiny cabbage, adjust the salt accordingly. I dumped about third of the cabbage in at a time and then added a third of the salt and crushed the cabbage up with my (clean) fist. I mean, squidged it between my fingers. Not punched it. Punching is a real quick way to break up the cabbage, but I find with the coarse grain salt it also breaks the knuckles up. Sad hand.
|Here's my gallon jar. It was from Ace Hardware, I think|
|Here's the sauerkraut after 3 days|
Warning: Science Incoming (ignore if you might get grossed out)
The cabbage (and all vegetables) come with bacteria (and yeast) on the leaves. This is a wild fermentation! Exciting times. The salty environment keeps everything but useful bacteria living in the sauerkraut. First, the Klebsiella and Enterobacter bacteria get going and make the brine too acidic for many dangerous bugs to live in. Then, Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc varieties move in and ramp up the acidity even more. Finally, various LACTobaccilli will start fermenting (or eating) the sugars in the cabbage and making LACTic acid. You see how that works? Things like the bug that causes botulism can't live in this acidic environment. After a few days, you may find a mold bloom on the surface. It'll look like mold you find on old bread. Don't worry, just scrape as much as you can off the sauerkraut. The mold can't live in the salty stuff and your sauerkraut is safe.
Can you see how making sauerkraut is a wonderful bacterial dance? Don't freak out! Some people recommend seeding your new batches of sauerkraut with the old brine and leftover sauerkraut. However, this can lead to stages in the dance being missed out, which may result in overly sour sauerkraut. But, hey, if you like it sour, go nuts!
|I like to put the sauerkraut into a smaller jar for storing in the fridge|
To celebrate this batch coming out, we had a great kielbasa-style sausage with roasted potatoes, carrots and onions. Delicious!
As ever, if you have any questions, ask! Myself or someone in our fermenting community may have experienced the same problems or queries in the past.