let me start this post by saying
this is my first time out fermenting kraut.
i am not worried though because i come from good slovakian stock, i got cabbage in my bones
if my great-grandmother were here today i am sure she would have plenty to tell me about the hows and whys of kyslá kapusta. and i really do wish i would have asked her more about all of the foodways that she brought with her across the big blue.
but alas, i had much bigger concerns back then…like coloring books and stuffed animals etc.
oh well, she would be proud anyway i think. if she were here now.
as you can see from the photo up there, if we’re really not feeding an army, we don’t need a lehmans credit card for things like gi-normous shredders, 30 gallon crocks, etc.
in fact, these are three 1 liter weck canning jars with lids from the smaller mouthed jars pushed down in there and then regular old jars-from-store-bought-stuff filled with water that fit right in to weigh it all down.
basically the whole simple contraption is done just to keep the cabbage submerged. you know what that means?
you gotta lotta choices
for the container:
any kind of quart or liter jars (or larger)
any food grade plastic container
any ceramic or glass bowl (not metal)
for the weight:
any flat glass or plastic lid (not metal)
any small plate (not metal)
a wooden round
a small jar
a food grade plastic bag filled with brine like i did here
it is ok if there is a bit of space between the lid, dish, jar and the rim of container, as long as all the cabbage is submerged.
you also need a cool place, around 65 degrees. i would be willing to bet that is easy to come by for most of us this time of year. and you know what? if it goes above that temperature at some point in the fermenting process
you also need about 2-4 weeks for the little cultures (i was going to say critters but i didn’t want to scare you) to complete their work, so that means that if you start now, you will have delicious homemade sauerkraut to go with your holiday meal.
at least that is what i’m aiming for because i am preparing an entire danish christmas lunch for my in-laws and a few friends, an honest-to-goodness traditional holiday smorgasbord, of which surkål is an integral part.
(fyi: my mother-in-law herself came across the big blue from copenhagan in the 70′s, ergo the christmas smorgasbord. isn’t it cool how we inherit our in-laws foodways too? …my mom makes a mean pasta fazul, but that’s another story).
meanwhile, i will have to get back to you on how all this jars out. but for now, if you would like to start with me, then gather your supplies and keep reading!
holiday sauerkraut 3 ways
4-5 pounds purple cabbage, sliced thin or shredded
3 tablespoons sea salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, lightly crushed
1 & 1/2 teaspoons juniper berries, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons dried cherries*
equipment as above (X 3 if you are going to try all three flavors)
1. sprinkle salt on cabbage in layers as you place shredded cabbage in large bowl. when allcabbage and salt is in bowl, toss to evenly distribute salt.
2. divide cabbage into three equal portions in mixing bowls. add caraway, juniper & dried cherries, one flavoring per bowl and toss to distribute evenly.
3. fill each liter jar or container with the cabbage mixtures. press cabbage down firmly as you go.
4. place flat lid and water filled jar on top to weight down cabbage. put in a cool place. in the next 24 hours every time you think of it press down on each jar to squeeze more liquid out of cabbage.
the goal is to have all the cabbage submerged in liquid after 24 hours.
if after 24 hours the cabbage is not submerged completely (mine wasn’t) from it’s own juice, mix a brine solution of one tablespoon sea salt to one cup water. stir to dissolve salt thoroughly before pouring over cabbage. pour to cover.
note:if you are using the plastic bag method instead of a jar you will want the bags to be filled with this solution rather than plain water in case of breakage or leakage.
throw a layer of cheese cloth, kitchen towel, cotton pillowcase, anything, over it to keep any dust or unwanted particles from landing in brine. keep in a cool place.
day 3 to 2-4 weeks
there will be a party going on in those jars and all we have to do is
there’s already some bubble action in mine – see above from day 3. don’t get freaked out about this – but from time to time there may be scum on top of brine. i’ve covered the cabbage with enough solution to easily skim it off. it won’t get on cabbage as long as it is submerged.
the beauty of making your own sauerkraut is you control how you would like to eat it. i’m going for one with a little bit of firmness left and not overly sour. so i will check it at the two week point. when you deem it is done, you can put it in the fridge to retard the fermentation process, or you can keep it in your cool place and enjoy it as it goes through further fermentation.
disclaimer: i don’t know where i got the idea to add dried cherries. i’ve never had it before, i may have read it somewhere, but i am not sure. i think it sounds like it could come out delicious. i am only at the beginning of this process, so i won’t know for sure until it’s done, so please, try it at your own risk! or maybe come up with a [wacky?] idea of your own for the 3rd one!
my christmas lunch is on december 19th & i started my sauerkraut on november 30th – so i’m hoping that is enough time to yield the results i’m looking for. stay tuned in and i’ll keep you updated on how things progress. and if you celebrate your holiday on the 25th december, or maybe a new year’s day feast, then you have time, get choppin! ketchup!
…in other exciting news: the, i’m talking about this if you don’t already know,
has 37 people participating so far. that includes bloggers and non-bloggers. there’s still time to sign up so check it out!
update: all three of these came out amazing! they were ready just in time for our christmas lunch, although a tad crunchier than what sauerkraut typically is. i let the rest continue to ferment for another week and then put them in the fridge. this my friends, is the start of something big! i have plans to grow a lot more cabbage next season!