Homemade Sauerkraut

Fall time is for making Sauerkraut. If you are Korean, then it's Kimchi. If your Italian, forgedaboutit. 

This about two things. Making Homemade Sauerkraut. And a nice recipe from Polish mother Wronski, Sauteed Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut

Please search to get the specific ins and out on preparing Sauerkraut at home. Here are some overview comments. It may seem intimidating at first look. It's not. Just you don't know from nothing yet on fermenting vegetables. Once you get into it, it's a snap. A whole world opens.

The crock. Really, you don't need a crock. Any non-reactive vessel will do. Here's something similar to what we use. Yields about 3 quarts. 

You can even make small batches in quart jars. But, if you like Sauerkraut, you'll probably want to make a good amount. And, if you really like it, invest. Then crock it!

For the basic preparation you will use 3 Tablespoons of Kosher or Pickling Salt per 5 pounds of cabbage. Do not use any salt which is iodized. Fermentation will not occur.

Shred the cabbage finely and place in layers into a large container, salting each layer and tamping down as you go with a large spoon or potato masher. 

Let sit overnight. The shredded cabbage will have wilted and reduced in volume, releasing a good deal of liquid. Fermentation is an anaerobic process, so we want to keep the cabbage submerged under the liquid. A plate with something to weight the cabbage down. If necessary add brine (2 T Kosher/Pickling Salt: 1 Quart pure water) to cover. We make our ferments in a large 2 gallon glass jar, so a sealed plastic storage bag with brine water goes in and keeps the vegetable in its place under the brine. If you need more liquid, make a brine with pure water and kosher/pickling salt. Ratio 2 Tablespoons salt : 1 quart water. If using tap water, be sure to boil first to remove chlorine, which prevents fermentation.

You can add flavorings such as juniper berries and caraway. Other vegetables, slivered carrots are nice for color. Plain, however, is just fine. Try that first. Fermentation of vegetables is a broad subject. You can try Kimchi next. Brine cured pickles are a fave.

A week or so at a cool room temperature (60-65°F) should do it. Periodically check and skim any white scum that may form.The longer it stays, the more sour. Pack tightly into sterile jars, filling to cover with brine. Refrigerate. Should keep until Spring.

So now you have all that Sauerkraut. Try it straight, as a salad. But, unless you like it to taste like human tears, do rinse thoroughly before serving to remove excess saltiness. Plain, or with whatever mix ins you like. 

Sauerkraut is an ancient food. There are plenty of recipes out there to try. Here's what Mama Wronski prepared:

Sauteed Sauerkraut 

Thoroughly rinse and drain Sauerkraut. Sauté thin onion slices in butter, maybe with some garlic. Add a bay leaf and pepper. Since the Sauerkraut has been rinsed, it should be salty enough. Adjust for taste. Add the rinsed/ thoroughly drained Sauerkraut with more butter and sauté turning mixture frequently to prevent scorching. 

Optionals: Add some reconstituted Dried Mushrooms for flavor. Finely grated Apple. Prepared white Horseradish.

The dish is ready to serve when the Sauerkraut is heated through and excess moisture has evaporated. You may also leave it longer to get a little browning. But, a little. This is simple stuff.

Serve with potatoes and whatever smoked type meat you like. 

Beer would be nice.

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