Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sauerkraut Saga - Part 5 - A Recipe and My First Attempt

There are many recipes for sauerkraut on the web. The books and website of Sandor Katz are very good sources of information; 

The most common recipe is 3 tablespoons of non-iodized salt for every five pounds of cabbage. The cabbage is shredded and then mixed with the salt. The cabbage releases water to form a brine. The cabbage and the brine are packed into a vessel and allowed to ferment anaerobically. 

I started with the two heads of organic red cabbage supplied by my neighbor (Part 1 of this series).  I removed the outer, slightly dried leaves and discarded them.   I removed and reserved several more leaves. 

I cut the cabbages into quarters and removed the hard center core.  I then shredded the cabbage using the slicer blade of a food processor.   You can use a knife or a manoline if you prefer. 

I weighed the cabbage after slicing.   If you have a kitchen scale this is the best approach.   If you do not have a kitchen scale and there is a scale where you purchased the cabbage, weight it there and note the weight; but the weight as used will be slightly less.  If you grow your own cabbage and do not have a scale; the two average sized cabbages I used yielded about 2.5 lbs of shredded cabbage each. 

Place the sliced cabbage in a large non-reactive bowl and add the non-iodized salt (Part 4 of this series).   After you add the salt to the cabbage, mix well and then let it sit for about 1 hour. The cabbage will release a lot of moisture.   That water combines with the salt to create the brine. 

Pack the cabbage tightly into the fermenting vessels using a wooden spoon or other implement.   I used 2 quart wide mouth mason jars.  Do not fill the containers completely because the cabbage will expand during fermentation.  The two cabbages I used sufficiently filled two of the large mason jars. 

I folded the cabbage leaves I had reserved so that they would just fit in the mason jar and placed them in the jar over the shredded cabbage to keep it from floating up out of the brine.  I placed a small jelly jar in the mason jar over the cabbage leaves to keep everything submerged in the brine.  The cabbage and salt did not create quite enough brine to cover the cabbage so I made up a small amount of additional brine by adding 1 teaspoon of salt to a cup of water.  I used this to be certain that the cabbage was completely covered and would ferment anaerobically.

Finally, cover with a cloth, or screw on a cap, but keep it a loose fit or use an air lock.  I used the air lock shown in Part 4 of this series.  Place somewhere at cool room temperature. I suggest placing some container under the fermenting vessel in case there is sufficient expansion to cause the brine to overflow.  

Next the results.

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