Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lacto-fermented sauerkraut

We used to live in little poland, aka greenpoint, brooklyn. Apparently it isn't so much little poland any more, but rather chic these days. Back in the day it was the center of polish new york and the polish love their fresh vegetables and they love their sauerkraut. We had so many fruit and veggie stands in our neighborhood and all the produce was top notch, I miss that immensely. But all the stores also had huge barrels of sauerkraut and pickles that you would just use tongs to grab big batches of. I am almost certain they were lacto-fermented and had never been heated. So thanks to that, I am a bit of sauerkraut snob. No more eating cold sauerkraut straight out of the can like I did in college. No sir, I make my own, in big batches, keep it in the fridge, and use it as much as I can. My oldest has even developed a healthy love for veggie dogs with sauerkraut and ketchup. That's my boy.

If you don't know what lacto-fermentation is, it is basically preserving food with salt in an oxygen free environment so that mold won't develop and the food undergoes a change that 'sours' it. You can make lots of things this way. The health benefits are supposed to be big as long as you don't heat it. So don't go making lacto-anything and then can it. Make just enough to keep in the fridge for a few months. You can find out a lot more here

When making this I usually use one big head or two small heads for my crock. You want it to be super compact in the crock. I generally forget how much salt I use, so it is a little different every time, but always good. What I also learned in little poland is that you want to use heavy cabbages for slaws and kraut and light cabbages for boiling or stuffing. Low water content = light and older, high water content = heavy and crisp fresh.

cut your cabbage into manageable pieces, usually two or four

slice ultra thin on a mandoline

now you need a crock, a weight (water jar),
and a plate or a mini-tart like I have here

add about two handfuls of cabbage and some salt
push down really hard, repeat until you have stuffed all the cabbage in,
then push down a lot more

weigh down with plate and water jar
press until liquid comes well up over the plate,
for the first 24 hours you need to press it down every so often,
if the water does not cover, add salt water until it is
at least an inch above the cabbage

cover to prevent bugs and let sit on the counter
for 4-6 weeks, press down once a day and skim off any scum,
once you see white mold circles on top, it's done

5 weeks for this batch and time to process

the only thing I ever use a baster for is to such the nasty juice off the top

then I take the whole top layer off to make sure no ick gets in the jars

stuff into jars and pop in the fridge, they will keep for months


No comments:

Post a Comment