Monday, March 4, 2013

Put some Color in Your Kraut

How much green and red cabbage can you eat?  You've cooked it, you've sauteed it, and you've used it in salads and slaws.  You've got cabbage coming out of your ears and there are still cabbage heads in the garden.  How about making some colorful sauerkraut for hot dogs and hamburgers at your picnic on upcoming warm summer days?

Fermentation is a method that has been with us for a long time to preserve the garden harvest.  Some say that sauerkraut aids in your digestion.  Cabbage in any form and shape will at least keep you regular.

My brother in Sweden told me about a recipe that called for whey obtained from buttermilk to be used in the sauerkraut.  It sounded too complicated for me but I did it anyway.  The kraut turned out crisp and tasty. But there has got to be an easier way.

I searched the Internet and found Sandor Katz's  He is a New York native now living in Tennessee and has written many books on fermentation.  He made sauerkraut without whey and added many other colorful vegetables.

Instead of a crock pot, I used a plastic pitcher bought at the big box store that nobody wants in their neighborhood.  It holds almost one gallon and comes with a lid.  To hold the kraut down under the liquid, I simply filled a plastic zip lock bag with enough water to fit into the pitcher. .

For starters, thinly slice 2 medium sized golden green cabbage heads and another red cabbage for color and toss into a large bowl.  Grate a few carrots for more color and throw in finely chopped broccoli, too.  A Granny Smith apple will go well with this mix.  Don't stop now!  Does chopped parsley fit in?  If you think it does; use it.  Raid the spice rack for fennel, cardamon, and dill seed.  Crush them slightly in a mortar or wrap them in a tea towel and use a hammer.  Easy does it.

Now the most important ingredient is salt.  To this colorful slaw, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ordinary iodized table salt and use elbow grease to grind it in.  Come on!  Give it some hearty squeezes, turn it, and knead it.  The salt will draw out the water from the vegetables and provide liquid needed for filling the pitcher and later the jars.  If you don't have enough liquid, make a brine of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water, heat to make it dissolve, and let cool.

Finally, transfer the finely sliced vegetables into pitcher, pack it down, cover with brine, add the plastic bag with water, put the lit on it, and let it stand for 3 - 4 weeks in a place where you can keep an eye on it.

When the kraut is fermented, spoon it into some pretty jars that have been rinsed on high heat for cleanliness and sterilization.  I recommend that the sauerkraut be stored in the fridge.

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