Homemade Sauerkraut: Home Fermentation & Zymology 101
Homemade Sauerkraut: Zymology 101
Sauerkraut is simple to make at home and the part that requires attention is handled by a simple, made in the USA, effective product called the GoFerment lid. I am terrible at tasks that require long term attention. Making bread from scratch, minding candy as it cooks to a certain temperature, rinsing sprouts (daily? weekly? twice daily? hourly? ugh!), and the like are all failures for me. This device caught my attention because it eliminates the burping and paying attention during the week the produce ferments on the counter.
Get a cabbage, a mason jar, and a GoFerment lid (or an old fashioned crock if you have the attention that I lack) and a little salt and read on Wildflowers!
You will need:
½ green cabbage
½ tablespoon salt
You can double the above and use a half gallon jar. You can purchase quarts (for the half recipe that I made) or a half gallon jar (that I rarely see in stores in my rural area) by clicking the photo links below. Furthermore, if the idea of a handy lid that ensures fermenting success is enticing, click the photo link below to purchase.
Wash your receptacle (mason jar and GoFerment lid or crock) well and set aside. Fill the airlock (the top vial-thing extending into the air) to the fill line with water or cheap vodka. The airlock allows the gas that is created in the fermentation process to escape without allowing potentially mold-causing air in. It’s pretty smart.
Slice cabbage into shreds. Place cabbage into a bowl, add about half of the salt and begin working the cabbage with your hands, sort of kneading and massaging with vigor, aiming to release from the cabbage all the water that is naturally held within. I felt a bit disappointed at first because the brine took a while to be created. The more you squeeze, the more the cabbage will break down and the more brine will be released. Add the remaining salt and squeeze ever more. The goal is to create enough brine to cover the cabbage. If you become impatient or you don’t have quite enough brine, you can add some brine to the jar in the next step.
Screw on the GoFerment Lid and watch and wait for 7-10 days. Foaming a bit is okay, and the airlock allows gas to escape without letting potentially mold producing air in. I tasted it at day 7 and then at day 10. Day 7 was not enough tang, and too much like plain cabbage. 10 was perfect. Check yours with a clean utensil and give it another day or so if the taste isn’t to your liking.
If you want more information on fermenting foods, www.culturedfoodlife.com is a site I found that is full of information. The post I found particularly relevant was this one here: http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/fermenting-tip-use-a-lid-or-cloth/ This post discusses the pros and cons of using an old fashioned crock and troubleshoots some common pitfalls.
Why you should be eating more fermented foods: Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, buttermilk, and other vegetables help the immune system work at an optimal level. They are a natural source of microflora which helps with digestion and a variety of other systems within the body and they are a source of many nutrients. Furthermore, fermented foods were present in the diets of nearly all our ancestors. The most important reasons, to me? They are delicious, inexpensive, and fun to make.
My final product:
I LOVE how my sauerkraut isn’t mushy. It is soft, but not much. The mushy storebought ‘kraut I have had in the past has been entirely lacking structural integrity which I’m not crazy about. This homemade goodness is toothsome, even. It’s a condiment homerun. The flavor is cabbage-y but salty and tangy and really, really good.
To enjoy: I will be putting this sauerkraut in a Rueben sandwich, and on a Polish dog. What else should I eat it with, Wildflowers? AND, what should my next fermenting project be? Thanks for sharing your suggestions in the comments section! And if you want to grab your own GoFerment lid, use the link below!
If you aren’t sold on this weird, on the counter, home fermenting thing, consider this: By adopting waste-reducing processes, like home fermenting, you can waste less money and fewer resources. Food waste is a real shame, for lots and lots of reasons, and this infographic below can be a guide for buying dry goods in bulk and produce not in bulk and more often.
For example, my little family often won’t eat a whole head of cabbage before it starts looking less than appetizing. So, by cutting my cabbage in half, making roasted cabbage and onions for supper and sauerkraut with the other (both while the cabbage is fresh) then I have avoided the food waste I might have succumbed to otherwise.