Saturday, 3 March 2012

local food: sauerkraut

Right now, there are a lot of Summer cabbages coming out of the garden - sweet and crunchy and refreshing. I love raw cabbage and eat it daily through the Winter - I love the contrasting texture it brings to our Winter meals. I also don't mind it steamed - I remember my mum's cabbage and silverbeet steamed up together. For the 70's she was good at not boiling the heck out of it. 
So as you can imagine I planted a lot of cabbages this season and are sowing more for the next season.
Early last year I made my first batch of sauerkraut (pickled cabbage). I had been wanting to make it for a while but had put it off, thinking I needed mountains of cabbage for some reason. Then it dawned on me  to do a small batch. Indeed small steps are good in the beginning just in case it all comes out wrong. 
Now it is a regular in our meals; Gunter being from the Vaterland likes it warmed and with sausages.  I prefer it it cold as part of a salad lunch. Whichever way you prefer it, fermented food is full of the goodness of micro-organisms, is a great digestive tonic and tastes wild and alive. 
If you want to know more check out Sandor Katz's website, the author of the book Wild Fermentation.
Here is what I do when I'm making sauerkraut:

> Walk into the garden and choose a cabbage or two (or three.) Wash them, take the outer leaves off (the chickens will appreciate them) and weigh the remaining cabbage. Write the weight down or do the maths there and then and move on. The important maths in the sauerkraut equation is adding approximately 3 Tbsp per 2.5 kg of cabbage.
> Slice the cabbage thinly and place in a large bowl.
> Add the salt and mix it through. I then sometimes let it stand for 20-30 minutes for the salt to start pulling the water from the cabbage.
> Place the cabbage into your crock - I use the ceramic inner dish of my slow cooker or a large ceramic fruit bowl we have. At this stage I  press firmly down on the cabbage to press water from cabbage and to get rid of the air pockets. Sometimes I use my pestle. Place a plate on top of the cabbage which fits just inside the dish. 
>On top of the plate use a weight of some sort - previously I have used a rock, weights from some old scales and a jug full of water. The idea is to keep the cabbage tucked under the brine which will appear.
> Place a tea towel over the top of the bowl and set aside somewhere out of the way.
> Check the crock the next morning. The brine should be covering the cabbage. If it isn't you can just add a bit of salted water to cover the cabbage.
> The crock will ferment faster in warmer weather. Try it every couple of days and see what you think.
> I usually wait a week, transfer it into a jar and put in the fridge for eating.  

The sun has come out. I'm heading outside. Happy Sunday readers.

Posted by Jacinda, an occassional writer at

1 comment:

  1. I keep wanting to make sauerkraut too, thank you for sharing how you do it. Last summer (summer, here that is) we were over run with cabbage - they were all ready at the same time and many started splitting. My family was getting a wee bit tired of eating so much cabbage. Right now I'm only just going to start seeding cabbage for this year's garden.