Have you ever been all geared up to start a major project and you’re ready to go crazy with it – only to have it totally flop the next day? The next hour? ME: Buy a bunch of healthy stuff and start a diet on Monday morning. ALSO ME: eat chips or doughnuts on Tuesday. Well! That was a fun diet while it lasted! It doesn’t even matter on the time frames, either. ME: Start planning, organizing, and planting seeds for my garden during winter. ALSO ME: July hits with all the heat and bugs, and I’m so sick of the garden, I’ll gladly eat fast food so I don’t have to think about it any more. Who cares if I have fresh produce?!
Do ya feel me on this? I am, quite possibly, THE worst example of patience on the planet! There have been many times I’ve considered patience as my big ‘reason’ for being in the wheelchair. It is super frustrating to have to lug around a vacuum while wrestling with the chair. It drives me crazy to have to wait for someone to take the chair down the steps so I can get from my kitchen to the back porch. It irritates me to no end to take twice as much time doing something that someone else can do in a few minutes. Ability levels have nothing to do with it. It’s all about the time for me. Patience is NOT one of my virtues! LOL
But, I’ve also learned that patience has it’s rewards, too. Take sauerkraut, for example. Back when I was starting my domestic journey and learning about different ways to preserve food, I learned how to make sauerkraut. As much as I adore it, six weeks (or more!) sounded like a ridiculously long time for what ya get. But, I was committed to learning, so followed all the steps. Waited all the time. Threw my little tantrums about it taking so long. Then, hoped and prayed I didn’t kill anyone when it was finally done fermenting and ready to eat!
My friends – let me just tell you! This stuff is a TOTAL game-changer! Trust me on this. If you’re as impatient as I am (please, someone tell me you are, too!) it’s going to be a bit of a messy hassle. But I promise, it’s worth the wait! If you like it at all, and I realize there are only a select few of us on the planet that really do, you’re going to love this!
So how do I do it? Super easy, actually. Just two heads of cabbage (you can use any color you want), two onions, and a tablespoon of SEA SALT (not the iodized table stuff!) per quart. The amount of salt will vary according to the size of the vegetables used. Chop up the vegetables. You can make the slices as big or fine as you want. I would suggest a cabbage shredder or a strong guy with an equally strong knife, as it takes some time and muscle to do it by hand.
Measure how many cups of vegetables you end up with, and add the sea salt. Then, you’ll want to mix and mash it with your hands (or a sauerkraut pounder) until it breaks down a bit and is very juicy. It make take ten minutes or so to do it by hand. It should reduce in volume quite a bit depending on how juicy the vegetables are.
Then, pack it into your jars. If you want to make more than this, you can use a fermenting pot , but I just use canning bottles with plastic (NOT metal!) lids, and that works fine. After the jars are packed, weight the veggies down so they stay under the brine. Yes, it will float after a day or two. I use washed candle holders for my weights. Weird, I know, but it works. If you don’t have enough brine to cover the veggies completely, add a tablespoon of sea salt to a quart of water, stir to dissolve, and pour that on top.
This is a HUGELY important step, though! If the vegetables pop up above the brine, they can mold, and you’ll ruin the whole batch in the container. It’s NOT safe to just scoop off the moldy stuff and keep going, as mold spores can be tiny and down inside, and you’ll miss them. This is another reason I like the smaller jars, rather than a whole crock. If one gets moldy for whatever reason, I don’t lose everything. If a white, hairy-looking film forms on it, that’s ok. It’s kahm yeast, and not harmful. The bad mold is colorful – like bread mold. THAT will be the stuff you want to toss.
Then, put your plastic lids on, stick it in a closet or somewhere else out of the way, and wait…and wait…and wait (sigh…is it ready YET?) You’ll want to check it every couple of days to make sure the vegetables are staying under the brine. Mash it back down with a wooden (NOT metal!) spoon if it’s poking out. Then cover it again. You may get some brine spilling out of it as it bubbles & ferments. That’s normal. Just put a tray under it to catch the drips. Not all batches are created equal, either. Some will bubble like crazy and some will only do it a little bit. Both are fine.
I don’t start tasting mine until at least a month has gone by. See where that whole patience thing comes into play? My sauerkraut is usually ready within 4-6 weeks. Until it does it’s magic, it will just taste like salty cabbage. Gross.
When it’s done to your liking, toss it in the fridge, or if you don’t care about killing off some of the probiotic goodies in it, you can waterbath it for 15 minutes and store it that way. Feel free to use all green cabbage, all red cabbage, onions or no onion, or any other vegetables you like, too. The mix I use is just a personal preference. (I also kinda dig the radioactive pink color it turns after a couple of weeks! It’s WILD!)
Anyway! I hope that helps. Let the waiting game BEGIN!