Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sauerkraut

Western NY is the country's largest producer of cabbage. Oh boy, you say, rather flatly, I love cabbage. Um. I think.

Cabbage is not a terribly exciting vegetable, I'll admit. I'm not a big fan of cabbage rolls, cabbage is not my favorite reason to eat corned beef, but I do like coleslaw. And sauerkraut.

I know what you're thinking: "But June, sauerkraut is gross. It is slimy and mushy and you always say we shouldn't eat canned vegetable."

Guess what? You're right. Sauerkraut is slimy and mushy and you shouldn't eat canned vegetables. But I'm not talking about sauerkraut from a can. I'm talking about homemade sauerkraut.

Homemade tastes nothing like the pucker-your-mouth in disgust stuff that comes out of a can. And guess what? It is pretty easy to make.

You may recall that I ordered a ridiculously small crock to use for pickles. Yeah, that didn't work out, but I made pickles anyway. The crock, however, is the perfect size to use for a small batch of sauerkraut.

So, the first thing you do is slice the cabbage. I used the slice disk on the cuisinart, the shredding disk would make it too small. I used a really small cabbage, probably only about two pounds. After slicing, I put it into a glass (non-reactive, get it?) bowl and sprinkled it with pickling salt, (about 2 T) juniper berries (1 Tsp) and caraway seeds (1 tsp). I mixed it with my very clean hands (or you could wear gloves). Then the fun begins.

You have to pack the sauerkraut into the crock really tightly, a little at a time. I used a potato masher to tamp it down. At first, it seems you may not get it all in, but keep going. You can pack a lot of cabbage if you take out all of your aggression on it! Once it is packed tightly, you need to weigh it down a bit. Most recipes tell you to put a plate and a heavy weight, and you can do that, but I used a piece of wax paper and a ziploc bag full of water.

After a couple of days, take the weight off of it and skim the top of any gross looking scum. Do this every two or three days, making sure the cabbage stays submerged in the brine. After about four weeks, put it in the fridge. It will keep for a long time. It will have a nice mellow flavor.

Make a reuben. Or choucroute. Or a hot dog. I don't care, just try it.

Excuse the background mess in the last picture. I just got done packing school lunches and making smoothies for breakfast with the giant drink mixer. You can also see the cool meat slicer in the background. I bought a hunk of ham on sale and sliced it for sandwiches myself, cause I am just that awesome.





9 comments:

Meghan said...

My family and I are having some kind of sauerkraut making party this weekend. Cabbage is really big here, too! How funny that you are doing the same thing!

The Mendon Foodie said...

You must be making a lot to have a party, but from what my sister-in-law who was raisding in Russia tells me, making the most out of what is at hand is a way of life in Eastern Europe. Please blog more, Meghan, I love reading about your adventures and life in the Czech Republic. (PS, if I slip and call it Czechoslovakia, Alex always reprimands me and informs me that it was split into two distinct countries, which I know of course, but he thinks he is so superior and smarter than I. Cheeky twelve year old.)

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Anonymous said...

Hey Patricia, who cares?

Warm regards
Tonia

Anonymous said...

Hey great post. Thought I'm not sure I agree with you 100%. Keep em coming. Are you interested in having anyone guest post opposing views?

Anonymous said...

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Tracy from Rah Cha Chow said...

Where were you when I was on cabbage overload from my CSA? I wish I had seen this then. Maybe next fall. Thought I'd drop in to wish you a happy new year!

Medifast Coupon said...

Homemade that is awesome. I remember my grand mother making her own sauerkraut, but never thought to make my own. I love sauerkraut in with my cabbage rolls. Guess what I think I better make, haha, thanks so much.