In the Lehigh Valley and many other places in the USA there is a tradition of pork and sauerkraut for New Years Day dinner for good luck in the new year. I don’t know about that although I am making just that for lunch on Friday. But what I do now know is how to make my own kraut. A few post ago I wrote about kefir which is full of fantastic probiotics. A promise was made to give you a post about another food full of probiotics.
Well…this is it! How to make homemade sauerkraut. Guessing that you are cringing at the very thought of it but honestly it is quite a simple project and the taste is strangely addictive. I like to eat a couple forkfuls every day for increased gut health, a concern for those of us with celiac disease. In the past I was not a huge fan of store sauerkraut but homemade is a different animal. It is zingy on the tongue and I really just enjoy it. Knowing it is so good for me is the icing on the cake. You may say why bother but the truth is that store kraut is pasteurized and all the good probiotics are cooked right out of it. Buying raw kraut is a bit hard to find and quite pricy. Being a DIY sort of gal I enjoy that sort of fun and wanted to give it a try. Call me hooked!
1 large head of cabbage
3 tbsp. fine sea salt (Mortons will do as well I imagine)
Directions: remove the outer layer of leaves and cut in half. Use your coarse blade on a food processor or a slicer and chop it up. Not too fine. In my first batch I did half by hand and half in my Kitchen Aid shredder. I found the machine chopped cabbage was too fine although quite edible. Better to have it a tad coarse is my feeling but entirely up to you. I use a big sharp chef’s knife and hand chop quarters of cabbage into thin shreds and cut again once or twice across to shorten the strands. Do remember to cut out the core; too hard for making into kraut.
As you get a pile chopped load it into a big wide mouth jar. I have a tall glass canister I use for kraut production. You need a glass or ceramic jar. No metal. I wouldn’t suggest plastic either. You can buy a special sauerkraut maker jar with a fancy lid that vents the jar. Or you can go low tech and put a layer of olive oil on top the loaded jar to keep the air off the kraut. As you load it sprinkle each big clump with the salt. Fill it to the top using up the salt. I press down after adding each clump of shreds. The salt will cause the cabbage to release water. Fill the jar as full as possible. I like to use an empty glass canning jar to press down the cabbage. In a few hours it will have released enough liquid to cover the cabbage. You can’t allow the cabbage to be above the liquid. Put a lid on top to keep dust out. Do not refrigerate; the process won’t work well if it is chilled before four weeks passes.
Now comes the hard part. The waiting…30 whole days, it should be edible after about 20 but it tastes more krauty after 30, actually I like it best by about 40 days. So be strong and wait until the thirty days is up. It will be a touch sour and take some getting used to but I really love the crunchy flavor which is missing in that pasteurized stuff you buy in the grocery store.
I include a link to a webpage on how to make kraut: http://www.vegetable-gardening-online.com/making-sauerkraut.html
And just for extra help: a webpage to use in trouble shooting your kraut and to reassure you that you are doing it right as well as giving some great ideas for how to make sauerkraut at home. http://www.foodrenegade.com/3-biggest-fermenting-mistakes-youre-already-making/
If you are a DIY sort, this will be a fun winter project. It is too close to New Years Day so if you want sauerkraut with your pork you should toddle off to the grocery store and buy a bag or a can. I am doing that because I don’t have enough kraut on hand for the making of that time honored New Years Day recipe. Enjoy and Happy New Years to all my readers.