Kraut in March
I don’t care for growing cabbage myself. In my small garden it takes up too much space per square foot for the nutrition it provides, and try as I might, I cannot keep it free from slugs, or twigs, or whatever else falls into the leaves before they close up. I’d much rather use that same space for kale or collards which I enjoy fresh all season long. Cabbage I prefer to eat processed into sauerkraut, which I like to make in March when it is dirt cheap and when I am itching for a homesteading project.
Here’s how I always spend my St. Patricks Day weekend:
I trim the end of the cabbage and remove whatever leaves fall off with it. I keep the nicest looking ones. Then I trim down to the core and then into slices the size of my food processor’s feed tube.
I run the slices through the shredder until the processor (I have a 9 cup size) is full. I dump the shredded cabbage into my big bread bowl and sprinkle two teaspoons of salt over the top. I do about three processor loads into each batch, adding salt each time.
I knead the salt into the cabbage until it starts to get really juicy and bubbly. Then I pack the cabbage into a 2-quart wide mouth canning jar and pour the juice over top.
I use those leaves I saved from earlier to push the shredded cabbage down below the water line and hold it in place with a 4-oz size regular mouth canning jar. Then I add an airlock lid. I have used these in the past with success. This year when I needed more I gave these ones a try. They are silicone and look easier to clean and less fragile.
You can make kraut without airlocks but I am too wimpy. Lacto-fermented foods get a fine white mold on top which is harmless and can be skimmed off, but it grosses me out. Airlocks allow the air exchange necessary for the fermentation without allowing the mold to grow.
I love lacto-fermented foods and this is my favorite book on the subject. It explains everything you need to know and has a recipe for everything you could possibly want to ferment. I have only done cabbage, radishes, and cauliflower so far. I base my recipe on their standard kraut recipe. This year I want to try fermented ketchup and sriracha.
Overall, eight heads of cabbage made 10 quarts of kraut. I will leave this on the counter for about a week before I check on it and move it to the fridge. It really does last a whole year if you let it. Mine sat around for awhile before I got on a kraut kick and started eating it every day. By the time I made it all the way through my batch it had sat for 11 months.
Besides the maybe two times Spencer eats kraut on a hotdog in a year, how are we going to make it through 10 quarts of kraut? Besides as a summer side dish, sauerkraut is a breakfast food favorite of mine. I eat it cold with a hard-cooked egg and mustard. Sometimes I cook it with some fennel, mix in some sour cream and paprika, and eat it with a runny egg on top.
Do you make your out sauerkraut? How do you like to eat it?