Monday, June 22, 2009

Saurekraut

Well, my cousin Andrea asked me about the sauerkraut a couple posts ago. I started to type a reply to that comment but realized that there was too much information for that method. A post seems the best way to convey all of the intricacies and the nuances of such an art.

Watch the tutorials on YouTube!

There, post finished.

Later,
~Pam

Just kidding Andrea!

Okay, I made my sauerkraut using the salt-only method. This is the second batch I have made this way. I am considering using the "cheater" way but just haven't gotten around to it.

Salt Method Of Making Sauerkraut:

One head of organic cabbage (I say organic cause it cancels a lot of the health benefits if you use cabbage that's been grown with synthetic fertilizer, insecticides and herbicides)
Unrefined Sea Salt (it still has the trace minerals in it that can only make you healthier)
A crock or glass jar (one head of cabbage filled a gallon jar)

Shred the cabbage very thinly. I mean THIN. You've all seen sauerkraut! Alternate layers of cabbage and salt in your container until the container is full. You don't have to completely cover each cabbage layer with salt though, just a teaspoon or so ought to do. Remember, salt is pretty powerful and you don't want your sauerkraut to be too salty.

After the container is full, use your fist or a mallet, or something equally blunt to crush the cabbage until juices are released. Try to get enough juice to cover the cabbage completely but if you can't then cover it with salt water. Try and shoot for juice coverage though so you don't get too much salt.

Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least two weeks. The warmer the ambient temperature the faster your kraut will ferment. I had to leave mine out for a month since I made it in January, in our chilly kitchen. Start tasting as soon as you want and when it's fermented to your tastes then put it somewhere cool so it'll last longer. This is how I made my first and second batch. The first batch had cabbage, beets, kale and beet greens in it so it was a really nice shade of pink but it was too salty. This batch is much better in that regard but it is purely cabbage. I tried to make pickles the same way but I really need to do it with gherkins instead of the slicing cucumbers you buy in the store.

Now, the "cheater" method and the easiest way to predict results and also the best way to ferment salsa and relish is to use a yogurt starter. Instead of layering the product with salt, just fill your container, crush and add starter that has been put in water. (1/4 cup water per packet of starter seems to be the consensus) . You can buy yogurt starter in most health food stores. I've been toying with the idea of making relishes and some salsa since the company that makes those products doesn't ship to Alaska for whatever retarded reason.

Now, the reason for the salt, in case you don't know. Salt kills bacteria, most of them anyway. Salt in your ferments will retard the growth of putrefying bacteria long enough for the lactobacilli to take over. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, which pickles things. Using the starter simply adds the lactobacilli from the get go so there is no contest with the nasties and your product ferments faster, better and you're better able to predict the final result. There's the added bonus of not getting it too salty. I haven't done it so far cause I wanted to do it the "right" way. I wanted to make authentic sauerkraut, authentic kefir and authentic sourdough. I'm loosening up a bit and might give the starter method a try. I'll let you know how it goes. You can also use whey from making cream cheese to make your ferments. Just put some yogurt in a cloth, suspended over a bowl. The clearish liquid that drains out is whey and it is loaded with the same bacteria as the yogurt. The drained yogurt can be used as cream cheese and makes a really great, healthy spread for bagels and stuff!

Okay, now for the mini lecture cause you knew it was coming. The health benefits of fermented things have been known for centuries, but Western civilization has forgotten. And since it has been forgotten and phased out of the typical American menu, it's harder to get people to at least try a fermented product. Fermenting something increases the nutritional content, makes those increased nutrients more available for our bodies, makes food easier to digest, introduces probiotics to our systems and tastes down-right delicious. Digestive issues can often be resolved with the introduction of fermented food.
There are many, many, many things that have been or can be fermented if you are creative enough to try. Happy fermenting!
Later,
~Pam

3 comments:

Andrea Michaud said...

You are lucky!! I almost jumped on over to youtube and missed the whole thing!

Andrea said...

i commented too soon. Mom made hers the salty way. Dad is now making Kimchi the same way but with lot's of stuff in it. Tears your knuckles up, then puts spicy stuff in the wound. but it's worth it. I get the love of fermentation is in our veins.

alaskan arndts said...

I'd love to make kimchi but Mom probably wouldn't eat it. I guess the only kimchi she ever tasted was not done right and she thinks it's nasty.
Haha I knew it might get you but I trusted that I didn't separate the parts too far from each other.
Maybe the love of doing things ourselves, the "old-fashioned" way, is in our veins?
Did you go to youtube anyway? There are some really great tutorials there. I especially love the ones by Zukay. They do the salsa and relish but won't ship to Alaska. They also have really neat hair tutorials!! "wink, wink"

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We're a family that came to Alaska in shifts. We've been here since 1995 and don't plan to leave any time soon.

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