Sunday, January 1, 2012

Home made Sauerkraut. Let me digress.

Sauerkraut ; Yiddish: זויערקרויט zoyerkroyt [ˈzɔjərˌkrɔjt]), French Choucroute, Polish Kiszona kapusta directly translated: "sour cabbage", is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage. It is therefore not to be confused with pickled cabbage or coleslaw, which receives its acidic taste from vinegar.

OK enough of the technical stuff. So how did this homemade kraut thing get going? 

Well my wife's grandfather used to own a corner store in Batavia NY, back during the depression. It seems that he made home made sauerkraut that he sold to his customers. Everyone talked about the fact that he could not make enough to satisfy everyone and he had to keep making more and more. Well years passed on and Grandpa Hap had to move in to the Vets hospital due to issues with his leg. So everyone showed up to help clean out his house and get it ready for sale. 

Long story, short version I ended up with the Sauerkraut ceramic crocks and the Cabbage slicers. 

So reading about how good real Sauerkraut is for you and being surrounded by fresh cabbages at the public market at the end of the season.... I started my Sauerkraut experiment.

Here is the Cabbage slicer on top of the Kraut pail ready for action
Then I followed the real simple recipes that I found on the web. 

They are all pretty much the same: Cut the cabbage into thin slices, then break apart and put into bowl.  Sprinkle in some sea or kosher salt, stir it up and repeat. 

From Alton Brown: Pack cabbage mixture down into a large plastic food container. Top with a lid smaller than the opening of the container and place a glass jar filled with the quart of water on top of the lid. Place in cool area overnight (65 to 70 degrees F). In a day, the cabbage should have given up enough liquid to be completely submerged. The jar serves as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged and away from air.

Check cabbage every other day for approximately 2 weeks and skim the surface of scum, if necessary. Let stand for 4 weeks. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Here is my 4 week old kraut in its plastic crock after I removed the weight (3lb plastic Maxwell House Coffee container filled with water) skimmed the bloom (mold) and poured off the excess water.

Looks good don't it?
Home made Sauerkraut was a success! Its fresh and crunchy, little bit of salt and little bit sour. No vinegary taste at all. Very mild flavor and just right after 4 weeks of fermenting in the basement. So here are the results: 2 bags of regular Kraut, one bag with caraway seeds just added, and the last one is the red one with franks hot sauce and hot Hungarian Paprika power. Ready for eating!