Back to Sauerkraut & The Incredible Picnic

On Sunday my team of intrepid volunteers and I headed out to the Select Nova Scotia Incredible Picnic.  There were delicious lunches, honey samples, a microscope in which to check out soil samples, a petting zoo and more.

We had samples of lactofermented pickles (like the ones we made at the Bridgewater Sustainability Festival) and we were making sauerkraut.  Now, if you’ve been reading our blog since the early days, you’ll know that sauerkraut was the great food adventure of last summer.  My former co-worker, Keltie, and I got a little overzealous with the sauerkraut and ended up making about 15 heads of cabbage worth of the stuff.  That’s a lot of kraut!  All that kraut did force us to get creative.  I like sauerkraut lightly sauteed with a little apple and onion.  Keltie perfected the sauerkraut chocolate cupcake.

This year, I’m trying to hold back a little – just 4 cabbages went into this batch.  Sauerkraut is possibly the easiest preserve to make.  Here’s the recipe:

Simple Sauerkraut
Ingredients:
5 lbs cut cabbage (approx. 2 small cabbages)
3 Tablespoons Kosher or pickling salt (non-iodized)

Directions:
•    Wash and cut (or shred) fresh cabbage. Remove any outer leaves that are damaged.
•    Salt and mix the cabbage in a non-metal bowl. Use 5 tsp of coarse pickling salt for every head of cabbage.
•    Pack cabbage into a crock or food-grade plastic bucket. Pack down the cabbage with a non-metal tool (such as a mason jar or rolling pin) – but, if you like your kraut crispy, be gentle. Water will emerge from the cabbage.
•    Lay a plate, fitted to the size of your container, on top of the sauerkraut. On top of the plate, rest a weight (such as a clean rock, heavy jug or bag of water).
•    Let stand up to 6 weeks (depending on how strong you would like your sauerkraut to taste).   If you’re keeping your kraut at room temperature it may be done in as little as 3 weeks.  Cooler temperatures (less than 18 degrees Celsius) will require longer fermentation, but some say it gives you better flavour.  Keep tasting the kraut as the weeks progress and refrigerate it when it achieves the tanginess you like!

Delicious Additions to Sauerkraut:
– grated apple
– grated beet
– chopped onion
– dill seeds
– juniper berries
– caraway seeds
– white wine
– celery seeds
– bay leaves

What’s your favourite way to enjoy sauerkraut?

Update:

I just got this email from Food Action Committee volunteer Angela Hersey:

Hi Marla!
I have a question about sauerkraut – when it’s finished fermenting, can I simply store it in jars? And does it need to be refrigerated or can I keep it on a shelf (maybe then it would need to be processed?)

Thanks!
Angela

My response:

When it’s finished fermenting, you should put it in the fridge (or a root cellar).  This will slow down the fermentation and it should keep for a few months.  If you kept it on a shelf, it would keep getting stronger.  Alternatively, you can process it in a boiling water bath and keep it on the shelf.  This, however, will kill off the good bacteria that lacto-fermentation is so famous for.

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3 thoughts on “Back to Sauerkraut & The Incredible Picnic

  1. I have happy childhood memories of making sauerkraut with my dad from our own cabbages — a very Lunenburg County thing to do at the time, now more widespread. For cooking we would stew pork in it and make the whole meal milder and more delicate by serving on a bed of mashed potato.

  2. I have a brand new product which is very useful in lacto fermented vegetables made in a jar.
    They are weights made of glass that fit into the top of the canning jar that help hold the veggies under the brine solution.
    I have them listed on Ebay, just search for ‘lacto ferment glass jar weights’.

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