First: I love sauerkraut. Really love to eat it. A world without sauerkraut is a world without love. I love love. Second: I just got my hands on a book I've been looking for - Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Oh this book makes me so happy. If you're into making your own ferments or sprouting or culturing, really look out for this book. It definitely reignited my excitement about fooding. And I think I really needed to be reignited. (It's winter...you know.)
Combining 1 &2: I made sauerkraut. A dear friend and I tried to make it a bit ago, but somehow it exploded and smelled like wet hot feet. We didn't want to eat it. We didn't want to go near it. And by the way, sauerkraut is too easy to make. (How did we go wrong?)
Either way, I tried to make it again. And taking tips from the book, I think I made a batch no where near feet. Hot, wet, or otherwise.
What you'll need:
Roughly Two Heads of Cabbage
Salt (sea or kosher)
Big crock or vat or container
Plate to fit inside container
I decided to use a red and a green cabbage, to make a pinkish kraut. But honestly you can use any kind you'd like. Shred or chop- either thick or thin. I used a wacky shredder from the 70's so my shred came out very/too thin. No problem.
As you shred the cabbage, place it in a large bowl and add a good amount of course salt: kosher or sea. For both heads of cabbage, I used about 5 tablespoons of salt. But I didn't measure, I just added salt as I shredded.
Next, put your cabbage, a couple hand fulls at a time, into the container. And then you punch. And press. And pound the cabbage. This (along with the salt) brings the moisture out and creates the brine your sauerkraut will live in. Don't worry if this doesn't create a ton of liquid yet, this will come in time. Once all the cabbage is in, place your plate directly on top of the cabbage. On top of this plate, place your weight to ensure your cabbage in under a lot of pressure. (The more pressure, the more liquid, the more fermentation.) Most recipes agree that a gallon jug full of liquid works best. This is what I used, as yes, it works beautifully.
And so it's done. Sauerkraut is being created. Cover your concoction with a cloth or towel to keep flies and dirt out and let it ferment in a cool, dry part of your house. You'll want to check your kraut every day or so to make sure the liquid is covering the plate. If you find that your cabbage hasn't produced enough on its own within the first 24 hours, you can help: add one tablespoon salt to one cup of water and mix until dissolved. Add this to your cabbage. Add more as needed until your plate is covered in brine.
You'll want to check your kraut periodically to make sure everything looks fine. If water has dissolved, add more salt water. Wait one week to a month. ( I know, its terrible. A month.)