Monthly Archives: November 2011

making princess sauerkraut

princess sauerkraut

This is delicious. Sweet and sour, freshly fermented and crunchy cabbage. And it’s pink. Hence the name. We have a lot of girls in our household, so the word ‘princess’ is often used as an adjective. As in, ‘princess cauliflower’ (dyed pink from beets), ‘princess rice’ (same), ‘princess soup’ (my attempt to copy my mother-in-law’s borscht), and my new favourite, ‘princess sauerkraut’ (a head of red cabbage made its way into the crock).

I documented my first attempt at making sauerkraut in a large crock, just in case it turned out…. and it did! Many thanks to my Grandma for giving me her very heavy 5-gallon-or-so crock.

So anyway, the first thing I do is buy a container of balkan-style yogurt. The purest one, with bacterial cultures and 6% fat. Then I suspend it in a fabric in a jar, so all the whey drips out. This whey helps seed the bacteria. You could also use goat if you have cow dairy allergies. I have a container of goat yogurt in my fridge, waiting for the next batch, just to try it out. What’s left in the cloth works well as a stiff sour cream.

separating whey

 

Once that’s been sitting for a day you’ll have lots of whey. What’s in the photo is what I’ve used for 3-4 heads of cabbage plus other stuff. There’s really no exact recipe here…. but the princess sauerkraut contains 2 green cabbages, 1 red cabbage, 3 large carrots, and a bunch of radishes.

I use my food processor to shred the veggies, then put them in the crock.

cabbage in the crock

Between each head of cabbage, I sprinkle about a tablespoon or a bit more of salt. Don’t use iodized salt. Sea salt works well, or the pink rock salt (princess household, I tell you…) works well.

And… mix it up.

mixing up the kraut

The salt works to release water from the cabbage, which is what a good batch of sauerkraut needs. Everything under the juices stays well-preserved, even if there’s mold growing on the surface (although I don’t leave mine that long, I could if I wanted to). I help the process by mixing, punching it down, squeezing it in my hands, and pressing down. In the next photo you can see how nicely the juices have started coming up.

kraut juice

To keep it under the water, I put cabbage leaves around the outside edges and a plate in the middle.

plate in the crock

And a big jar full of water on top of the plate to weigh it down.

weight on plate in the crock

And covered it to protect from RFCs.*

crock cover

Then: the waiting. 5 days of waiting. Checking every day to make sure the water level was above the cabbage level. Sometimes a few times. Smelling it, making sure it smelled right. Trust me, if it goes bad, you know. It smelled good and sour the whole time, and made my mouth water waiting for it.

I thought 5 days was good enough and decided to taste test.

sauerkraut testing

It was delicious, so I put it in jars and into the fridge. Yum!

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Not long after (maybe an hour or so?), the crock looked like this:

spicy kraut

SPICY kraut!!! 4 green cabbages, 3 lbs carrots, 2 bags radishes, 1 chunk of ginger, 4 jalapenos and 4 chili peppers. Plus whey and salt. Oh baby. It is good. (It’s now in my fridge too.) I would add more hot peppers next time though.

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*RFC: Random Flying Contaminant. You never know when your 7-year-old is going to sneeze up long-distance gobs. And 9-year-olds doing dishes tend to create projectile suds somehow. And when hubby clips fingernails in the kitchen…. well…. you get the idea….