I felt pretty satisfied looking down at my kitchen bench. Sure it looked ridiculously crowded, and if someone had asked for a sandwich at that particular moment, I would have had to point them in the opposite direction…but. There was still that sense of satisfaction.
Satisfaction in the form of my bench tops being full of bacteria, and lots of it. There was the ever-present sourdough starter bulking up and bubbling away, there was the slowly sprouting buckwheat, gaining little green tails. There were kefir grains in the wings waiting, and the new guy who only speaks a little English… Herr Sauerkraut.
I’d finally taken the plunge, and had jumped in. I had been put off by pictures, wafty smells and stories of mouldy cabbages. Also the length of time to do it and having no bench space or proper pot to make it in. Saskia and I had talked of it awhile ago and then there it sat. A suggestion, a hint, sauerkraut were you going to happen?
I looked up lots of recipes and decided that a quick and easy version using sugar, and vinegar seemed like a good option. Twenty minutes cooking no problem!
But I held back. I make sourdough, I make yogurt, I sprout things, I wanted to try kefir, was I really going to be content with a twenty minute version or should I try and do it properly?
Well, put it like that and there sat my answer…get going girl.
Half a cabbage cut as finely as possible. In a bowl with two teaspoons of salt and crunch it all up in your hands. Breaking it down, releasing the juices. (Unless you have arms of steel, I crunched it a bit and then left it, going back and forth over the next half an hour or so.) Then in a clean glass jar, squash it all in with the juices sitting at the top, (it breaks down a lot.) My half cabbage was quickly nothing in size and I wished I had more to put in there. Lesson learnt for next time. I’d kept one outer leaf to put over the top of the cabbage mixture and then some muslin and a rubber band over top.
Now the waiting. One week to 6 months is how long you can leave it. Due to teeny tiny kitchen bench spaces, I was not going to be waiting 6 months. Projects were lining up on the bench tops and a week was all I was giving it.
Taking the muslin off, the outer cabbage leaf out and sticking my nose in, what do we have? Bless my birkinstocks if we don’t have sauerkraut.
That was ridiculously easy, and now I’ve got a lovely batch of sauerkraut sitting in my fridge ready to be teamed up with…well pretty much everything, (including the reuben sandwich.)
How about you, have you made sauerkraut? Does the fermenting world entice you or scare the pants off you?