Sunday, March 1, 2009

Making Sauerkraut and Pickles!


Yip, that's what I been up to this afternoon, cutting and shredding cabbage heads and brining. So as not to reinvent the wheel, here is a perfect, all-purpose set of instructions for making kraut:


I don't have a food processor currently and the grater available is a bit unimpressive and kinked up so not the easiest tool for trying to tear down cabbage, but I wanted a mix of texture in this ferment so I did some chopping and some grating with 3 1/2 heads of green cabbage. I added some coriander seed, mustard seed, black pepper, cayenne, bit of garlic and some leftover kraut juice for the already developed lactic acid bacterial culture. It's well tamped into a gigantic mason jar with a couple of big outer leaves wrapped on the top of the kraut inside the jar and weighted with another long thin jar of water acting like a plunger. I'll taste this in about a week, though I don't expect it to mature for another few weeks.

The other day I was out at an asian grocery and I saw some firm green Japanese cucumbers in one of the bins. I had been thinking on making some pickles, so I grabbed a few. I had to read up a bit on pickles as my last attempt, though edible, were mushy. I found some notes about mushy pickles and it said very plainly that ripened, yellowing pickles will get mushy, look for firmer, greener fruits with more bumps. Well when I made pickles last year with a friend of mine, we figured, "Huh, these cukes are getting pretty ripe and we won't have time to eat them all. Why don't we make pickles? Isn't that what you do with stuuf to preserve it naturally?". We were partially correct and it did in fact create edible pickles, just not the texture we'd have liked them to be. Not a failure nor a success.

Here I am again, though this time I think I have it half right at least. These cukess I picked up are firmer and greener, but this species doesn't really have bumps? So I cleaned them, took the ends off, halved them all and put them in a 32oz jar half full of brine from a previous live pickle culture. It was a store bought, but live brine, name of Bubbies Kosher Dills. Very good and a fantastic starter. I expect these to take about a month. I'll update when I've tasted them in perhaps a couple of weeks.

A note on cultured foods: In caswe you are not in the know, cultured foods are meant to be alive when you buy them as well as when you eat them. If they've been pasteurized, they're dead, don't bother. Equally, once you are getting ready to eat them, heating them much past 114 F will start to destroy the probiotic culture resident in the ferment, so very important to eat it raw!

sauerkraut too

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