Making Sauerkraut Pt. 2

Success!  The sauerkraut has been sitting and fermenting for the past week and seems to be at an ideal level of both sourness and  crunchiness.  I had been tasting it about every two days or so, and yesterday afternoon when I tried it I knew it was time to take it from the primary fermentation and jar it up for the fridge.  It is a fascinating and complex flavor, definitely sauerkraut, but not at all like the store bought stuff.  Part of this is due to the seasonings I added (caraway, dill, and mustard seeds), but I suspect that another part has been the real warm weather we’ve been having which likely encouraged the growth of some yeasts along side the lactobacillus.

The thing I love the most about this first batch is the color of it.  The cabbage that I used were these tiny organic ones we’d bought at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery.  They had really dark red-green outer leaves, but on the inside they were that real pale green color.  After having fermented the kraut is a mix of hues of green while the brine has turned an intense pink.  You never see anything remotely like this in store bought stuff.

So now I have tons of sauerkraut and I am already planning some meals with which to eat it (pork chops tonight).  I feel real good about this first attempt at vegetable lacto-fermentation and am looking forward to my future batches (next up is some kimchi).

As I promised in the previous post here are some photos of the whole process.

Six small cabbages

These are the six small cabbages that I used in making this sauerkraut. All told they probably weighed less than five pounds together. They had beautiful color and giant frilly leaves which made them all the more appealing.

A cabbage in my hand

Here is a picture of one of the cabbages in my hand so that you can see the size and also a closer look at the leaves and coloration.

A small crock used for fermentation

This is the small crock that I used in the fermentation process. It worked out okay, but because the opening is smaller in diameter than the inside, it was a bit difficult to get a good weight to press the cabbage down in there.

A good ol' cabbage pounding

Yours truly smashing some cabbage with a potato masher. This process gets the vegetable's juices flowing and helps the salt work its magic. Also it is just kind of fun to take some pent up stress out on a bunch of chopped up cabbage.

Putting the cabbage in the crock

Once all the chopping and pounding of cabbage is complete, you can begin to fill the crock. You really want it to be packed in there to promote the anaerobic fermentation.

Filled crock

Here is the crock now full of cabbage with its brine. The plate will hold the under the brine once a weight has been put on it (I used a mason jar full of water as a weight). At this point the sauerkraut it ready to be put aside to start doing its fermentation magic thing.

Completed kraut

Here is the finished stuff. The color has changed some since the fermentation began but the cabbage still maintains most of its crispness.

Finished sauerkraut

The final product in jars. Placing the sauerkraut in the fridge does not entirely stop the fermentation process, but it does slow it down considerably. Now it is time to make some grub to go with this stuff (I'm thinking a Reuben would be pretty awesome).

Well, that is all I got for now.  I will try to write another post once I get around to making that kimchi.  Until then.

~ by Nathaniel on March 20, 2012.

One Response to “Making Sauerkraut Pt. 2”

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