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Monday, February 1, 2010

Sauerkraut- no science

I was reading up on sauerkraut last week. The author made it sound like the process of making this condiment was rocket science. It baffled me how an author could make such a simple process so complex, involving many steps, specialized equipment, etc. If people have been making sauerkraut for thousands of years, sauerkraut making must be simple enough for those without advanced degrees to do.
And it is.

To make sauerkraut you will need a few things:
A container with a cover- neither plastic nor metal. Glass and ceramic are probably best.
Cabbage
Salt
Water
Mustard seeds (optional)
Carroway seeds (optional)

Cut the cabbage into little thin pieces. Put some in the glass container. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Put in some more cabbage and then put some more salt. Continue with this until either the container gets filled up or the cabbage finishes up. Add water to the mix, enough to cover the cabbage plus another inch or so. Add some mustard seeds and/or carraway seeds if you would like. 
Taste the water. Is it salty? No? Add some more salt. You want it salty enough to stop any spoilage from happening. You want it saltier than you enjoy your food- salty as tears.
Is the water salty enough? Good. Now add some more salt to the top of the cabbage but don't mix it in. 

Leave the cabbage on the counter for a few days. Every day or so you want to poke the cabbage that floats up back underwater to make sure it doesn't spoil.
When your sauerkraut starts tasting sour and the cabbage is no longer rubbery/chewy, transfer it to the refrigerator.

The first time I made sauerkraut I didn't put it in the fridge. I had read that in the olden days they used to keep sauerkraut for months. Silly me, thinking that there was no way they had fridges back in the day. I assumed that meant that sauerkraut doesn't need refrigeration. It does. Don't make my mistake. It will last a while once refrigerated, but it does need refrigeration once it is ready.

Sauerkraut has vitamin C, helps your foods last longer and contains pro-biotics for a healthier system overall. Sauerkraut is also great in many recipes- coming up this week is a yummy dinner that calls for your sauerkraut, so go make it now so that it will be ready once the recipe calls for it!

Do you enjoy sauerkraut? Eat it with hot dogs? Do you make your own sauerkraut?

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