Category Archives: sauerkraut

GRAND OPENING: SAUERKRAUT

POST #936
I opened the sauerkraut this afternoon – at 3-1/2 days.  The jar I made with probiotics was great, as usual, but I am not terribly crazy about the jar made with the kimchi juice.  It is okay, I mean, it isn’t off or anything, but I am not so sure I like the taste. It seems a little bitter to me. Perhaps it will grow on me (meantime, I can hope that the people at the meet-up do like it and eat it all up).  I’ve put what was left in the jar back on the board to ferment a little longer – that might help, too.  I was kind of surprised that, despite all the garlic and jalapeno I put in there, it doesn’t taste all that garlicky (at least not to me) nor does it seem overly spicy.

I put half of each jar into pint jars, identifiable by different lids, to take to the meet-up tonight.  I always hope the people will like what I have made.  This is my first time with this group, so it should be interesting.

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WOW! WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Joys of fermentation

POST #934
I just started my two sauerkraut batches last night, but when I came home tonight, there was a funny smell … heck! I know I cleaned the kitchen last night, and I know I threw out the trash this morning…… 

When I checked the sauerkraut, I found where the smell was coming from!  Aha! That kimchi juice is working its magic!  (Will the sauerkraut made with the kimchi juice have a kimchi essence to it? I’ll know on Tuesday night, when I open it.

The happy note is that both jars are working hard – the bowls they are sitting in were almost full of expelled water!  That is always the first and best sign that things are going according to plan (I am suddenly curious as to whether this is the sauerkraut juice people speak of.. If you know, please tell me)

MY LATEST FERMENT-ATHON IS ON!

POST #932
I have just put up my latest two jars of sauerkraut.  I don’t always tell you about my sauerkraut jars, simply because I always do them the same way, more or less.  This time, however, I have done two things differently, and one is a big experiment for me.

I’ll start with the big experiment:  I have always made my sauerkraut with probiotics powder, and it has always worked for me – the only failure I have ever had was the batch where I forgot to put in the probiotics.   I keep hearing about using sauerkraut juice or kimchi juice from previous batches, and I’m curious (I never end up with juice, really – so I wonder about that, too).  A few weeks ago, at the Union Square Greenmarket, I found a stall that was selling kimchi juice as a tonic.  I asked them how I would use it to start sauerkraut, and they suggested I use a couple of tablespoons to a jar of sauerkraut.  So… tonight, I put up one jar using only 2 T of the kimchi juice.

Different thing number two, which goes for both jars:  I am going to a fermented foods meet-up where we are supposed bring some garlicky fermented food.  Garlic goes in most things I make, so… what is garlicky? Do I put more?  I decided to add about 8 cloves of garlic for each of the two  heads of cabbage.  In addition, I sliced up about 3 fairly large jalapeno peppers and added them to the mix, simply because I have always liked my sauerkraut spicy, and spicier sounded like a good idea.

One interesting thing happened: when I went to open the probiotics capsule, I had a hard time with it, and then it slipped and fell into the water I was going to mix it into.  Since that was my last capsule, I could not afford to lose it, so I ended up swishing it around in the water – the gelatin capsule finally gave up the powder, but was still solid enough for me to remove it from the water. That’s good to know – I mean, I don’t plan to extract the powder that way, but, I won’t have to worry any more if I drop the cap into the water.

The two jars are sitting there in bowls on my stove shelf (I don’t use my stove, so I have a large cutting board covering the burners, and, when I am fermenting, half of that goes to the ferments).   Both jars have the “dome lids”, i.e., the two part lids, although the jar with the kimchi juice has a re-usable plastic disk for the dome lid.

My meet-up is on Wednesday, so that gives me 3 days to ferment.  I am confident that the probiotics mix will be ready on time, but I am not sure about the kimchi juice ferment. I’ll just have to test it on Tuesday night and see how it is.

SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: why other people don’t like raw sauerkraut and how you can

POST #899
SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: Why Other People Don’t Like Sauerkraut, and How You Can

Swayze Foster recently posted a “low-sodium” sauerkraut-related video, in which she talked mostly about how she hates sauerkraut.

I’m a fermenter, and I do like sauerkraut, and I have been lucky that everyone who has tasted my sauerkraut has liked it (I do get lucky like that – people who say they are don’t like something that I am pushing  generally tend to like it once they have tasted it). 

Swayze says she put her sauerkraut in a jar covered by leaves, and topped  by cheesecloth to ferment for three days. That is, by me, the first mistake – if you are going to make “short-ferment” vegetables of any sort, you need to 1) press the vegetables down under the liquid, and/or 2)cover the recipient with a tight lid.

I’ve tried several ways to weight the vegetables, all of which involved putting a cabbage leaf on top and putting a weight on that, and then putting the lid on.  Each time, I have ended up with a slimy cabbage leaf, and an iffy batch of sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut I make is low sodium (I use a maximum of 1 T sea salt to a large head of cabbage — 2 1-qt jars worth). The sea salt is already low sodium, and it helps to draw the liquid/juice from the cabbage.  I find that the kicker, or the trick, to making a successful, tasty raw sauerkraut is the addition of 1 – 2 capsules-worth (or 1 teaspoon) of probiotics to the mix  (you could mix it in by hand, but I worry that some might get stuck on my glove and not remain in the mix, or you could mix it into the water you add to top off the jar)  The salt works to ferment, but salt wants a while.  The probiotics go to work immediately, and practically ensure that your batch of sauerkraut will succeed (when I first started making sauerkraut, I was warned that my first batches might fail – the only failed batches I have ever had were the ones where I did not use the probiotics)

I usually let my sauerkraut batches go for 3-4 days before I open them.  With the tight cap on them, I need to open them over the sink, as the probiotics will have created a fizzy pressure, and the cabbage sometimes pops out of the top of the jar.  I like the sweetness of the 3-4 day ferment, but I have left it as long as 7 days with no ill results.  My batches rarely last more than 7 days in the refrigerator, as, when I have a batch of sauerkraut, it goes into almost everything I make up (wakame seaweed and vegetable salad, raw tuno, crackers – you name it!)  I often eat it on its own, as I love the flavor (I most frequently simply add jalapeno pepper slices, but often I add garlic, dill, cilantro, curry powder, or kimchi spices).

The way I figure it is, if you don’t like raw sauerkraut, most probably, you have gotten a bad batch, or you don’t like the flavorings.  A simple, plain raw sauerkraut made with just sea salt and probiotics will be tasty, sweet-ish,  to almost anyone, even children, and will be a good addition to just about anything you want to make up.

One last thing about sauerkraut, or any other fermented vegetable: If you don’t like to chew,  or if you don’t like crunchy, process your vegetables to a fine grate (not applesauce texture, but more like if you chopped for 20 mins) and be sure to include probiotics in your mix (many people tell me you can use sauerkraut juice from an older batch, but I never have that much juice left, and I don’t trust commercial batches.  For my first batches, I used a Zukay salad dressing for the probiotic, but, since Zukay salad dressings are not available in New York City as of this writing, and the company refuses to sell even crates of their product to individual buyers, I have never used that since).

VACATION TIME! I’m going down South to the Outer Banks of North Carolina!

POST #837
I’m going on vacation at the end of next week — yea!!!!!

I will be taking a 10-hr train trip down South, to meet up with my parents in Virginia Beach and then continue on to the Outer Banks in North Carolina (where I’ll be is just down the road from the road from where the Wright brothers made their historic first airplane flight — there’s a cool museum there.  It is also down the road from the largest sand dune in America.  Then, too, it is a few miles away from that wonderful house that starred in the Richard Gere movie, Nights in Rodanthe
which was based on the lovely book, Nights in Rodanthe,
by Nicholas Sparks.

I am planning to to pack a food bag with some fresh sauerkraut, and some of the other fermented vegetables I have in the fridge from last week’s bout (I hope I have some left when I get there, so I can show them off to my mom).  I want to make some kale chips because they are so good — again, I hope some will last so I can show them to my mom.  I’m ready – I have the red bell pepper, the cashews, the garlic, the chili powder, and, I think I have the onion powder (hope hope) — I do need to fetch some lemons.

Traveling raw requires a bit more pre-thinking than just packing.  I’m also thinking of making some crackers (haven’t done that in a really long time). Almond/corn/flax crackers are always my favorite, but I might make some sunflower seed crackers as well, from my first cracker recipe (gosh! I haven’t made up that recipe in years, but now it calls to me)    

Sounds like I’m going to be a bit busy this weekend.

Will I have space to pack clothes?

It’s all good! I’ll be on an island 25 miles out to sea. (It looks like there are no hurricanes to interrupt my idyllic vacation).  If it’s warm enough, Mom and I will spend some time on the beach.  If it isn’t, I’ll just spend some time on the beach by myself, looking for shells and stones and sea glass to make jewelry.  I’ll get up early in the morning to watch the sun rise over the ocean  from the veranda (yes, we have a veranda!) That is my favorite part of this vacation that I take every year with my parents.  At some point, Mom and I will probably go shopping at the outlet mall.  We might also work on a project for Mom’s church’s pre-Christmas bazaar (past projects have included making and decorating creche scenes and making sea glass jewelry with sea glass that my mother collected in Cuba).  

10/11/12 CSA SHARE: What we actually got

POST #836
Sometimes you hit the jackpot, and sometimes the jackpot just laughs at you.  I got there at 4:00 and, still, someone had gotten there before me. Oh well. Next week I’ll go at 3:30.

Butternut Squash – 1 or 2…… got 1
Green Cabbage – 1 hd…………. broccoli
Cilantro – 1 bun
Baby Arugula – 1 bag……………traded for cilantro
Toscano Kale – 1 bun
Red Russian Kale- 1 bun

I looked so longingly at the share box, hoping that something would appear there that I wanted, that someone noticed me mooning over it and asked me what I was looking for, and what I was willing to trade: I traded the broccoli for her kale.

Since I really did want to get the cabbage for sauerkraut, I stopped off at the supermarket on the way home and picked up two medium-sized heads, and I got some of the Scotch Bonnet “aji” peppers that I met in Venezuela (here they call them Jamaican peppers)– they pack fire, which is what I want in my sauerkraut (I don’t know why the jalapenos have been so lack-luster lately — I’ve been putting two or three large ones in each of my ferments, but the spicy hasn’t been coming through.  I actually ate a piece of jalapeno from the carrot ferment, and there was absolutely no fire)

YOU CAN ONLY USE THE MASON JAR LIDS ONCE! DID YOU KNOW THAT?

POST #804
I guess I am incredibly lucky, ferment-wise.  I never knew, until tonight, that you can only use the flat part of the Ball jar lids once.  I started reading about re-usable lids, and then I found myself on the Ball jar website and learned that you can only use that flat part of the lid once.  Hmn!  I’ve dutifully scrubbed mine and re-used them multiple times.  Now, tonight, as I’m getting ready to make a couple of batches of ferments, I found out I need to get more canning lids.  Fortunately, I do know that you can ferment with a plastic storage lid, and I have quite a few of those (I learned this when I started fermenting, and I used any glass jar I had available, with the top that came along with it).  So, as of today, I’m not going to re-use those lids. I have an order in at Amazon for a 12-pack of Reusable Wide Mouth Canning Lids & Rubber Rings .  — we’ll see how those work out.