I’m being good this week. I said I was going to make sauerkraut and sauerruben (fermented turnips), and, indeed, I am doing it. I think it took me about 4 hours last night to do all the work, but I did. Part of my impetus was that my half-full jar of sauerkraut (made about 4 weeks ago) fell out of the refrigerator and shattered — big mess, dead jar, no sauerkraut this week!
Some raw foodists are concerned about fermented foods. I am on the side of people like Ann Wigmore (pretty much the “mother” of raw food), and others, who think that it is useful to supplement pro-biotics (yes, you could go and buy capsules or powders, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could get the same benefit through your food?) I use New Life All-Flora probiotics to jumpstart my ferments. Some people object to fermented foods as “rotten”, but I don’t happen to be one of them. I understand that, when you ferment raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds, you create a food product that is rich in probiotics and good for you.
I had 2 small-ish heads of cabbage in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. When I dug them out and cut them in half, I found, interestingly, that the center of each was going bad, while the outside (about 3 inches worth all around the center) was perfectly fine. I cut away and discarded the centers, and shredded the rest.
STEP BY STEP SAUERKRAUT (no video, just do it)
- I shredded the cabbage in my wonderful Cuisinart Food Processor.
- I put all the shredded cabbage in a large bowl, mixed in 1 tablespoon sea salt, and then mooshed/squeezed it all around with my hands, until the cabbage gave up its juice and was reduced in volume by about 1/2.
- Then I put all of the shredded cabbage and juice into a quart mason jar (I used the wide-mouth funnel of my Champion juicer to get it in neatly), and smooshed it down until there was about 1/2 inch of space above the juice on top of the cabbage. (The idea is that you want to pack the cabbage very firmly into the jar. I do it with my fingers — my fist is a little too large to fit inside a quart jar. The juice rises above the cabbage. I do this in the sink, because some of the juice -and a little of the cabbage– might seep out.)
- After I had the cabbage packed into the jar, I emptied 2 capsules of New Chapter All Flora Probiotic Capsules
into @1 tablespoon of water and mixed well. Then I poured the probiotic/water mix into the jar, and used a chopstick to make holes down into the cabbage so the probiotics would go down into the cabbage (I don’t know if this is necessary, but it seems logical, so I do it).
- Then I put the jar in a bowl and set it in a cool corner of my kitchen (cool? ha ha! It is summer in New York City, and we don’t have air-conditioning. Suffice it to say that I put it in the corner of the stove top — we don’t use the stove, anyway. That is probably the coolest place in the kitchen). That was about 7 pm last night.
SAUERRUBEN (fermented turnips)
While I was gearing up to make the sauerkraut, I decided to read through Sandor Katz’s book, Wild Fermentation again. This time, since I had a slew of turnips in the refrigerator, I noticed the “sauerruben” recipe for fermented turnips. I held back from my irresistible desire to add stuff to a recipe since I’ve never tried to ferment turnips, and since Sandor says that plain fermented turnips are delicious, and I made the straight recipe with just one addition – I added probiotics, which I always add to fermented foods because, when I do, my product never ever fails.
STEP BY STEP FERMENTED TURNIPS (SAUERRUBEN) (no video, just do it)
I honestly can’t tell you how many turnips I used. They were the “Japanese salad turnips” (smallish, all white). These were medium-sized turnips – large enough to make it worthwhile to peel them.
- I peeled then chopped the turnips.
- I shredded the turnips in my food processor
(with the S blade) (normally when I do turnips, I grind them to a fine texture somewhat similar to applesauce, but this time, I shredded them a little less, to a chunkier texture — but not by much — I hate to chew)
- I placed the shredded turnips in a large bowl and added 1 tablespoon of sea salt. I mixed it all around, then squished/mooshed/squeezed all of the turnip/salt mixture, until it yielded a lot of juice and reduced in volume by about half.
- Then, I placed the turnips in a 1 pint jar. At first it seemed the turnips would not all fit in, but, after a lot of mooshing/pressing (which I did in the sink, in case of overflow, of which there was some), I got all of the turnips into the 1-pt jar, with a little space at the top.
- I emptied 2 capsules of New Chapter All-Flora Probiotic
into @1 tablespoon of water and mixed well. Then I poured the probiotic/water mix into the jar, and used a chopstick to make holes down into the turnip mix, so the probiotics would go down into the turnips.
- Then I put the the 2-part lid onto the mason jar (I’ve used recycled jars with plain lids, but the two-part lids of the mason jars are traditional, and you do get some feedback if you use them — as the vegetables ferment, some juice seeps out, which lets you know that your product is successful), and I put the jar in a bowl in the coolest corner of the kitchen, beside the sauerkraut jar.
This afternoon, when I came home about 4 pm, I checked the jars, and I was happy to see in that a little less than 24 hours, they had bubbled out about half a bowl-ful of liquid each. That is a good sign. Actually, I have never seen so much liquid bubble out in one day before — it could be because I used 2 caps of probiotics instead of just one — whatever the cause, I am happy, and I am excited.
I know that my sauerkraut will be ready in 3 days (although I can leave it for longer — I’ve left it for up to 2 weeks. I suppose I could leave it for longer, but I like the 3-day flavor).
Since this is my first time with fermented turnips, I will go with Sandor’s suggestion of one week of fermentation (although he ferments without probiotics). I’m sure it will be fine. (After my first batch, I will understand what I want to do, i.e., what I might like to add, and how long I will need to ferment it.)
After I finish the turnips, I am going to ferment the beets I have in my refrigerator. I am sure they will work like the turnips, so I will already have something to go on at that time (I am imagining that I will add garlic and/or something else to beets) I’m imagining that the beets will turn out to be really delicious. I can’t wait.