Monday, September 04, 2006

Eat Your Veggies!

Here's my attempt to try veggies in a new way--homemade sauerkraut! There are only two ingredients, cabbage and salt. Here's our star:

Sauerkraut is made through fermentation. "Fermentation" is a nice way to say "controlled spoilage," which is a nice way to say "we're going to turn some bacteria loose on this food." It's important to control exactly which bacteria we turn loose, though. We want to encourage the nice bacteria that already live on the cabbage, and which excrete lactic acid. Lactic acid is what gives the nice, tangy flavor to cheese, salami, and, yes, sauerkraut. We don't want any other bacteria present, though, because they can produce nasty off-flavors (at best), and things that make us sick (at worst). So everything gets soaked in bleach first:

Next, we shred up the cabbage:

And add the other ingredient:

The various recipes I looked at call for kosher salt, pickling salt, and non-iodized salt. I don't know why iodine is a problem (maybe it's not good for our lactic-acid producing friends), but I used kosher salt anyway.

Then, you bruise the cabbage, to release enough cabbage-juice to cover the cabbage. How do you bruise cabbage? The same way you would bruise, say, a bully. With a fist!

I'm a fan of any recipe that requires a fist. It's very manly.

Here's a shot of the fermenter. It's a stainless steel bowl, sealed with a smaller ceramic bowl. A tight seal is bad, because it keeps the gasses produced during fermentation trapped. This could cause an explosion. Leaving the cabbage uncovered is equally bad, because it could allow other bacteria to land in the cabbage and ruin it.

It's going to sit on our counter for a while and ferment. I'll keep an eye on it, and post updates as things happen.


Beulah Bible said...

Say, Aaron, I think I don't care for sourkraut but I'd like to taste some made as you descrbed. I do eat some cabbage but probably not enough.
How about the rain that has finally come your way? The radio announced this morning that Lubbock and Rockwall each had 3 and half inches and it didn't seem to know how to stop, the rain that is.
Your sister and family are having a real experience, right? GIGI

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Sparky's Mom said...

I will have a greater appreciation for my next Rueben sandwich. How long do you anticipate letting it ferment?

Mum Apie_Chick said...

Does it smell?