If you’re interested in trying your hand at fermentation I would highly recommend you begin with sauerkraut! It’s simple, low maintenance and wonderfully delicious! I’m going to show you how to get started with a small batch prepared in a mason jar.
What you’ll need:
Shredded Cabbage- green, purple or white will do
Himalayan Sea Salt
Additional Jar for weight
Caraway Seeds *optional
Thoroughly clean mason jar and muddler to ensure a bacteria free environment. Juliann choice cabbage. Sprinkle generously with Himalayan sea salt and caraway seeds. Massage cabbage with clean hands (initiating the secretion of brine). Stuff cabbage in mason jar, packing with a muddler. Pack jar full (leaving an inch of space at the rim of the jar).
In order to prevent spoilage the cabbage must be fully submerged in its brine. If massaging the cabbage does not yield sufficient brine to fully submerge add a bit of filtered water. THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL! This is nearly the only way to botch your batch. If there is sufficient brine and the cabbage is insufficiently submerged you can add a weight (such as a smaller glass jar) to the top of the cabbage before covering with cheesecloth. Cover jar with cheesecloth and secure with rubber band. Set in a warm environment (65-75 degrees). Check it daily and press down if cabbage is floating above the liquid. The cabbage is ‘done’ when it tastes as you prefer (generally 3-10 days) at which point you can refrigerate it.
Is fermented food dangerous to consume?
Sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation. This is essentially the process of converting natural sugars into lactic acid. Lactic acid serves as a natural preservative, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Don’t be scared.;). The fermentation process itself is very reliable and safe, and the fermented sauerkraut can be kept (refrigerated) for months.
What can go wrong?
Very little! As long as your equipment and hands are clean you’ll create an environment to promote positive bacterial growth. Bubbles, foam and/or white scum on the surface of the sauerkraut is normal. Skim it off and don’t worry about it. Most importantly, keep the cabbage submerged in its brine. When cabbage is not submerged mold will likely form, along with an atrocious, unappetizing smell- it will let you know it’s time to toss it and try again.
What are the health benefits of sauerkraut?
Promotes healthy heart
Stimulates immune system
Improves vision + skin
Just in time for homemade reubens! Happy St. Patricks Day everybody!