Friday, 19 October 2012
I've been experimenting with a little book called Real Food Fermentation lately. (Get it/check it out here) The book is an easy read--only half of it is recipes, the other half is just beautiful glossy photos, ideas, and thoughts on fermentation.
Know what the problem is with lacto-fermentation? You need to store the stuff in your fridge once its done fermenting (unless you have a cold cellar, which I do not). Know what makes up for that issue? Being able to make fermented foods ONE JAR AT A TIME. I can make a SINGLE JAR of pickles, sauerkraut, relish, or ketchup. I can keep all of my ferments corralled on one shelf of my fridge.
So I devoured the book in one day of reading. And then I decided that I had to take a step back and start over with sauerkraut. It is the easiest thing to ferment out there. Once you start, you will never be without raw, fermented sauerkraut in your house again. Really. No need for one of those expensive fermenting crocks. No need for fancy equipment (though there are some things out there that would be helpful, they are not NECESSARY--just helpful)
2 lbs cabbage, shredded
4 tsp fine sea salt
a 1qt mason jar
a bowl for mixing
Seriously, that was it. I shredded the cabbage and stuck it in a huge bowl, salted it, and kind of massaged it for a while to make the salt disperse and the juices start to flow. You need to wring it out, literally, squeeze the water out of it a few times.
Then I packed it all into a litre-sized mason jar (packed doesn't quite sum it up--I jammed that jar full to within an ounce of its life) and after it sat that way for a couple of hours, I topped up the stuff with filtered water until it was covered, and left 1" of air space at the top, sealed it up tight and set it aside.
That's when the fun really began.
I "burped" the jar every day. It foamed, bubbled and fizzed. It sprayed like a dropped jug of pop every time I cracked it open. This went on for several days. Eventually the fizzing slowed to the point where I could safely stick it in the fridge (for me, this takes 5-6 days, but if you want it really sour, let it go a few days longer--just taste it daily to see how it's doing). You may need to top it up with more water now and then since the fizzy tends to spray the water out of the jar at first. Or get yourself an airlock jar so that doesn't happen if you find you really like sauerkraut and want to make it over and over. More on that some other time.
That was it. It was that easy. All it needs is time. Nothing more. Its done when it reaches the desired level of softness and sourness for your personal tastes. The bottle will be so stuffed full that you won't fell like you're able to make much of a dent in it even with daily consumption. I like mine still a little bit crunchy, but no longer tasting like raw cabbage.
Now, with that under your belt, its time to move onto pickles, don't you think?