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Friday, February 04, 2011

Sauerkraut or Choucroute

home made sauerkraut pickled cabbage

Vegetable fermentation is not a recent phenomenon. Age-old techniques have survived, with perhaps some help from modern equipment. And the benefits of (properly) fermented vegetables is well-documented.

Some of the store-bought sauerkraut I tried for the first time a decade ago did not appeal to me and I had written off sauerkraut from my diet. Until Sandor Ellix Katz's Wild Fermentation came into my hands. (Thanks Mom!)

After making crock after crock of sauerkraut at home over the last year or so, we've hit upon a recipe we like - especially my five-year-old daughter, who sometimes asks for this "pickled cabbage" for breakfast! We just add a sprinkling of dill weed for the low salt version.

I still remember the huge 'jaadi' (large ceramic crock/container/wide-mouthed jar) full of tiny tender baby mangoes swimming in brine and fermenting, developing the characteristic sourness before some were scooped out for making "Kadugu Maangaa Oorugai" by my mom.

About 4 weeks is all it takes to get a crock of sauerkraut ready, the longer the better. And as we eat just a couple of tablespoons at a time, it lasts a while.

We don't make it back-to-back and have it every day religiously, but, between regular dose of Kimchi and Sauerkraut, it feels like the body is getting something good for absolutely no effort - Nature does the real work.

The picture doesn't do justice to its many virtues. The green bits are dill.

home made sauerkraut pickled cabbage

Low salt version is what I like - the more the salt the slower the fermentation and sourer the result. But, too much salt doesn't allow the good microorganisms to grow.

A jar that fits into the crock, filled with water, helps weight the cabbage down so it doesn't float to the top and get moldy due to exposure to air.

No strict measurements needed - simply sprinkle salt on each layer of shredded cabbage as we chop and pack it into the crock. Press down hard and add some weight - a container or zipper lock bag filled with water. If not enough water comes out of the cabbage within a day or so, add some salt water to keep the chopped cabbage immersed. Keep the weight on and leave it to ferment. Check every couple of days.

By about 4 weeks it is ready to be enjoyed. The sauerkraut "juice" is incredibly delicious and is a wonderful digestive tonic.

In winters, I leave the crock out and let the cabbage continue to ferment after the 4 weeks while we take a bit each day. It can be refrigerated if preferred.

The crunch of the cabbage thanks to the salt, the sourness due to acidity, plus the dill and salt has made this a favorite in our home.

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  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger Kay said…

    Wow, Sheela!! thank you, thank you !!! :) you know how many days I left mine out?? FOUR!!! and i wondered why mine didn't taste as good as the storebought one. :( I'll give this one a try soon.

  • At 10:12 PM, Blogger Sheela said…

    You're welcome, Kay :) Your comment earlier inspired me to share it here!


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