I should amuse your taste buds with something crazy for a change. How is your relationship with sauerkraut? To me, it’s like marathoning. I just can’t get enough of either but both go a long way. We are definitely in the heat of marathon season. Fun to follow all the races and hear stories of people taking big risks, following their hearts and playing the cards they’re dealt. But sauerkraut is truly a food group in this house. It’s a salad in a jar, a garnish, a sandwich fixin’, an omelette fillin’ and it goes with about any meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, we could easily have it with every meal in a day. With anything but waffles. I would not serve sauerkraut with waffles. And contrary to the common belief, it’s good. Not only is it good tasting, but the sauerkraut I’m going to show you is way healthy. It’s probably the healthiest staple in our fridge. It’s ALL vegetable and those are lacto-fermented veggies which means the stuff is full of probiotics and enzymes. Oh so good for the guts.
This guy almost always asks for seconds!
Excuse my cat, I don’t usually cook with the cats on the counter, but we’re remodeling and she’s a princess who doesn’t really care for sauerkraut so she’s a safe bystander.Tools: You will need a really, really large bowl, 2 quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid and something to pound with like a wooden mallet or a big heavy wooden spoon. You’ll be more in need of something to pound, smash and hammer with than stir, so find something relatively beefy.
For ingredients, here’s where you can play around a little bit.
You will need about 3 pounds of shredded vegetables: mostly cabbage for sure, plus carrots, onions and garlic. When I was not working full time, I could spend the extra time shredding by hand. What I do now is buy three 1-lb bags of shredded coleslaw mix. It works great! Saves an hour or more and really, that stuff is usually super cheap. In the pictured batch I used 2.5 bags of the coleslaw mix (so about 2.5 lbs) and the other half a pound (to total 3 lbs) was a chopped onion, a whole bulb of garlic cloves coarsely chopped. To the 3-lbs you must add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/4 cup of whey. I’ll come back to the whey in a second.
First, let me give you some more ideas of other add-ins. The fun never stops.
We love to add a handful of chopped, frozen fruit (I chop it a little more before tossing into the bowl) but only one of these three fruits: pineapple, mango or peaches. Don’t know what it is, those three just work well. I don’t use raspberries or other berries. Just sounds nasty. Maybe someday I’ll experiment and probably prove myself wrong? The fruit is not a necessary step, unless you like your kraut spicy like us. I only add fruit if I make a spicy batch. We love to add heat. Typically, this is in the form of fresh chopped chili or jalapeno peppers or any dried pepper. Or, one of our other house favorites is curry powder. Pictured above is about 2 teaspoons of curry powder which goes great with lots and lots of garlic and extra turmeric. Experiment. Go light on the heat to start and play around with it as you find out what you like. I also almost always add about 2-3 teaspoons of some green herb: Italian seasonings, parsley, marjoram, herbs de Province, etc. They’re all fair game.
Remember: you’ve added 3 lbs vegetables, 1 T salt and 1/4cup of whey. Without going into great detail, whey is the watery stuff you find at the top of plain (non-greek) yogurt. One way to obtain whey is to strain plain yogurt. You’ll have whey and Greek yogurt. Kind of a win-win. The other way is to make whole milk ricotta and from this process whey will be a byproduct. The cool thing is that whey lasts quite a while, so I’ll make ricotta and save the whey and it will last several weeks. So for now I’ll leave it up to you to look up the recipe for whole milk ricotta. The internet is peppered with recipes. Find the simplest one and try it. It’s good. Whatever your method, you need a quarter cup of whey. Toss all of that into your huge bowl and add your spices/herbs and fruit if you’d like, Then get to pounding. Smash everything up for a few minutes to release some of the juices. Don’t stress over this step like I used to. The more important part is next.
Next, take your clean 2-quart glass jar and transfer all of your vegetable mixture into it. Continue to smash as you go. You will need to press everything pretty hard to fit all 3-lbs of contents into the jar. Keep smashing until there aren’t any air pockets (or at least not many) and make sure that the veggies are at least 1-inch from the top of the jar. Also important. It won’t explode. But if you fill it too full, the juices will start to ooze out.
Screw the lid on tightly and set it on the counter for three days. YES, I said on the COUNTER. Do not put it in the fridge. That will do nothing. You must allow about three days for the fermentation process to work. Then after three days transfer the jar to cold storage and it’s ready to eat.
Enjoy the heck out of it. I think you’ll find it a healthy and versatile treat like we do in our home.
Wait, tell me, have you ever tried this before?
Have you ever even heard of lacto-fermentation?
Tell me if you give it a whirl…