I don’t make everything from scratch. Oh hellllls no.
Just wanted to clear that up.
Sometimes people think I’m like, the perfect Susie Homemaker over here.
I buy canned tomatoes and beans (BPA free, thank you very much.) I like getting salad greens in those big tubs, tripled washed and ready to go. When I need peanut butter I get in my new SUV and drive to the store instead of making my own.
Which pains me, it does, because I miss my Prius like crazy. However you cannot fit a toddler carseat, baby bucket car seat and 6’4″ husband in a Pruis so we recently had to trade in our beloved 55mpg vehicle for a gas guzzler that makes me feel like I belong inside a Dennis Leary song, sucking down quarter pounders, with brown baby seal eyes for headlights.
My point is, you gotta find a balance between doing absolutely everything yourself, the old-fashioned way and…y’know, having a life.
So when I first heard about home fermentation, I thought it was way, way beyond where I draw the line. Even as I learned more about the benefits of lacto-fermented food, I just could not bring myself to follow the long-winded directions.
Instead I bought Bubbies pickles and sauerkraut. You can do that too.
But really, how many pickles can you eat? How much of the same sauerkraut can you find room for in your diet?
Finally, I made the leap and here’s what I’ve found to be true:
- Some (not all) lacto-fermented foods are dead easy to make. I have no idea why most books make it sound so darn complicated! The recipe I’m sharing with you today takes about 5 minutes of hands-on time and no special equipment or starter cultures.
- You can save a buttload of money making it yourself.
- Once you understand the basics, you can create lots of variations to keep your palate interested.
- I haven’t had a single batch of anything go bad or moldy yet.
- When I eat fermented foods daily I noticed that my digestion moves a lot more smoothly and my immune system seems to work a lot better.
So are you ready to give this a shot?
Here’s what you will need:
1 medium head of cabbage (green or red)
2 Tbl. salt (I prefer a good quality sea salt)
A 1-quart jar
Easy enough, right?
In the pictures at right I used half of the cabbage and about 5 carrots. This is your life, baby! You can mix it up!
Finely slice cabbage. If using carrots, I like to grate them with the food processor’s grating blade. Put veggies in a big bowl and add 2 Tbl. salt.
Mix everything around with your (clean) hands. Here’s where my technique becomes easier than any other I’ve seen. I want you to spend about 30 seconds mixing and maybe giving that cabbage a few squeezes for good luck.
Then walk away. Leave that bowl on the counter and go live your life. No need to pound, mash, squeeze or break a sweat. Just let it sit for about 8 hours.
When you return, you’ll notice that there is liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Magic! That’s your brine. Give the cabbage a good mix, a few more squeezes and then transfer everything into a 1-quart jar. Mason jars will give you the best seal, so I like to use those.
Pack your mixture down into the jar using a wooden spoon or similar. Really cram it in there. You’ll be able to get all the veggies under the level of the brine where there’s no air and all the fermentation can occur.
This is optional but I like to do it. Add a few Tbl. of olive oil. Just pour it on top. It helps seal everything down so you don’t get floaters.
Tighten lid and place jar out of direct sunlight at room temperature. If your house is cold, fermentation will take a bit longer. If your house is hot (say, over 75F) you’ll want to put your jar somewhere a bit cooler, like in the basement.
Walk away again, this time for 5-7 days. If you are using a mason jar with a tightly sealed lid, the gas will start to build up. When you can no longer press down the center of the cap, it’s time to release the pressure and check on your kraut. Just pull out a little bit and taste it.
It can take several weeks to ferment to your liking, so check on it regularly. When it tastes right to you, transfer to the refrigerator.
Note that your kraut will continue to ferment at a very slow rate in the fridge, so release the gas pressure from time to time. It should keep for a few months.
Here are some ideas for adding flavor and variation to your sauerkraut:
In Step 1, add…
– Caraway seeds
– Dill seeds
– Celery seeds
– Fennel seeds
– 2 cloves peeled garlic
– Minced onion
– Minced jalapeno
– Diced apples or pears
– Shredded beets
– Shredded carrots