Whether it be medicine or even the food on the grocery store shelves our society continues to grow more dependent on systems of input everyday. In a grid down situation without the systems of input we may be forced to rely on our health and what we have on hand. Antibiotics may not be available. Luckily our bodies have been created with something to naturally fight the “bad bacteria,” pro-biotics. Imagine that, your body is designed to function on its own without being poked, prodded, or injected. Who would have thought? Of course antibiotics have there place. My point is that overuse may not be necessary in our everyday lives.
With that being said even if you aren’t into the healthy natural living stuff you can sure appreciate the value of having a highly nutritious food that requires little equipment and stores in a ready to eat state for quite a while. Of course as the title suggest I am talking about sauerkraut. Here is our experience.
Gather the ingredients. First off, I would like to point out that there are many different recipes for kraut. This is just a basic recipe to start with. You can add things as you develop your preferred taste.
- Non-iodized Salt
- 1 Gallon Jug (Or some kind of weight)
- Food Grater
Remove any bruised, dirty, or unsightly leaves. Cut the cabbage into workable sizes and grate to a texture of your liking. Some people prefer chopping and some grating. Some like it fine some like it thicker. The choice is yours there is no right or wrong. Kraut is forgiving. The amount of each ingredient is not set in stone. Through a basic understanding of cooking to taste you should be able to judge the ratios that will be acceptable.
As I worked through the cabbage I would add a little dill and horseradish as I went. Remarkable the horseradish is actually added to help prevent the cabbage from going moldy. Many other fruits and vegetables can be added. Sauerkraut is highly adaptable.
Now the fun part. The idea of this step is to squeeze all the water out of the cabbage. The salt will be assisting. You can use anything your imagination desires. I tried the punch the hell out of it method which was a little rough on the knuckles considering the coarse salt. Traditionally people would stomp on it. The idea is to get all the water to the surface. By keeping the cabbage below the top of the water line we are reducing the chance of any rot. The water that rises is a brine. This brine will protect the creation from the elements.
Take care that no cabbage is exposed and push a plate upside down into the mixture then set a jug or something clean and heavy on top. The plate in the picture actually ended up being to large and was replaced with a slightly smaller plate later on. This stuff is pretty forgiving so don’t worry to much about making a mistake. That’s how we learn.
Cover. Lay a towel over the concoction and place it somewhere that you wont forget about it as well as out of any direct heat. Its a good idea to check on the kraut periodically to ensure the water line has not dropped below the surface of the cabbage. Now sit back and let the natural process of fermentation take care of the rest. The kraut is edible through the whole process but really starts to get that traditional tangy flavor after a few days and will grow stronger over time.
Enjoy! Check on the sauerkraut every couple days as time passes. Think of it as a living thing in there. It will develop a bloom on the surface that looks a little funky but don’t worry its normal. We just scoop it off with a spoon and rinse the plate periodically. The taste will get stronger over time. At the time of this posting our kraut is over a month old and is still good. Throwing some in a Tupperware container to keep in the fridge makes access easier. Right now we have the kraut stored in the garage to lower the temperature, slowing the fermentation. Doing this will prolong the results. So far so good! If the water runs low raise the level by adding a cup of salt water (brine).
That’s it! You are on your way to better health. Better health means more resiliency in the face of disease. Since I have started eating homemade kraut on a regular basis I have noticed a decrease in upset stomach. Next is to get my dad on the stuff. According to my sources sauerkraut can reduce the effects of acid reflux. If this is your first time messing with kraut don’t let the seemingly unorthodox methods deter you. This is how kraut has always been prepared and still is today.
If you have any questions, comments, or something to add please comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These guys know everything there is to know about lacto-fermentation. http://www.wildfermentation.com/
Helpful video from Vanessa who has a lot of experience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l0joPdfV7E