A MODERN DAY SUPER FOOD
So what do you do with 25lb of cabbage? Ferment it!
I'll start from the beginning and talk about the different tools as I go through the process. Then I'll go into further detail on how we made ours.
Tools for the job:
|Some of the tools I used...|
|A good knife is a must!|
Knife and cutting board
Bowls and Buckets
|Zero your scale for whatever container you are using|
|5lb Cabbage per Tbsp Salt|
|Weights are used to keep the whole mixture submerged.|
Fermenting WeightsWhile just about anything, from a smooth rock, a piece of plywood or a plate, all the way down to some specially made weights, will do the trick, it is important that you keep everything you want to ferment submerged during the fermentation process. This keeps nasty stuff like mold from growing in your mix. Every day or so you also want to check your mix for any scum floating on top and get it out! If you don't have enough brine in your crock to cover everything up, you'll need to add more. The ratio is 1 quart water to 1 qt to 3 tsp salt, according to these guys.
|A cabbage slicer|
Slicing Cabbage:After harvesting, or bringing it home from the store, the first thing you'll need to do is cut up your cabbage. I'd love to have one of these bad boys, pictured above, but I currently am blessed with a nice kitchen knife and cutting board. So instead of nice even slices, I have to use my knife to do my best to evenly slice the cabbage. An evenly sized mix is essential as the smaller the veggie slice, the faster it will ferment. The goal here is to keep everything going at the same speed so you can get a consistent taste and texture... unless you're not into that sort of thing. To each his own...
|Sliced beets make a nice addition to the kraut.|
To add some color and taste, we add beets and carrots to our ferment. As I mentioned before, Fresh and Fermented has a great recipe for this, which also calls for some green onions. We loosely followed the recipe last time and it was great! This time we left out the green onions and the beets and carrots were probably not to the right ratio, but I think we'll survive.
"Too much salt is bad for you!"That's what we are told my the mainstream, but I don't know if I believe everything they say. I tend to think that sugar and grains are bad for me too, but I don't see any doctors standing up and telling people to cut that out of their diets, do you?
Anyway, for every 5lbs of cabbage and veggies, I would toss in 1 Tbsp (the big measuring spoon, in case you are wondering - 15ml?) After that comes the fun part, unless you are tired. At this point you need to put your mix, in your bucket or bowl, on the ground or something sturdy. I like the ground because it let's me put my weight into it. Then take all your frustration from that week and take it out on the cabbage mix. That's right, pound the snot out of that stuff! Really, do it!
|The mix, salted and ready to receive your frustration!|
The idea here is to break the cell walls of the veggies, causing them to release all of the water they are holding. You really shouldn't have to add a brine to your ferment, as there should be enough water in there to do the job. Some people will go ahead and use a cabbage stomper, like this one, or this one, but I prefer to hold onto my $30 and use the one's God gave me (my fists). Alternately, there's a really good chance a 4' long section of 2x4 would do that job too! (Just make sure it's clean first.)
|After you smash, stomp and beat your cabbage, it should release it's water for you.|
After you have filled up your crock, bucket, mason jar, or whatever with your mix, you'll want to do something to make sure it doesn't float to the surface. I like to take some of the less desirable leaves from the cabbage (you won't find these on the store shelves, I guarantee it!) and make a matt of leaves on top of the mix. Then when I put my weights on top, these keep anything from slipping through the cracks.
|Ready to add weight.|
|Submerging the mix.|
Once you get everything submerged, you are practically finished!
|Sit back and relax!|
Last time we waited about 2 weeks for the process to go before putting it in jars and refrigerating it. This time I plan to let it set for about three weeks before tasting it, and we won't take out the whole batch to refrigerate either. This is supposed to be a food preservation method, and refrigerating 4 gallons of it does defeat the whole purpose!
Remember, the longer it ferments, the more "flavor" it develops. You will have to experiment to determine when you think it tastes the best. When it get's there, refrigerate it! Please, whatever you do, don't can your fermented products! Keep your friends alive!
Ohio Cast Stone
Fresh and Fermented - the book
Okay, let me know if I missed anything. Have a good weekend and God bless!