Sauerkraut is perhaps one of the most controversial culinary ingredients in the entire world. Either you love it or you hate it. I have never seen anything in between. Either you devour it or you don’t even look at it. That is the bottom line.
The “gray zone” starts when it comes to making the kraut sour (btw, kraut is a German word for cabbage). The process of souring it can have many faces. This outwardly “simplistic” vegetable can be tricky. The most “sophisticated” sauerkraut (I know, it sounds like an oxymoron!) is naturally fermented just like fine wine and retains deep, earthy flavor profile and a natural crisp of fresh cabbage with very well balanced acidity. Mass produced sauerkraut often isn’t naturally fermented. Because of added starter that accelerates the souring process, it can become overly acidic or mushy. Hardly ever one thinks about treating this cheap and not necessary appealing, smelly vegetable the way fine grapes are treated before they become fine wine. But yes, the process of proper cabbage fermentation requires time, care and passion just like wine making. With the revival of homesteading traditions this vegetable of the poor, for the first time seems to be gaining quite respectable position.
So, I decided to keep up with my Polish roots as well as with the trendy “slowfood-ie” homesteading and for the first time in my life, I made this controversial “delicacy” at home. I am glad I did, because the results are pretty amazing. Now, I have a gallon of freshest, most natural sauerkraut in my fridge and I am going to use it to make other dishes. In case if you are interested too, I am sharing with you this easy recipe that will allow you to make cabbage “sour” in the privacy of your home.
Homemade sauerkraut with caraway seeds
Ingredient (for 1 quart jar):
- 2 1/2 lbs green cabbage
- 1-2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 oz sea salt
- distilled water
- Wash cabbage thoroughly.
- Shred cabbage using the finer bade side of this mandolin slicer (thinner cabbage threads ferment faster).
- Add caraway seeds, salt to the shredded cabbage and mix well using clean hands (massage cabbage so all spices are evenly distributed).
- Stuff into a glass jar (don’t use aluminum containers!) and press down as much as possible (leave a couple of inches of space from the top); close the jar and let ferment for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours check brine level, if cabbage is not well-submerged, add some distilled water and seal the jar (to keep the oxygen out).
- Ferment at room temperature for 2 weeks (ideal temperature is not higher than 75 degrees; if your house is on the warmer side, you will ferment at room temperature for less time); move to the fridge and leave it after additional 9-10 weeks.
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