Friday, November 27, 2009

'Krautin'



I'm a Huge Friend Of Fermentation! In fact, I'm sure you are one too! Here's a sampling of delicious things that wouldn't be here today without our little anaerobic friend! Bread, coffee, chocolate, tea, vanilla, beer, wine, all alcohol, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, soy sauce and others!
I love attending demos, and after seeing the one and only Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and Fermentation Guru, I was excited to get started on my own batches of Sauerkraut. Unfortunately, the summer got away from me, but with Slow Food BU, we got Alex Lewin to do a second demonstration for a small group of us. Alex is a lacto-fermentation expert and all around great guy!

Why Preserve? Extends the "window of edibility" for that particular food and makes it available year-round. If you're not near the equator or in sunny cali, this is important if you strive to eat locally. Also, to create new tastes and textures. In the case of sauerkraut it also increases the nutrient and digestive benefits of the food. Besides fermentation, other methods of preservation are canning, freezing, refrigerating, and drying.
Is it Safe?? The Danger Zone for pathogenic bacteria is 40-140 degrees farenheit. Alex believes that fermenting is much safer than canning, because you will KNOW when something is going wrong. IE if its slimy or furry-TOSS IT! If your senses are telling you something is not right, steer clear. Also our ancestors all ate food that wasn't refrigerated-if that helps settle your stomach
Doesn't That just get Moldy and Gross?? Leave a vegetable out to sit in the air, and yes, you'll get mold, and it will turn into an awful slimy mess (i'm imagining, i'm lucky enough to never have witnessed such an atrocity!) But, leave out a vegetable covered in liquid you get acid-forming bacteria (=good). These probiotic bacteria begin to pre-digest the food, making our digestive tract's job a little easier, and keeping things regular, if you know what I mean

And without further ado, This is Alex's recipe:

Ingredients
Cabbage (the fresher the better!)
Sea Salt

Equipment
Wide Mouth 1 pint Mason Jars
Large Mixing Bowls
Cutting Board
Large Knife
Kitchen Scale

Preparation:
Weigh Cabbage and then chop, using a large chefs knife or a food processor

we're all about assembly-lines
You will need 1 pint jar and 2 tsp of salt for every pound of cabbage
Add chopped cabbage and measured salt into a large mixing bowl and start to "knead" the cabbage (with clean hands!!). You want to start to break down the cell walls of the cabbage, with the help of the salt, and draw the water out of the cabbage.

you too could have forearms like this, if you start 'krautin
Once the cabbage has released its liquid, pack it into the mason jar. You want to make sure that the liquid covers the cabbage and that there is room at the top. A smaller 1/2 pint jar make it easier to push down the sauerkraut. (again, we want liquid on top to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria). If the liquid does not cover the cabbage completely, make a brine (1 T salt:1cup water) as a substitute. (if your cabbage is fresh, preferably local, then the juice should not be hard to get out). Cover the jar and wait...

Come back everyday to push down the cabbage, making sure it is always covered. After four days, taste it. If you like the way it tastes, put it in the fridge to bring the fermentation to a halt. At this point its all up to how sour you like your sauerkraut! It could be "ready" in a few days, or a few months, depending on personal preference and temperature.

Warning: Making Sauerkraut does produce a slight smell. I don't mind it at all, but one roommate can't stand the scent.

Variations-Wanna spice it up?? Well you can, literally!
  • Add purple cabbage to make a more aesthetically pleasing 'kraut!

  • Add herbs and spices!! Alex likes caraway, fennel or anise seeds. You can add this pre-fermentation, or when serving
  • Try fermenting other vegetables! parsnips, raddishes, turnips, carrots, really any vegetable!

Alex is my new go-to sauerkraut guru, and I suggest you check out his site- Feed Me Like You Mean It, and see what's he's abrewin' -or @reply him!
Sandor Katz's Book and website are also a valuable resource!
Check out this ebook! It has some fun facts, such as....
  • Sauerkraut is sexy! Not only does Heidi Klum love sauerkraut but the Croatian Times reports that saurkraut is a powerful aphrodisiac
So what are you waiting for-go ferment some cabbage!!

**Thanks to Rachel from BU Today for taking some great photos with her fancy DSLR camera :) **

3 comments:

Alex Lewin said...

Elizabeth,

Awesome post! I'm glad that you enjoyed the workshop. And thanks again for inviting me. It was great fun, you guys were smart and asked awesome questions, and I look forward to doing it again.

Alex
http://FeedMeLikeYouMeanIt.com/

Tom Bailey said...

Unique idea. I stumbled across your blog and found it very interesting.

Best regards

Pure2Raw Twins said...

loving all the raw sauerkraut making :) you know we love it!