14. September 2016 · Comments Off on Major Mom’s “Back to Basics” Campaign: Homemade Sauerkraut! · Categories: From Instagram · Tags: , , ,

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Yes, I still dabble around in going “back to basics” although it’s pretty tough when I’m working full time. Many of the things I’ve written about…well, I just don’t do it anyone. From homemade laundry soap¬†(because our white clothing started turning grey) to not using the dryer (we moved from Florida and the weather doesn’t cooperate as well with air drying our clothing as often), some of my ideas didn’t completely go as planned. Sorry.

But homemade sauerkraut is something I’ve been wanting to succeed at for a very long time. Here’s the beginning of my journey into home-fermentation.

Not long after we were stationed in Korea, I had found a seasoning mix for “refrigerator kimchi”. I tried the seasoning on cucumbers and it was pretty good. But between the use of vinegar and the colder temperatures, it wasn’t truly the fermentation method that is traditionally used in Korea: a technique that preserves the food and contains healthy bacteria that allegedly helps with digestion and overall gastrointestinal health. Two years ago I had attempted homemade sauerkraut. I had a garden plot full of gorgeous head cabbage that was waiting to be used! I used the outer leaves for stuffed cabbage, and the small heads of cabbage were sliced up for kraut. I had about 10 pounds to work with, so I decided to get my hands on one of those Firehouse Subs 5 gallon pickle buckets to set up the fermentation. I attempted to follow a recipe but it turn out very well.

I will tell you right now, biology…and especially anaerobic respiration were never my strong suit. I couldn’t keep the oxygen out of the cabbage while it sat in my basement and the odor got worse…and worse…and worse.

Fail.

This time around I did things a little differently:

  1. I attempted a smaller batch. I bought ONE head of cabbage (about 4 lbs.) at my local grocery store.
  2. I used a mandoline slicer for a super-thin, uniform-sized shred.
  3. I used glass jars instead of plastic. I think this will help with the odors, and the smaller size will help raise the liquid level higher.
  4. I invested in this product called a “Masontop” – a silicone airlock apparatus. To those who have spent time with infants, it will resemble the nipple of a baby bottle. It’s considered a “one way valve” for the carbon dioxide to escape without letting oxygen in. I just got these lids this week and I can’t speak to its success or failure yet. The product was recommended by a friend.

The 4 pounds of cabbage, less the core and outer leaves, was shredded, and I massaged 2 tablespoons of pickling salt into the shred. Allow 3-4 minutes of “massaging”—use your hands and don’t be afraid to break down the plant tissue—and then let it sit for 5-10 more minutes. Liquid will draw out of the cabbage.

Two years ago, between not cutting the cabbage thinly enough, and not using enough salt, I couldn’t get enough liquid to draw out of the leaves. Also, I used too-large a container to attempt fermenting. It wasn’t possible to submerge ALL of the cabbage under the salt water.

This evening I capped the jars and will set them in my pantry for the next 3-4 weeks. I appreciate that this is something that can sit at room temperature to ferment. Allegedly the Masontops will expand and contract ever-so-slightly as the carbon dioxide collects and then expels through the one-way valve.

I also want to make some cucumber pickles and perhaps even tomatoes from my garden.

I’ll let you know how this all turns out.