Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making my own Sauerkraut! (super excited!)

Ever since myself and 3 of my gal pals went to the conference in Indy in September 2012 I have been very curious about the process of fermenting.  While we were there we went to a break out session that showed us the process.  It was very intriguing to me.

So, needless to say, months later, my friend Tammy and myself finally have pulled everything together that we need to start the process of fermenting.

Let's talk a little about fermentation.  Most of you think BEER!  Yes, that's fine, that is fermentation too.  This is a little different.  Most of the American, 'oh so' unhealthy food we buy off of the shelves in the grocery store (notice I said shelves, meaning those things called "food" in a box or pre-packaged) have little to no nutrition in them.  And most of the nutrition that is in them has been added back in artificially   Why, you ask?  Because the process that created that 'oh so cute' little package for you killed everything good in it.  So, you buy it.  Take it home, add boiling water to it.  And eat it.  Yes, your stomach feels full.  But every cell in your body is still SCREAMING and craving nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  Your cells think "well he or she put something in me but I am not pulling anything good out of it, what is going on here?"

So, in a nutshell, this food is dead.  DEAD FOOD.  Sound delicious?  I don't think so.

So, we need to add foods to our diet that help our bodies.  A better idea?  Start eating traditional, unprocessed foods.  But even if you are eating 100% traditional and non-processed foods, adding fermented foods to your diet is still a must.

Our body has a lot of bacteria in it.  Now, I don't mean the stuff you see growing on that piece of food you left in the back of the refrigerator for over 6 months ago that has turned black.  I mean the good bacteria that keeps everything moving and you healthy.  You know, that bacteria that is in your gut and intestines, that keeps your entire body healthy when present.

Well, when we eat that DEAD FOOD, we kill the good bacteria and cannot replenish it.  So, what do we do?  We find a food that we can incorporate into our diets that will give us some of that bacteria back (and we change the way we eat and stop eating out 6 days a week...and stop buying that processed crap that comes in boxes.  you want hamburger helper?  make it yourself.  it doesn't take any longer!  want a recipe?  let me know.)  :-)

We started with Kombucha.  Which you can read about here and here.

And me and my kids have been drinking it for months now and we LOVE it.

But now it's time to add something else.  I LOVE sauerkraut.  So, now enters my latest adventure.  :-)

Items to purchase:
1/2 gallon sized ball glass jars
Pickle-pro vegetable fermenting lid
Glass weights
Caldwell's starter culture
2 organic heads of cabbage
Sauerkraut pounder or Fermenti Artisan in Indianapolis is where I bought mine (see picture below)

Additional items:
Sharp knife
Cutting board
Timer or watch
2 tablespoons Redmon's sea salt
2 cups room temperature reverse osmosis water
Wide mouth canning rings

Then this is what you do.

Remove the 2 outside layers of cabbage from each cabbage head, throw those away and cut out the core and throw that away.  Cut up the heads of cabbage as fine as you want them.

This is how much 2 heads yielded.  This is the largest bowl in my house.

Then you dissolve 3 tablespoons of sea salt (I used Redmond's) in 2 cups of room temperature r.o. water and stir well.  

Dissolve the contents of the starter culture pouch in 1 cup of room temperature water and let the solution sit for no more than 10 minutes!!!!!  This is how the culture is activated.

After your 10 minutes have passed stir the solution and pour over the top of your cabbage.  Also stir the salt/water mixture and pour it over the top of the cabbage and stir like crazy!  You can use your washed hands or you can use a large spoon and mix for 10 minutes.  You want to make sure the solution and salt water are all over your cabbage in order for fermentation to be effective.

After your cabbage is covered in the salt water and culture solution begin packing the cabbage into your glass container.  Using your sauerkraut pounder to remove air bubbles and fit almost an entire head of cabbage into your 1/2 gallon glass jar.  I seriously couldn't believe how much cabbage I could fit into 1 jar!

Allow the juice to cover the cabbage, leaving a space of 1 inch of air above the juice.  Place your glass weights on top of the cabbage to keep the cabbage submerged at all times.  Place your pickle pro fermenting lid (with rubber seal on first) on top of your glass jar.  Seal it tightly with a canning ring.  Remove the top of the airlock, add reverse osmosis or filtered water to the fill line.  Replace the top of the airlock.  And voila!  The fermenting process starts immediately!!! 

I only had 2 pickle pros so I just added a plastic canning lid to the quart jar.  The only rule that is different for a regular plastic lid verses the pickle pro is that you do not tighten the regular lid until the end of fermentation, which is 10 days.

Store the glass containers at room temperature for 7 to 14 days.  This time is required for bacteria to start to grow from the starter.  

At the end of your 7-14 days (I went the full 14 days) place your glass containers in a refrigerator or a cool room for 6-8 weeks (40 degrees F or 4 degrees C).  The longer you let the sauerkraut ferment, the tastier it will be.  You can eat the sauerkraut at the end of your 14 days but I want the full flavor so we are going 6-8 weeks.  And there is a mellowing period that is achieved the longer you wait which gives you better tasting sauerkraut.  Note:  Make sure you are marking these dates on a calendar so you know when to check your sauerkraut.

At the end of the 6-8 weeks you can repack the sauerkraut in smaller containers, vacuum seal packs or freeze for long term storage.  

Now for the hardest part............ waiting.  :-)  I will post when I open and try my sauerkraut.  I can't wait!

Happy fermenting!!

*Other vegetables that can be fermented include beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, black or daikon radish.

And I highly recommend you visit which is a great website.  And I huge thank you to Fermenti Artisan for giving me my first lesson in fermenting.