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MOTHER EARTH NEWS excerpt:
Probiotics, Bowel Flora, Dysbiosis
Kraut recipes from Mother Earth News
Date: 10/4/2006 5:11:08 AM ( 7 year ago )
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Making your own sauerkraut is a terrific way to preserve an abundant harvest of cabbage, and itís a remarkably simple process that requires just two basic ingredients ó shredded cabbage and salt. A few simple tools can make the process even easier. You can shred the cabbage with a regular vegetable grater, but a full-sized cabbage slicer is easier and more fun. These large graters look like antiques, but you can purchase one through eBay for $15 or less.
Once youíve shredded the cabbage, youíll need to pack it tightly in a suitable container. Many people use a large crock, but a food-grade plastic bucket also works. Next, youíll need to put something heavy on top of the shredded cabbage, which will help it release water. The usual technique is to cover the cabbage with a plate, and then put a couple of clean rocks on top. If that seems a little too old-fashioned, a bag full of water also works as a weight.
At this point, you can sit back and let the cabbage ferment. The shredded cabbage releases water, which combines with the salt to form vegetable brine. Bacteria on the cabbage create lactic acid, which acts as a preservative. As the cabbage ferments, scum floats to the top of the container. Donít worry, scum is normal. Just remove it regularly so it doesnít inhibit fermentation.
Cabbage ferments quickly at room temperature and will be ready to eat in two or three weeks. At cooler temperatures, fermentation is slower, but the kraut stays crunchier and may have better flavor. Also, sauerkraut will spoil more quickly if you donít keep it cool (if it turns dark brown, itís spoiled) so keep it in a cool place, such as a refrigerator or root cellar, unless you plan to can it or eat it all within a few weeks.
By Nathan Poell
2 large heads of cabbage (about 5 pounds)
2 to 3 tbsp noniodized salt
Grate 1 cabbage and place in a crock or plastic bucket. Sprinkle half the salt over the cabbage. Grate the second cabbage, then add it to the crock along with the rest of the salt. Crush the mixture with your hands until liquid comes out of the cabbage freely. Place a plate on top of the cabbage, then a weight on top of the plate. Cover the container and check after 2 days. Scoop the scum off the top, repack and check every 3 days. After 2 weeks, sample the kraut to see if it tastes ready to eat. The flavor will continue to mature for the next several weeks. Canning or refrigerating the sauerkraut will extend its shelf life. Yields about 2 quarts.
Varying the Ingredients
As a food preservation technique, fermentation is not an exact Science ó unlike canning, which requires specific techniques for safety reasons. The proportions in these sauerkraut recipes can be adjusted to taste, including the amount of salt. Salt is a preservative, so using more of it creates a crunchier, longer-lasting sauerkraut. Less salt produces a softer sauerkraut that may not keep as long. Many recipes call for 3 tablespoons salt for every 5 pounds of cabbage, but this can be reduced. No-salt sauerkraut is theoretically possible, but not recommended.
Follow the above recipe, adding 5 cloves of chopped garlic and 2 sliced onions when you add the salt.
Follow the above recipe, adding 3 sliced poblano peppers when you add the salt. Leave the seeds in the sliced peppers for added heat!
Follow the above recipe, but also chop 5 to 10 Brussels sprouts and thoroughly mix into the cabbage when you add the salt.
Check out these books for more on food preservation techniques.
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
By Sandor Ellix Katz
The Joy of Pickling: 200 Flavor-packed Recipes for all Kinds of Produce from Garden or Market
By Linda Ziedrich
Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques and Recipes
By The Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante
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