Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sauerkraut, Again

I think I've made 4 batches of kraut now, and they're each a little different. I really like the crunch of the cabbage - so I've been playing with variations to try to keep as much crunch as possible.

The first thing I did was slice the cabbage really wide - over an inch wide. That was a pain to deal with because it didn't compact very well - even after it had sat with the salt for a day. The resulting kraut was pretty tasty, but perhaps a little too wide. I also left the strips 2-6" long - I didn't want sauer-coleslaw. One thing I did notice (fairly obvious now), was that the top half of the batch was not nearly as crunch as the bottom half - and that was because I had been pressing down pretty hard to get it to fit and to remove the air bubbles.

To save space, but still have a nice wide strip, my third batch was sliced about 1/2" wide, and I didn't press on it at all (other than the weight of the bag of water). To get the air bubbles out of the cabbage I shook the crock. This time the entire batch was nice and crunchy. It seems as though the fermentation happens through about 1/8" of the cabbage leaves, leaving about half the leaf really crunchy.

I also added some carrot slices to see how they'd react. I'd tried pickling carrots on their own - only to get salty carrots. The carrots in the kraut were so-so, still pretty crunchy, and slightly pickled. I don't think I really care about pickled carrots and probably won't try them again. Perhaps some radish or something else.

The last batch (currently fermenting) is the same as the last, only no carrots. I'm hardly even watching this batch, I've only checked on it twice in almost as many weeks. I might let it ferment a little longer - depends on how fast I finish the last quart that's in the fridge.

Each batch makes between 3 and 5 quarts of kraut, and I've stopped giving any away b/c I eat it all (Simone helps).

Mary picked up some bratwurst the other day and I had some kraut with that - mmmm... the combination really is delicious. Even Mary appreciated it (she's not much for the kraut).

Here are a couple pics of the kraut process:

The 1/2 inch cabbage on the left (with carrots), ready to ferment, and a quart of the really wide stuff that had fermented pretty soft.

Simone helping fill the crock.

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