October 23, 2011
third time's a charm: sauerkraut
The first time Eric and I attempted to make sauerkraut was about 4 years ago in the basement of our college rental house. We were super psyched about the endeavor. We were just getting into local food and making things from scratch. We attended a workshop about fermentation that demonstrated making sauerkraut, soy sauce, hard cider and miscellaneous other things like horseradish. Confident in our abilities to follow the simple recipe, we headed home to slice cabbage thin, coat in salt, pack tight in a container, cover with a weight, and let the fermentation happen. I don't remember exactly what went wrong. We may have waited too long or the basement might have fluctuated too much in temperature, but a very terrible smell emerged from the basement. We told our roommates that it must just be a stage in the process of sauerkraut making... Eric's grandfather, after all, complained about growing up with the smell of fermenting sauerkraut in his bedroom because there was no other space for it in their small flat. So we kept waiting and waiting but no edible magic came of the situation. Clearly we just messed up.
I did not think again about attempting to make sauerkraut until 2 years later when we met a stranger from CouchSurfing who was bike touring across the country. He was an anarchist, activist guy who was super into fermenting and was convinced that we needed to give sauerkraut another chance. So we did. It went well I think. But for some reason I thought that I should can it since I was just getting into canning at the time. The canning process dried out the sauerkraut a bunch and, duh, it killed all of the healthy, living enzymes. Never again!
Here's hoping for a delightful third batch of sauerkraut!
(we used the Wild Fermentation recipe)