Making Sauerkraut

One of the things I’ve fancied having a go at making is sauerkraut. All that lacto-fermentation stuff sounds really interesting, so now, when the market in Popovo is laden with humongous cabbages, seems  like a good time to try it out.

I found a decent sounding recipe, and bought a cabbage. Because it was my first go, I only wanted a small cabbage to try out. The lady on the stall pulled a face at me; “But it’s such a small cabbage” she complained.

So, attempt one. This one failed because I didn’t properly read the bit that says “There should be about 5 cm of juices on top of the cabbage”. I’d left the cabbage in the fridge too long and it had dried out a bit, so there wasn’t enough water in the cabbage to cover it as the salt draws the moisture out.

Attempt two. This one failed because I forgot the first rule of pickling; “Thou shalt not permit metals other than stainless steel to come into contact with thy pickles”. I put my metal weights on the plate to press the kraut down, they touched the water and hey presto, instantly ruined.

Attempt three. It worked, yay! So, one very fresh cabbage, processed as soon as we got home for maximum freshness. I followed the recipe, so I won’t bother repeating it here, go look for yourself if you’re interested. I found a good-sized plastic jar to store the kraut in, a plate that exactly fitted inside, and three water bottles, filled with water, to press the mixture down.

I left it all for about three weeks to ferment, ensuring that I topped it up on the odd occasion that the liquid evaporated a bit. We had some as a side-vegetable the other night for dinner, and even Julie enjoyed it, so next year I’ll make loads as it keeps really well and is supposed to be extremely nourishing. Maybe the woman at the market won’t complain at me for buying pathetically small next time!

  2 comments for “Making Sauerkraut

  1. Fridrik Ludviksson
    December 31, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    My Bulgarian wife, Daniela, Was just making this Bulgarian way, Here in Iceland,where we spend the winter.. Whole Cabbageheads, lot of salt, and just the natural sourculture that appears ! We had some discussions about that , The Viking stile,(German also) is to slice the cabbage, And control the sourculture, by using sour whey from cheese our sourmilk ! And not much salt !The German stile is faster,and more delicate, but gets easily to sour !! The Bulgarian way,is more difficult, but after 2 months it is not less delicat,than the Viking way! Just a lot different ! And can keep for a year or 3 !!

    • Joe
      December 31, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      Hi Fridrik, I’m hoping to try using whey next time, I’ll make some sirine and use the whey from that. Can you use whey from anything else? I’m still enjoying eating the sauerkraut, but it’s good to know it keeps for so long! Do you seal it in a jar, or do you leave it in the barrel to carry on fermenting?

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