This post was a long time coming, ’cause I thought, “Who am I to tell YOU how to make sauerkraut? I have only a 30% success rate!” Ahh, but on the third try, I got it. Not only that, I’ve succeeded in cultivating a taste for the stuff! So I’m finally ready to take the lid of this, er, fragrant subject. You ready? Ok, let’s go!
As I mention in this post, fermented condiments like sauerkraut are just another way to add enzymes and aid digestion of a meal. Notice I said ‘condiment’–that’s key to actually consuming this stuff. It’s not a side dish, peoples, so don’t feel guilty if you can only stand a small spoonful mixed into your meal–that’s exactly how it’s done.
Another key to actually enjoying sauerkraut is variety. There’s actually lots of different kinds of sauerkraut, and each goes pairs better with certain dishes, kinda like different wines. Above, left to right, we have
- Kimchi (Korean Sauerkraut)
- Cortido (Latin American Sauerkraut)
- Traditional Sauekraut with purple cabbage
- Gingered Carrots
Having all this variety really has been the secret to me finally making fermented condiments a regular part of my diet. If I had to eat the same sauerkraut ever day, people, I’d revolt. In this series I’m gonna share four of my favorite recipes for sauerkraut, and the various dishes I enjoy them with.
First, we’ll talk about method. It’s true, I had to try cabbage sauerkraut 3 times before I got a good batch, and I’m not really sure what I did wrong, so I’m not an expert. But I wanna just tell you–cabbage and labor are cheap. If you fail, try again. It’s not that hard.
The basic sauerkraut method goes like this:
- chop or grate the veggies finely (though not so finely as to create pulp),
- mix in some salt
- pound it till it’s bruised and juicy
- pack tightly into a jar
- pour a little whey over the top
- cap and leave on counter for a few days
- Refrigerate and enjoy
How will you know if it turns out? This is the part I’m an expert about! It’ll mold, turn pink, smell putrid, or all of the above. Trust me–you’ll know. Throw it out and try again. No big deal.
This is the first fermented veggie I tried, and it actually turned out the first time. I also really liked the flavor–as soon as I figured out it was meant to be a condiment (not used en mass in a carrot pineapple salad! Ahhg!)
Nourishing Traditions says, “These are the best introduction to lacto-fermented vegetables we know: the taste is delicious: and the sweetness of the carrots neutralizes the acidity that some people find disagreeable when they are first introduced to lacto-fermented vegetables. Ginger carrots go well with rich foods and spicy meats.”
- 4 c. grated carrots
- 1 T. fresh grated ginger
- 1 T. sea salt
- 4 T. whey (if not available, use an additional 1 Tablespoon salt)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pound with a meat hammer or the bottom of a quart jar to release juices. Pack into a quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jar and press down until juices cover carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least one inch below the top o the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days before transferring to fridge.
I use Gingered carrots stirred into any stir fry, tossed into a salad with my favorite Maple Mustard Dressing (which is in the book), a few tablespoons stirred into Carrot-Raisin-Pinneapple Salad, and as a condiment when I make baked, stuffed chicken breasts. It adds lovely color to a plate, and really doesn’t taste like sauerkraut at all. 🙂
Remember to add fermented condiments after you’ve served the food onto the plate – cooking them destroys all the good reasons you’re eating them!
Next, the secret to authentic Mexican flavor...Cordito!
Have you ever made any lacto fermented veggies? Tell me about it!