Monday, September 24, 2007

Sauerkraut

Oh, cabbage. Your vitamin C saved sailors from scurvy. You fueled the conversation between the Walrus and the Carpenter. You were Roman bar food. You inspired a line of cute dolls my parents never bought me. The Chinese pickled you back when they were building the Great Wall. The Tartars took the pickling idea west, where it thrived in places like the market down the street from me in Hungary (where three competing pickle-ladies offered me abundant free samples), and in Germany where my ancestors hid in caves and anabaptized each other with sauerkraut. Nowadays I can't eat pork chops without craving a little something tangy and wrinkled and gray.

So today we made sauerkraut --the oldfashioned, non-vinegar kind that bubbles away in a dark cupboard. I slivered it thin while W. Crawford smashed it with his fists. I added half a cup of whey and two tablespoons of coarse sea salt (double the salt if you don't have whey), and packed it in two peanut butter jars, which hold more than a quart each. With the juices covering the cabbage shreds, we screwed on the lids and set them to bubble away in the cupboard -- along with another quart of yogurt suspended in cheese cloth to make more whey for next time. The plan is to make sauerkraut once a week, so that we have a steady supply. It takes several days at room temperature, and then several months in cold storage to reach its full flavor potential -- though we shall undoubtedly consume at least one jar within the next 72 hours.

2 comments:

Wilson said...

We love our cabbage, don't we? It's so damned cheap! It's full of C, potassium and an unparalleled source of fiber.
This is so strange, but I, too had a love affair with cabbage today: kimchi.
Strange our cravings(and possibly our budgets) are similar.

I threw some pickling salts, about 5 or 6 T. into a crock full of water and added the cut cabbage. I had three heads, so I might need more salt later. I'm letting that sit in the kitchen right now, with the cabbage weighed down in the brine with a plate. It should be good and ready when I get off of work.
When I get home tomorrow,I will proceed to drain the cabbage, keeping the brine. Then, I will add about 8 or 10 green onions cut lengthwise into slivers(again, scallions, for any uptight city people), an ounce or so of minced fresh ginger, two teaspoons of sugar(I use raw sugar and you should, too), and half an ounce of Chinese ground red pepper(really any chile will do, but I have an asian market up the street). After it is all tossed together, I will pack the mixture into a big 2 quart jar, and pour back in enough of the cabbage brine to cover it. Then I will store the jar in a cool, dark place, letting it ferment. It's usually good to go in 3 to 6 days, but I like my kimchi very sour and extremely spicy, so I think I might let it sit for a couple of weeks. Then it keeps in the fridge.


Funny you should mention cabbage, anyway, Zany.

Zan said...

Mama calls them scallions, I'll have you know, in that perfect eastern PA accent where the l's drop out altogether.