Thursday, August 26, 2010

Purple Sauerkraut

At the farmer's market yesterday, there weren't any green cabbages, just purples, so I loaded three large ones onto my bike and pedaled away. I pedaled remarkably slowly, though, because I'd also strapped two dozen eggs to the rear rack, and every time I went over a bump all twenty-four eggs made a threatening rattle. By the time I got home, I'd imagined about twenty-four terrible ways my eggs could break, leaving me lump-throated in the middle of the street with eggwhites dripping down my cold, bare knees.

Ordinarily, I'd put everything into my pannier, where it would be somewhat cushioned from the bumps, and I could ride away swiftly. But I'd thought the market would be closed by the time I got off work, so I'd left my pannier at home. I'd also thought the sun would still be shining, and the air temperature would be within ten degrees of the temperature when I left the house. But San Francisco reverted, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of Fog moved upon the face of the waters. And the hem of my gown was above my knees.

Happily, the fog drove everyone away from the farmer's market, which meant that there were still eggs by the time I arrived! Along with many, many purple cabbages.

Most purple sauerkraut is treated specially, fermented with vinegar and spices (there is exactly such a recipe in The Lost Art of Real Cooking, in fact). But today I am just making plain sauerkraut and happening to use purple cabbage instead of green.

Purple Sauerkraut

Take three large heads of purple cabbage, rinse them, and peel off the outer leaves until you get to the shiny part. Quarter one of the heads and cut out the core. Slice each quarter into fine slivers and put them in a large bowl.

Add a tablespoon of sea salt and knead-squeeze-punch the cabbage vigorously until it breaks down and forms juice. Dump the kneaded cabbage and its juice into a one-gallon crock. Repeat with the remaining cabbages, using a total of 3-4 tablespoons of salt.

When all the cabbage is chopped and kneaded and put in the crock, press down on the chopped cabbage to submerge it beneath the juice. Clean the sides of the crock of any stray pieces of cabbage (cabbage exposed to the air will mold), and find a plate that just barely fits down inside the crock. A large jar might also work.

Put the plate upside-down directly on the surface of the cabbage, and press down on it to bring the juice up. Set a weight on top of the plate -- a jar full of water will work. Cover with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Set it somewhere warmish and out of the way, and check on it from time to time. Depending on the temperature, the kraut may be ready in just a few days, or it may take a couple of weeks. When it smells delicious and tangy, repack it into jars and put it in the fridge. Once it's fermented and refrigerated, you don't need to worry about it molding on top. You can eat it right away, or age it for a month or more in the fridge.

The color of the kraut will fade as it ferments, becoming more pink than purple. The purple will also eventually fade from your fingernails.


dressedinburgundy said...

I love this post! <3

Jennifer Jo said...

"...and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of Fog moved upon the face of the waters. And the hem of my gown was above my knees." Love it! You are soooo clever, m'dear. (With both words AND food.)