I know, I know. I’ve been MIA for a while, and I’m sorry.

 

 

It’s finals time. I’m busy. It’s dark every night at like 4:30pm. I’ve been watching Homeland marathons like there’s no tomorrow. Blah, blah, blah.

The important thing is that I’m back, and I’ve got homemade sauerkraut.

 

 

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now, and to be honest, I’m can’t even remember why we decided to make sauerkraut, but I’m sure it had something to do with Dr. Man’s uncontrollable fascination with all things fermented.

Contrary to popular belief, sauerkraut is not made with vinegar. In fact, it’s little more than cabbage and salt transformed into a tangy treat by a naturally occurring bacteria called Lactobacillus. Various species of Lactobacillus are used in making “real” pickles (also made without vinegar),  sourdough bread, yogurt, and some cheeses.

 

 

Our sauerkraut experiment was encouraged by my grandmother, who regaled me with stories of how the entire house would stink of her mother’s sauerkraut, which for lack of space was left to ferment in a crock in the tiny bathroom.

Even though we have plenty of space in our house, I could soon relate. For better or for worse, a few days in the smell of fermenting cabbage had filled our house. We used a 5 gallon food grade bucket, which we eventually decided to cap with a lid and an empty airlock to cut down on the smell.

 

 

In addition to guidance from my grandmother, we also frequently referenced Wild Fermentation, a fantastic website about all things fermented.

I will say that despite the smell, it was all well worth it. Our homemade kraut was fantastic. We made Rubens, ate it on top of pierogies (a Pittsburgh favorite), and brought it to parties where everyone was thoroughly impressed. Plus, it was a fairly easy endeavor – smash some cabbage, check it every couple days, and a few weeks on - low and behold -you’ve got sauerkraut.

 

 

Homemade Sauerkraut

Ingredients
2 Cabbages (3 1/2 – 4 lbs.)
1 White Onion
1 Red Onion
4 large cloves of Garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp. of Salt

Optional Spices
2 tsp. Coriander Seeds
1/2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
2 Green Cardamom Pods
1/4 tsp. Yellow Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp. Black Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp. Fenugreek Seeds

 

You should use the freshest cabbage that you should find. Apart from the cabbage, you can add whatever else you like (apples, spices, onions, etc…)We used an Indian-inspired spice mixture, but dill and caraway seeds are more traditional.

Shred the cabbage, and grate the onion and garlic. Place along with salt and spices in a large crock or food grade plastic bucket. Using a potato masher, crush the cabbage can be completely covered by liquid. Cover the cabbage mixture with a plate, and place a weight on top of the plate so that all cabbage is pressed down under the liquid. Cover the whole shebang with a towel or a lid, and allow to sit at room temperature (65-75 degrees) for approximately 2-6 weeks. Every other day or so, skim off any scum that forms on top of the liquid. After 2 weeks have passed, begin to taste your kraut periodically. When it reaches the flavor you desire, can the kraut for long-term storage.

 

 

Pierogies with homemade kraut… a great Pittsburgh tradition.

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