I grabbed a head of large-leaf cabbage (on sale) and some Atlantic sea salt. My previous attempt was with regular iodized table salt, that I later learned was a big no-no. The sea salt should technically have been finely-ground, but I thought I could make do with the coarse stuff.
I shredded the cabbage laboriously with our less-than-sharp kitchen knife.
To flesh out the bulk (and vary the color and flavor) I shredded a carrot with a peeler. The slices came out very thin, just the way I wanted them.
After shredding, I mixed in the salt and started the mechanical part of the process. First with my hands, then with the potato masher, I mushed and squeezed the cabbage/carrot mix. After a few cycles of mix/squeeze/rest, the mix started to give up its liquid thanks to the salt. A few more cycles and we would have enough to cover in the jar.
|Mixing Cabbage for Kraut|
When enough liquid had seeped from the greens, I packed the solids tightly into an empty pickle jar and poured in the salty liquid. To keep everything submerged, I used a large piece of uncut cabbage leaf and two clean rocks from the seashore.
|Weighing Down with Stones|
I put the lid of the jar loosely over everything and set it in my fermentation chamber (under the kitchen sink) to ferment. After just one day, it was bubbling nicely as the salt-tolerant bacteria did their thing- chewing on the cabbage fibers and emitting (among other things) lactic acid. This acid and microbial activity effectively "pickles" the cabbage without adding vinegar- which is acetic acid made by a different bacteria, from alcohol of all things.
About a week later, I did the taste test- and survived. The cabbage was well on its way to kraut status, and maybe just a bit too salty. Looking back, I may have added a bit too much salt. No problem, though. I'll let it continue to ferment until it has a bit more kick and use it in dishes that need something salty. I may also experiment with draining, rinsing, and freezing a portion of the jar- just to see what happens.
|One-week Kraut Tasting|
After this batch is finished, I'll be keeping a sharp eye on the vegetable clearance bins at the supermarket for more greens to throw into a brine like this. It's great to add another country to my fermentation empire.