Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I bought 10 lbs of cabbage in Hadley today. For a couple years I tossed around the idea of making sauerkraut from scratch, but the requisite Giestesgegenwart, or presence of mind, kept eluding me. Not to mention 10 lbs of super fresh cabbage and enough confidence to play ball with microorganisms and their gassy ways. That is, microorganisms, probably bacteria, turn salted cabbage into sauerkraut. Basically, when you make sauerkraut, or ferment any vegetable, you are collaborating with microorganisms, and swimming among them is the potentially deadly dude whose off-castings are responsible for nice puffy lips, Clostridium botulinum, botulism. Fuck it. Game on.

I turned the kitchen into a sauerkraut factory. (Notice the nice leeks and cauliflower.) The top pictures show five pounds of shredded cabbage on my countertop. (I didn't have a bowl big enough to do the job.) I tossed the cabbage with 3 tablespoons of pickling salt (there's no iodine in pickling salt), a tablespoon of caraway seeds, and some thinly sliced leeks. After a few minutes of sitting there, the cabbage started to exude its water. Then I packed it into quart jars.

At this point, most of the difficult work was done. All that remained to do was mix up some brine (1.5 tablespoons of salt per quart of water), and pour that brine over the cabbage. Well, almost. I then had to fashion some devices to weigh down the cabbage and keep it submerged. I utilized some clean, plastic containers (empty sour cream containers, etc), pushed their bottoms into the jar mouths, filled some plastic zip-lock bags with brine (for weight), put those bags into the containers, set the jars in a ceramic dish (because the shit leaks), and set the dish on the bookshelf in our front hall entrance (cause it's cool and dark there). Now I wait two or three weeks until the cabbage is sauer and golden, and then I eat it. Here is a picture of pickle central (notice the jars of Italian style mixed pickle or jardiniere ):

Normally there is a paper bag over the jardiniere to keep them cool.


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