With my all-German heritage and my husband’s Polish and Lithuanian roots, you could say that a love of cabbage runs in our family. In my childhood, I can remember my Mom making sauerkraut and spare ribs to celebrate New Year’s. It was a German traditional meal that was said to bring as much wealth as there were shreds of cabbage in the pot. Now, I really loved sauerkraut so I would sneak bites from the bowl when she wasn’t looking. I might have been wealthy today if only I hadn’t eaten all those cabbage shreds before they ever made it to our New Year’s dinner table!
For my husband, he grew up eating kapusta with kielbasa at special holiday meals. I am not aware of any health, wealth or happiness benefit that the Poles bestowed on kapusta…just that it was good.
Given this love for fermented cabbage, no matter what it was called, it should come as no surprise that we decided to try our hands at making our own sauerkraut this past weekend. Where did the idea come from? Well, while waiting to pick up a few visitors at the airport last week, we listened to a radio story about fermented foods. They made it sound really simple, so we added cabbage to our shopping list so we could give it a try. Also, a past client asked if we had ever made a ceramic pickling jar so we were interested in giving that a try, too! One thing just leads to another…
Anyhow, yesterday we shredded two heads of cabbage, added three tablespoons of salt and two teaspoons of caraway seeds. We stuffed it all in a CatTails-made crock, packing it as tightly as possible, before sitting a bowl on the top (which fits inside the crock) and a half-gallon bottle of water to act as a weight on the plate.
As we set it aside in a cool, dry spot in the kitchen, we found it hard to believe that the cabbage would give up enough water by morning to cover the cabbage and act as a barrier to air-borne particles, but that is exactly what it did. Now, according to an old online recipe from Alton Brown, we just need to check on it every couple of days for four weeks before stashing it in the refrigerator for use over the next six months.
I’ll report back later with notes on the progress. If I can avoid the temptation to try it every time I check it, we may actually have a crock of sauerkraut in four weeks. They say it can be stored for 6 months in the refrigerator but I guarantee there is just no way it is going to last that long!