Thursday, August 8, 2013

Harvest Time

Suddenly, lots of vegetables and fruit are ready for harvest in our garden.  Every time I move the sprinkler I do a bit of grazing on the abundance that surrounds me.  However, my grazing alone isn't adequate harvesting.  
Today I picked three nice big cabbages - one for use fresh, and two for one of my favorite home cured products:  sauerkraut.
Actually, making sauerkraut is quite simple.  Cut the cabbage in half and wash thoroughly.  Then place one half of the cabbage on a cutting board and using a large chop knife
slice the cabbage into about 1/8 to 1/4" strips.
Layer the cut cabbage into the bottom of the container - I used a 4 gallon crock which has a diameter of about 10" - until you have about 2" of cabbage.  Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of canning salt and mix well by tossing the cabbage until salt is thoroughly mixed into all of the cabbage.
Pound the cabbage after each layer.  I couldn't find my pounder, so I used this heavy empty Vodka bottle.  I did all the mixing and pounding in a 4 quart crock, then transferred it into a one gallon crock for fermenting.  
The pounded cabbage filled the one gallon crock to within about 2" of the top.  I used two heads of cabbage and approximately 2 tablespoons of salt.  By the time I had it transferred, liquid had risen to just cover the cabbage.
Last step:  fill a gallon zip lock about half full of water and seal tightly.  Place it on top of the cabbage to form a tight seal and weight.  Now all you have to do is wait about 5 or 6 weeks for the fermenting to bring it to your preferred amount of sourness.  I don't like it real sour, so I usually wait about 4 weeks.  When it tastes right, I pack it into pint jars and process in a hot water bath to seal.  

NOTE:  When fermenting is complete, the very top may look spoiled.  Don't be discouraged.  Carefully remove about the top inch and you will find great sauerkraut in the rest of the crock.  The tighter the seal formed by the zip lock, the less it will spoil.  Air is what makes it go bad.  When I do a greater quantity in the larger crock, I put a plate on top of the cabbage and I have a round rock that I place on that to weight down the plate to seal the cabbage.  The moisture that comes from the cabbage should cover the actual cabbage while fermentation is taking place.