Sauerkraut waltzed into my life years ago, when we were living on Tancook Island, Nova Scotia. The good people of Tancook have generations of expertise and wowza, do they make a heck of a sauerkraut. It’s so good, in fact, that companies advertise Tancook–style kraut!
Anyhow – I had never made it myself before now. I thought it was mysterious, complicated, science-magic. I was mistaken: it’s simple and downright glorious! My first batch was a total winner. Somehow, the timing and temperature were entirely perfect and this delicious fermented goodness tastes satisfyingly rich, even buttery. (Oh, I agree, I would never had said “buttery” and “sauerkraut” in the same sentence before today.)
I ended up with two batches, one litre/quart size that I started eating after four days of fermenting and which has lived in my fridge for a month and a half, being steadily devoured. In Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz writes that sauerkraut can be ready anywhere between four days and several months, so just for the heck of it I left the smaller batch (about a cup) out for a little over a month. I don’t know what I expected exactly, but had the vague suspicion that the yeasts might make it a little alcohol-ish? Little drunk cabbages? It wasn’t that. 🙂 It is, however, delicious. I’m not sure that it’s so epic that I would refrain from eating the kraut for a month while it does its thing, but I would say that if I accidentally forgot a batch I would happily still eat it a month later.
Sandor also writes that many cultures (as in humans, not yeast) insist on a few mouthfuls of fermented food with every meal. Adding daily kombucha to my life a couple of years ago was a gut-changer (dude. so much better. if you have rumbly guts, give vinegary kombucha try and see how it feels. See here for a recipe and more info) so I decided to try Sandor’s plan and have been making a point of eating fermented foods at least twice a day. It has been entirely lovely, my friends.
Want to get your sauerkraut game going? I heartily recommend Wild Fermentation as an intro guide and general awesomeness. If you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for the paperback to arrive, Kindle and Kobo both have an e-book edition. All you’ll need is a cabbage, a knife and cutting board, a bit of salt, and something to squish the cabbage. Your hands will do just fine for that last bit. 😉 If you’re feeling fancy, there’s a company called MasonTops that makes a kit with the essential fermentation tools and I can recommend them from personal experience: Fermentation Kit with weights, packer, and one-way vents. Just add Mason-style jars.
Okay so anyhow, in a nutshell you do this (see photos above):
Enjoy! Epic, delicious, bio-active, freakin’ nutritious, gut-happy sauerkraut that is head and shoulders above anything you’ve ever bought in a store.