Fun with Fermentation: How to Make Real Sauerkraut

One of the presents I received for Christmas was an honest to goodness, totally real, definitely authentic, straight from Germany (well, it was from Connecticut, but originally Germany), a Harsch Stoneware Fermentation Pot.

Ooooh yes. Either I’m a super foodie, or I’m a complete dork, but I was super excited for this present. Odd as it may be, this is an awesome piece of culinary kitchen-wear.

Fermentation is one of the oldest known preservation methods around. It’s one thing you should eat for healthy digestion and living a long, healthy life. As lactic acid ferments your vegetables, vitamin and mineral content skyrockets (like vitamin C!). The lactic acid bacteria causing your veggies to ferment (preserve) is what helps the important build-up and maintenance of intestinal flora. The plant substances prevent cancer, protect the body against infection and inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungi. It’s also an anti-ulcer aid, as it protects the digestive system against stomach and intestinal ulcers. Acetylcholine is also found in fermented foods, which is a powerful, and natural, anti-depressant.

Awesome.

Eating fermented foods is a beneficial treat for your body.

The best part of all of this, it’s EASY. Making fermented veggies, like fermented cabbage, is simple, quick, and SO good. I’ve been making my own sauerkraut, pickled veggies, and kimchi for a while now, and I can tell you, it’s one thing that is worth making.

Oh, I also help my boyfriend brew beer… that counts as fermented foods, right?

If you don’t have a fermentation pot, don’t worry. You can still have your own fun with fermentation! Up until Christmas, I was using a large glass jar and a thin cloth napkin. But, now I can be legit…

Fun with Fermentation 101:

One of the most important things in fermenting is cleanliness. Your vessels, utensils, and hands, have to be asĀ sterileĀ as possible. Along with clean pots, only absolutely fresh vegetables should be used.

Fermenting in ceramic pots (like my Stoneware Pot) is the best vessel to use. It’s easy to clean and does not absorb liquids- reducing the chances of mold. The Stoneware comes with weighted stones, keeping the liquid above the vegetables, which is exactly what you want for proper lactic fermentation to take place.

I have a 10 liter pot (yep, it’s huge) so I’ll be “making” my veggies in this quantity. What you’ll need:

  • cabbage
  • salt
  • ceramic fermenting pot or glass jar

For a 10 liter pot, the ratios used are 5-8 kg of cabbage to 5-8 grams of salt for every 1 kg of cabbage. Um… yeah…

After some calculations, I figured out I needed to use approximately 17 pounds of cabbage and 47 grams of salt. That would be 7 heads of cabbage. And that my friends, is a lot of cabbage.

Anyhow, this is what was up:

1. Shred your cabbage, either by hand or (the easy way) with a food processor, using the shredding blade.

2. Add a layer of cabbage on the bottom of your vessel. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of salt onto that layer and press down firmly until juice emerges. This happens by breaking down the cellular structure of the cabbage, creating the liquid that will help ferment the cabbage.

Continue this process of a layer of cabbage, layer of salt, and press.

3. Once you have used all of your cabbage and salt, place your weighted stone onto the cabbage, pressing down (You could use a large bag of salt water- for the weight but also in case your bag breaks, you’re safe with the salted water). There should be at least an inch of liquid above the cabbage.

4. Close your pot or cover your vessel with a cloth napkin. My awesome pot has a lip around the top. This lip is then filled with water, creating a tight seal. Air is able to leak out of the pot, but no air is able to get back in.

5. Store your pot at room temperature, slightly warmer, for 2-3 days. Then store the pot in a slightly cooler place (around 59-62 degrees F).

Let your pot sit for 4-6 weeks. Long time, but soooooooooooo worth it.

Veggies & Beer (in the brewing process)

I’m about a week and a half out from being able to dig into my delicious sauerkraut! And you know I’ll be showcasing all the awesomeness as soon as I can!

But, for now, take a look at my kimchi recipe (at the bottom of the post). It’s one of the best things I’ve every made. I can’t wait to make it again in my Stoneware Pot!

What about you? Have you ever fermented veggies?

What is your favorite thing to eat fermented?

Would you be interested in learning about the Beer Brewing process?