What a crock

So I bought three heads of cabbage at the farmstand on Sunday.

“I bought cabbage for sauerkraut,” I told Tom when I got home.

“But we don’t eat sauerkraut,” he said, wrinkling his nose.

“Yeah, but then, have we ever really HAD sauerkraut before?” I asked. “I’m doing this on the Chinese Food Principle,” I told him.

You see, I despised Chinese food, that is until I got away from my small-town Indiana take-out establishment and actually ate real Chinese food in the city. That cornstarch and MSG-laden fare I’d grown up with just did not resemble the stuff I got in Chinatown, thankfully!

So I have a crock of the shaved stuff sitting (stinking) away in the basement right now. It takes a while to ferment and “cook down.” I will let you know if we end up becoming converts to the home-made kraut. (Remember, microbes are my friends, so this is yet another experiment in friendship maintenance.)

Food preservation is funny this way. You end up making (or trying to make) that which is outside your normal victuals, mainly because you CAN. The garden is like that, too, though thankfully I have planted enough different veggies that I have stumbled on more winners than losers. The quest for variety is fairly high here in this household with our city-shaped palates; I do tend to go out of my way often to make something novel. We can always get down a can of tomatoes to throw on spaghetti if my “creations” end up being really awful…and the chickens and the compost heap are none too picky, frankly; to them, it’s all good!

And if this cabbage is a kraut failure? Well, I’m out $2.19 and a bit of time.

14 responses to “Sauerkraut

  1. Hello! I just stumbled my way onto your blog and have enjoyed perusing it.

    My family used to make sauerkraut, and boy does it get smelly!

    I have never made it myself as I am the only one in my family that will eat it.


  2. Mmmmmm home made sauerkraut!!! Yes, it stinks while it’s fermenting, but the taste is better than the yucky stuff you buy at the grocery store in the can.
    If you don’t like it when it’s done you can send it my way. =)

  3. And that is why you were asking about my kraut.

    The verdict? Three weeks later (or was it four?), it was tangy and zippy and yummy so I canned it up, and three quarts now sit on a pantry shelf.

    Despite all the things I’ve ever read about making kraut, and the associated stinkyness & slime, I never noticed it. The crock sat quietly on the counter, virtually unnoticed by all except the fruit flies. No mold, no slime, no stink. What gives?

    I made a batch last year, too, so it can’t be beginners luck. 😉 I hope yours turns out great!

  4. I wish I could grow spaghetti.
    But instead I’m growing cabbage.

  5. Linda: thanks for stopping by! (FWIW, if I am the only person who eats one thing in this house, that doesn’t stop me from growing and eating it…a girl’s gotta eat!) Your post on apple butter reminded me to get busy on that score (though I don’t have a big pot like your old neighbor’s), especially now that I’ve put away enough applesauce.

    Pennie: I might just send it on, we’ll see! Actually I have a few family members who’d gladly take the stuff off my hands…

    Liz: Exactamundo. I’m curious about the process. Plus, I like doing something that people had done for thousands of years before ready access to grocery stores (sourdough, crock pickles, yogurt, etc.). SO we shall see.

    CC: Years and years ago at my city spread I invited a ton of friends for a harvest fest, so proud was I that all the grub came from my back and side yard. One a**hole said, “Gee, I didn’t know the pasta bushes were producing this early,” and I never invited him back, the ingrate!

  6. Mmmmm….saerkraut. Best when cooked all day with apples and onions, so it gets all brown and yummy. It reminds me of football games for some reason. Hope yours turns out well.

  7. Funny, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile because we live in the same area (almost, I’m in Lansing), and have some stuff in common (daughters, gardens, backyard chickens), and I was just thinking about the crock of sauerkraut I have fermenting (it’ll be a month tomorrow), when I checked here. Crazy. Like Liz, I haven’t notice much smell. I hope it worked (I’ve never made it before either).

  8. Way cool. If you don’t like it when it’s done, I will happily post up my grandma’s recipe for sauerkraut balls. (You would have to buy or learn to make cream cheese, though, just to warn you.) They’re a great conversion tool for the anti-sauerkraut. I went from gagging down one small strand on New Year’s Day (good luck, you know) to fighting the rest of the grandkids for them at holidays.

    (And I wouldn’t have invited that ingrate back, either! Unless it was for spaghetti squash tossed with tomatoes and herbs, maybe. Maybe. Would depend on how generous I was feeling with said squash and tomatoes!)

  9. OK, you’re officially my hero! I’ve been a little skittish about certain things in the kitchen, and fermented foods is one of them. I just need to read more and get adventurous, but I’m hoping not to kill off anyone in the process, y’know…isnt it funny how we’ve become so programmed to not flinch at processed foods, yet so squeamish (initially) when it comes to the friendly bacteria and enzymes…raw milk, fermented foods, etc. This is probably one reason I’ve put off canning things, too…I’ll get over that threshold as soon as we can put in a big garden, but I know I’ll be double sterilizing everything and praying over each batch till I’m sure we’re “safe”…

    LOVE that you’re trying the sauerkraut! It seems so easy…keep us posted with your results 🙂

  10. Hmmm. I ate my first sauerkraut ever last weekend. You’ll have to let us know how it turns out. We throw an Oktoberfest party every year and it would be fun to make our own kraut for it next year – not enough time left this year as it’s only 2 weeks away.

  11. Okay, Meredith, that sounds half tempting. But then again, caramelized apples and onions would make even liver taste good…

    Now Rob that is just FREAKY! How incredibly bizarre. When are you planning on checking it? Liz canned hers up at 3 weeks but I’ve heard varying times.

    Kim: Wow, I would love to know the provenance of that recipe. Obviously it comes from having lots of both items, but…hmm. I am tempted. I’ve made yogurt cheese, which is similar… And as for the dinner guest, he was simply a smartass. But he sure took the wind out of my sails (and showed the limits of my garden at the time).

    Robbyn: I so agree, why is it we “trust” processed foods? There is so much more in those chemical-laden items that could at least maim us, so what’s with the hesitancy of eating foods the way they’ve always been eaten? (At least, that’s MY m.o.) But don’t sweat the processing. I’ve gotten a lot less fearful the more preserving I do. But at first I was maniacal about cleanliness.

    Laura, thanks for stopping by. I really like the idea of planning ahead for some big fiesta! And Oktoberfest? I’m always keen to chug beer out of boots, myself, with some great oompah music in the background urging me on, aren’t you?

  12. El: I checked it Saturday and it was delicious. I should can it right now, but I forgot to borrow my Dad’s pressure canner last time I visited him, so maybe I’ll just freeze it instead. I covered it back up and left it to work a little longer while I decide.

  13. Oh, yay Rob! (So let me see…four weeks from now…check.) I’ll bet Liz used her pressure canner on that kraut. Either way, though, I assume you’ll do it again, right?

  14. Find yourself a Harsch crock, and put an end to the smell. I’ve been making sauerkraut for several years, never noticed a smell! But boy, it sure tastes good (and I didn’t eat sauerkraut either till I started making it).

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