Last week began my adventures in sauerkraut. Why sauerkraut? Why not? I’ve never made it before, and I had somehow collected four cabbages in the fridge, two of which were halfway to kraut, anyway.
I’m only midway through the process, so I’m not going to share any recipes until I’m sure I haven’t died. But the basic process is this: shred cabbage, mix it with lots of sea salt as well as flavorings (caraway seeds, celery seeds, fennel seeds, juniper berries), pack it hard into a crock, weigh it down with something heavy, and let it sit, covered, at room temperature or cooler for a long, long time. Weeks, months. The idea is that the salt draws out the moisture from the cabbage, creating a briny environment in which to ferment into deliciousness.
Let’s just say we’re not quite there, yet. Here are my tasting notes from Week 1.
Tastes like cabbage. Really, really salty cabbage.
What’s that smell coming from the corner of the kitchen? I’m afraid to look.
Okay, I’d better make sure nothing died in there. Skimmed the foamy stuff off the top. Liquid is getting cloudy. There’s definitely something going on. Am I really going to taste this? Yes, I am. Cabbage is still crunchy. Tastes very salty (did I put too much salt in there?). Also, the fizziness is a little disconcerting. Still doesn’t taste like the European sauerkraut I remember, but I draw the line at sticking my feet in there and stomping around. A girl has to have her standards.
Didn’t vomit from Day 5. That’s a good sign.
My god, the stench. As the Preschooler said, “That smells yuck.” Consider not writing about this on your blog so you don’t have to eat it. Too late. Tastes very salty followed by a mildly acidic fizzy burn followed by a very weird cabbagy flavor. Is this going to get good?
Tune in next week.