There has been a fair amount of fermentation in our household of late.
As Alli alluded to, we had a simple dinner a couple nights back of homemade bread with storebought cheese and salami- and another specialty homemade goodie- sauerkraut. yum. First, another closer photo, then the details:
details: sauerkraut is one of the easiest things you can possibly make. I'd seen an article online talking about making it a couple years back, but was put off by the fact that you had to wait a few weeks to enjoy. I actually seem to recall the recipe suggesting on the order of months, and I wasn't up to waiting that long without some proof of worth. Then, a more recent article on lifehacker made it sound even easier. When I finally decided to do it, I just searched online, found a few recipes which all say basically the same thing, and roughly winged it.
so ahh, here is my very scientific recollection of the events.
1 head cabbage (we just got the white stuff, you can use whichever you like)
salt - I think 1.5 Tbs was the end gameplan I went with
wash, then chop up your cabbage. pack your cabbage in something, and kind of mush it down a little bit with your fist. add some salt to it roughly each "layer". keep adding, pounding, mushing, salting, until your cabbage is all in. The yogurt container above is what I used, but many recipes recommend your crock pot (I don't have one of those over here). At the end just mush it down as tight as you can basically, and finally you want to cover it and try to create a rather airtight seal- since the bacteria that are going to ferment your cabbage like to do it sans oxygen. Some people use a plate or something that fits well in your crock pot- but others recommend using a plastic bag filled with water (a good, food-grade plastic bag that will not leak the water or do anything else weird to your food).
I started with a zip-loc freezer bag full of water on top.. it wasn't forming a great seal, but seemed okay. Then Alli pointed out how well the yogurt containers nest, so after a few days we just put an empty yogurt container in, mushed it down, and added the water weight to that container instead.
It did initially foam up a bit and spill-- not a ton, but I left it sitting on a kitchen towel for the first few days because of this, and used a paper towel to sop at the edges, as I was afraid that's where something random might start growing and then infuse the rest.
Many recipes mention that you should check in on your fermentation each few days, as most likely in the event that oxygen is getting in, you can get a bloom of something random growing in there, which you don't want. However, they all concur that what will grow is not dangerous, and you just scoop it off and let the good guys keep growing. I never got any of these blooms, surprisingly.
I think ideal temperature for these guys is just above what you Americans would consider room temperature-- so we kept it in our bedroom where it would at least get air-con at night.
So that's it, cabbage, salt, wait. The recipes I found generally agreed on about 4 weeks, some longer. So at 3 weeks I opened her up and had to take a try. By the way, it did smell, but only if you stuck your nose in it mostly, our whole bedroom did not smell like kraut.
I was fairly amazed at that first forkful, and decided the mission was a success. I stirred it up, and made it part of the dinner shown below.
It is still very fresh, crisp, and quite a good taste. The only thing I will change when I repeat this is to try to cut back on the salt a little. It's pretty agreed that more salt means more preservative, it will keep longer and stay crunchier- but I feel it's just a little bit towards the pickle side of things right now. Possibly, just more time would have released more lactic acid and that would also balance the salt. But then, less salt wouldn't be such a terrible thing anyway, right?