It’s not fair to call it part 1, because I have lost my training wheels in the world of fermentation after going through a phase of kefir and kombucha-making, however, saurkraut and kimchi, is a whole new delicious world waiting to be discovered. I could eat saurkraut or kimchi as a meal, straight out of the jar. It’s crunchy, tangy, zesty and full of beneficial bacterial cultures. Eating this makes me feel energized and alive!
Because I am incapable of following any recipe to the letter, I am straying from the traditional pure cabbage saurkraut and adding julienned carrot and daikon radish, for fun. It’s not really kimchi, but maybe a hybrid; kim-kraut or kraut-chi.
Fermented vegetables are so nutritious because they are a source of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, which support healthy digestion and immune function. For those who have trouble digesting cabbage, the fermentation process essentially “pre-digests” the food, so you may find that it is easier to eat.
I picked up “Canning & Preserving for Dummies”, on sale at The Great Escape, a local used book store near my office, to provide me with the necessary logistics.
What I used:
-1 medium head of savoy cabbage, shredded thinly
-3 carrots, julienned
-1 medium daikon radish, julienned
I have this great jar I picked up at a garage sale. It’s meant to be decorative, but I’ve been using it
thus far to make kombucha.
I shredded the cabbage, julienned the carrots & daikon. The book says to layer 1 tbs of salt for every pound of cabbage.
I whipped out my trusty scale and layered accordingly and then I remembered something…..the juice is supposed to come out! The recipe didn’t mention the critical detail about pounding the cabbage at every step to release the juices. So, I pounded the whole thing with a wooden spoon (metal is not recommended).
I covered the mouth of the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and the custom-sized cork for the jar and returned to pound it every 30 minutes to help release the juices. The juices should ultimately fill in the spaces and rise to submerge all of the cabbage.
I have to admit I cheated a bit….after 3 hours of much strenuous pounding, my cabbage was not releasing a lot of juices, so I cheated a bit: I added extra salt-water so that the cabbage was completely submerged. I added a total of 2 cups of salt water solution: 1 cup water: 1 tsp salt. It is very important that the cabbage be completely submerged below the water line so that oxygen does not cause it to rot. Also, your lid should have a tight enough seal to prevent any oxygen from enetering the jar. Remember: we want anaerobic bacteria!
Tip: some people use a weight like a plate or jar on top of the cabbage inside the jar, to keep the cabbage below the water level.
……much time elapsed……..
The jar sat on the floor in my kitchen for just over 4 weeks. After week 3, a white scum formed on the surface. I read that this is normal, so I skimmed it off and at the same time transferred the cabbage to a smaller jar. The scum had the texture of flannel and it smelled like Pinesol….bizarre!
I do not recommend keeping or eating any fermentations that develop the black/blue mold that we all know too well! Even if there are only small amounts, there are roots to the mold that have been invisible long before the visible fuzz. That kind of mold is only going to be harmful to your health. Better to throw it out and learn a lesson.
Here is my final product. Squeeky, tangy and crunchy, the way only anaerobically fermented vegetables can be! And not too salty, by the way. I was a bit concerned about this. But apparently, the longer you ferment, the less the salty brine impacts your goods….a bit counter-intuitive, I think.
Happy adventures to you!