Sunday, July 24, 2011

Easy Sauerkraut Using One Head of Cabbage

Cabbages are one of the top five vegetables produced in the state of Colorado. They do well here, and that seems to prove true in our own garden. This is my third season to try my hand at making sauerkraut. This year, I'm excited about a new recipe version which should eliminate mold which can accumulate at the top when using the traditional method in a crock. It's a bit like a sauerkraut version of the refrigerator pickle.

Here's what I did (yesterday).

1 cabbage, washed, cored, and shredded (I used a Chef's knife)
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
2 Tablespoons sea salt

Combine ingredients in a large pot or container and pound with your preferred tool. (My favorite is an empty glass beer or wine bottle. I happened to have an over-sized bottle on hand which made the project go extra-fast.) Pound for ten minutes.

Pack into a glass jar. For good karma, I used an antique from my grandmother, an old extra-large Atlas mason jar imperfect with beautiful air bubbles. The cabbage should be at least an inch from the top of the jar and covered in brine. (If necessary, add a half cup of water containing one-half teaspoon sea salt.) Use a spatula to press cabbage down firmly into the jar.

Cover and let sit at room temperature for three days to allow fermentation to begin. Then, transfer to the refrigerator. Let age for three to four more weeks before using or freezing.

To use it, I like to bake duck on a bed of sauerkraut in an iron Dutch oven, a recipe I grew up with.

But, especially, our family loves Reuben sandwiches. I'd like them even if they had originated some place other than my old stomping grounds, Omaha. Since Reuben's require only small amounts of kraut, I freeze individual packets which contain just enough for five or six sandwiches to thaw as needed.