Sunday, June 23, 2013

Making Sauerkraut with a Fermentation Crock

This year I started making fermenting crocks at the request of my Farmers’ Market customers.  My wife and I wanted to see what this “new” fad was about, so after we did some internet research we began our first experiment.

The fermenting crock we chose from my stock of ceramics is a large gallon and a half model, complete with weights. We sterilized all of the equipment that we used in the process.  My wife even removed her wedding ring and scrubbed under her fingernails.
We boiled 6 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and allowed it to cool. Our “recipe” included ½ head of organic purple cabbage, 2 heads of organic green cabbage, and 1 pound of organic carrots.  We rinsed the cabbage and carrots in filtered (reverse osmosis) water and set aside 5-6 of the external whole leaves.
We covered the bottom of the fermenting pot with ½ of the whole cabbage leaves.
We used the blade attachment of the Cuisinart to cut the cabbage and used the grating attachment for the carrots. 
My wife (who does everything by the book) weighed 2 pounds of shredded cabbage in a bowl, and used clean hands to toss the shredded cabbage with 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

She then used a potato masher to mash the salted, shredded cabbage into the bottom of the crock.  She repeated the process in batches until all of the shredded cabbage has been salted and added to the crock.
The top was covered with the remaining cabbage leaves.  Then the stone fermentation weights were pressed firmly down on top.  We waited a couple hours to see if any water rose to the top, but no water appeared.  We added about 3-4 cups of the cooled salted water to the crock until it was 1 inch above the cabbage.
We covered the crock with the lid and poured the cooled salt water into the well to create an airtight seal.  We stored the remaining water in a jar in the refrigerator. Each day we had to refill the well.  In the end there was only a little water left in the jar that we kept in the frig.
The Finished Product
Two weeks later when we opened the crock we saw pretty pink liquid from the purple cabbage. There was no white mold floating in the water, like we had read in some of the internet posts. Next time we will cover the top more carefully with the whole cabbage leaves so that none of the grated pieces escape.
This is how it looked with the weights removed.

Pulling back the cabbage leaf on top revealed the pretty sauerkraut below.  My wife tasted a little bit to check for the proper tanginess. It was perfectly done and not too salty either.


Then she filled the jars and promptly put them in the refrigerator.  This was such a great experience we are now trying our first batch of fermented cucumbers (pickles) and carrots.  We will let you know how it goes in our next post!

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