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Small Batch Base Sauerkraut and Jazzed-Up Shallot and Juniper Berry Sauerkraut

I remember my dad making large batches of kraut when I was a kid.  It always seemed like a huge under taking to me but when Fat Jack Zvanovic, George Patricka and a hand full of other Czech guys came over with cases of cabbage and cases of Schmitt and Pfeipher beers (really bad beer at that) it was always an event!  They also made a Czech sausage called “Jitrnice” also but this is another story.

My dad had several old school cabbage cutters that dated to at least his grandparents, couple guys would be shredding the cabbage, one would be salting and another would be packing it in large crocks and all would be drinking beers, telling stories and carrying on.  I learned a lot about life at those summer kraut making sessions as I darted in and out of the mayhem, most of it I probably shouldn’t have heard but I was bound to learn it somewhere!

At this time I never heard the term “lacto ferment” or either did they, it was just the natural process that was handed down form on generation to the other.  Lacto fermentation is inevitability what was happening and it is the process of making sauerkraut as well as other non vinegar based preserving such as kimchi.  To find out more about lacto fermentation check out this link.

This leads me into why do a small batch?  The other day we were making something with some cabbage and had a bit left, we have been doing a lot with sauerkraut lately so I asked the question about small batches of kraut, a little research and an incredibility short time later I had a batch going.  Perfect since I don’t have the space to make these large batches of kraut.  Bellow is the basic method and a jazzed up version.

All you need is cabbage, salt, mixing bowl, clean hands, a gallon Masson jar and a little patience.

Base recipe

  • 2 lbs. (900g) cabbage
  • 1 Tbls kosher salt (pickling/course/sea salt works too)
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional, I personally do not use)

Shred cabbage with a food processer or a very sharp knife as thinly as you possibly can, throw into a mixing bowl with salt and toss to coat.  With your hands massage the salt into the cabbage, do this until cabbage is a little limp, this will help the liquid pull out of the cabbage.  Let sit for 20 minutes.

cabbage

shred that cabbage

Action shot

Action shot

Add to the clean Mason jar a little at a time and pack down each time.  Pour any liquid that came out while resting back in with the cabbage.  Put something clean and heavy on top of cabbage to keep it down.  Some people use a sanitized rock, I personally use a small jelly jar with water in it with its lid sealed tight.  Put the lid on the Masson jar but do not tighten it down, it will need to “breath” so leave a little wiggle room, you could use cheese cloth or towel with a rubber band to cover also.  Let sit at room temperature, best around 70°F, after 24 hours if the top of the cabbage is not covered by its own liquid dissolve 1 tsp of kosher salt with one cup of water and add to the jar until the cabbage is just covered.

I squish your head

I squish your head

Every few days repack it down with clean hands, the cabbage likes to float but it should be submerged the whole time.  Depending on how warm it is and how sour you like your kraut, it can be used as early as 3 days if you don’t want it to be to sour but 1 to 2 weeks is best, it depends on your taste.  When it’s done simply tighten the lid and move it into the fridge.  You should use it within a month.  You can use standard canning practices to keep your kraut for virtually ever but that would be a shame since this process will kill all the pro-biotic that are made as a bi-product of the fermentation.

Jazzed-Up Shallot and Juniper Berry Sauerkraut

As promised I have included a jazzed up kraut, all you need to do is add to the base recipe and do everything else the same.

  • 1 medium shallot very thinly sliced
  • 4 juniper berries lightly crushed

Notes:

  • Try other kind of cabbages i.e. Napa, red, etc…
  • Mix and match cabbages into one kraut
  • Try different spices and herbs
  • Try longer and shorter ferments for different textures and states of sour
  • Add other vegetables
  • Sky is the limit!

 

Stay tuned for other experiments in lacto fermented foods!

ready for the fridge

ready for the fridge

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