Sunday night sauerkraut

Having Estonian grandparents I was introduced to the wonderful world of cultured foods at a early age. However, my exposure to the the alluring flavors and techniques of fermentation have been missing for the most part, they are not really a part of Swedish everyday cuisine, but armed with a new resolve and wonderfully nerdy literature as Sandor Ellix Katz “Wild Fermentation” I have set out to change this.

Given the rather trendy minimalism of these types of foods this will be a short post, but one that will keep on living so to say as the kraut needs about four weeks to mature.

Ok, to make sauerkraut you only really need cabbage and salt (Estonian types use caraway but I have none left from the summer so this one will be kraut at its most simplest form). Most recipes actually call for pickling salt, but I will use sea salt since I don't really know if pickling salt is a readily available product here in Sweden or in the rest of the world. The thing with pickling salt is that it is a really small grain and dissolves in cold water. Sea salt does this too if it is fine enough and that is just a matter of how rough you are willing to get with your salt (if your lazy and want to waist energy other than your own I guess you could heat water with sea salt to make a brine, but that will be your own experiment).

The tricky thing with the recipes in wild fermentation and all the places I found with a quick search is that they give you the amount of salt you need in a volumetric measure. This is absolute madness! Granted the salinity of sauerkraut probably isn't as important as say sausage making, but still it annoyed me enough to go out and find the approximate weight of pickling salt, and as a average people seem to aim for a 2% salt which sound pretty decent to me plus it makes this whole thing way more scalable.

With my 2% salt safely in my mortar, which in this case turned out to be 38g, I proceeded to quickly slice the cabbage. Throw in salt and mix with clean hands (I don't want to culture anything that could have come home with me from the subway). Let the salt do its osmosis thing which pulls water out of the cabbage and softens it (30 minutes should be enough), but also makes it easier to stuff into a suitable fermentation vessel. I used to glass containers but I guess it really doesn't matter as long as it is food grade and not metal (mixing salt and metal for longer periods of time never seem like a good idea in my mind).

Eventually the salt will have pulled out enough water to actually cover the cabbage so you could say this recipe creates its own brine. The salt is however grateful for all the help it can get since we want the cabbage submerged as quickly as possible. I will try two methods, one is a simple weight the other looks pretty cool but I will have to see how it turns out, at least the idea of filling a bag with water and using it as the weight makes theoretical sense.

Store in a dark place and await the next post! (should probably be a bit colder than room temperature but hay I live in an apartment so I don't really have a root cellar)

Sauerkraut on Foodista