Eating sustainably is more than just choosing local and organic foods when they’re in season; it’s also about preserving those foods so you can enjoy them all year long. Learning how to can fresh foods is high on my to-do list, but until I know how I’m constantly searching for easier ways to preserve my favorite foods that don’t require a lot of know-how or extra equipment. So you can understand my excitement when my roommate and fellow apprentice at Fair Share Farm introduced me to this easy-as-cabbage-pie recipe for homemade sauerkraut.
What you’ll need:
· 4-5 small heads of cabbage with any wilted outer leaves removed
· 1 tablespoon salt
· 1-2 sweet peppers (optional)
· 1-quart mason jar with lid
· Spatula or wire whisk (for smashing)
What you’ll do:
1. Grate the heads of cabbage into a large bowl. If you’re choosing to add peppers, slice them thinly and mix them in with the cabbage.
2. Place a 2-inch-thick layer of your cabbage (and peppers) in the bottom of your mason jar, sprinkle a little of your tablespoon of salt on top and start smashing with your spatula or whisk until the cabbages’ juice starts to squeeze out.
3. Repeat step 2 until the cabbage reaches the neck of the jar and there is about a half-inch of liquid on top. It is okay if there are a few stray pieces of cabbage floating in the liquid as long as the liquid is covering the majority of the cabbage.
4. Screw the lid on fairly tight and leave your kraut alone for at least four days. It should be ready to open in four to seven days. Refrigerate after opening.
What you need to know:
· The tablespoon of salt needs to last you the whole jar, so pace yourself and don’t use too much on your first couple of layers.
· If you follow this recipe correctly, in a day or two you will see some leakage from the top of the jar. The best thing you can do is set your jar on a thick layer of newspapers and change them out when necessary.
· It is important to smash the cabbage firmly, but don’t use all your strength. You don’t want the layers to be air-tight because you want the salt to reach all the cabbage for a consistent fermentation process.
Image: Photo By knitting iris/Courtesy Flickr