Ferment Your Vegetables (Quarto Publishing Group USA, 2015) by Amanda Feifer introduces vegetable enthusiasts to the art of fermentation. Filled with beautiful color photographs and delicious recipes, this introductory guide teaches readers how to preserve raw vegetables year-round. Troubleshooting tips, equipment information, and step-by-step instructions make fermenting vegetables easy and enjoyable.
In its simplest form, sauerkraut has just two ingredients: salt and cabbage. Consider this recipe the jumping-off point for all other recipes in this chapter. Use it to gain an understanding of the simplicity of the process and the fact that everything else is optional. Tasting a two-ingredient kraut can give you a serious appreciation for the immense amount of flavor that comes from the fermentation process alone.
Simple Sauerkraut Recipe
• 2 pounds (900 g) cabbage
• 4 teaspoons (22 g) kosher salt
1. Remove any unattractive or wilted outer leaves from the cabbage. Keep one handy. Cut out the core and rinse the cabbage in cool water. Shred the cabbage into ¼-inch (0.5 cm) wide strips using a sharp chef’s knife, the slicer blade of your food processor, a mandoline, or a kraut shredder.
2. Place the shredded cabbage into a large bowl, add the salt, and toss thoroughly for about 30 seconds or until the cabbage has a sheen of moisture on it. The salt has successfully drawn some water from the cabbage.
3. You now have the option of continuing to gently massage and squeeze the cabbage or letting the salt and cabbage continue osmosis while you go do something else for 20 minutes. If you let it sit a bit, the work of kneading the cabbage to release as much water as possible will be easier when you return.
4. Work it for another few minutes. When there is a visible puddle of water in the bottom of the bowl and the cabbage pieces stay in a clump when squeezed (as pictured), you are ready to start packing your jar.
5. Take a handful of cabbage in your dominant hand and a clean quart (1 L) jar in the other. Press the cabbage into the bottom of the jar and pack it along the bottom with the top of your fist or your fingers. Continue packing in this fashion, pressing along the sides and bottom, until it comes to about 1½ to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) below the jar rim.
6. If there’s still cabbage that hasn’t been packed into the jar, press down on the top of the cabbage in the jar and tilt it to pour the cabbage liquid back into the bowl. This will give you more space in which to pack the remaining cabbage.
7. Use the cabbage leaf you reserved to create a “cabbage shelf” (see “How to Make a Cabbage Shelf,” page 75). Pour the cabbage liquid from the bowl into the jar to cover the cabbage. Leave at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of headspace at the top of the jar. Using your preferred method (see pages 23 to 28), weight the cabbage down and cover your jar.
8. Place your jar on a small plate or bowl and allow the kraut to ferment at room temperature for 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the warmth of your home. Check weekly to make sure that the brine level is still above the top of the cabbage. If it isn’t, press down on your weight to get the brine to rise back above. If the brine is severely depleted, you may want to add more, at a concentration of about 5 percent (see salt charts on page 200), but there shouldn’t be a need to do this. Once you’re happy with the acidity, remove the weight, secure the lid, and place the jar in the fridge.
Yield: 1 quart (1 L)
Learn more about the Benefits of Fermenting Vegetables.
Excerpted with permission from Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer and published by Quarto Publishing Group, 2015.