Savory Seed Sauerkraut
Okay, we know you guys are going to think we’re crazy and “how much sauerkraut can two people eat?” but we just can’t stop making the stuff! We know it seems ridiculous to have crock after crock fermenting on our kitchen counter but people we are addicted to the mystery of it all! And, our friends love us for it! Each batch behaves differently…it’s an experiment each and every time. You never know if it will co-operate to create enough liquid, will it bubble up to let you know it’s working, and all the different, tangy flavours… like this batch with the seeds…How will we know what we like the best if we don’t try them all!?!
This time we are trying something a little bit different, a Savory Seed Kraut. It’s considered a low salt sauerkraut or it can be a salt free sauerkraut (for those of you trying to reduce your salt intake). For us, it started out being a salt free sauerkraut but this morning when we looked in on it and realized that the liquid was basically non-existant…we went back to the drawing board ~ or should we say back to Ellix Katz’s book Wild Fermentation.
Upon further reading, we realized that you can add salt to these krauts (just add less). This will not only help the cabbage to create the liquid brine we need but it will also help to preserve it. Ellix Katz’s recommends doing these salt free or low salt Krauts in small batches because the fermentation process is quicker and the lifespan of the Kraut is diminished because it has little or no salt. That makes sense!
But, of course, we did 15 pounds of cabbage instead of the recommended 5 pounds and are now adding some salt to help the cabbage create the brine and so that we will be able to preserve and process it in 4-6 weeks. In the end, this is what we did.
RECIPE FOR SAVORY SEED SAUERKRAUT (for a single batch):
- 5 pounds cabbage (we used both green and purple Ontario cabbage)
- 2 tbsp Pickling or Kosher Salt
- 1 tbsp each Dill Seeds, Caraway Seeds, and Celery Seeds ~ finely ground using a mortar and pestle or small grinder
- Remove outer leaves of cabbage and thoroughly wash.
- Using a serated knife (like a bread knife) cut the cabbage head in half, remove and discard the heart. Cut each half into very thin strips and place in a large bowl. Note: you can do this in a food processor but we like doing it by hand ~ a little bit more control on the finished product).
- Working in batches mix the salt and finely ground seeds into the cabbage and pack into a crock or 4 x 1 Litre jars. Note: You may want to use the 1 litre/quart jars or a small crock if you are going to do a small batch. Again, we tripled the above recipe and used a large 4 gallon crock. Pack a bit into the crock at a time. Tamp it down using a potato masher or your fists…this will help release the water from the cabbage.
- Cover the kraut with a plate with a couple of 1litre jars of water on top to keep it down. Or, if you are packing your cabbage into 1litre jars ~ pack cabbage in wide mouth jars and place smaller jars filled with water in the opening. It is important to keep the cabbage submerged in the brine.
- Press down on the jars or weight to force the liquid brine up over the cabbage and plate. It can take up to 24 hours for the liquid to rise but if it has not risen in that time add enough salt water to bring the levels up. You can do this by adding 1 tbsp or less of salt to 1 cup of water ~ stir well until the salt is completely dissolved. Remember to use chlorine free water or boil the water first ~ chlorine inhibits the fermentation process. Older cabbage contains less water…so using fresh cabbage may eliminate the need to add additional salty water.
- Leave the crock to ferment. Remember to check it every day and skim off any bloom or scum on the top.
Now, the above recipe outlines what we did (because we ended up adding some salt). However, you can do this without any salt at all…just add 1 cup of water to create the liquid/brine that covers the cabbage. And, be sure to use fresh cabbage or you may not get enough liquid.
Again, it is a learning process but a tasty one at that!