Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homemade Sauerkraut

In case you were wondering about my lineage (just in case), I am almost completely German. My mother's father was German and her mother was mostly Alsatian (Franco-German). My father's father was German and his mother was Scotch Irish. (Did I get that one right Dad?). With 3 of four grandparents belonging to a generally Germanic background, I always grew up saying that my heritage was German. But unlike the Italian-Americans, I did not get to grow up eating my homeland's food. Why not? Much of my German family came to this country around the turn of the 20th century, while some came over 10-20 years earlier I believe. During WW2, many German-Americans were eager to sluff off their heritage in favor of being Americans. It was very unpopular then to be proud of being descended from the country we were at war with, and later it only became worse when news of atrocities and genocide came out of Europe. What was a family to do except walk away from their culture. Many of my great grand parents spoke German and ate German food. But my maternal grandmother told me many stories about her desire to not be associated with her heritage. She was in her early twenties during Word War 2. I truly feel that this is a shame, because nothing has survived from my family's culture save our American traditions. But I will resurrect them if I can! Today I make Sauerkraut.

This Sauerkraut is nothing like what you buying in those terrible glass jars, all stringy and white and sour from vinegar. Jarred sauerkraut must be pasteurized to be allowed to sit on grocery store shelves indefinitely. And while my sauerkraut is technically preserved, it must be refrigerated in order to halt the fermentation. The longer it sits out, the more sour it becomes. And at a certain point, it definitely is not good eats. But, on the up side my sauerkraut is considered a raw fermented food. It is teeming with live enzymes and it is very good for your tummy!

Sauerkraut-from Nourishing Traditions
One head of green cabbage (You know--I never thought of doing this with red cabbage, but....apparently you can)
One tablespoon of sea salt
One tablespoon of caraway seeds
4 tablespoons of whey (or you could just use an extra table spoon of salt, which is nice if you don't want to go through the trouble of making whey)

Shred the cabbage and place in a large bowl. You could use the food processor, but I find that shredding with a knife makes for a better consistency. sprinkle in the sea salt, caraway seeds and whey. Using the pestle of a mortar and pestle (or some other similar blunt object) mashing the shredded cabbage until it's juices are released. Place in a large mouth quart sized jar and press down firmly with a pounder firmly until the juices rise to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be more than 1 inch below the top of the jar (but mine was several inches below--small cabbage). Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about three days. After then it can be refrigerator. The Sauerkraut can be eaten then, but improves with age.

I made my kraut on a Sunday evening and let it sit. On Thursday morning I put it up in the fridge, but did not serve it for dinner until the following Saturday. I served the cabbage cool (I let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving) alongside fats links of turkey sausage and mashed potatoes. The kids refused to touch it. But DH, why he loved it! DH is also about half Germanic, though not from the same general vicinity as me. He grew up embracing his culture because much of his family came to this country after the war. When he had my sauerkraut he absolutely loved it. Which meant alot to me. It takes a special man to learn to love his wife's fermented vegetables. He also gave me a great idea. A hot panini with roast beef, swiss cheese and my homemade sauerkraut. Whoa. Now I am hungry.

No comments:

Post a Comment