Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fermentation time!

Brian may have his yeast beer buddies, but I've got my own microscopic friends. I've already been converted to making my own yogurt (which is so stupidly simple that I'm a little disgusted with myself for buying the stuff for so many years) and this week I deepened my relationship with lactic acid bacterias by making sauerkraut.
I snagged some of the brewing supplies that Brian wasn't using: an ale pail, lid and S air lock. Got out my 4 heads of Tantre cabbage (about 7 lbs total), my mandoline, knife and kosher salt.

Then I gave my right forearm a terrific workout shredding all that cabbage into the sterilized pail:Hmmm...not enough cabbage me thinks....

So I dashed off to Krogers (it was Sunday evening) and picked up 4 more huge organic cabbages (.59/lb which seemed pretty cheap to me). By the time I finished shredding those big old mama's my hand was getting numb. Maybe next time I'll use the food processor, even though I don't have one of the newer shwoopy kind with the wide mouth feed tube.

I stirred in the recommended amount of salt (about 3 T per 5lbs) and then ignored it for a while until the cabbage started sweating out its juice. Good god does that stuff ever sweat!
I put a clean plate on top of the cabbage and stuck on another container filled with water to weigh it down and keep the cabbage below the top of the brine. Then I stuck on the pail lid and plunked the thing down in the basement where it will stay relatively cool.

I hear you can get kraut in 5 days if you put in a probiotic, like one of those pills from the health food store, but since the only ones I had in the house were blueberry flavored chewables (from when one of the critters was having tummy troubles) I figured that I'd go the slow and traditional route this time.

So, now we wait for at least a couple of weeks. But instead of tapping my foot impatiently, I'm going to think of it as party planning time! We'll have no need to deal with the crowds at the German Park this summer: we have Brian on board for beer, Brian Pinkelman can make the sausage, I'll supply the sauerkraut, the library will provide the CDs of polka tunes and Sarah will make an appearance dressed as the St. Pauli girl. Right Sarah?


Sarah said...

Well, Brian fully supports (get it? supports?) me wearing the outfit. Me? Not so convinced. However, were Brian to do the lederhosen, I may be swayed.

Susan W said...

Ok - I need a full description on how to make my own yogurt...I hear it is really easy, but it is intimidating to those of us who have never tried. Will you devulge your secrets?!? :)

Anonymous said...

I do have a "boobie girl outfit" (as Jeff calls it) from the Ren Fest :)
I so wanted to use one of Jeff's pails (he has the same ones) for my pickles but he said no. So I got some from Kilwin's. I hope they work okay!

Jen said...

I really have to get over my canning/fermenting phobia.

Isn't using Brian's tub a bit like using his toothbrush?

Melanie said...

Sounds wonderful. I don't know if hubby would let me use his brew bucket. But he's the one that likes saurkraut. I need to ask him though cause I'm sure we'd have fun making the kraut. I think it can be canned, can't it? Beer and kraut would make excellent Christmas gifts.

Kate said...

Sue--here's a link with a whole lot of scientific reasoning and instructions about how to make your yogurt: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/dining/15curi.html?_r=1

I don't even use a thermometer any more. I just heat up the milk until it is almost boiling, then turn off the heat and let it cool to about room temp, stir in 2 T of the old yogurt, cover it and leave it in my oven on its "bread proofing" setting. Sometimes I forget and leave it there for a day or so but it always tastes fine to me!

Patti--thankfully I don't think Brian wants his tub back. A friend gave him a whole bunch of glass carboys that he prefers to use so I can ferment my heart out! And you must wear the boobie girl outfit.


Melanie--the only thing about canning the sauerkraut is that if you do the hot water bath it kills off the good bacteria. I plan to pack mine into quart jars and keep them refrigerated. I love your idea of giving beer and kraut together! I probably should stick to granola for the kid's teachers, but for everyone else it sounds perfect!