I used to hate it when my mom made sauerkraut for the holidays. Shw would put it on the stove in the morning on Turkey Day and let it cook for what seemed like hours. It stank up the house to high heaven. Bleh.
Chemical warfare. Torture.
Well, either I am turning into my mother, or I simply can't escape my European peasant farmer roots, because I somehow became one of those people.
I eat sauerkraut.
And I like it.
And now, I am making it.
Like, Make make. From a cabbage. Dude.
You see, I've developed a fixation on this site, espousing the return to traditional foods. Nourished Kitchen.
Real food. Pre-industrial revolution. (I say this as I sip my morning coffee, made with Coffee Mate. The closest that comes to real food is when it sat next to the carrots in my grocery bag. But anyway.)
Red cabbage, meet thine transformation.
I followed the steps found here for making sauerkraut, improvising a little. Making kraut requires time, but most of that is hands-off. It is satisfying and super simple easy. The finished product is cabbage and salt transformed by lactic acid fermentation, increasing vitamins C and B and healthy food enzymes. Plus it's an awesome color.
You, too, can now torture non-kraut eaters with this jewel-toned bonanza of goodness.
Homemade purple sauerkraut.
Based on instructions from Nourished Kitchen.
Yield depends on the size of your cabbage, around 20 ounces for mine.
1 small to medium head of purple cabbage.
2 heaping tablespoons of sea salt.
Pinch of celery seed and fennel seed, ground (optional).
Do not wear white during this procedure. Trust me on this.
Quarter and core the cabbage, then slice as thinly as humanly possible. You can put it through the food processor, but I didn't think it was worth the extra cleaning for such a small amount, so I sliced it by hand.
In a non-reactive bowl, combine the cabbage and the salt. Using clean hands (rings removed), squeeze the bejesus out of that cabbage. Squeeze! After about 30 seconds you will start feeling the moisture come out of the cabbage, and by the end of 5 minutes the cabbage should be fairly rubbery and there will be quite a bit of purple juice in the bottom of the bowl.
Also, your forearms will be quite tired.
Add in the pinch of ground spices if you want.
Take a large, clean mason jar and pack in all the cabbage as tightly as possible. Pour over the remaining juice, and if you see any air bubbles in there, use a pointed stick (I have a trusty metal shish kebab skewer) to remove the air.
The cabbage should be mostly covered by the juice. However, we want to make sure that the cabbage is completely covered by the juice, and not exposed to air, because we are making an anaerobic chemical reaction here, folks.
Here comes the niftyness: Take a clean plastic bag and put it into the top of the mason jar, leaving the top open. Make sure the bag does not leak, before you put it in the jar, ok? Fill that bag with water so the jar is mostly, but not completely, full. If necessary, gently ease your finger into the sides of the jar to press the bag down and remove any air at the cabbage-bag interface. The bag should be pressing the cabbage down into the salty juices and there shouldn't be any air in the jar. You can seal the bag so you don't accidentally spill the water.
Cover loosely, and put this jar somewhere out of the way. I use the steps to my basement. Now, you're ready to wait. At a minimum, one week, and up to 4 weeks if you want some seriously fermented kraut. Taste a little after the first week and see if you like it. When it hits your kraut sweet spot, move it to the fridge or other cold storage and it should keep for 6 months.
Also, when it's fermenting, never put a lid on this. If you seal the top and pressure builds up - from the little anaerobic microbes doing their fermenting thing - the jar could blow up. Foods that blow up are kinda cool, but cleaning up the mess of exploding purple kraut is most certainly not.