Flowered mustard greens, garlic by the stalk-ful, herb garden kicking in, time for a good 'ol cabbage kraut with a twist! Mustard flower, garlic, and oregano kraut!
Summer Comfort Kraut:
-Two heads of cabbage
-About one bunch of oregano*
-Half knob of fresh spring garlic (or half a knob of cured garlic)*
-1 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt (I would bang out a few extra bucks to get a good sea salt high in minerals!)**
-A few handfuls of mustard flowers
Take your cabbage, clean of the outside, chop off the bottom, and either use a food processor to slice your cabbage into whatever desirable chopped form you'd like, or I like to just chop cabbage the good 'ol fashion way and just use my knife and cutting board. So chop up your cabbage, de-stem and chop up your herbs (not too fine! you want some good bits in there), clean up your garlic and chop the garlic to whatever desirable size you'd want (I just sliced up the garlic nice and thin to go along with the rest of the kraut)
Once you have all the goods together in a nice big bowl (or any sort of container that can hold all this produce plus give you room to massage your kraut without making too big of a mess) add your salt and now the fun begins!
Massage everything together.
Keep massaging all the veggies together until the vegetables naturally start to let out water which is the beginning sign of your brine! No need to add water, no need to add vinegar! With a little salt, a little time, a little love your vegetables will be on their way to becoming a beautiful kraut!
*garlic and oregano can be adjusted to your liking! A little more, a little less, whatever floats your boat!
**when making kraut, taste the kraut after each addition of salt! If you taste it and it's not salty enough, add a little salt. Too salty? You probably over-salted it.... Don't be afraid of over-salting your kraut, start off with a tablespoon, massage your kraut, taste it. If you feel like it needs a little more, add a little more! If you're fine with the amount of salt and your kraut is well into the brining process after a little loving massage, you're all good to go!
Allow your kraut to sit out in the bowl for about an hour or two, from time to time check up on it and give it a little massage. This will allow your kraut to settle more and just to give it as much tending to to really get it going. (Not a super vital step but if possible it doesn't hurt!)
Once your veggies have released a fair amount of liquid and all your vegetables are starting to seem almost as if they're "sogging" up, time to pack your kraut into a vessel, crock, jar you name it! With these last important jarring tips you'll be on your way to kraut in no time!
1. Jar up your kraut (and all the brine that it already started to create) in any sort of glass or ceramic jar, vessel, crock, etc. If you own a kraut crock that come with weights and a lid, go ahead and pack that kraut in! if not here are some tips on finding the right home for your kraut to ferment in:
-any sort of glass or ceramic jar/vessel (NO PLASTIC) should be fine, if all your kraut doesn't fit in one jar, divide all your kraut into the different jars (divide up the brine as evenly as possible amongst them as well)
-WEIGHTS, weighing your kraut is super important! You want all your vegetables to be submerged into the brine that your kraut has naturally produced thus far (and will continue to do so!) Specific crocks for kraut may already come with weights, but if not, finding a plate or something flat to use to push down your kraut and you put something heavier on top of that always works to keep everything submerged. Also, filling ziplock type bags with water or any sort of heavy object has been my best bet!
-Lining the top of your kraut with some plastic wrap (the plastic wrap would lie on top of your kraut and under your weights) to make for an easier and cleaner unveiling when your kraut is done fermenting. Lining with plastic wrap can also prevent mold (not all the time but it can help) It also helps to keep the vegetables in the brine under the weights, just incase some decide to peep out the side of the jar and weights
Any vegetables not submerged in the brine will mold.
IF YOU GET MOLD ON TOP OF YOUR KRAUT, THIS IS NOT BAD. Mold on the top of your kraut is caused from your kraut meeting the air, and it's just the vegetables not submerged in the brine which has all the good and healthy bacteria that is keeping your kraut from molding. When the time comes to finish fermenting your kraut and you have a little mold problem on top, just scoop that moldy top and trash it (better yet compost it) Everything underneath that bit IS PERFECTLY FINE TO EAT. (I will have more detailed post next week discussing more specifics on kraut, but for now this should get you by)
Try and check on your kraut everyday if possible to see how everything is going and changing, and to most importantly give it a little push on top to keep all those veggies in that brine!
Now, the length of time you choose to ferment your kraut is up to you. I like my kraut pretty fermented, so I go on for about 3-5 weeks. If you're just joining the fermenting game, I would wait a week and try your kraut. If it's at a point that's good for you, jar it up, store in a cool place or your fridge (colder temperatures slow down fermentation), and enjoy!
STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR MORE DETAILED AND EDUCATED POSTS ON:
the benefits of fermented food
a more detailed (visually and descriptive) process on making kraut