Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Gas Pains Kraut

Dangerous Kitchen Experiments, Gardening

Yes, I know.  Catchy headline eh?

I am shameless about cultivating readers and know for a fact that anybody who enters that combination of words into a search engine is going to end-up here.

Allow me to share some examples.

Google:  John Browning's Legacy or Birther Truther Bircher.  Go ahead and try it yourself.  You'll see what I mean.

Getting back to the subject of fermented vegetables one of my deer camp pals used to manage canning plant operations for a living.  He can spin tales about canning corn, peas and lima beans.  When he started in the business he was in charge of making the sauerkraut.

Visualize a giant vat.  Something on the order of a shortened silo.

What he would do is prop a ladder alongside the vat. Clambering-up and perched on the top edge of the vat someone else would pass-up another ladder so he could climb down to the bottom of the barrel with a pitchfork and a large quantity of salt.

Festooned in rubber boots and foul weather gear he would wait at the bottom of the vat.  After the ladder was retrieved vast amounts of shredded cabbage would pour from a chute into the vat.  His job was to cast salt all over and toss everything with the pitchfork.

Salt and toss.  Repeat.  All the while he's being pelted by a torrential rain of slaw.

As the cabbage accumulated he eventually found himself back at the top of the vat.  A rubber sheet - was placed over all, weighed down with water and he would clamber down the  ladder and move on to the next vat to repeat the process.

I don't know if this is the manner that factory sauerkraut is still manufactured but the process for smaller quantities of homemade kraut is basically the same. 

Shredded cabbage, kosher salt, some sort of vessel and plenty of  time.  

At the end of July I started a batch of kraut in my new kraut crock from the Fatherland.

No more of the plastic pail in the laundry room.

I chopped a bunch of fresh cabbages from the garden, spread them in the crock, sprinkled the shreds with salt, tossed and repeated the process.  After reaching the top of  the crock I added the weighing stones, placed the lid on the crock and filled the moat with water.

Within twenty-four hours gases were burping from the lid and escaping through the moat.  The process of fermentation had begun.

After almost two months of digesting, at long last I opened the crock and gave the fermented cabbage a sniff.

Sure smelled like sauerkraut.

I gave it a taste.

Sure tasted like sauerkraut.

It was, in a word, perfect.

Very crispy, with a nice sour tang and a hint of saltiness.  Hand-chopped it had a nice rustic look to it -  not at all like the perfectly uniform kraut you find in the grocery.

I tightly packed pint jars, added the reserved juice and processed it in the canner for fifteen minutes.

I now have a shelf-stable product from the garden that I can enjoy in the months to come.

Thinking about what to do with some of  the red cabbages I set out to make some authentic German pickled cabbage.

The instructions are as follows:

Peel and coarsely chop three red cabbages.

Pack the shreds in the crock with kosher salt and allow to set overnight.

The next day - take all the red wine and apple cider vinegar you have in the pantry and pour it into a non-reactive pot.  Add three cups of dark brown sugar and four teaspoons of mustard seed.  Cut the toe-end off of an old sweat sock, fill with half a container of pickling spice and a broken cinnamon stick.  Secure it with string and toss it into the pot.    

Bring to a boil, simmer for about five minutes and turn-off the heat.

Drain the shredded cabbage in a colander and pack tightly in jars.  Remove the spice sock from the pot and fill your packed jars with the brine.

Screw on the lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for twenty minutes.

Should be ready to eat in a week. 

This was a canning by the seat of the pants recipe so I'll report back sometime soon and let you know how it turned out. 

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