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.

An Ode to Kraut - Or The Odious Cabbage

Dangerous Kitchen Experiments, Gardening, , Popular Culture

A little more than three weeks ago I chopped a pile of garden cabbages and embarked upon another potentially dangerous kitchen experiment.  

I was determined to make sauerkraut.

The recipe called for a pail (or crock), shredded cabbage and Kosher salt. 

It's easy.  Simply layer the cabbage in the pail, sprinkle with salt and repeat.  And allow the thoroughly natural process of decomposition to commence. 

As an aside - I would remind my 46 readers that you can do this yourself at home with little risk of injury.  Other than chopping with a big, sharp chef's knife you will run no risk of burns from exploding pressure cookers.     

Anyway - the bucket was placed with great care in the laundry room (seeking a uniform 65+ degrees of temperature) and the kraut-to-be was relegated to fermenting along with the socks and underwear.

What?  Food preparation accompanied by dirty unmentionables?

To be clear - I am fastidious about hygiene so the cabbage was sealed from the pungent atmosphere of the baskets of sweaty laundry by placing a plastic garbage bag filled with water on top of it.  This ingenious and simple air-lock sealed the bucket yet allowed the fermentation gases of the rotting cabbage to escape and mingle with the other assorted laundry room odors.

Trust me.  You don't want to keep the bucket in say - your bedroom.  

Really honey - it's the kraut. 

I digress.

I had been thinking that the stuff had to fester for upwards of five weeks or more - at least that's what the internet said to allow.  But a reader suggested I check it sooner.

This last weekend I checked on it and sure enough it had stopped bubbling. A signal that the putrefying cabbage was ready.

I tightly packed it in jars, topped-off each jar with kraut juice from the bucket and processed it for about 25 minutes in the canner.

I have to tell you that this stuff is fantastic!  I've already served it with a meal of Jaeger Schnitzel and spaetzle and again with frankfurters.  No more bland, uninspired, factory made, store bought kraut for this Gärtner.

Hence forth - home-grown laundry room kraut is the rule.

I have even had visions of a vast, cabbage-centric meal at deer camp this fall.  The boys will be ecstatic.

I am genuinely mirthful over the fact that I really hit one out of the park with this first-time attempt.  So I am positively tickled to present you with a carefree musical tribute...


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