Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sauerkraut Fever

Hooray, I made sauerkraut! Delicious sauerkraut! This is definitely a red letter, New Thing day.

Sauerkraut is fun, sauerkraut is easy, sauerkraut is magic! It’s a sauerkraut jubilee in our house.

When I was little, I had terrible stomach pains. After a few years of this, we went to the doctor. He asked about my regular diet. I’m not sure of the specifics, but his answer was something like, “human beings shouldn’t eat that much sauerkraut,” and I was forcibly removed from the sauerkraut jar.

When I moved into my first apartment, I remember being thrilled that I could bake a potato whenever I wanted in my own oven. And I could heat sauerkraut on the stove and eat it warm (which was a relatively new discovery of mine) whenever I wanted. I felt such ownership of my life!

But then somehow – I don’t know how it happened – sauerkraut fell off the radar. It only reemerged on the very infrequent hot dog.

Nevertheless, at the State Fair a few years ago, I took a class on making sauerkraut. It was so complicated and intimidating that sauerkraut-making never made it on my list.

And then my friend, Connie, said she makes it, it was easy, and why didn’t I come over? So first I picked up three cabbages at the Farmer’s Market, three heads of garlic, and some carrots.
We used Connie’s little hand-held slicer thing (which was a little scary since I have a difficult relationship with sharp objects), but the idea was to get skinny little shreds of cabbage and no blood in the mix. When I finished half a head of cabbage, I put it in a bowl and sprinkled it with a little salt. When the bowl was full, I squeezed it and mashed it and rubbed it against itself till water was oozing out everywhere. It was very hands-on; if I weren’t the one doing it – if I were only watching – I would beg to try.

Then I cut up my garlic and the carrots and threw them into the mush bowl.

I’d brought along some wide-neck jars, and I put my cabbage into them. Connie took one of the outer leaves of a cabbage, folded it around, and laid it over the cabbage. She mashed it down, creating a boundary so cabbage would be submerged under it with water on top. She screwed the top on, then backed it off a little.
And that was it! Each day, I just had to open the jar, mash down the big cabbage leaf so that more liquid would rise to the top, close it back up, and leave it.
It’s called wild fermentation, but it seems like magic! Way easier than my adventures with raspberry liqueur and even more fun than my spiralizer because at the end, I get sauerkraut! Handmade. By me! I feel like such an Earth Mother – hippie fantasies realized.

Today, I cased thrift stores for a crock so I can make bigger batches. Saturday, I’ll be at the Farmer’s Market buying up cabbage. Tonight, I’m a glutton, eating sauerkraut by the forkful.

I’d been focusing lately on trying to feel “abundance” in my Third Third. Who knew it would take the form of sauerkraut? It could be worse; it could be donuts.


  1. Not a sauerkraut fan, though I do love a good Reuben.

  2. Love the stuff (through my German grandparents). Love kim chee, too. Cabbage is a wonder food. Should I consider your post a recipe? or should I root about in the intertubes for one?


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