Thursday, November 26, 2009


Alex Lewin, a lacto-fermentation expert, demonstated the basic how-to of sauerkrauting to a group of us this past Tuesday. Lacto-fermentation is way to preserve the fall harvest so that we can eat local vegetables year-round.

Why Preserve?
It extends the "window of edibility" for that particular food and makes it available year-round. If you're not near the equator or in sunny cali, this is important if you strive to eat locally. In addtion, preservation create new tastes and textures; and in the case of sauerkraut, it also increases the nutrient and digestive benefits of the food. Besides fermentation, other methods of preservation are canning, freezing, refrigerating, and drying.
Is it Safe?? The Danger Zone for pathogenic bacteria is 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Alex believes that fermenting is much safer than canning, because you will KNOW when something has going wrong. IE if its slimy or furry-TOSS IT! If your senses are telling you something is not right, steer clear. Also, our ancestors all ate food that wasn't refrigerated-if that helps settle your stomach.
Doesn't That just get Moldy and Gross?? Leave a vegetable out to sit in the air, and yes, you'll get mold, and it will turn into an awful slimy mess. But, leave out a vegetable covered in liquid you get acid-forming bacteria (=good). These probiotic bacteria begin to pre-digest the food, making our digestive tract's job a little easier, and keeping things regular, if you know what I mean.

And without further ado, This is Alex's recipe:

Cabbage (the fresher the better!)
Sea Salt

Wide Mouth 1 pint Mason Jars
Large Mixing Bowls
Cutting Board
Large Knife
Kitchen Scale

Weigh Cabbage and then chop, using a large chefs knife or a food processor

we're all about assembly-lines

You will need 1 pint jar and 2 tsp of salt for every pound of cabbage. Add the chopped cabbage and measured salt into a large mixing bowl and start to "knead" the cabbage (with clean hands!!). You want to start to break down the cell walls of the cabbage with the help of the salt, and draw the water out of the cabbage.

you too could have forearms like this, if you start 'krautin

Once the cabbage has released its liquid, pack it into the mason jar. You want to make sure that the liquid covers the cabbage and that there is room at the top. A smaller 1/2 pint jar make it easier to push down the sauerkraut. (again, we want liquid on top to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria). If the liquid does not cover the cabbage completely, make a brine (1 T salt:1cup water) as a substitute. (if your cabbage is fresh, preferably local, then the juice should not be hard to get out). Cover the jar and wait... Come back everyday to push down the cabbage, making sure it is always covered. After four days, taste it. If you like the way it tastes, put it in the fridge to bring the fermentation to a halt. At this point, it's all up to how sour you like your sauerkraut! It could be "ready" in a few days, or a few months, depending on personal preference and temperature.

Warning: Making Sauerkraut does produce a slight smell. Warn your roommates. They will probably be swayed after tasting your creations.

Variations-Wanna spice it up?? Well you can, literally!
  • Add purple cabbage to make a more aesthetically pleasing 'kraut!
  • Add herbs and spices!! Alex likes caraway, fennel, and anise seeds. You can add this pre-fermentation, or when serving

  • Try fermenting other vegetables! parsnips, raddishes, turnips, carrots, or really any vegetable!
Alex is our new go-to sauerkraut guru. If you have any questions, check out his site- Feed Me Like You Mean It, or @reply him!
Sandor Katz's Book and website are also valuable resources!

**Thanks to Rachel from BU Today for taking some great photos with her fancy DSLR camera :) **

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