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!)
Wide Mouth 1 pint Mason Jars
Large Mixing Bowls
Weigh Cabbage and then chop, using a large chefs knife or a food processor
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.
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 :) **