Mason Jar Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

 

Fermented veggies are your tummy’s BFF and a great source of probiotics, vitamins and minerals.  Store bought sauerkraut tends to be pasteurized which means it lacks a lot of the benefits of sauerkraut in it’s raw form.  Fermentation at home can be a bit scary if it’s your first time, but I assure you it’s not as hard as it looks!  I prefer to make mine in small individual batches versus using large (also expensive) ceramic fermentation crocks.  This way, if one of my jars becomes infected I can toss it out while keeping the other clean jars in tact.  When done properly, fermentation is safe process and is how we get other delicious items such as cheese, yogurt and beer!

This week, Heidi from the farm bestowed upon me two giant heads of kraut cabbage – which is available as an addition to your weekly farm shares!  Their cabbages are quite LARGE so be sure to weight your cabbage and salt measurements for the recipe offered below.  I was able to get 2 half gallon mason jars filled with 2 large heads of cabbage from Boistfort, which equates to 4 quart jars.

 

CHECK OUT THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF SAUERKRAUT 

How lactic acid fermentation works:
lactobacillus, which is required for fermentation lives naturally on cabbage leaves which is why it’s a fairly easy dish to produce. .  By exploiting the actions of bacteria simple ingredients such as cabbage and salty water can be used to kill off the bad bacteria and leaves our little pal lactobacillus in tact. Lactic acid will continue to thrive in the high acid environment and will ward off any bacteria that cause the food to spoil.


The first stage of sauerkraut fermentation involves anaerobic bacteria, which is why the shredded cabbage and salt need to be packed in an airtight container. At this stage the surrounding environment is not acidic, just cabbagey. The bacteria, mostlyLeuconostoc species, produce carbon dioxide (replacing the last vestiges of oxygen in the jar) and lactic acid, which is a natural byproduct of anaerobic respiration. Eventually, the conditions within the jar become too acidic for these bacteria to survive and they die out, replaced with bacteria that can better handle the acidic conditions such as Lactobacillus species.

The lactobacillus further ferment any sugars remaining in the cabbage, using anaerobic respiration. This produces more lactic acid, until the sauerkraut reaches a pH of about 3. These bacteria are inhibited by high salt concentrations (so most sauerkraut contains around 2-3% salt) and low temperatures, which is why the fermenting jars should be left at room temperature rather than in the fridge. At pH3 the lactobacillus stop fermenting and the sauerkraut can be stored until needed.

All the these bacteria help to create the tangy acidic taste, however there are ways that microbial growth can go wrong. Overgrowth of the lactobacillus, for example if the jar is stored at too high a temperature during fermentation, can cause the sauerkraut to form the wrong consistency. Likewise if the sauerkraut gets too acidic too early thelactobacillus get in on the action early leading to soft sauerkraut. Although the finished sauerkraut is far too acidic for pathogens to live in, fungal spores may settle on the surface and spread, spoiling the food.  via scientificamerican.com


MATERIALS NEEDED

 

  • Chlorine free water (I use reverse osmosis or distilled water)
  • Sea Salt
  • A couple of large non-reactive bowls  (Aluminum, cast iron, and copper are all “reactive.” Stainless steel, ceramic, glass and metal cookware with enamel coating are all “nonreactive.”)
  • A good sharp knife or cabbage shredder
  • Wide mouth canning jars (1 or 2 quart size)
  • Kraut pounder or meat mallet (optional)
  • Scale
  • Jar top fermenters *
  • Crock rock or other glass fermentation weight

*Available in a few different styles/prices
https://www.wheatgrasskits.com/ ($20.99 for one fermentation lid)
http://primalkitchencompany.com/ ($8.99 for one fermentation lid)
http://primalkitchencompany.com/ (Glass fermentation weights)

 

TIPS AND TRICKS

SALT – Weigh your salt for best results.  Also, I recommend using pink Himalayan salt will yield the best results as it is high in mineral content.  All salt measurements below are for regular grind.

WATER – Always use chorine and fluoride free water.  Never use city tap water.  Using distilled or spring water is your best option.

OVERFLOW – If your kraut starts bubbling like crazy once it’s jared, its a sign of healthy fermentation!  Clean up any overflow brine around the jar and cap but wait until ONE WEEK before you remove and clean your airlock valve.  Each airlock may be different so follow the instructions included with your airlock system.

SIGNS OF SUCCESS – Carefully examine your batch when it’s done (I let mine sit for at least 4-6 weeks) Watch for signs of rot, sliminess and uncharacteristic odor (aka smells nothing like sauerkraut or has a stinky foot odor) Presence of any of this may indicate that your batch has spoiled and did not ferment out properly.  There may be a white powdery sediment on the produce which is normal.  There should be nothing growing on your kraut except for something called Kahm Yeast which looks like a wax layer on top of the brine.  My rule of thumb is, when in doubt throw it out.  A successful batch will have an unmistakable sauerkraut smell and taste sour, crisp and salty.

Check out these helpful tips on fermentations issues http://www.makesauerkraut.com/sauerkraut-fermentation-gone-bad-troubleshooting-tips/

Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
Servings
1 quart jar
Servings
1 quart jar
Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
Servings
1 quart jar
Servings
1 quart jar
Ingredients
Servings: quart jar
Instructions
  1. Wash and sanitize all of your fermentation tools and jars. Rinse well.
  2. Remove wilted outer leaves of the cabbage and remove core - reserve ONE of the leaves. Weigh your cabbage after the core has been removed. The salt measurement above is for an average sized small cabbage witch is 1lbs 4oz. Adjust salt measurement for a higher cabbage yield.
  3. Using a sharp knife or cabbage shredder, slice your cabbage into fine shreds as consistent as possible. Place the shreds into a large non-reactive bowl and sprinkle salt onto the cabbage.
  4. Using a kraut pounder or a very clean set of hands, mix and mash the cabbage. Try to soften up the cabbage so that the juice in the cabbage is unlocked. Add salt and spices and mix well. Cover and allow to sit for at least 1 hour.
  5. After the cabbage has wilted and is taking a nice swim in it's own brine, use clean spoon or very clean set of hands to pack the cabbage into the mason jar. Leave at least 2 inches of head space allowing room for the glass fermentation weight. The liquid brine should cover the cabbage by at least one inch.
  6. If you are short on brine, you can make additional brine by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt for every cup of water.
  7. Place your reserved cabbage leaf on top of the shreds and place the glass fermentation weight on top. Press down to fully submerge into the brine.
  8. Screw on your fermentation cap tightly making sure the seal is in place and set. Insert the airlock and fill with distilled water to the "fill line"
  9. Place jar in a dark place at room temperature (about 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit). Let sit for 4 to 12 weeks. The longer it sits, the more "Sauer" it will become!
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Spicy Pickled Carrots

Mexican Pickled Carrots

For as much mexican food that I cook, I do not write down enough recipes as I should.  This one is a family favorite and is quite addictive!  You can adjust the heat level by omitting a jalepeno or two.  Depending on how much heat your peppers pack, the recipe below is what I would consider a 7/10 for spiciness.  Removing the seeds can also bring down the heat if you prefer.   You do need quite a few carrots for this recipe but you can adjust it to one jar versus four.  One bunch of carrots should generally be enough to fill a small pint jar!  If you’re not familiar with canning or pickling, check out the following links for a little crash course in proper sanitation.  I strongly suggest visiting the National Center for Home Food Preservation on how to prepare your jars, ensure proper sanitation, acidity levels and cook time. The following topics you should check out before starting are:

I this recipe we are only PICKLING which requires a simple water bath.  No pressure canner needed!  YAY!  For this recipe you will need the following:

4  pint canning jars (Ball brand is best)
4 rings and new lids
A canning pot with a rack or a large pot & heatproof rack that fits into the bottom of the pot
Jar lifter
Lid wand or thongs to lift the lids from the hot water
Clean rag to clean the rims of the jars

Another great webpage that is a little more detailed regarding the equipment is http://www.mountainfeed.com/blogs/learn/15522713-our-must-have-list-of-canning-equipment-supplies

Also, be sure to use NON-reactive cookware such as stainless steal, glass or enamel coated when using anything acidic (such as vinegar).  Never use Aluminum or cast iron!

Mexican Pickled Carrots
Servings Prep Time
4 pints 45 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 pints 45 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Mexican Pickled Carrots
Servings Prep Time
4 pints 45 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 pints 45 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: pints
Instructions
  1. Before starting, be sure to prepare your equipment and jars. Follow all of the proper sanitization steps! Visit the GUIDE TO WATERBATH CANNING link provided above.
  2. Toast your cumin seeds in a dry skillet on medium heat till just fragrant. Remove them to a plate or bowl so they don't overcook. Set aside.
  3. Combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a large non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add your sliced carrots, onions and jalapeños to the pot. Return to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  5. While your carrots are marinating, remove your sterilized jars from the water and place them on a clean towel.
  6. In EACH jar: Add 1/2 tsp of mexican oregano, 1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds, 3 peppercorns, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds and 1 clove of garlic.
  7. Fill each of the jars with the carrot, onion, jalepeno and vinegar mixture to within 1/2" of the rim. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth. Using a lid wand or thongs, remove the lids from the hot water and place on the jar. Tighten rings until just finger tight. Do not over-tighten.
  8. To process the jars: Using a jar lifter, return jars to the pot of warm water on your stove. Place them on the rack without touching each-other or the sides of the pot. Add more water IF the water does not cover your jars by 1 or 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil.
  9. Once your pot reaches BOIL, set your timer and boil for 10 minutes. Then, remove from heat and allow to sit for another 5 minutes. Use a jar lifter to remove the jars and place on a clean towel. Allow to sit for 24 hours.
  10. After 24 hours, remove the rings and check the seals by pressing on the center of the lid. There should be a concave indention signifying that everything worked! If you have one or two that did not seal, you can store them in your refrigerator. Sealed, processed jars should keep for up to a year when stored at room temperature.
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Bruschetta

Bruschetta

A very simple appetizer served with fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic!  It’s always a huge hit at our house and I hope you enjoy it!

Bruschetta
Servings
8 servings
Servings
8 servings
Bruschetta
Servings
8 servings
Servings
8 servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, basil, cheese, and garlic. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Allow mixture to marinate together for about 15 minutes to allow all of the flavors to mingle.
  3. Slice your baguette into 1/4 slices and arrange on a cookie sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and place in oven until lightly toasted. Depending on your oven, this should only take about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve on toasted bread slices.
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