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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stpatty

St. Patrick’s Day Stew

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, we’ve whipped up a little Irish dinner with some of the goodies we included in this week’s CSA share. I tend to shy away from the American beer with green food colouring and routy “Irish” themed parties. Instead, I try to honor my great-grandparents by cooking some traditional peasant food and having a nice Irish stout. Boring isn’t it?

Included in this recipe are a few items from your box. Potatoes (of course) are used along with the rutabagas, carrots and yellow onions. Traditionally, the stew would be served with lamb but due to some objections in our household we swapped it out with some local Washington pasture beef. Another spin on my usual recipe is the choice of beer. I decided to keep things local by using Iron Horse Brewery’s Irish Death. It’s a little sweeter than Guinness which pairs perfectly with the dish in my personal opinion. All of which came from the wonderfully wet state of Washington.

Served with the stew is some Irish Soda Bread. Plain and simple. Flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. For a great recipe and some interesting history of the dish, check out the following site: The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

Now let’s get on with the recipe and Erin go Braugh!

Recipe by: Mirinda @ Boistfort Valley Farm

 

St. Patrick's Day Stew
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
3 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
3 hours
St. Patrick's Day Stew
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
3 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
3 hours
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Our cat Jones INSISTED on being in the photo but I assure you, no kitties were harmed in the preparation of this dish. The cow on the other-hand I cannot vouch for. Prepare your mise en place (no clue how to say that in Gaelic) By cutting up your onions in large pieces. Smash and finely chop your garlic. Peel and cut your carrots and rutabagas into about 3/4 inch chunks. Scrub and remove eyes from your potatoes and large 1 inch chunks. Set aside.
  2. Season your stew meat with 1 tbsp of salt and and 1 tsp of pepper. Once seasoned, take a few paper towels and DRY the meat really well on all sides. This will help with the searing of the meat.
  3. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat to medium-high and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, add your meat a little at a time in batches without overcrowding the pot. Sear on each side for about 4 minutes. Add your finished meat to a separate bowl and set aside as you sear each batch.
  4. Remove all of your meat from the stock pot and set aside. Deglaze the pot with 3/4 cup of dry red wine and lower your heat. Whisk for about 4 minutes and get all of the stuck on meat goodies stirred up.
  5. At this point, add your onions and garlic and allow to cook until translucent and your wine has reduced and coated your onions.
  6. Return your meat chunks back to the pot and pour in 2 1/2 cups of stout beer and 32 oz. of beef broth along with your chopped carrots, 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and let simmer on low for 90 minutes.
  7. After your meat and carrots have been simmering, add your potatoes, rutabagas and pearl barley. Cover and simmer on low heat for another hour. This would be a great time to start cooking your Irish Soda Bread *hint hint* (recipe link located above)
  8. After it's been cooking, remove the lid and stir the pot. Make sure to get all of the barley that may be on the bottom. Continue to simmer UNCOVERED for another 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened and your potatoes and barley have cooked through.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste and chopped parsley. Stir and remove from heat and serve with Irish Soda Bread. Enjoy!
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