ragnar roos

[rang'nar ro:s]

Saurkraut

Cabbage preserved using naturally occuring lactic acid bacteria.

Preserving cabbage using nothing but salt and spices is immensely rewarding. The taste of this recipy is fresher and spicier than the industrial cabbage available.

In a home environment, care has to be taken to combat the decomposing bacteria. This recipy contains spices that are traditionally used for this purpose.

I've included an apple as an optional ingridient. Using apples in the cabbage adds some lactic acid bacteria and will speed up the fermentation process.

The most important part of this recipy is the cabbage to salt ratio. To my experience, 15 grams of salt per kilogram of cabbage is optimal. Use salt without added iodine. Iodine is quite hostile towards lactic acid bacteria.

Day 1

1 kg. cabbage, one small head
15 g. iodine free salt
70 g. apple, 1 small fruit (optional)
5 juniper berries, whole
5 g. carraway seeds, whole

Cut the cabbage into thin slices.
Put the cabbage in a bowl. Add the salt and set to rest for 20 minutes.
If you want to include apple, deseed, slice it and add to the bowl. Pound the cabbage using your fists until it has released enough liquid to cover.
Stir in the spices.
Put the cabbage in a clean preservation jar. Push the cabbage down below the liquid.
Seal the jar and put it in a dark space in room temperature.

Day 2-14

Open and reseal the jar every day to release the gas produced by the fermentation.
If the cabbage has gone above the liquid, push it down below again.
Smell the cabbage. If it smells rotten, discard and start over.

Day 15-

Move the cabbage to the refrigerator. Cold ferment the cabbage for 2-6 weeks.

Tips

Pounding the liquid out of the cabbage can be hard work. Let the salt soften the cabbage and start the extraction for you by letting the fresh cabbage and the salt rest for 20 minutes prior to starting. You will need to extract enough liquid to allow for it to cover the cabbage in the jar.

If the cabbage is dry, or if there isn't enough liquid to cover the cabbage, you can add clean, salted water to cover. Bring fresh water to a boil, add 15 grams of salt per liter of water, stir and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add enough to cover the cabbage.

By adding salt water to your cabbage, you're diluting the lactic acid bacteria found naturally in the cabbage. I've sometimes added a few tablespoons of whey from yoghurt to compensate to good results.

The juniper berries and the carraway have anti-bacterial properties. Together with the salt, they help combat the decomposing bacteria. A pleasant side effect is the rustic taste.

The key to success in making saurkraut is to maintain a healthy bio-culture. The lactic acid bacteria colonising the cabbage should keep the decomposing bacteria away. Use your smell to ensure the cabbage is fermenting properly. If something is rotting in your jar, you'll be the first to know.

The cabbage is OK to eat after it has fermented for two weeks in room temperature, but cold fermenting it will make the taste deeper and more pronounced.