A couple months ago we went on a road trip to Dalton, Ohio to visit Lehman’s Hardware. One of the things we purchased there was a fermentation crock, complete with weights and lid. I finally got around to using it for the first time.
Some people find the odor of fermenting cabbage offensive. Strong as it is, I really don’t mind it. It means that good things are happening and there soon will be some good eating.
In the past I have always used red cabbage or a combination of red and white to make sauerkraut. This time I chose a large white cabbage.
I put the sliced cabbage into a large bowl and added sea salt at a ratio of 2% by weight (I did half the cabbage at a time to avoid spillage while kneading).
I then kneaded and squeezed the salted cabbage with my hands for at least ten minutes until there was a puddle of liquid in the bottom of the bowl and my forearms ached and started looking like Popeye’s (hardly).
The squeezed cabbage was transferred into the crock, and the same was done with the remaining half of the cabbage. More liquid was forced out of the cabbage using a masher.
I didn’t want to make a huge batch of sauerkraut because there is (always) limited space in the refrigerator, but I could see that one head of cabbage was not enough. I needed to purchase more, but, meanwhile, I added the weights to keep the cabbage covered in liquid and placed the lid onto the crock.
The next day I purchased another large head of cabbage to add to the crock, going through the same procedures of slicing, weighing, salting, kneading etc. This time I used 3/4 of the head, saving the rest for other purposes. This raised the amount of cabbage in the crock to a more acceptable level.
The crock of fermenting sauerkraut will sit next to the fermenting hot sauce for 2 1/2 to 3 weeks, at which time both should be ready for consumption. Some people like to check on the progress of their ferment projects every 2 or 3 days, skimming off any harmless white fungus and tasting. I prefer to wait for the duration and only skim off the top once at the very end. Tasting then becomes a bigger moment of appreciation, like opening a gift.
Check back in a few weeks.