Monday, 20 August 2012
counter-culture kraut #1
time for my first blog post! exciting!
today it is time to taste my first counter-culture distro kraut. it's been fermenting since last sunday, so 9 days now, and it's looking and smelling pretty good. my sense is that it might be best with one or two more days, but i'm stoked to taste and see. for those of you who aren't sure about the safety of fermentation and tasting as you go, my understanding is that the first couple of days sometimes involve some nasty bacteria, but from then on it is quite safe (the lacto-bacillus wins out and kills off the rest). i've heard others say they taste it all the way along and that there is no harm. of course, i taste with a clean fork and am careful not to contaminate the happy bacteria that are growing. i tend to wait at least a week before tasting, and base the timing mainly on colouration. in the first few days of fermentation, the vegetables become rather ugly greyed tones, and as it becomes ready it gets bright and beautiful.
this kraut has a blend of (organic-) green cabbage, golden (and one red) beets from the farmers i work for, and fennel bulb that i salvaged from the back of an organic grocery store. because of this blend it's been harder to base my tasting time on colour, as the colour blend is a bit odd itself and i'm not sure what it will look like at it's best.
before i'd even started this ferment i had two folks signed up to eat it, and i've got a list going already of folks who want my next one. i am so excited and grateful for the support i'm getting in my experiment and adventure.
so here it is, on day one. after i've tasted it and am sure it's ready, i'll show you what it looks like when it's bright and delicious.
shredded veggies that have been salted and massaged to get their natural 'brine' out, then tightly pounded and packed into quart jars. i top them with some rolled up cabbage leaves (to keep down the wanna-be floaty bits) and jam jars full of water to weigh everything down and keep the brine level above the veggies. i also added additional weight, as you can see. after a day or two the brine often overflows, and then a bunch of fermentation bubbles form and kinda solidify on the top. a few more days and the brine level drops again, making the weights really important. then like i said the colour and smell improves, i taste it, and ta-da, delicious sauerkraut exists. for a more sour flavour it can be left longer, as well, increasing the bacterial content. i am usually too anxious to eat it, but it does continute to ferment slowly even in the fridge.
i'll make sure to take pictures throughout the process of my next one so you can see the progression.
today i'm also going to start my first sour-pickles! i'm using cucumbers from the farmers market and i'm told they're not the variety usually used in pickling, so they will taste a little different than folks are used to, but i'm sure they'll be awesome anyway.