Thursday, January 17, 2019

January Harvest and Sauerkraut Hack

I haven't grown cabbage for about 5 years, with my new Paleo Diet and the need for probiotics I decided to plant LOTS of cabbage in my 2018 garden. I got some healthy bedding plants of a good size from Pat at Corlan Vineyard and Farm. The Danish Ballhead is an heirloom variety first introduced in 1887. When I was a youngster helping my Uncle on the Edmonton City Market, I still remember the Ukrainian grandmas wanting only Danish Ballhead. They make excellent sauerkraut! They are supposed to be winter hardy, not sure what happened with mine, maybe they were too mature by the fall. The first 3 Danish Ballhead I used for kraut in the fall were beautiful, huge, heavy, crunchy, blemish free. They made incredible kraut in my initial experiment of 'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut' in November.
Unknown variety, Danish Ballhead and Red Russian Kale
I left 2 heads in the garden, the last Danish Ballhead in the photo was picked January 3rd, 2019. Late last year we had heavy frost, so I mulched maple leaves around and over the cabbage heads. The 2 unknown variety (Lennox Organic-See Jan. 28th comment below) on the left are incredible as seen in the photo. The Danish Ballhead was quite slimy and frost damaged so had to be peeled down quite a bit but was still a good size.

I digress, back to my experiment with 'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut'. Actually, it is a hack on a recipe I have tried from Farmhouse Culture. 
Pound and massage with Celtic sea salt
My complaints about purchasing their brand are... it is quite expensive and the kraut itself, although organic, flavorful with the addition of garlic, dill weed and slices of fermented dill pickles is soft, not crunchy... and I want to use my garden cabbage. Fast forward to this month, January 2019 and a few pictures of my progress on the second version.

Following the instructions in my 'E~Z Pickler Fermenting Kit', the cabbage is cleaned and cored. Several leaves are kept whole and cut in circles to fit on top of the cabbage once packed in the jars. I used a food processor to finely shred the cabbage. Layer shredded cabbage in a sturdy bowl and sprinkle with required amount of Celtic sea salt. Pound and massage the cabbage to release juice that will form the fermenting brine.
Weight & cover to form brine

Top the pounded cabbage with a plate and a heavy weight, I use a gallon jar filled with water. Cover with a towel for several hours or overnight to form a brine. DO NOT proceed until the brine is formed.

By the next day the brine should completely cover the cabbage. Remove the towel, weight and plate. Mix in any additional ingredients. In this case, for my Garlic and Dill Pickle hack; to 16 cups of cabbage, I added 1-1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh, organic garlic and 1 cup packed minced, fresh organic dill weed. Pack cabbage mixture lightly into sterilized, cooled jars. Pour over brine. Arrange reserved leaf on top and seal with air tight fermenting lid.
Ferment at proper temperature

The jars in bowls, to accommodate overflow, were moved to the basement with a consistent temperature of 19C for 10 days.
On Day 11 the final ingredient was added... a quart of thinly sliced, 'Fermented Dill Pickles' from my 2018 garden. The cabbage and dill brine were added and mixed. Then the dill and cabbage mixture was packed into new, sterilized, cooled, quart and pint sealers. The reserved cabbage leaf placed on top again. Lids and seals were closed until just snug, not too tight.
Sally Rae's 'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut' Hack

The jars of kraut are now ready for the fridge where they will continue to ferment at a slower rate. I will taste test the result few weeks ... if I can wait that long!

On another note, it's time to look through and order your seeds for 2019. Don't forget a few of my favorites from William Dam Seeds; Cassia Organic Zucchini, Corentine Cucumbers for Dill Pickles,
and Sunshine Squash.

Till next time ... Bon App├ętit!

'E~Z Pickler' by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae
'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut' Hack Recipe by Sally Rae