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From Bridge Gardens: Making Sauerkraut with Justin and Rick

How-to
Video
August 10, 2020

By Kathleen Kennedy, Rick Bogusch

Listen in as Garden Director Rick Bogusch and Community Gardener Justin Ruaysamran make fresh sauerkraut from the garden!

Ever thought of making your own fermented food? It’s easier than you think! Check out our video here and watch as Garden Director Rick Bogusch and Community Gardener Justin Ruaysamran team up for a workshop on sauerkraut. You’ll learn the easy-to-follow steps for delicious results.

We caught up with Justin afterward for answers to our questions:

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Q: Is there a preferred receptacle for storing the food in?

A: The general rule is no metal containers as it interacts with the brine. Re-purpose old mason jars, yogurt containers or even ziplock bags. You can also buy ceramic crocks or glass containers. Choose the container that holds your ferments while leaving a little headspace.

Q: How often should the food be checked/stirred?

A: Fermentation is most active the first few days and weeks and then drops considerably. If you’re making sauerkraut, check every few days in the beginning, mostly to make sure your cabbage is submerged in the brine and that your brine is not overflowing. Feel free to press the cabbage down with your hand, a tamper or a small dish, or run a knife through it to release any trapped carbon dioxide. It’s natural for the brine to turn cloudy. After a couple of weeks, you can leave it alone for weeks or even months at a time, especially if you’re storing the sauerkraut in a cool setting such as a cellar or basement.

Q: When is it ready to eat?

A: When you like the taste and texture! Some people like it crunchy and just a little sour so they may choose to eat it in just a couple of weeks. Others (like me) wait months for the fermentation to run its course on the cabbage.

Q: What other vegetables have you made into fermented foods?

A: I encourage experimentation. Try different types of cabbage such as purple or savoy. Root vegetables like carrots, radishes, beets, or turnips are classic, and alliums like garlic, scallions, shallots or onions are also good. Add seeds like coriander, juniper, caraway and sesame, they will add to the flavor. Some people even add dried seaweed for nutrients, thinly sliced lemons for zing, fresh or dried peppers for spice, or nuts for crunch.

Q: What’s your favorite resource for recipes?

A: The internet is a good resource, whether it be through Google searches or social media. Fermenters tend to be a social bunch, even if the practice is solitary in one’s kitchen. If you see a ferment online, ask the author for a recipe — every fermenter has stories to tell of successes, failures!

Simple Sauerkraut Recipe:

Ingredients: Cabbage and your favorite vegetable add-ins, and Sea Salt (not Kosher salt or iodized salt)

Weigh your vegetables and set aside 2-3% of the total vegetable’s weight in salt. As an approximation, use a little less than 1 tablespoon of salt for every pound of vegetables. Preciseness is not important. Chop or shred vegetables to desired size and shape. Thoroughly mix salt and vegetables together, preferably with clean, bare hands. Set aside vegetables for at least 20 minutes to a couple of hours to draw out liquid from the vegetables - especially with cabbage. Pound the vegetables using a tamper, rolling pin or even your fist to continue to draw out liquid. Pack vegetables in chosen container, making sure vegetables are submerged in the brine you have created. Use a weight if needed to keep vegetables submerged - I often use a heavy glass lid, dish or other item as a weight. Cover container (not airtight, to allow gas to escape) and store in a cool place. It’s not unusual to see scum form on the surface after a few weeks, just skim this off and keep fermenting.

Sample your sauerkraut in a couple of weeks or months or even years and enjoy when it tastes right to you!

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