Friday, May 20, 2011

Cabbage, Apple, Carrot Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is amazingly simple, delicious and incredibly good for you. Once you get comfortable making sauerkraut, you can, to an extent, adjust and play. But there are a few things to keep in mind.   It's amazing what can go right with simply cabbage and salt. You get sauerkraut! Staves off scurvy! But even if you've done it a bunch of times, it could go very wrong:

When you see mold that is a.) black and b.) fuzzy or both, like I had, you want to dump the whole lot. Which is always sad, but hey, it's cabbage. And hey, it's your stomach/life. You know? I knew something was up because the batch wasn't bubbling like normal, and it smelled off. You can really trust your nose, you know? 'Cause the nose knows.

This was the second time I had this problem, and I was horrified because I thought there was something in my basement that was causing it. However, it only happened when I used this particular crock that I got from my family this last summer. When I went to clean it out, I realized the problem was my fault. I turned over the crock, and on the very bottom was a nice patch of black mold. Lovely! I had been lazy and didn't clean scrupulously. Case closed, and yet another reminder to not get lazy.

Still wary of the new (old) crock, I decided to go back to my good old crock pot.

Isn't she a beaut? I got her in some garage sale years ago for a pittance. In the winter, we make hot spiced cider and mulled wine in it. In the summer, it doubles as a fermenting crock. I also decided to keep the crock in the kitchen, because the colder it is the slower the ferment. This batch came out beautifully. Phew! For all of my sauerkraut info, I check in with The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, which you really should own if you love pickles. There is just an incredible amount of wonderful recipes and tons of information, clearly outlined. Below you'll find my recipe, but not directions. For that and a wealth of information on how to make sauerkraut, check out Sandor Katz' excellent site, Wild Fermentation, where you will get in depth info on sauerkraut and a whole lot more of the wonderful world of fermented foods.

What to do with all that kraut, one wonders, when you've made a ton? I don't like to can it, and instead keep it in the fridge. Making smaller batches is nice, so you can vary your sauerkraut, adding different spices or vegetables. Did you know that you can freeze sauerkraut? I've never done it, but it's possible and some say it will keep the beneficials as opposed to canning, which can kill off all that lively stuff that's good for you.

This is how I like to eat my kraut:

Sauerkraut sandwich: especially on a soft onion roll, with a smear of strained yogurt made with raw milk. But I would be equally happy with a dollop of mayo. Think hot dog without the meat. Or, also delicious, on a falafel sandwich.

Sauerkraut on top of a hot bowl of jasmine rice. Lunch today. Sprinkled with some sesame seeds.

Sauerkraut side, next to some braised short ribs in red wine. That was dinner tonight. It's a perfect foil to a rich, fatty dish.

My father can't abide by a roast turkey without sauerkraut on the side.

How do you like to eat your sauerkraut?

My most recent sauerkraut:

1 pound of finely sliced cabbage
1 pound of peeled, grated carrot
1/2 pound of peeled Ida Red apples
3 tablespoons of kosher salt (Ziedrich uses pickling, Katz recommends sea salt, I like kosher)
a few juniper berries
a teaspoon of coriander

Slightly sweet and fresh tasting. For directions on how to make sauerkraut, see Wild Fermentation.


  1. That is one of the biggest hang-ups I have about canning. I'm really freaked out that I'll screw it up, eat mold and keel over.

    I know, I would see the mold and wouldn't eat the mold. But I've gotta have an anxiety attack about something, or I just wouldn't be me.

    PS. I love your crockpot. She's beautiful. <3

    Mama ;)

  2. Hel-looooo? Homemade sausages? Are you on vacation or something?

    I'm yelling at my napa cabbages every day so they'll grow faster and I can make kimchi.

  3. Mama - I know, I know. But you won't! You'll be just fine! And thanks, she's a good 'un!

    Peter - Well, duh! Jeez. Of course, I like kraut on a sausage!! I thought that was the obvious answer! And homemade even better. That goal will be attained soonish. Or, as soon as I get a freaking grinder.

    Your poor napas; what a task master you are!

  4. Sauerkraut...let me count the ways! Braise brined pork chops on a bed of it with chopped apples and caraway seed. Stir in brown sugar, caraway seeds, white wine or beer, chopped onions and tabasco for a base for said sausages or corned beef sands, just to name a few. You go girl!

  5. Truth be told, the Reuben is the apotheosis of kraut for me. A close second is eating it right out of the jar over the sink.

  6. The true bit of brilliance in this post is the suggestion to use a crock pot as a pickling crock. It NEVER would have occurred to me to do that. Amazing!

  7. Ah! I just ate a little saucer full of sauerkraut that we made back in November. We made a big batch (5 or 6 quarts), and it's been sitting beautifully in our fridge. It's just cabbage and caraway seeds and salt--but it's purple cabbage, and it ended up looking really wonderful, and we can vary the spices depending on what we have it with. Sometimes, I just like to have it as a snack!
    We're vegan, my husband and I, and it's very good on a bun with some seitan or vegan kielbasas...

  8. Two by the Sea - Pat, that sounds amazing!!

    Peter - Two of my favorite ways...

    Marisa - Thanks!! I was struck by this morsel of genius last year in a fermenting pinch. Love it!

    Zemmely - I love purple cabbage sauerkraut: so pretty! I am so into the sauerkraut on a sandwich.

  9. I had such a sauerkraut fail this fall - too big too stinky (too fermented, believe it or not) and not fuzzy mold but some serious kombucha-type mother going on. My fault - I couldnt find a good spot to put it and it stopped and started fermentation a bunch. Now with this crockpot idea... I think I'm back in business. Thanks Julia!

  10. Love your idea of the sauerkraut sandwich! It's also great with duck, especially confit. Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation both gave a lot of good info on lacto-fermenting, btw.

  11. love all your shizzles with picklz! since i don't eat meat anymore and, being raised by a slovakian-hungarian mama (i have many meat & kraut memories) the most comforting way i get my meatless kraut on is with roasted potatoes and onions. it's got just the right umami for the puckery kraut. even though i'm not much for processed soy products, about the only time i'll go for one is a 'smart' dog with tons of kraut, brown mustard and raw onionz. ugh and yum! most the time tho, i just eat a big ole' bowl of it solo 'cause that's how i roll.

    ...i made a huge batch of kraut last year that got little bits of greenish brown mold top but it smelled really good, not off at all. i skimmed it off along with a thick layer of kraut and all was fine. i'm still here. :) one thing that should never be done is to hot water bath kraut if you do that, as the mold could change the acidity to a level that is not safe to can. but imo, i wouldn't can kraut anyway - it kills all the good little beasties!

  12. Yeeeummm! This goes perfectly with our weiner schnitzel and German potato salad theme tomorrow!

  13. Kate - So funny: "kombucha-type mother going on." Get thy sauerkraut back on!

    Glutton for Life - Ooo. Duck confit with sauerkraut. That sounds amazing. Wild Fermentation I cited, but I egregiously left out Nourishing Traditions, a great site. Good call.

    Tigress - I am going to try that! And another good thing to point out, that not all mold is bad stuff. The white mold is fine. We like beasties over here! But that black and fuzzy stuff is a no good.

    Adventures in Dinner - Oh, goodness, that sounds like a good theme!

  14. I have Rival envy... I totally love the pics on this post, as well as this inspired idea. Think you'll have to sterilize your new old crock somehow? I'm wondering if you could bake it like the Blue Chair Jam girl bakes the jars :)

  15. Thank you! I'm not sure if it would fit--even in the new oven. but maybe if I get a gol danged day of sun over here, I'd put it in the sun!

  16. Hi Julia, one way to prevent mold and scum from forming on your sauerkraut is to use a crock dedicated for fermenting vegetables like the Harsch fermenting crock pot). A fermenting crock is designed to prevent oxygen from entering the pot and messing up the lacto-fermentation process, while allowing gases produced during fermentation to escape. In this way, you don't have to worry about furry mold!

  17. Consciouslife - Absolutely! One day, I will get my dream crock, like the Harsch! But for now, it's makeshift things that *usually*work just fine. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Black mold or furry mold doesn't sound good. But regular old white mold won't hurt you. Just push is to he side and take some of it out. Eventually you get to love Kraut so much that you are not bothered by it.

    I make Kim Chi and I mix them just before I eat them. It really spices up the Kraut and certainly kills anything in there. Try it, it is a wonderful mixture. Kim Chi is almost as easy to make as Kraut.

  19. Hi Leif - thanks for visiting! Yes, white mold is just fine, usually just yeast! I have made a ton of kimchee, but never mixed it with kraut. It sounds great! Thanks for the tip.

  20. Love the idea of a crockpot! The one time I made sauerkraut I used a kitchen garbage bag 1/4-filled with water as the lid. You can get a really good seal to block out all the air and avoid unwanted mold.

  21. A plastic bag is always a good one, Kim. I like ziplocs, myself. Thanks for the comment!