May 29, 2014

Getting Hot Outside? Make Homemade Sauerkraut!

Or, "Sauerkraut, the most refreshing upper body workout ever!"

When my daughter was 18 months old, we moved to Panama for a year.  Lots of lessons learned, like, "I don't ever want to live without a washing machine again," or "I'm glad we didn't have a car," or "I never knew ants came in that many sizes!"

We also learned how to make sauerkraut.

In Central America.

From our German friends.

Lucy holding a "Lucy roll."  Charly
and Maren gave her one every week.
Maren and Charly have been making bread in El Valle since 2011 and every week we'd ride our bikes to pick up our order and often stay awhile and chat.  One day the topic turned to sauerkraut and how all the sauerkraut in the store was too salty, too slimy and tasted like, in Maren's accented-English, "like sheet, yah?"  She sent me to the market to find two green heads of cabbage ("because when they are white it means the shop keeper has taken off the leaves that are disgusting looking and the cabbage is old...") and taught me this ridiculously easy recipe for sauerkraut, featuring the hubs.

Sterilize your container.

Remove outer layers and cut cabbage in half.

Cut out the core.

Slice it as thin as you can without needing EMS.

Add about a 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp of salt to each head of cabbage.

Here's the fun part.  Start crunching, working
the salt into the cabbage to draw out the water.
Do this for 10 minutes.  Watch the Showcase
Showdown if you like.  Enjoy the coolness of
the cabbage and then admire your forearms.

Stuff the wet goodness into your jar.
Poor the remaining liquid over the sauerkraut to
keep it from oxidizing and turning brown.

We like to cover the top with tight plastic too.
Now date it, keep in a cool place, and wait
for two weeks.

Not colorful, but tasty.

I won't provide a close-up of the final product because:
      a.  I'm haven't really figured out foodie shots yet and 
      b.  it's sauerkraut, not a rack of lamb.  

Charly made us Schupfnudels which I think is German for yummy potato noodles.  He also added bacon to the sauerkraut which was a delicacy for us.  We hadn't had bacon since we left the states.  That with some of the hubs homebrew and it was as close to Para√≠so as I could be in that heavenly mountain town.  But back home we serve it with some bratwurst and homemade pierogies.  Equally good.  Although maybe a little less so without our freunde.

Addendum:  If it's the middle of summer and you live in a not-so-air-conditioned home (I'm thinking swamp coolers in the southwest), try fermenting your kraut for 1 week instead of 2.  Otherwise it might be a little too sour for newbies.


  1. How funny! Fembot has started making sauerkraut a few months ago. She loves it. She crushes/crunches it with a huge wooden muddler, like you'd use for mojitos.

    She leaves it out for 2-3 days while it ferments, then lets the air out and puts it in the fridge. Tastes really good.

    1. This used to be my job but the hubs took it over. Much like the granola.

      This batch was stronger than normal. We might scale it back a few days next time. Warmer weather I'm guessing.

  2. Fembot makes pickles too. And kimchi.

    You know, back when bird flu was making waves, we read somewhere that sauerkraut and kimchi had been found to kill the bird flu virus. Sonja would line up the kids for their "bird flu pill" (a chopsticks-full of kimchi). To this day, Lucy, who doesn't like normal mexican spicy foods, loves kimchi.

    1. "Bird flu pill" I love it. I've never really loved pickles, or had any kimchi, so we haven't ventured in that direction. But then, before we met our german friends, I could have said the same about sauerkraut... Maybe this fall when the cucumbers are full grown?

  3. So, trying my first batch of homemade kraut. Very excited. Will let you know how it turns out. Too bad we don't eat much meat cause this would probably be tasty with a pork roast.

    1. Yay!

      If the warm weather continues, I'd try it after a week. Two weeks in hot weather might be a little too....sauerkrauty.

      We tried it in our tomato sauce yesterday and the kids didn't even notice. Today in the scrambled eggs too. Although they did notice that one...