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Homemade sauerkraut is most delicious

By on July 23, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

Bonnie OrrBy Bonnie Orr

Sauerkraut is like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead.

When it is good, it is very, very good; when it is bad, it is horrid.

This concoction is historically important.

The British sailors are called “Limey” but actually what Captain Cook took along on his ’round the world trips beginning in the 1750s was cabbage. Cabbage has a small amount of vitamin C, and the fermentation of the vegetable into sauerkraut enhanced the level of vitamin C and prevented scurvy on long, sailing voyages.

A version of sauerkraut is served throughout the northern hemispheres where cabbage thrives. The most pungent sauerkraut is kimchi made in Korea.

Sauerkraut can be purchased in the can or “fresh” in a refrigerator plastic pack or imported in jars from Germany.

However, homemade sauerkraut is most delicious because you can determine the level of sourness and saltiness.

Sauerkraut is healthy and delicious and August is the perfect time to make your fall supply.

The first problem with even bringing up the topic of homemade sauerkraut is that many people have horrible memories of crock-fermented sauerkraut that worked in the basement or the back room all autumn and late into the winter gassing the house with more and more intense aroma of fermented cabbage and a few stray fermenting yeasts that smelled even more powerfully.

The second problem of discussing sauerkraut is determining what to do with 10 quarts of the preserved cabbage.

But, let’s make some first and then cook with it.

It is an easy process. A pound and a half of cabbage makes one quart or two pints of sauerkraut.

The recipe below sounds like a lot of salt, but the salt kills the unfriendly bacteria. Use coarse salt without additives since the additives could cause the juice to be cloudy.

I don’t add any caraway seeds, pepper or other spices because they could disrupt the formation, and I want the sauerkraut to be neutral for use in a variety of dishes.

Discard the core and slice the green cabbage thinly.

Place it in a bowl and cover with boiling water.

Stir until it is wilted.

Stuff the cabbage into a quart jar.

Add 1 clove garlic and 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar.

Re-boil the water.

Top up the jar with the boiling water. Be sure the cabbage is covered completely.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the jar. Seal with a rubber band.

Place the jar in a large plastic bowl to catch the water that escapes as the cabbage bubbles and ferments.

If kept about 70 degrees, in two weeks the fermentation should be finished.

Then, you can eat it or store it in the refrigerator. If you make many quarts, process them in a canner following the manufactures or Extension Service directions. The left-over juice is great as the acid in a meat marinade or can replace wine vinegar in salad dressing.

I love the sauerkraut baked.

Baked sauerkraut

Serves 4; 45 minutes including baking at 350 degrees

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 quart sauerkraut drained

1 Walla Walla Sweet onion sliced thinly

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup white wine

1 tablespoon flour OR 1 tablespoon cornstartch

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 cup Swiss cheese grated.

1. Oil a baking dish.

2. Spoon in the sauerkraut.

3. Layer on the onions and celery.

4. Stir the flour into the wine and pour this mixture over the vegetables.

5. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and browned.

6. Add the Swiss cheese and sour cream and cook for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Serve with sausage, kielbasa or chicken.

Sauerkraut soup

This is a vegetable soup that resembles borscht but has more zing.

Serves 6; 25 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 can of drained sliced beets, or 3 cooked beets sliced.

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 quart sauerkraut and its liquid

2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves chopped.

1 teaspoon summer savory or sweet marjoram minced

In a large pot, brown the onion and the garlic in the olive oil.

Add all the other vegetables, horseradish and the chicken stock.

Simmer until well blended — about 20 minutes

Add the herbs. Stir.

Serve with crusty bread.

Bonnie Orr — the dirt diva — cooks and gardens in East Wenatchee.

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