May 1, 2008
Wish I could explain away my lengthy absence by saying that I flew away to South America to plant trees in an Amazon reforestation project for Earth Day and have only just returned today but, well, I didn’t. Along with the delay caused by a wonky WordPress glitch, (grrrUMBLE!…) (All fixed now! It seems that clearing the Cookies from one’s system is the answer to most every problem, hmmm…how appropriate, yes?)
So, I’ve merely been occupied by life, plain and simple. Amidst all this, I did manage to produce my first successful batch of homemade sauerkraut, and I must say I am rather excited about it. It’s tricky, here in the tropics where the median temperature is always just right for all the wrong bacteria. But! I had Faith that Courage would see me through and low and behold:
This gorgeous bowl of hot pink and orange sauerkraut vibrating off the screen with pro-biotic action and vital life force is the result! See those little black balls nestled in all cozy betwixt the tart and juicy strands of cabbage and carrot? Those, dear friends, are juniper berries and they are DIVINE in the BRINE, I must say! And what a surprise to me. My neighbor just happens to be German and so I asked her for some roots info on sauerkraut and she said: juniper berries. They became my favorite part! I am going to put in many more on the next batch. I should look them up to make sure I don’t unwittingly dose myself in some crazy way, but I’m pretty certain it’s fine. I’ll update on that too. ***Updated here.
I have a mandoline but as this was a small trial batch and, wanting to practice my knife skills, I chose to hand slice it all paper thin, along with a few huge, sweet carrots. Next I massaged it with a very tiny bit of seasalt and let it sit for a while to get juicy, giving it another few squeezes every so often over the course of about an hour to generate as much liquid as possible.
Then I sprinkled it with a large pinch of probiotic powder and stirred in the juniper berries. It all went into a quart sized mason jar, topped with a clean, inner leaf of cabbage. I was afraid that, even washed, an outer leaf might pollute the batch with unkind bacteria. Then I pushed down firmly to bring the juices to the top and weighed it down with a crazy contraption that kept the juice covering the cabbage. (I used a tiny juice glass pressed ontop of the cabbage leaf which just fit inside the rim.) It was then covered with a clean dish towel, sealed with a rubber band and left on the counter top for about 4 days.
About 1/2 an inch on the top turned greeny/grey from oxidation, with very little mold and that only on the upper most layer. I’ve heard that is normal and fine, because you throw the discolored cabbage away. I tossed a good inch below the discolored kraut to eliminate whatever mycelial action might have established itself. The taste test was delicious.
This sauerkraut was so good I can’t wait to try other combinations, including Kimchi style. Another fun note was that my hale was being re-roofed while this was going on and the roofer was, by pure chance, newly raw! He’d just completed an Arise and Shine cleanse with juicing and looked spectacularly terrible from the detox! He’d lost a lot of weight (all the toxins the cleanse purged and he’ll soon regain fresh, wholesome weight), but was doing well. Of course, I offered him a bowl of sauerkraut and that was the well-spent end of that first batch. A great success all around, I’m happy to say.