Monday, April 19, 2010

Classic Russian Sour Cabbage (Sauerkraut) Recipe

What does yogurt, cottage cheese, Kim Chee, and Sauerkraut have in common? They all are pro-biotic. For all of you out there who have depleted the levels of "good" bacteria in your body due to the use of antibiotics or poor life styles, these foods are great to restore the balance.

It's easy- although time consuming - to make Sour Cabbage at home.

You'll need:

A gallon size jar, a large dish for mixing
About 6.5-7 Lbs of cabbage (late harvest type if possible)
50-60 grams of salt - non-iodized! Gray salt is the best
You can add carrots (can be up to 1/4 of the cabbage weight),
Bay leaves, caraway seeds- optional
For a spicy kind: garlic, pepper, etc - optional

Slice the cabbage thin, leaving the center part out, grate the carrots if using, mix all the ingredients together in a large open dish or basin. Keep mixing and squeezing by hand until juices run.

When done, place in the glass jar (you can use an enameled bucket - not plastic), pack it tight. Make sure you do not fill the jar all the way to the top - the juices will need room. Cover with clean whole cabbage leaves, then cover with cheese cloth, then put a press on top (another jar filled with water will do). Place the jar onto a plate (again, since the juices may run over the top) and keep at room temperature for about 3-4 days. On the next day (or when the foam forms on the top), you'll need to puncture the cabbage all the way to the bottom in several spots with a knife or a rolling pin or a long wooden spoon handle. This is a very important step. You'll need to do it 3 times a day. Then you can move the jar to a cooler place for about 2 weeks.
Or you can keep it in the warm place and once it's done, cover with a lid and put into a fridge.

The Sauerkraut is ready when the foam is gone and the juice are gone and the top layer is slightly wilted.

The process of Sour Cabbage making requires a presence of a "good" bacteria. Sometimes a wrong bacteria gets in and the cabbage comes out slimy smelling funny. You can still use the final product, however, it will have to be rinsed first and then cooked (in soups, stir-fries, etc)

Here is a quicker version of Sauerkraut:

For 1 gallon jar of Sauerkraut:
1 head of cabbage,
3 large carrots,
2 tbSp salt
1 tbSp sugar - optional, but that's what speeds up the process
700ml of warm water

Slice and grate cabbage and carrots, mix it up. Dissolve salt and sugar in water. Pack cabbage into a jar and power the liquid over. Keep at a room temperature for 3 days, puncturing all the way through daily. After 3 days transfer to the fridge. It's done.

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