Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not a care in the world

“Sauerkraut and bacon drive all care away.”

- Pennsylvania Dutch proverb


I've always been curious about the making of sauerkraut. My curiosity led me to the small town of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, a place that gives you that funny, step-back-in-time feeling that I love so well. I was on the hunt for a stoneware crock to ferment sauerkraut in. Do you know you can pay over a hundred dollars for one of these? I was not about to do so, as this is just an experiment of sorts.

My next idea was to search out a vintage one, like my butter churn, until a kind soul left a comment on the internet about sauerkraut crocks. They pointed out that antique crocks should not be used because they may have lead in the glaze. Further, you could easily find one for about twenty dollars at an Ace Hardware store. This is what I call fortuitous, because Fleetwood looks like the kind of town where people still make their own sauerkraut - AND, they just happened to have their own old-timey Ace Hardware store...with wooden floors, no less! Oh, happiness....

When I got there, I inquired as to whether they carried an economical food-safe crock. Of course they did. Mwahahaha, come to mama. Then home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Sauerkraut is ridiculously easy. Shredded cabbage, salt, water. That's it.

Here's the fun part. Stuff it into the crock. Cover the cabbage with cheesecloth. Put a plate on top of the cheesecloth, and a clean rock on top of the plate. The cabbage swells, so the purpose of the plate and rock is to keep the cabbage submerged in the salt water brine. After a day or two, bubble, bubble, toil and tr-... I mean fermenting begins and will continue for the next six weeks.

Three fortnights hence, the sauerkraut should be ready for canning. More on that a few weeks from now--'cause I know you're just as excited as I am...




19 comments:

Chelsey said...

How interesting....

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

This looks like my crock in that it has a bird on the side.....Mine is larger and only used to keep potatoes in! I did once try sauerkraut but wasn't able to be home to skim the scum every day or so (I'm remembering something about 30 years ago, here) and it went REALLY BAD! Really smelly. Just get good directions and follow them. It should be wonderful!

Amy said...

oh goodness I am excited! I love sauerkraut. Always remember taking long driving trips as a girl and we'd end up in NYC taking the Staten Island Ferry and my dad would get us hot dogs with kraut. Took my girls a couple years ago--and no food on there now! I wish I lived near you. Would like a taste of yours. Yum! And what a great adventure getting it:)

Jodi said...

Thank you, Chelsea and Amy!

Kristie, I have been faithfully skimming off the scum, so it hasn't been that smelly. I didn't put that little fact in my post, since I don't like the word "scum" with food in the same sentence :) ha ha

Hana - Marmota said...

I am! I haven't made sauerkraut yet, but I've just made apple vinegar in our very own stoneware crock... and sauerkraut apparently works similarly.
I should give sauerkraut a try, because sauerkraut & sour cream soup is one of my favourite meals in the whole wide world.

Joy Lake said...

YUM! Sauerkraut has been on my must have food list courtesy of The One and Only Baby Lake. I haven't fulfilled that food dream yet so maybe you could send along a jar...

p.s. love the proverb :)

Stephanie Ann said...

I can't wait to see how this turns out! This is the one Pa Dutch thing that I love and Andy hates. :D He can't get over the "skimming the mold off" part. I have a pickled walnut experiment on my desk and I'm afraid to look at it.

Melissa said...

Actually, I AM excited!! You just never cease to delight me with your poetic view of life, especially where it meets the prosaic realities--like fermenting cabbage. I just really love it.

Cheryl said...

Not sure I like saueurkraut. I've had it, but I can't remember if I like it. Probably not a great hit with me at the time, then. Saying that, I'd be tempted to make it just because I love kitchen experimenting. Scum and all!

mountain mama said...

cool! 6 weeks...wow! too bad there isn't taste-a-vision...or something like that! :)

Vicki Munn said...

i dont think i have ever eaten sauerkraut. this will have to be taken care of.
ps i am okay. i have my sis, and sis-in-law, to help when i get overwhelmed. i will come back to fb soon. there is no way i am going back to where i was. no way. no worries. i will get it taken care of. and thank you. and i am starting to blog again i guess. :)

Southern Gal said...

I would love to visit that place! My husband grew up in a family full of farmers. Not huge, but small family farms/gardens. He loves telling about the times they would all gather at his grandmother's house to make saurkraut. One year his grandmother salted the solution and his mother not knowing it had been done did it again. Imagine their surprise and sadness when that huge batch of saurkraut turned out inedible.

Leslie said...

so you left out the scum part, eh? you're funny. i love your orange flips next to the orange cart. very matchy. and i LOVE sauerkraut, but sadly, it is one of many foods that does not love me at all, anymore :( so you'll have to eat my share, for me.

you really are a renaissance, girl, aren't you? (although, come to think of it, i'm not sure sauerkraut-making falls under the same category as Sistine Chapel painting ;)

Julia said...

Oh my - I'm ridiculously envious that you can just go to a hardware store and buy a crock! They are hard to come by in these parts and don't seem to be anything under $150 NZ when you can find them, a little more than I'm prepared to part with at the moment! We have some beautiful old stone crocks on display in the kitchen which I wish I could use but won't risk the lead factor. Looking forward to seeing your finished product.
Happy fermenting,
Julia

Nancy said...

My kids always cried when I served sauerkraut for dinner, which makes absolutely no sense to me. Pork and sauerkraut are comfort food to me. Can I tell you how ridiculously happy it makes me that wood floors make you so ridiculously happy that you take pictures of them?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs. Jodi,
This is a great post. I love your pictures. We are in Puntey, Vermont.
Mary

Laura said...

I adore sauerkraut. It never occurred to me to make my own! I set out a little raised bed this year and have had such a blast with all the produce. I wonder if I should grow cabbage next year? Hmmm. I shall check back to see how this all turns out.

Jodi said...

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who chimed in on my sauerkraut adventure. I'll keep you posted on what happens. Hoping our power won't go out because of the hurricane coming our way.

Emily said...

You're making your own saurkraut! That's so cool!

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