Homemade Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut1It’s spring and my husband has been itching to fire up the grill to make sausages. After a thorough inspection of our fridge, he discovered that we had tapped out the last massive glass container of his favorite condiment: sauerkraut. This sparked an impromptu dash to the store for cabbage and the start of yet another DIY kitchen adventure in our house.

Sauerkraut (translated to sour cabbage) gets its distinctive sour flavor from lactic acid that forms when the natural sugars in the cabbage are fermented.  The basic recipe is to finely shred cabbage, pack it into a container such as a glass jar or ceramic crock, layer with salt and leave it submerged (usually by  weighted means) in its liquid  to ferment. Easy peasy.

Homemade SauerkrautThe key unlisted ingredient is, of course, time. Every time my other half tasted our creation, he felt like the final creation was only a mere few hours away. We did tap into it a wee bit early so he could have his sausages — but we put it back under the weight and towel to further the flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cabbage heads
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Finely shred the cabbage (we used a mandolin)
  2. Put the cabbage shreds in a glass jar or ceramic crock, layering it with the salt.  (We used a gravy/fat separator)
  3. Let the cabbage/salt create stand for at least an hour. The mixture should start to give off liquid. It’s a good sign. The process has started.
  4. After an hour, use your hand to compact the shredded mixture. The cabbage should be wilted or limp. If not, continue to let it sit and work it a bit with your hand.
  5. Once it is limp and there is enough water to cover the mixture, push it down. Using another container with marbles or a plate with a weight, push the salted cabbage below the waterline, eliminating air bubbles. TIP: Make sure the plate/weighted dish is as wide as the container — no air escaping. Also, you may want to put plastic wrap over the mixture before adding the weight.
  6. Place in dark cupboard or cover with a tea towel and wait.  And Wait. We’re talking about four to six weeks. Taste it often (every few days) until it is done to your liking.

 

 

 

Rhubarb Compote

I will be honest — I have a slight addiction for those free foodie magazines offered at stores and liquor shops.  From the best mac and cheese to unique food pairings, there’s usually something that sparks an idea in each publication.

Last week, I picked up “At the Table” from one of the stores on Commercial Drive, especially since it promoted raspberries and “food for a fireside gathering” on the cover. However, it was a recipe for rhubarb simple syrup that ignited Mike’s creative side.

Raw rhubarb stalks have a crispness similar to celery stalks with a strong, tart taste. To date, we have mostly only incorporated the unique vegetable it into pies, usually with blueberries or mangoes (Mike isn’t fond of cooked strawberries).  We’ve often debated the uses of rhubarb beyond sugary desserts.

The recipe in the magazine was a syrup for flavoring cocktails but it’s use of the word “syrup” inspired Mike to create a rhubarb compote for our traditional weekend pancakes. It also helps that our apartment building’s community garden includes a few rhubarb plants for easy, early-morning pickings.

On Saturday, Mike through on some shoes and headed for the garden.  He then sliced and diced one stalk of rhubarb and added it to a saucepan with a smidgen of water and some sugar. He let it simmer until the rhubarb, which actually has a lot of water, started to release its own juices.

It’s at this point that you can add a countless of amount of flavorings, from ginger to cardamon and orange zest to cinnamon and maple syrup.

The point is, rhubarb isn’t only for baking or for sweet desserts. Use it to add a new flavor to morning pancakes and to add a bit of a zinger to cocktails — you won’t be sorry!

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