I just tasted my first batch of home made sauerkraut and it is delicious. I don't want to tuck into a bowl of it, but the flavor is right on. Sour, a little crunchy and herby from the carraway.
Update on Jan 20, 2011. My second batch of sauerkraut is perfect. Still crunchy with luscious, mild flavor. This 'kraut I DO want to eat by the bowl.
I got the 'recipe' (more like a process than a recipe) from Jaret Foster, the senior market manager for Portland Farmers Market.
Thinly cut a head of cabbage (I used a mandolin). Julienne two onions. Put a handful of cabbage and a little onion in a sturdy bowl. Sprinkle a fat pinch of salt on the cabbage and a few grains of carraway.
Pound the cabbage, onion and salt combo with a muddler or anything else that will soften the cabbage without breaking the bowl. Move the beaten cabbage to a crock or large jar. Continue this way until all the cabbage is pounded into submission. The cabbage should have some liquid at the top. If not, add salted water to the jar so the cabbage is fully submerged.
Next is the tricky part. Unless your fabulous German ancestors bequeathed you a
sauerkraut crock with lid, you'll have to jury-rig a sealed jar. I got this tip from "The Joy of Pickling" by Linda Ziedrich. Place one layer of cheese cloth on top of the cabbage. Fill a baggie 3/4 full with salted water. Maneuver the bag into the jar, on top of the cheese cloth. Press down. The cheesecloth should be submerged, and the bag should be partially subemerged. I topped the whole mess with another layer of cheese cloth becasue the fruit flies were really bad this year.
It should ferment at room temp for four weeks -- minimum. If whiteish scum forms on the top, remove the lower layer of cheese cloth (with the scum) and replace with a fresh layer of cheese cloth. This happened only once with my batch, towards the end of the fermentation process.
Bring on the bratwursts! I'm ready.