Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Sauerkraut Christmas Card

A few days before Christmas I received the most remarkable Christmas card I've ever been sent.  The front of the card had a very pretty B&W fiber-based print of a front porch covered with Christmas decorations.  I'm always a sucker for a nice photo, and this was an especially nice one, but I've received a similar Christmas card my friend Daniel almost every year for the past twenty years.  It was the inside of the card that really surprised me.  It read:
Are you waiting for the sauerkraut recipe?
1 head cabbage:  1 tablespoon kosher salt.
Shred, salt and press the cabbage into a crock.  Top with plate and cabbage stone.  Wait 4 weeks <76  degrees F.  Above 76 the cabbage gets soggy.  Skim as needed. 
Sadly, my husband threw away the card in a post-holiday clean-up campaign.  Luckily, I had started writing this blog post before the card met it's unfortunate end so I at least have the recipe.  It's not enough for me to feel like I can make my own sauerkraut using this recipe alone, but it did inspire me to start digging through the digital files to see if I could find any other information regarding Daniel's sauerkraut making enterprise.

I've been taking photographs of my friend Daniel's sauerkraut making process for about a year now.  I started when he was on his second batch and continue to shoot photos whenever he invites me over to try a new batch.  I even have a video of the "smashing" of the cabbage into the crock, complete with an audio track of Daniel's more detailed instructions.

Disclaimer:  This video is for entertainment purposes only.  Although Daniel has provided an excellent (and entertaining) sketch of the process, it would be challenging to actually make sauerkraut safely without additional information.  Please consult federal guidelines for safely producing sauerkraut.  Here's a handy link from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences to get you started and a few photos to make your mouth water.

There's also a final photograph meant to convince you that you do need to be careful when making sauerkraut.  Foaming sauerkraut is not for the faint of heart or sensitive of nose.
Sauerkraut and Brussels sprouts being scooped out the crock, March 2011.

Pickled Brussels sprouts in the kitchen, March 2011.
Delicious kielbasa sandwich made with Daniel's homemade sauerkraut, 2011.

Seeing foam grow on the surface of the pickling liquid is a good reminder to be cautious when making sauerkraut, 2011.