Introduction: Quick Sauerkraut With Caraway Seeds and a Baseball Bat
Sauerkraut cures all diseases, depression, and lack of pizzazz. Speaking of which, It goes great on pizza and zests up any dish. Cabbage is the cheapest vegetable. Here's how to make it into the most valuable sauerkraut.
Here are the basic tools:
Cabbage: These came from Haymarket in Boston, $1 each. If you wait til the Saturday night apocalypse you can buy them from in front of the bulldozer for a lot less. Or pick them up from the wreckage. Get a pile of cabbages that's bigger than the vat you need to fill.
Veggie Grater: What you really want is a "kraut knife" ($3 in Nicaragua) which is a board with a blade set in it at an angle. The shavings exit from a slot in the board under the blade. If you don't have one of those use a knife or machete.
Baseball bat: A friend cut the end off because he needed it for some project.
Sea salt: $1.50/lb at Trader Joe's. Don't use regular salt. It'll work okay, but God put sea salt in our blood for good reasons, and it's got to be replenished.
Knife: If the blade gets halfway through the cabbage it's plenty long.
Carraway seeds: Not seen in this photo but they improve the kraut. I have a friend whose real name is Cotton Seed. His brother's name is Caraway Seed.
p.s. I also have a friend named Paul who makes good sauerkraut.
Step 1: The Vat
Cut the top off a water jug.
As always, don't cut toward yourself and you won't get cut.
Use a knife to avoid getting shavings all over. Use a saw if you prefer.
This is a "shop knife" or "sloyd" from mcmaster.com.
It's got the best steel in the universe. It holds an edge while cutting other knives.
Ceramic pots from "crockpot" units are good for making kraut. Or any other vessel that won't put poison in the food when the acid "sauer" hits it. Don't use aluminum or stainless steel unless you want chromium, nickel, and other metallic poison in your food.
Step 2: Sharpen Your Slicer
Use a file to sharpen your veggie slicer. Then wash it off. Stainless steel is made from the same stuff as superfund toxic waste sites.
Now that your shredder is sharp, watch out or you'll shred your knuckles and fingers along with the cabbage.
Step 3: Split the Cabbage
If the blade gets halfway through the cabbage it's plenty long.
You can skip this step, but it's satisfying.
If you're going to chop with a machete or cleaver, the half cabbages are easier to dice.
Step 4: Shred Some Cabbage
Try not to shred your knuckles and fingers at the same time.
Step 5: Salt and Seeds
Each time you add one cabbage worth of shreds to your vat, sprinkle some salt and caraway seeds on it. Then mash it in with the baseball bat.
Use your own judgement as to how much salt to add. Blood is 2% salt. Sea water is 4% salt. You could probably make sauerkraut with no salt at all and it would be fine.
Step 6: The Bat
Brutalize the cabbage with the bat. Any style is fine. You want to bruise it and break some cell walls so the salt can get in there and draw some juice out.
If you don't have a bat, a wine bottle works well, as demonstrated by the illustrious Steve Cooke. The kind with a cone in the bottom are particularly good.
Step 7: Repeat
Shred another cabbage, sprinkle seeds, salt it and assault it with the bat.
After a few cabbages worth, you'll see juice coming out. That's good.
My dad and other health-loving folks will drink that as soon as it gets sour.
Step 8: Rock on Top
The top layer is going to rot in the most advanced way.
Unless you too are very advanced, you probably want to minimize the volume of that stuff.
I'm putting a couple of plates on top of the stuff to push most of the herbiage down below the top level of the liquid. If you need more weight put a rock on top of that. Choose a type of rock that won't hurt you if you eat it. Uranium ore would be bad.
Step 9: Time Cures All Cabbage
Here it is on the shelf with a lid to keep critters out.
The cabbage has the right bacteria on it already to turn it into sauerkraut.
All it takes is time.
Actually you can start eating it any time. There's not much left in this vat already because we started feasting early.
It'll keep pretty much forever, or rather it'll rot, but rot in a way that won't make it any less healthful.
It doesn't matter how rank and disgusting the stuff ends up smelling. It'll still be good for you. As the French say about cheese, "the worse it smells the better it is."
I once had a few gallons of kraut in progress when I left on a ridiculous trip somewhere. After many months the kraut got amazingly rank with a "dead animal in wall/garlic hellstorm" kind of smell.
Someone put it in the trash room but no one would touch it to throw it out.
I came back with a major kraut craving. I called my dad to ask if this stuff would be okay, and he said the smell doesn't matter. So I piled some on pizza and it was in fact delicious.
Just to make sure I didn't die, I got Juniorlee to have some too. She's an expert on Korean cabbage-based health foods among other things. After we ate a few pounds each on pizza we concluded that it
tasted really good
smelled really bad
seemed to be really healthful despite the smell, just like folklore would have it.