Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April!

April has arrived, sitting upon a somewhat rainy and turbulent throne! So far I haven't done much to celebrate, besides eating lots of warming soup and wearing numerous layers to counteract this bit of chilliness. It's a nice time to be cozy inside, looking out at the rain, knowing that sunshine and oodles of flowers are on their way.

It's also a great time to make sauerkraut! This is one of the easiest fermentation experiments I've ever tried, and it has worked every single time, leaving me to think that it is pretty much foolproof. I use a glass jar that seals out all air (most fermentation requires locking out oxygen and this prevents mold from growing), finely chopped cabbage, and unrefined sea salt. All you do is squish down a layer of cabbage, sprinkle some salt on top, squish down another cabbage layer, sprinkle more salt, and so on until the entire jar is completely full. A thick, folded outer cabbage leaf is placed on top to keep everything tightly squished down and to act as a buffer between the sauerkraut and any oxygen that somehow manages to float by. All of the salt and active cabbage squishing results in lots of wonderful juice getting released from the cabbage and allowing fermentation to happen. The juice should rise to the very top of the jar, so that all the cabbage is covered by this delicious brine.

Some people let their cabbage ferment for a month or more; however, I like to start eating it after just one week. By then it has fermented and transformed into tangy sauerkraut, but it still has some crunch to it and shows no sign of sliminess. Sauerkraut is great eaten on its own, as a kind of side dish, or it can be added to other things, such as salads. It is also great to add other foods into the mix to ferment along with the cabbage, such as grated carrots or cranberries. Experimentation is one of the most enjoyable aspects of fermentation! Just about any food can be fermented, and the results are not only tasty but also fantastic for your digestive system. Eating fermented foods is the best way to get live, friendly bacteria necessary for survival and optimal health into our bodies!

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