Q: I just harvested my cabbage. How do I make sauerkraut?
Carol B., Atascadero
A: Sauerkraut is easy to make in your home kitchen. You mix sliced cabbage with an easy-to-make brine of salt and water and let it ferment for several weeks at room temperature. You will need to use some type of weight to hold the cabbage under the brine. You will know it’s fermenting when bubbles begin rising throughout the jar.
Fermentation inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and supports the right kind of bacteria that produces the acid needed for fermentation. Even though fermentation is an easy process, it is important you follow a scientifically tested recipe to make sure the chemistry is right to inhibit the growth of any harmful bacteria.
Many vegetables can be fermented. If you are growing napa cabbage, you can make a delicious kimchi. Cucumbers made into pickles is one of the most common. Another popular fermented product is kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented drink made with water, sugar, tea and a culture or SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). SCOBYs are best purchased from a reputable source to minimize risk of contaminants, such as molds or harmful bacteria that could cause illness.
Would you like to learn more about fermentation and how to make sauerkraut and kombucha at home? Have you tried making fermented foods at home and wondered whether certain “scums” and funky smells are foods going bad or just science at work?
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