Sunday, July 05, 2015
So Corinna harvested a wheelbarrow full of carrots, three enormous heads of cabbage and I don't know what all. Oh, and cucumbers, I started the holiday weekend off with the preparation of a two gallon crock full to the rim of kosher dills. By today, they were starting to foam a bit and smell really, really good.
So today I started in on carrots. I made a brine with filtered water, erring on the side of salinity. It seems like we have more mold problems on some batches than others, and I think that's because I get too conservative with the salt. So where the Joy of Cooking called for a half cup of salt for 8 cups of water, the pickling salt package called for a full cup of salt for the same.
That's pretty salty, but it seems like it takes a lot of salt to actually slow the good bacteria down. I did one batch of dill carrots where I put some fresh dill in the jar, along with some grape leaves to help preserve crispness, some garlic cloves and then sliced the carrots into spears and wedged them in, covering with the brine and a bit more grape leaf. Then I did one where I shredded the carrots, which means you get a lot, lot more carrots in the jar, mixed that with some onion, garlic, dill, and covered with brine and grape leaves. Then I did a non-dill batch where I took some of the yellow carrots and filled in with orange varieties, just making them carrot sticks again and just putting a couple of garlic cloves in, no other herbs or whatever.
Then I thought I was about done, but Corinna wanted me to make sauerkraut out of the last three 'little' heads of cabbage in the garden. By little, she meant two pounders, these were honking huge ass cabbage heads.
One of the things I struggle with in kraut making is how to express as much cabbage juice as possible. You want the liquid to cover, and in my experience adding much brine to kraut is a mistake, you really want the cabbage covered with cabbage juice for the most part. Salt helps extract that but you really have to beat the shit out of the cabbage, too. I was doing my usual half gallon mason jar filled with water as a tamper, but I wasn't getting quite the results I wanted. Then I tried putting some cabbage in the blender, and that was useless. It chopped the cabbage very finely but didn't extract any juice.I ended up using a bit of the brine to rinse the cabbage crums from the blender pitcher.
Then I figured out in the process of trying to jam stuff down in the mason jars I'm fermenting in, that the handle to a meat tenderizer I bought hoping it would be a good krauthammer, well, the handle actually is a pretty good krauthammer. It was skinny enough to get through the mouth of the jar and was pretty efficient at tamping things down, driving out air and extracting liquid.
After getting a full half gallon of straight kraut going I decided to go a little kraut-chi on things. I shredded the last head and a half or so of cabbage but also grated carrots in, maybe 20% of the total, and added a couple cloves of garlic for good measure.
I've lost my copy of Sandor Katz's tract but not my interest in fermented foods. The wins way outnumber the fails, it's a great way to preserve food and keep probiotics going into you. Probiotics and freaking deliciousness, because really, who doesn't love a good kosher dill or some sauerkraut or kimchi?