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I can ferment sauerkraut with my eyes closed, but I have had a hard time with fermented pickles in the past (didn’t turn out well) … I just keep trying. Instead of using whole pickling cucumbers I decided to try my luck and go about it differently, so I sliced the cucumbers this time.

I did not plant cucumbers this year. I talked to my neighbor/friend about growing cucumbers this season because I grow most of my peppers and the zucchini in their garden and he agreed that this year we could share the cucumbers too. He has been growing Armenian cucumbers (actually in the melon family) for the past few years and he always has way more then he needs. The Armenian cukes are nice, but I want to grown pickling cucumbers again.

Fermenting - Day 1

Fermenting – Day 1

Back to my experiment… I sliced the cucumbers and put them in a glass gallon jar. I added the herbs and spices that I wanted (dill seed, celery seed, and garlic) and poured the brine over the top. The brine was 1 1/2 T to 4 cups water.

The big thing with fermenting is that you need to keep the vegetable below the liquid to avoid bad bacteria from growing. I could not find a jar that was big enough, yet small enough to fit down through the opening of the gallon jar. I had to resort to using a gallon zip-top bag with a little water in it, then I sunk a pint jar into the bag and filled the jar with some water also. I am not a big fan of plastic, but it worked. I will be either looking for the perfect jar to weigh things down or a different glass jar. As I type this and thing about it – I really could have used my fermenting crock.

The past issues that I had when fermenting pickles in the fermenting crock that I have is the weights. The whole cucumbers are so buoyant and the ceramic weights are a bit on the smaller side that the cucumbers can sneak up on the edges. Then they are exposed to air and things go quite wrong in a hurry.

It worked! I have successfully fermented cucumber slices (three times now!) Boy are they good! We now have a ton of them in the refrigerator and we are munching our way through them fast. I have shared several quarts with our neighbor/friend.

Day 7 or 8

Day 7 or 8

Next year I look forward to canning some pickles so we can enjoy them throughout the winter too, but in the mean time we are enjoying these fermented ones. I know they have more benefits to them (chuck full of healing probiotics!) I also look forward to the fall and winter garden to ferment some of the root veggies like carrots, turnips and onions.

Other post on fermenting:

Anyone else out there fermenting things?

Sincerely, Emily

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In my family, you always eat sauerkraut on New Year’s day to ensure a prosperous New Year. This tradition has been passed down through generations of my dad’s family. When my grandmother died, my dad took over the reigns as the chef on New Year’s. He’s developed his own special recipe that’s quite tasty, even for non-sauerkraut lovers. If you’d like to see his recipe check out my New Year’s Day post.

Several years ago, when we started to eat more locally, I started making the kraut for our New Year’s meal. I typically start the kraut in October so it has 4-6 weeks to ferment. But you still have time to get a batch in before the holiday!

Sauerkraut that ferments at cooler temperatures – 65 or lower – has the best flavor, color and vitamin C content. The fermentation process takes longer at these temperatures, around 4-6 weeks. That’s probably why it’s traditionally made in the fall. Looks like I’m making mine at the right time, it should be ready in December and waiting in the fridge for New Years!

Making sauerkraut is quite easy all you need is cabbage (red or green), salt, and time (generally 3 T of salt for each 5 lbs of cabbage). Slice up the cabbage as thinly as you’d like, I usually do some really thin and some thick for variety. Transfer some sliced cabbage to a big glass bowl and sprinkle it with salt, then smash with a wooden spoon or potato masher and mix. Continue adding cabbage and salt and mixing and smashing until the bowl is half full. At this point I usually let the cabbage sit for 10-15 minutes to wilt because this makes it easier to pack into the jar I use as a fermenting crock. If I had a big crock I’d salt and smash right in the crock.

Transfer the cabbage to a jar or crock, smash it down and continue working until all the cabbage is salted, smashed and packed into the jar. Let the cabbage sit overnight, if the brine hasn’t covered the cabbage make some brine (1.5 T of salt to 1 quart of water) and pour over the cabbage. Weigh the cabbage down to keep it submerged below the brine. Some people use a Ziploc bag filled with brine, I use a canning jar to weigh down the cabbage because I’m not comfortable using plastic. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks until it stops bubbling and it tastes like sauerkraut. Make sure you check the kraut every couple days and add brine if the level goes down. I typically end up adding some several times during fermentation. After 4-6 weeks (or less if it’s warmer) you’ll have kraut (taste to see if it’s done). You really can’t get much simpler. When it’s finished store in the fridge and enjoy whenever you want. You can enjoy cold as is or cook it in recipes. You really can’t get much simpler.

When I was making this I thought about all the women in past generations of my family that spent time each fall making sauerkraut for New Year’s. Connecting with our food heritage is such a wonderful thing. Hopefully our nieces & nephew will grow up with fond memories of eating Grandpa’s Famous Sauerkraut on New Year’s and continue the tradition with their families.

Do you have a specific food or recipe that has been passed down through the generations of your family?

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