Local (& Late!) Random Recipes #33

For this month's Random Recipes challenge, our host, Dom at Belleau Kitchen, exhorted us to use a local ingredient in our random culinary creations. He also exhorted us to have it posted by the 28th - oops! It is most definitely the 29th, but whilst I've most likely missed the deadline, it seemed a shame not to write my post anyway. I'm habitually late for many things in life. On a day to day basis usually just by 5 or 10 minutes, rather than 24 hours, but I suppose if you think about it as a % of lateness on the time period, they're not too dissimilar.

Anyway enough of the excuses and percentages - this is supposed to be a blog about making stuff, dubious maths. I'd better get on with the food bit, since there's a salutary lesson about precariously balancing things to finish off the post with!

A shot that belies the disaster that lies ahead...!
So - a local ingredient to inspire a random recipe. My folks generously offloaded the contents of their veg box on us before they went on holiday, and in it was a lovely green cabbage. Their veg comes from Tweed Valley Organics who grow and deliver organic veg around - well, the Tweed Valley.

I've got a couple of Polish cook books, and I figured they would be a good source of cabbage recipes, and so, I found myself embarking on making my own Sauerkraut, from page 98 of "Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans".  I can't help feeling I'm breaking some rules by being Scottish and cooking from it... maybe that's why it all ended in disaster - cookbook karma!

I reduced the quantities a bit - quite thankfully I didn't have 5lb of cabbage to deal with, so here's my version.

Homemade Sauerkraut
  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1.5 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (I love caraway - reduce or omit if you're not such a fan)
Halve, quarter, and eight your cabbage, then cut away the hard core. Finely shred the rest.
In a large bowl sprinkle over the salt and leave for about 10 mins and have a cuppa.
Once you've finished your tea, return to your big bowl of cabbage and get your hands in and start crunching the cabbage up in the salt. It will fairly quickly change consistency and stop being hard and crunch as the salt starts to draw the liquid out of the cabbage.
After salt smushing
After about 5 minutes of cabbage smushing, stir through the caraway seeds.
Pack into a clean glass jar or plastic tub and weight it down well. (I'll come on to this in my salutary tale shortly....).
The cabbage will begin to ferment and release liquid - you want your weights to keep the cabbage below the top of the brine.
Tin of pineapples and books - precarious but crucially stable. I should have stopped at this!
The recipe in the book recommends 10-12 days fermentation time, however some internet research seemed to suggest anything from about 4 days to a a couple of weeks will work, depending on the amount of crunch you want in your sauerkraut.
Once you've finished the fermentation, store in an airtight tub in the fridge, and it should last a good few weeks.

However.... I can't tell you how it worked out, because mid-way through the fermentation process, there was a disaster - a 'kraut catastrophe indeed, largely due to my Heath Robinson style of weighting. Turns out that balancing 4 heavy cookbooks on on top of a spaghetti canister sitting on top of the cabbage isn't such a good idea. Who'd have thought it?! In fact I'd strongly recommend trying anything but this method - because what I ended up with was not sauerkraut, but instead a kitchen carpet covered in fermented cabbage juice and shards of glass. Cleaning it up was really not a fun job!

Weight your sauerkraut down like this....
... and enjoy cleaning up a mess like this. What you can't see in the picture are all the teeny tiny shards of glass. Or indeed the smell of fermented cabbage juice. Nigella may never quite be the same again!
I'm hoping next month's random recipes challenge will be less dramatic!