How to Make Sauerkraut in a Traditional Crock

deeprootsathome-sauerkraut-in-crock

Homemade basic sauerkraut used to be a staple in every home.

As a society we have gone outside the home for most of what we need and want in our lives. Food, music, health care, clothing. It’s all acquired from outside of the family and community. Continue reading

Small-Batch Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

sauerkraut in canning jar

Our favorite gardener and in-store instructor, Karen Geiser, has shared this recipe during her frequent seminars at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio. For those of you unable to make it to the store, here’s her easy method for flavorful, oh-so-healthy fermented sauerkraut. Continue reading

Sauerkraut, Lehman’s Style

Doug recommends washing cabbage well, and trimming off the limp leaves before quartering cabbages prior to shredding.

Make homemade sauerkraut? Yes, you can! It’s not only delicious, it also contains many more beneficial bacteria, enzymes and nutrients than most store-bought kraut. It’s really, really “good for your gut.” In this article, one of Lehman’s own shows you just how easy it is:

Doug Hamelink’s homemade sauerkraut is a popular dish here at Lehman’s! His wife, Kathleen, is a long-time customer service rep for Lehman’s. Doug has come in to help out during seasonal rushes. They’re definitely part of the Lehman’s family. Our warehouse staff took Doug’s recipe and made kraut last year, using products right off the shelf, including fermenting crocks and stompers.

Doug has been making sauerkraut the old-fashioned way for over 30 years. “When my wife and I moved to the farm back in the ’80s, an older fellow that was a neighbor out there taught me how to make kraut.”

Doug’s kraut is highly sought after here at Lehman’s. He took some time to describe his methods for foolproof fermented goodness. Continue reading

Root Cellar Blues? Time to Make Sauerkraut!

Premium Late Flat Dutch Cabbage

Grow your own cabbage this year! Heirloom seeds available at Lehmans.com

 It has been cold here. It isn’t really out of the ordinary, -10 degrees in January is pretty typical but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. My root cellar doesn’t like it either. It’s a fine dance we do, keeping the door open just enough to keep the temperature above freezing but not so high as to trick the carrots into thinking spring is here and it’s time to sprout.

It is so important to check the food down there. Today I find that I have cabbage and carrots that must be seen to and apples that must be used up. The apples are easy. We love apples and onions caramelized with some butter and maple syrup and poured over pork chops. The cabbage and carrots are going to be fermented. We are kraut crazy around here. I got one of those dandy little air lock tops and lids for my ½ gallon Mason jars and now I can make kraut without getting the brine all over. Bruce bought me a mandoline for Christmas so I’m going to break that in too. I do love my little gadgets!

Triple-bladed cabbage cutter makes quick work of slaw or sauerkraut. At our store in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

Triple-bladed cabbage cutter makes quick work of slaw or sauerkraut. At our store in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

I cut the cabbage by hand but we love our carrots in slivers and that’s where the mandoline comes in. I make the mixture about 1/3 carrots and 2/3 cabbage. For 2, ½ gallon jars of kraut, you need about 5 pounds of vegetables. It can be any mixture you like. I sometimes add a bit of garlic, some beets or Daikon radish if I have it. Today it will be straight cabbage/carrot. 5 pounds of vegetables will need three tablespoons of salt. It is really important to use good salt. It should be coarse and not iodized. There are so many lovey salts to choose from, some pink, some grey, but I have made many a jar of kraut with just kosher salt. I put my salt in a bowl and sprinkle as I go so the salt is fully incorporated. As you put the cabbage/carrot mixture in the jar, tamp it down tightly. This helps draw the water out of the cabbage and creates the brine. I use the wooden reamer from my old-fashioned food mill. You have to really push it down. Once the jars are full you should start to see the liquid rise to the top. You should re-tamp the kraut every few hours. If, after a day, the brine has not covered the vegetables, you can mix a tablespoon of salt to a cup of water and pour it

Himalayan Pink Salt: Rich mineral content makes it pink. Ideal for fermenting. In glass jar, 18.6 oz.

Himalayan Pink Salt: Rich mineral content makes it pink. Ideal for fermenting. In glass jar, 18.6 oz.

over the top. This happens if the vegetables are older as they simply have less water in them.

Now let the kraut sit in a cool place to ferment. I check it every few days. You will see a bit of scum on the top. Just skim it off. It won’t hurt the vegetables as long as they remain submerged. The warmer the spot, the quicker the fermentation will be. When you reach the right level of tang for you, refrigerate your kraut and enjoy.

The brine is full of healthy lacto-bacillus. If your stomach is feeling iffy a table spoon is a great tonic.

Lactofermenting for the Time-Challenged

Stainless steel bowl available at Lehmans.com.

All the root veggies are washed well, not a speck of soil remains. Then they air-dry. Use a colander, or spread on your counter on a clean dishtowel. Stainless steel bowl for photo spiffiness only! (Lehmans.com has ’em.)

Alrighty then, it’s that time of year. The garden is starting to really gear up and I have more produce than we can eat before it goes bad. My plan for filling the pantry with wholesome and delicious foods that have less than 5 ingredients, none of which came out of a lab, is working.

Pickling for people disinclined to boil vinegar
So, what is a girl to do with all this bounty?

I know, I’ll lacto-ferment it all. I like lacto-fermented veggies, so does the hubbin, and I really actually find cutting up veggies to be enjoyable. I’m weird that way!

And as a completely unrelated bonus, lacto-fermenting things is so incredibly easy that even I can’t mess it up. Though I thought I had and threw out the first batch I ever made: more on that later.

Lacto-fermenting is what creates sauerkraut, kimchi and cocktail onions, to name some of the more commonly known results of the process.

Sandor Katz The Art of Fermentation at Lehmans.com

Make your own healthy, pure lacto-fermented veggies, vinegars, pickles and more! Pick up The Art of Fermentation now at Lehmans.com to get started fast.

It is a bacterial process, utilizing critters that are present in any environment that has not been completely sterilized (it will not work in outer space, so those of you reading this from the Mir Space Station, sorry, try it when you get back home), so yes, when I first got into this process I had to get over my germophobia and embrace the little things (metaphorically speaking). It’s similar to the fermentation that creates alcohol, just with different microbes.

Which brings me to examine exactly how one goes about lacto-fermenting, rather than creating carrot booze accidentally.

We want to attract the right kind of microbe, so we have to create the right kind of environment. Think of it as very, very small game trapping, because the microbes are all there, hanging out together. We want to encourage the lactobacilli, while discouraging the yeasts (alcohol) and other things that would spoil our food. Continue reading

In a Pickle…and Those Darn Tomatoes!

Try pickled beets in the Perfect Pickler! It's available now at Lehmans.com.

Perfect Pickler: large size fits your 1 gal to 2-1/2 gal wide mouth jar; small size fits your 1/2 pt to 2 pt wide mouth jars.

Beyond Pickles I have always made a lot of pickles. We eat something pickled nearly every day. Pickled beans and beets are our favorites with carrots and cauliflower nearly as popular. We like bread and butter pickles too but by now, last year’s are are getting a bit soggy and nobody likes a soggy pickle. Lately, I have been making a lot more lacto-fermented pickled than traditional canned pickles in brine. We can make a ½ gallon of pickles and eat them over the course of a few weeks and then just make up another crispy batch. The process is really simple too. All you need is a sharp knife and a cutting board and some ½ gallon jars. Almost any vegetable can be fermented although a few things don’t appeal to me. I have tried pickled greens and found them, well…odd is all I can say about them. Continue reading

My Kitchen Is Alive!

My countertop fermenation farm:

My countertop fermenation farm: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, the pizza dough and apple cider.

There’s something to be said for a quick and easy meal, that can make a hurried, hungry person happy in a matter of minutes.  A fried egg, for example, or a peanut butter sandwich, or a handful of cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine. 

But there’s something very different and just as beautiful to be said for foods that take a long time to create. Fermentation is a hobby of mine, I have to say—I get more excited about creating vast quantities of sauerkraut than consuming it, as delicious as it may be.

When, the other night, I looked at my counter and saw a total of 5 different cultured foods fermenting away (fyi: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, sourdough pizza dough, and apple cider), I decided I had to write about it. Continue reading