Fermenting Kraut


I had the good fortune this past weekend to attend a great kraut workshop given by Lisa Herndon of Lisa’s Counter Culture. It was a small, intimate group, and we got to talk about the basics of fermented foods, the health benefits, and our previous successes and failures.

20140304-103137.jpgI’ve made sauerkraut in the past, following Sandor Katz’s Fermenting Vegetables tutorial [YouTube], and it worked well enough. There were a few batches here and there that failed, often for using too little salt, but for the most part, it was fine for me, and the spouse-unit scarfed it down like it was heaven.

But I learned one incredible tidbit of info in Lisa’s workshop: three-day kraut might taste fine, but it’s not nearly as healthy as long-fermented kraut. Lisa mentioned much higher vitamin C, and I’m digging up more online details for that. In the meantime, I’ve found other references that point to better probiotic bacteria growth, which implies a higher number of probiotics.

The caveat to longer ferments, though is that you have to go completely anaerobic. Most of us have learned to make sauerkraut and other ferments by simply weighing down the veggies under the brine, skimming off foam and other nasties, and just hoping for the best. But it seems like truly anaerobic fermentation is much easier and more consistent to make it four- to six- weeks or beyond, for that ultimate probiotic support.

As I write this, I have a batch of sauerkraut going next to me on the kitchen counter, submerged under the brine with a plate on top, etc. And I’m on the hunt for the most practical way to do anaerobic fermentation. Lisa recommended the Pickl-It jars, a Fido jar with a custom airlock. This makes a lot of sense to me since I already have a gazillion Fido jars in varying sizes. But my hesitation is two-fold: they’re heavy, and they take up a lot of space in the fridge. So I’ve ordered some Kraut Kaps to try out with my half-gallon mason jars, and I’ll post an update here, when I’ve road-tested them.

Beyond that, I’m a minimalist at heart and there’s a very vocal group of Fido enthusiasts that suggest that the Fido’s gasket is already an airlock of sorts, and that you can use it on its own! I’m going to have to try that one. (Maybe stick it in a box or cupboard if you have any doubts.) If it works for me, it would be the holy grail of fermenting set-ups.

It was fun watching the brine foam out of the side during the gaseous stage. It was a blast opening it on Day 28 (did you see my video on YouTube?). LABs were mature, active, and densely populated. This jar didn’t let me down. This jar was sealed the entire four weeks and did a great job holding in plenty of CO2 for pressure – just like it was designed. Exploding jar myth? Pay no mind.

Jar 17 (Fido), Sauerkraut Survivor Final Report by Nourishing Treasures

More interesting tips on getting started with fermenting:

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