As Oktoberfest winds down to an end in Munich on the 3rd, I was reminded that today is the day for me to pull my sauerkraut from its three week transmogrification on the kitchen counter. I initially had quite an intractable time with trying to get my cabbage to ferment properly. After failing about three times, I abandoned the recipe from Charcuterie and contacting my Austrian friend a few months back to get her mother's recipe, which I liked when I ate with them years back.
The key difference was the amount of salt used. When I used Polcyn & Ruhlmann's recipe it had quite a bit more salt, which I found out after a little research creates an inhospitable environment for lactic acid fermentation to occur. I have now successfully made sauerkraut four times now. Like the vegetables that I have fermented, the cabbage remains crisp, slightly salty, and nicely sour.
How I dun it:
1 large head of cabbage (ca. 5-6 lbs)
4 lbs Granny Smith apples
200 g salt
I stamped down the sliced cabbage, grated apples, and salt in my food bucket with a potato masher. Lehman's sells a wooden stamper specifically for this task, but my metal coil masher does the job well, and really, what else would I use the thing for? Making a bucket of mint julep or a giant caipirinha?
After the cabbage and apple is well stamped enough for the salt to leech out the moisture, I tossed the herb and spices below to evenly distribute.
20 g caraway seeds
10 g fresh dill
10 g juniper berries
2 bay leaves
I placed everything in my 5 liter fermentation crock, filled the gutter for the water seal, and left it on the kitchen counter for three weeks. The sauerkraut now resides in my refrigerator until people take it off my hands.