Fermentation!…wait, that’s not right?
I’ve spent this past summer trying to DO THINGS but stupid life keeps getting in the way. No matter – I have these September days to get a better understanding of what happens to rotting plant matter when mixed with either a shit ton of salt or a packet of yeast.
Few may recall the batch of adorable cucumbers I picked up at DC’s Union Market. Using a variation on a Alton Brown recipe, I set them to ferment for two weeks. I assume I did something wrong (too warm, too cold, not clean enough, not the right types of cukes) because they came out gushing like broken water balloons. The brine was tasty, to be sure, but Dill Salt Stew is a quick path to cardiac arrest.
Back to basics. Sauerkraut is a product of lactic acid fermentation. That is, with enough salt and smashed vegetation, lactic acid generated by the greens will kill any bacteria which might otherwise make you sick and preserve the cabbage. I hadn’t had any ‘real’ sauerkraut before a brief trip to Hamburg. It was so good as a side dish for a roasted pig knuckle dinner, also very good, I ate on a cool night outside with a liter of beer. And I love Kimchi, which is basically the same thing. Basically, pickled cabbage is pretty tasty stuff.
So I shredded two heads, fine strips, and mixed them up with a good bit of sea salt. I added 1/2 of a white onion, sliced, and five or six garlic cloves. By the handful, I placed the salted greens in a 3 gallon pickling crock and then pounded it with a potato masher until their juices flowed. Once the goods were sufficiently mashed, I topped it off with a little spring water, covered it with a plate and weighted the plate down with a bag filled with salt water. Covered with a towel to keep the bugs out, in two weeks, fermentation should be complete. If my kraut turns out like previous batches, it’ll be crunchy and tangy. It already smells awesome. I’ll serve it with grilled pork…
Beer! Unfortunately, this batch of RyePA from Northern Brewer won’t be ready until October, weeks after the kraut should peak. After a seriously long hiatus from homebrew (you should see the stuff growing in the siphoning equipment) my pal Joe came over on Wednesday night and helped guide me through the steps. He was kind enough to bring along 6 gallons of spring water (only used 5) and a bottle of Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout. Between that and a few Mamma’s Little Yella Pils, we managed somehow to successfully boil the wort and get it all into this carboy, where my brew is now happily bubbling away.