Freezer Sauerkraut – Good Gut Bacteria

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How to make fast Sauerkraut

Last year I made sauerkraut in August, and because it was so warm out, I decided to only let it ferment for one week (Not sure that’s logical, really!) Then being completely lazy the day I decided it was done, I packed it in 1 quart Mason jars, and FROZE it! That’s right, I threw the jars in the freezer, and let me tell you, this made the BEST sauerkraut ever. By freezing it the kraut tastes fresh, keeps a nice color and doesn’t get that indescribable “bleh” taste and texture of canned kraut. Here’s the coolest thing – when you take it out of the freezer to defrost, you can watch it begin to ferment again! It’s just a little bit fizzy and effervescent for the first few days – beautiful!

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To answer your question after looking at these pictures, yes, I freeze a lot of food in canning jars. A few years ago I started putting all my tomatoes, salsas, pasta and pizza sauce, chimichurri, banana ice cream…really anything that fits in a jar makes a good candidate for freezing in jars. And, NO they DO NOT BREAK as long as you don’t overfill them or bang them around! I stack them as you can see – safe and sound.

So, haul out your giant food processor, grab as many cabbages as you want to make into kraut, put in the slicer attachment to any thickness you like, dump the stuff in a fermentation vessel or big bowl, and sprinkle with salt. For every cabbage use about 1 TABLESPOON of salt. Mix the salt into the cabbage well using your bare hands, gloved hands or a big set of tongs – whatever fits your comfort zone. Then all you do is cover it well, leave it in a dark place for a week and pack in jars for the freezer.

How do you cover it while fermenting? That is a BIG discussion in the world of fermentation and everything seems to be pesky, but it doesn’t need to be. Some fermentation vessels have ceramic discs made just for the sole purpose of pushing down the fermenting veg to help keep it under the brine, others have lids that have a liquid seal, and some have both. If you are budget minded, or simply don’t want to invest in a big heavy crock, there are alternatives.

DIY Fermenting Vessels

One method to make fermented veg is to use a big bowl with a plate on top. It’s great if the plate fits down inside the bowl just a little, but not imperative. Some of your veg is going to float to the top of the brine and that is okay. With a week of fermenting and salt to protect it, you won’t have any weird stuff growing other than the weird stuff we want! If you do leave sauerkraut to ferment in a cool place for longer than a week, you might see a little harmless white mold grow. The pros say to just scrape it off. Eww! I’m a little squeemish about that idea, so I prefer to get the fermenting done before any molds grow!

Another great way to submerse the bulk of your veg is to use large pieces of the veg you are fermenting as weights. So, if you are making sauerkraut, keep some of the large outer cabbage leaves to use as a protective cover under your plate. Or, if you want to weight it down, cut out the core of the cabbage and lay those on the top. Regardless, cover the veg the best you can so that it is submerged under the brine. I like to add a plastic bag over the top if the fermented veg is in a bowl as some veggies, like cabbage and radishes, can get a little pungent after a couple of days. Farm Curious gives some great budget-minded tips for other ways to ferment and protect your veg.

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I splurged a couple years ago on a fermenting crock from Poland – it’s fat and heavy! Since owning the farm it has been great fun because it holds A LOT of veg. I can pack 25 heads of cabbage into this baby! Of course, I have trouble eating that much sauerkraut, but it is fun to make. As you can see from the red cabbage, this year’s sauerkraut is going to be PINK!

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Pickled Peppers

Today I had one of those “Duh” moments in life. Jeff and Max and I are huge fans of pickled jalapenos. Jeff loves them on pizza, finely chopped in his burritos, or the standard American form, scooped up with a plate of nachos, and I love to add them as a garnish for soups. Neither of us likes, however,  when they are mushy, and the brand they carry at the co-op is terrible. As I rarely shop elsewhere, we unfortunately go without our pickled jalapeno fix more often than not.

I have canned jalapenos in the past, and was sad to discover that they also turned out mushy. Because of this, I have given little thought to any DIY approach as of late. The “Duh” moment came when I realized I could make them as a refrigerator pickle. In this manner, they spend less time in the heat thereby retaining their crunch. Ah ha!

The “Duh” moment came together as a little vision. I have a couple of these glass jars that are normally used to store nuts, but one of them had been empty for a few weeks alone on the counter looking silly. Then I came across a sale on fresh jalapenos and suddenly had a vision of them floating in the empty jar in brine as a refrigerator pickle. A little on-line research proved my idea was possible, and this is what appeared on my porch!

Note: I took this photo on the front porch as the morning sun was coming up with the hope that perhaps the heat of the jalapenos would appease the kitchen gods, and they in turn, would speak to the sun god to bring Minnesota a little more heat on this first day of Spring!

I followed David Lebovitz’ recipe mostly, but added two white onions and five cloves of garlic. This recipe fits my jar, but it may not fit yours. The Purple Foodie directed me to a Michael Rulman hint to size brine to the container. He suggests packing the jar with whatever you plan to pickle and then fill it with water. Dump the water out into a measuring container, and then remove half of it. Replace the water removed with vinegar. So smart!

Pickled Jalapenos

  • 1 pound fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 2 medium white onions, sliced
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 2 3/4 cups vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns

Directions:

Pack the jar with onions, garlic and jalapenos. Bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander seeds and peppercorns to a simmer in a non-reactive pan. Allow the mixture to simmer for about five minutes. Pour it over the veggies, cover and let cool on the counter. Once the mixture is cooled it can be moved to the fridge. It sounds like these are better after a few days rest and can be kept for many weeks.