Fermentation Lesson

Tomorrow I’ll be making raw fermented sauerkraut with my students at Environmental Charter High School. I just cleaned out my crock and put the last batch of kraut in jars, so I have plenty to share, and an empty crock to fill with more veggies! I thought it would be fun to teach them how to do it — I’ve been wanting to teach this as a workshop for a couple years now, and what a better way to try it out than with my beautiful students?! I’ve got prepared for tomorrow:

  • Red and green cabbages from the farmer’s market and some radishes my colleague gave me
  • Caraway seeds
  • Head of garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Measuring cup (if we need to add filtered water with salt). Usually the salt will extract the water from the cabbage, but if they’re too dry then I add some salt water — stir in 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 cup of water until it’s fully dissolved, then add to the crock
  • Wooden spoons for tamping down cabbage
  • Knife and chopping board
  • Food processor with attachment to shred cabbage (I don’t usually do this, but I just did it for the last batch and 1. it makes the cabbage pieces really nice and even and more “traditional” than the chopped chunks I usually make, 2. it’s messier and you have to clean more things, but also kind of easier and faster to make)
  • Beautiful fermentation crock I got for Xmas from my boo, with the weights to keep veggies submerged under the liquid
  • Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, my fermentation bible
  • Jars of the last batch of kraut for everyone to try!

Quick and dirty instructions for making raw fermented sauerkraut — if you want more information, I recommend buying Wild Fermentation and/or Googling more recipes:

First you chop up the veggies. Chop up whatever you want…cabbage, radishes, carrots, daikon, whatever! As you chop, put the pieces in the crock (ceramic crock or glass jar only…no metal!). You can chop or shred in a food processor. Just sprinkle some sea salt on every batch you put into the crock as you go, don’t worry about measurements. Press it down with a wooden spoon as you go, and when you’re done put the weights on top and press it down more. After a few hours, the liquid should start to rise above the weights — the salt extracts the water from the veggies and does the work for you. If the veggies are dry, you may need to add some salt water — stir in 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 cup of filtered water until it’s fully dissolved, then add to the crock. The key is that the veggies stay submerged under the liquid — oxygen is what allows things to rot, and if it stays underwater it is anaerobic and ferments safely, allowing “good” bacteria to grow without letting “bad” bacteria (i.e. mold) grow. The top may have some scum or mold on it after a few days — just reach in with a spoon and scoop it out. It’ll be fine. After about 3-4 weeks, depending on how hot it is out (hotter weather=faster fermentation), the kraut is ready, and I scoop off the top layer before putting it all in jars, just to be safe. But if it’s rancid, you’ll know, don’t worry! I put it in jars to keep in the fridge — it will still ferment, but at a much slower rate. Gobble it up and start the next batch in the crock!

I also love making kimchi fermented ginger carrots.

Check out the Prezi below:


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