A Second and Better-informed Attempt at Lacto-fermentation!

Last week I (Lisa) attended Future Harvest's annual "Farming for Profit and Sustainability" conference which is a terrific place for young farmers to learn from seasoned pros as well as share info among each other. It's an event that we love to sponsor to show support to the farmers and let them know that when they are ready to start selling, we want to talk to them about buying. One of the pre-conference workshops that I registered for was a session with master fermenter, Sandor Katz; the author of "Wild Fermentation" and recently "The Art of Fermentation". In a nutshell, it was fabulous. Within minutes of his presentation I realized where I went wrong with my last attempt at making kraut and I'm here to share with you my second attempt. So...here we go. I'll give you updates to how this turns out, but let's get started.

Armed with new-found confidence, I decided to concoct something a little different then the classic kraut so I started by chopping up:

half a green cabbage
half a red cabbage
3 of the scarlet turnips from last week's box
2 cloves of garlic
half a yellow onion
half a bunch of lacinato kale

I tossed it all together with:
about 3 teaspoons of Himalayan sea salt

(You can use any salt, but as Sandor said, the fermentation process makes the minerals in the salt more bioavailable so you may as well benefit from the nutritional value of the abundant trace minerals in Himalayan salt. Salt to taste...you can add as much as you like, adjusting as you go.)

Next, you let it sit for a bit to let the salt start work on extracting the water from the vegetables. Here is where I went wrong last time: After it sits for a bit, you want to work the vegetables in your hands, massaging the salt into them. You need enough liquid from the vegetables to cover them when they are going through the fermentation process. Last time I tried kraut, I tossed the cabbage with salt and caraway seeds, put it in a crock with a plate on top and left it to well, mold really. That's what I made...a moldy, smelly, jellyish mess. So, massage and let sit, massage and let sit, repeating until you can squeeze a handful of your vegetables and liquid drips from your fist.

Here's the other great thing I learned from Sandor; start small and pack them right into jars. Wide- mouth jars are best because you can get your hand in there and push down the vegetables, packing them tightly and pressing them down so that the liquid covers them. As you can see above my yield was two, 1.5 pint jars from all that veg. Perfect for our family to enjoy. From here, you'll want to leave it on your counter and every morning, unscrew (but don't open) the jars to "burp" them and let out the build up of pressure caused by the ferementation. This is an important step, otherwise you will be creating a glass bomb! Burp the babies every morning for about three days, then open it and have a taste. If you like it just like that, put it in the fridge and enjoy. If you want a stronger ferment, leave it out and test daily. When it gets to where you like it, pop it in the fridge which will all but stop the feremtation process and enjoy! And if all of this is too daunting or you want something for comparison, we offer Dawn Story's fabulous krauts from Farmstead Ferements.