It’s Sauerkraut Time 酸菜季節

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Sauerkraut is a German version of the preserved cabbage grandma used to make back in our hometown in Northeastern China, only we used Chinese cabbage and they were packed down whole in clay urns instead of being chopped up in advance. Seems like it’s a shared recipe all across northern Asia and Europe. In the old days when fresh produce was scarce in the harsh winter, sauerkraut played a great part in keeping a balanced diet when nothing could grow.

I made a big bunch (5kilos) this time as it’s been a big hit amongst friends.

Sauerkraut

Ingredients (Makes about 1 litre in volume):

Sauerkraut:

  • 2  Cabbages (about 2 pounds, the fresher the better of course)
  • 1tsp  Caraway seeds (I didn’t have any so I just dropped in a few black peppercorns. Spices are really optional, and the Chinese version doesn’t use anything.)
  • 1 1/3tbsp Salt
  • 1  2litre (or bigger) food safe, non metal container, lid is not needed

Brine:

  • 1litre Water
  • 1 1/2tbsp Salt
  • 2 Glad Bags

Instructions:

  1. Brine: Boil water with salt then let cool.
  2. Cut cabbage in quarters, discard core and bruised outer leaves. Dice thin, transfer into container and sprinkle salt (1 1/3tbsp) on, toss evenly and let sit for 10mins.
  3. Cabbage should be wilted with a lot of liquid by now, pack down as much as possible with a fist, wooden spoon or potato masher (wrap a food safe plastic bag on the masher if it’s a metal one). There should be plenty of liquid being squeezed out, cover the cabbage by at least 3cm – if not top up with a little brine. The caraway seeds can be added now.
  4. Put one Glad Bag inside another (in case the first one leaks) and fill the inside one with brine (in case there is a leak the salt level of liquid won’t be disturbed), place on top of cabbage to weigh it down, careful not to leave any air bubbles or floating cabbage shreds, all cabbage should be submerged. Seal bags and place in a cool dark place. (15-20ºC for 4weeks or fridge for 6-8weeks, which makes the wine fridge the perfect place)

Notes:

  1. DO NOT let the cabbage/brine come in contact with anything metal, including the metal rim of a jar – the salt will react with metal.
  2. During the first week or so of fermentation, there will be lots of bubbles rising in the jar, after that bubbles will keep forming but slowly, and the signature smell of sauerkraut will come out. When bubbles stop forming, the fermentation is finished and the sauerkraut is ready. It’s better to use a bigger container as the liquid level will rise during fermentation, if liquid overflows place a plate underneath to collect it.
  3. Sauerkraut can keep in fridge for a long time, it will just be more pungent and lose the crunchiness slowly, try to keep as little air in the container as possible. It can also be frozen and will keep for  a even longer time, it can even be jarred but it will lose the vitamins, enzymes or whatever health beneficial creatures that are in there.
  4. The traditional way of weighing down the cabbage is a piece of wooden board that fits the rim just right and then a heavy rock on top. Whatever works that will keep the cabbage submerged and allow air bubbles to escape.
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Cabbage wilted and liquid oozes out 捲心菜出水變軟

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At least 3cm of liquid on top of cabbage - 3釐米以上的液體

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Wine fridge is a good place to store/ Brine filled Glad Bag to weigh down the cabbage 紅酒櫃是個好的儲藏地方/裝鹽水的食物密實袋來壓住菜絲

德國酸菜和東北酸菜最大也幾乎是唯一的區別就是德國的要把白菜切絲,所以醃製時間短些而且可以用小的容器,在家里也很容易做到。另外當然了,他們用捲心菜而不是大白菜。感覺上整個亞歐北部都有做酸菜的傳統,在過去食物短缺的日子酸菜可在漫漫冬日里提供了香脆口感和必不可少的維他命。

德國酸菜可以生吃或煮熟,與東北酸菜一樣和各類的豬肉製品是絕配,可以當沙律,和土豆泥混合或者和蘋果洋蔥一起煮來做配菜。因為很受朋友的歡迎,這次我做了5公斤。

德國酸菜

食材(做1升左右):

酸菜:

  • 2顆 捲心菜(2磅左右,新鮮的比較好)
  • 1茶匙 葛縷籽 (手邊沒有所以沒用,丟了幾顆黑胡椒進去。香料是可有可無的,東北酸菜就什麼香料也沒有。)
  • 1 1/3湯匙 鹽
  • 1個 2升(或更大的)非金屬食物容器,無需蓋子

鹽水:

  • 1升 水
  • 1 1/2湯匙 鹽
  • 2個 合適尺寸的食物密實袋

做法:

  1. 鹽水:將鹽渾水煮開,冷卻。
  2. 捲心菜每顆切四份,去掉芯和爛葉子,切細絲,放入食物容器仲撒鹽(1 1/3湯匙)混均勻,等待10分鐘。
  3. 捲心菜絲現在應該已出水變軟,用拳頭,木鍋鏟或馬鈴薯搗碎器(如是金屬的需要套膠袋)將其壓緊,捲心菜液體應蓋過菜絲至少3釐米 - 如液體不夠可加入一點鹽水。加香料。
  4. 將兩個食物密實袋套在一起(一個漏了還有第二個),裡面的袋子裝入鹽水(萬一兩個袋子都漏了酸菜的鹽度不會改變,若鹽度不夠菜會腐爛)壓在捲心菜上,小心不要留下汽泡或讓菜絲浮起來 - 菜絲應被壓在液面以下。封好袋子,將容器靜置於陰涼地方(15-20ºC放4個星期,或冰箱裡6-8個星期。紅酒櫃是個很好的地方。)

提示:

  1. 捲心菜鹽水不能碰到金屬(包括封瓶子口的鐵絲) - 會起反應的
  2. 醃製的第一個星期左右會有很多氣泡冒出,之後會慢下來但也會持續有氣泡產生,酸菜特有的味道也會慢慢出來。當氣泡不再產生時發酵過程就完成了,酸菜就可以吃了。製作的容器最好大一點,因為液面在發酵過程中會升高。如果液體溢出可在容器底墊一碟子。
  3. 酸菜可以在冰箱里放很久,它會繼續慢慢發酵而失去生脆的口感而不會壞,儲藏過程中盡量隔絕空氣。酸菜還可以冰起來,這樣保持更持久。另外還可以封罐,不過在加熱消毒的過程中酸菜的維他命和酵素就失去了。
  4. 傳統的做法是用一塊尺寸合適的木板壓住酸菜,上面再加一塊或幾塊石頭 - 只要能壓住酸菜並讓發酵氣體走出就好。

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