Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Connemara Kapusta

This is a Ukrainian style preserved cabbage.
But this method is the same as for Zuurkool, Sauerkraut, Kimchi and other fermented veg recipies.

You will need a fermenter or a very large crock, glass or enamel container

Non iodized salt
Sterilised bottles, filled with water
Sterilised plate to fit container

A sterilised tealight if you want to copy this method.

The basics are salt and cabbage.
I used 2.3 KG of cabbage and 4 tablespoons of sea salt.
You can make as much as you wish as long as you use the ratio of 5 lbs. cabbage to 4 Tbs. salt.
If you plan on refrigerating and not jarring use 3 tbs of salt, not 4.

I added:
Half a cooking apple, grated - the sugar speeds up fementation.
Half a teaspoon of Juniper Berries
Half a teaspoon of Carraway seed
Some tips here to prevent problems with your sauerkraut:

Never use aluminum utensils! Absolute cleanliness is necessary for a good result.

I made a fermenter with the help of Home Brew West to make my sauerkraut. But you can use a glass or enamel coated container or a large crock.

Clean and scald the container well!  I washed everything in Milton Fluid first, then rinsed by pouring boiling water into the container and swishing around for no less than 30 seconds

To prepare the cabbage, remove and discard the outer leaves. Wash and drain and then cut the cabbages into halves or quarters while removing the core in the process.

1) Shred Cabbage - I use a food processor for speed and ease. If you shred by hand, make sure the shreds are no thicker than 2 Euro coin

2) Mix, with wooden spoon or very clean hands, 2.3 KG / 5 lb of shredded cabbage with 4 tablespoons of non iodized salt like seasalt, maldon salt or Kosher salt - do not use regular table salt.

Toss and mix thoroughly until salt dissolves.

Step 3) When juice starts to form on cabbage from tossing - Pack the cabbage firmly and evenly into a clean crock, glass or enamel container. Press firmly to encourage juice formation.
You can also give it a bit of a pounding, I use a rolling pin, the blunt end.

Leave it for an hour or so to let the liquids seep out of the cabbage.

Step 4) Make sure the liquid covers the cabbage completely!
This does not always happen unless the cabbage is fresh from the garden, and red cabbage seems to have less water than green.
You can prepare additional extra brine by putting 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt into 950 ml of boiling water. Dissolve salt and cool brine to room temperature before adding to the pot of cabbage.

Step 5) Once cabbage is immersed in brine water, place your sterile plate and weights on top

I used sterilised bottles filled with water but you cab use a large food grade, plastic bag filled with brine water and lay on top if cabbage.
Use 2 large bags, one inside the other with a couple of litres of cooled brine water inside.
That way if the bag breaks it will not water down the cabbage into a tasteless mess.

The cabbage must be well sealed all around with the bag, so no air can get in and contaminate the sauerkraut with unwanted yeasts or molds!

Step 6) If using a fermenter the put on the lid and wrap clingfilm round the edge.
If you dont have a lid first seal off with clingfilm, then a heavy towel or cloth tied securely into place.
Do not remove this until fermenting is complete!

It really does need to be airtight as it is oxygen that spoils the food.
Now, one little trick I came up with for the fermenter was to remove all oxygen is very clever, straight out of intercert physics, even if I do say so myself, and easy - but you need to be careful.

I took a but a lit Tealight candle into the fermenter before closing.
I then closed the lid and sealed off with clingfilm as above.

On the first attempt the candle created a new unplanned "observation" window that I had to seal again with clingfilm and silicone.

But the second attempt worked. The trick is to keep cold water running over any hotspot the candle creates.

21% of air is oxygen, so that got burnt off by the candle that extinguishes itself when the oxygen runs out - and also creates a partial vaccum in the fermenter. Doing this burt off approx. 2 litres of oxygen.

In addition to getting rid of O2 there is another benefit. You can see this on the s-bend airlock that I got from Home Brew West, that difference of level on both sides confirms that I have an airtight seal.

I am actually happy to have an observation hole now and will incorprate that into my next fermenter, but get some plexiglass or glass instead, the clingfilm repair job will do for now.

Step 7) Put in an area where the temperature will not be above 25c degrees. Fermentation will begin within a day, depending upon the room temperature.

Step 8) Fermenting does not take long, but this is
If room temperature is 24c degrees allow 3 weeks for fermentation.
If room temperature is 20c degrees allow 4 weeks for fermentation.
If room temperature is 18c degrees allow 5 weeks for fermentation.
If room temperature is 15c degrees allow 6 weeks for fermentation.

NOTE: If temperature is above 25 degrees, the cabbage may not ferment and could spoil.

Step 9) Once fermented taste to see if your required tartness exists. Tartness will weaken as you process by jarring so make sure it is a wee bit more tart than you like!
If you refrigerate only rinse and toss with cold water to attain the tartness desired.

This is a great staple for the cupboard. I love it with smoked sausage, I guess its because I really liked rookwurst and zuurkool in the Netherlands.
There are good smoked sausage available in Ireland at the supermarkets, Lidl in particular.
Another one that I get locally is delicious, made by McGeough's in Oughterard 

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