When a gorgeous head of cabbage came in our CSA subscription last summer, dreams of sauerkraut began dancing in my head. I don’t even like sauerkraut. But hubby loves the stuff, and having been inspired by Sandor Ellix Katz’s book Wild Fermentation, I thought, what could be simpler than mixing a little vinegar with cabbage and ignoring it for several weeks?
Since this was my first attempt, I didn’t want to try Katz’s recipe which requires intervention every couple of days for a month (thus creating lots of opportunities for error), so I decided to try this one instead. You can see the instructions are pretty straightforward.
Cut cabbage and fill the jars. Pour the boiling water in jars until full. Put 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tbsp. of vinegar in each jar. Seal the jar with the lid rim. Let sauerkraut ferment for 6 weeks. When the bubbling has stopped, it indicates that the fermentation period has finished. Process the sauerkraut in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
(Figured out my Epic Fail yet?)
Yeast and bacteria are living creatures who, like you and me, don’t enjoy being boiled. I realized this about four minutes later, when it was too late to save the batch. Reading the directions again, carefully this time, I was reminded the jars aren’t supposed to take a bath until six weeks have passed — after our microorganism friends have had a chance to do their job. Tossing the contents of those seven jars into the compost bin was a wasteful lesson in pride.