Valley Bounty: Sauerkraut

Though we often think of sauerkraut as a German food, its roots lie far to the east in China, where laborers building the Great Wall would often eat cabbage fermented in rice wine.  The recipe made its way west with the military campaign of the Mongol ruler Temujin, better known by the title Genghis Khan, whose empire reached from China to what is today Austria. Pickled cabbage caught on in northern-European Germanic countries, whose long winters were made a little more bearable (and vitamin-rich) with the newfound ability to preserve some vegetables through the non-growing season.

Homemade sauerkraut is easy, making it a good first project if you’ve found the idea of home fermentation intimidating. After making sure everything (cabbage, bowls, container, etc.) are thoroughly washed and dried, slice the cabbage and toss it in a bowl with caraway seeds and salt to draw the excess moisture out. After a few minutes of massaging, pack the cabbage into your container (I use a large mason jar), add the excess moisture remaining in the bowl, and weight the cabbage down with something (I use a smaller jar filled with rocks). Cover and store in a cool place – it should be fully fermented in about a week.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)