Grated cabbage, salt, and a little energy are all you need to make your own sauerkraut at home.
While it seems like there should be more involved in creating this favorite fermented dish, it was straightforward when it was demonstrated Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Plumsteadville Grange in Plumsteadville by resident experts Jim Diamond and Scott Guiser.
Both men grew up making sauerkraut with their families and were happy to share their personal expertise.
“When you taste homemade sauerkraut you can never eat store-bought again,” said Diamond, who owns a small farm in Ottsville and is a 60-year Grange member.
Volunteers who had showed up at the Grange for the lesson were quickly put to work grating fresh, locally grown cabbage so it could be gradually added to a large plastic bucket, then pounded with a mallet to release the water inside. Salt is added gradually, then more layers of cabbage, until it is ready to be moved to a crock or jar. Sealed with a plastic bag, it should be fully fermented and ready to eat in three weeks, but those who worked on this sauerkraut plan to serve it with pork on New Year’s Day. If fermenting sauerkraut is stored in a cool place such as a cellar, it can take as long as six weeks to be complete.
“The best sauerkraut squeaks,” was a tip offered by Diamond as he instructed his students on how to properly pound the shredded cabbage.
Due to the fermentation it undergoes, sauerkraut offers nutrition and health benefits far beyond those of fresh cabbage.
Fat-free and low in calories, sauerkraut contains vitamins C, B6 and K1 as well as iron, manganese, folate, copper and potassium. Sauerkraut fermentation creates conditions that promote the growth of beneficial probiotics, which are also found in products like yogurt and kefir. Probiotics help make food more digestible and help the body to absorb more vitamins and minerals.
Making sauerkraut is just one of many programs at the Grange. Upcoming is a wreath-making workshop in December. See the group’s Facebook page for more information.
Whether you are making your own sauerkraut or using some bought at a store, this recipe from tasteofhome.com is an easy way to enjoy pork and sauerkraut.
1 pound fingerling potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
1. Place the potatoes, onion, apple and bacon in a 6-quart slow cooker. Drain sauerkraut, reserving 1/3 cup liquid; add sauerkraut and reserved liquid to slow cooker.
2. Cut spareribs into serving-size portions; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown ribs in batches. Transfer to slow cooker; sprinkle with brown sugar and caraway seeds.
3. Add sausage; pour in beer. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until ribs are tender.