Fermentation bubbles back into the mainstream
House-made cultured, cured, fermented foods are multiplying in restaurant and home kitchens
Adapted from Sandor Katz's "Wild Fermentation" and his online video about fermenting vegetables to make what he calls "kraut-chi." (Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune)
"There has never been a single documented case of food poisoning from sauerkraut in the United States, but everyone's biggest question to me is how can I be sure I'm getting good bacteria and not bad bacteria growing in here."
Sandor Katz will give a fermentation workshop, 9 a.m. to noon, as part of the Good Food Festival on Saturday at the UIC Forum. For information and tickets ($75 online, $90 at the door), go to goodfoodfestivals.com.
Time: 2 days to 4 weeks
Note: Adapted from Sandor Katz' "Wild Fermentation" and his online video about fermenting vegetables to make what he calls "kraut-chi." Although Katz now avoids writing strict recipes, this one represents his general recommendations for the tasty condiment.
Ingredients per quart:
2 pounds green and/or red cabbage (and/or other vegetables, the process is very versatile)
Salt, to taste
Garlic, ginger, chili pepper, caraway, juniper berries and/or other seasonings, optional
1. Chop vegetables finely or coarsely, however you like it. Place in a large bowl. Lightly sprinkle with salt as you go. Squeeze mixture with your hands until it releases its liquid. Taste and add more salt as necessary. If you are unable to squeeze the vegetables or cannot get enough juice out of them, add a little dechlorinated water.
2. Stuff the mixture a bit at a time into a large wide-mouth jar, packing it down hard as you go. Make sure vegetables are submerged under liquid, and leave space at the top of the jar for expansion. Close lid on jar.
3. Leave the jar on the counter or somewhere you will see it every day. Pressure from carbon dioxide will build in the jar, so unscrew the top each day (for the first several days) to release pressure; press down on the layer that floats to the top, in order to submerge it.
4. Taste the kraut every day or every few days. Remove any surface growth that forms at the top where the vegetables might be exposed to air.
5. Depending on the ambient temperature in your home, the kraut will start to become tangy after a few days. Ferment until it tastes the way you like. You can then store all of it in the fridge in sealed jars or just scoop out a portion for refrigeration and let the rest continue to ferment.