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Making Sauerkraut
By Elise McMath

If your garden timing is like mine, by the time all those cabbages
you planted in early spring are ready to eat, so are a lot of other good things. Fresh cabbage is pretty low on my list of eating pleasures when it's compared to swiss chard, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, etc. and a person can only eat so much.

So, usually a lot of my cabbage is turned into sauerkraut, which I'm very grateful for in the winter months. You can find out how to make sauerkraut from various books about canning and storing food and there isn't sufficient space here to give a thorough explanation, so please look it up if you're interested.

I learned how to do it from directions in "Keeping the Harvest" by Nancy Chioffi and Gretchen Mead, (Garden Way Publishing, 1980). There is also a shorter set of instructions in "Joy of Cooking" (Rombauer and Becker, Bobbs-Merril Co. Inc., 1964). I have followed Chioffi and Meads' recommendation of adding garlic, dill or caraway or other herbs and was pleased with the result.

I have followed another of their suggestions and treated turnips the same as cabbage, making saueruben (I grated the turnips instead of slicing thinly). Something they suggest that I haven't tried is fermenting crisp lettuce in the same way you would cabbage. But I have made sauerkraut out of Chinese cabbage when I had more than I could eat or store before it froze and it was just as tasty as regular cabbage.

I often make several small batches of sauerkraut in a season. They say that fall cabbage is better for sauerkraut, but I haven't found it to be true. If you have just a little cabbage, try fermenting it in quart jars, instead of a huge crock. To keep it down under the juice, place a heavy-duty plastic bag directly on the cabbage, fill it with water and twist-tie the top shut. This should seal out air by pressing against the sides of the neck of the jar.

Sauerkraut is relatively high in vitamin C and it tastes really good. I wouldn't want to eat just a plain old bowl of sauerkraut, but it is a wonderful flavor compliment for many things. I like to eat it with rice or pasta and pesto (something else I make in the summer and eat in the winter).

It's great on something we call "bread' at my house. Put cheese on a piece of bread and broil it until the cheese bubbles, then spread sauekraut across it. There are lots of ways to eat it and you're limited only by your imagination. There's an especially tasty tempeh reuben recipe in a little flip chart cook book I borrowed form the Athens County Library called "New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant".

Sauerkraut is inexpensive to make, healthful and delicious and if you ever make it once, you'll know it's easy, too.