I have big plans for this summer. We moved our garden and made it a little bigger for this year. I am hoping to be able to plant a larger variety of fruits and veggies with better success. I also want to use more of my herbs, learning to make oils, teas, tinctures and syrups taking a more holistic approach. I’d like to be able to incorporate my herbs, fruits and vegetables into my homemade goat soap and candles. My goal this year will be to put up more of my crop to last us longer through the winter months and to feed my family and animals healthier. One way I’d like to do this is through fermentation.
I’ve been reading a lot about natural fermentation and all its many health benefits. I want to learn to culture vegetables, fruits and to make my own condiments. Lacto-fermentation increases the vitamin and enzyme levels in food along with antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances that lead to good health.
The first thing I did was to buy myself a fermenting pot. I figured I have a large family and from what I’ve read they say to only fill the pot to 80% capacity so I went with the biggest pot they had.
Well let me tell you, not only is this one ginormous pot but it is one heavy pot!! I was thinking I was going to put it on my counter. No Way! This is it on the floor, where it will stay until the hubs is around to move it for me.
A good starter recipe is sauerkraut. So I bought 6 heads of cabbage. That’s 15.5lbs of cabbage!! I sure hope my family really, really likes sauerkraut.
It really is pretty easy to make and doesn’t require very many ingredients.
Cabbage and salt. You can also use whey if you like and I have jars and jars of the stuff so I’m using it. That’s all you need. Next you need to chop and shred the cabbage.
Nothing fancy, cut it as big or as little as you want, or use a food processor to make your life easier. Layer it in a big bowl with salt and start pounding. You are trying to break down the cabbage so it starts to release juice.
After about 10 minutes you will see it getting nice and juicy so now you can transfer it to your pot. Load your pot up, make sure to pack it as tight as you can and then add your whey if you are using it. You want the cabbage to be covered in liquid so you need to keep it submerged in the pot. To do this you will need some sort of heavy weight to place on top. They sell weights in all sizes just for this purpose. My pot came with a weight.
What’s great about these fermenting pots is that the cover has a built-in well, so once you have everything tucked in nicely you just put the cover on top and fill the well with water. This keeps the air out yet allows the gas to escape.
Now I just sit back and let it do its thing for as long as I want. If you keep your pot in a dark, cool location it can work for 6-8 weeks and longer. You just take what you want and let the rest continue to “cook”. If you’d like you can transfer it to smaller jars and keep it in the refrigerator or in my case give it to everyone you know because you made so much! You can even make a new batch and put it on the bottom of the pot taking what’s left from the previous batch and put it on top. This way you will have a continues supply of sauerkraut. You wouldn’t want to risk running out now would you?
How to make Sauerkraut
- 1 medium head of cabbage (or 6 if you get carried away like me!)
- 1-3 teaspoons of salt
- 1/4 cup of whey (optional)
- caraway seeds (optional)
Chop or shred the cabbage and sprinkle with salt. Pound the cabbage in a large bowl until there is plenty of liquid and the cabbage starts to soften, about 10 minutes. If using whey and/or caraway seeds add it and mix well. Stuff the cabbage into your fermenting container making sure to press it down under the liquid. If you need to you can always add water to cover the cabbage. Place weights on top and let it culture for 3-10 days at room temperature. A longer fermentation period can be used if desired as aging the sauerkraut in a cool basement, root cellar or refrigerator for 4-6 weeks improves the flavor. Makes approximately one quart.
I plan on making pickles in my ginormous fermenting pot this year much in the same way as I did with the sauerkraut. I always wanted to have a pickle pot!! You don’t have to have a fermenting pot to make any of these wonderful things, a plain old mason jar will work just as well and it will be a much more practical size for things like ketchup or mustard. You just need to make sure that whatever you make is submerged beneath the brine the whole time.
There are many wonderful articles and websites that can tell you better all the reasons why you should consider fermenting and how to go about it safely like Cultures for Health. I even joined a private group on Face Book called “The Goats Whey” where everyone gets together and shares their recipes, ideas and knowledge of all things natural and holistic. It has been a great experience for me and I’ve met the nicest ladies. They continue to educate me and help me in my path to a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
Get creative, have fun with it, enjoy a healthy lifestyle and remember…The world is your fermenting pot!!