4 min read
Join the fermentation revival and make your own.
Preserving vegetables naturally using only salt, spices, and their own juices or added water has been in our Jewish food heritage since the beginning. Modern refrigeration is a relatively new technology, so our Bubbies and Zeidies had to perfect the way to keep these foods good for months over the long Eastern European winters.
Brought to America in the early 20th century, Kosher Dill Pickles and barrels of Sauerkraut became synonymous with the Ashkenazi Jewish palate. While the pushcarts of the lower-east-side might have all but disappeared, you can’t eat a good deli sandwich without a pickle or some kraut on the side.
Although the fermentation skills passed down from our ancestors have gotten somewhat lost in the last 50-100 years due to the availability of pre-made products and shelf-stable fare, there has definitely been a fermentation revival movement in the past decade or two. People have rediscovered how easy it is to make your own ferments at home, and how many added benefits there are to eating a diet rich in the healthy bacteria and nutrients that fermented foods provide.
I know what you’re thinking…Isn’t it dangerous to ferment foods yourself and let bacteria proliferate in your kitchen? The good news is that the bacteria that naturally occur in vegetable ferments called lactobacillus (which is what creates the lactic acid, or the sour taste found in these foods), create an environment that only allows healthy bacteria to thrive and harmful bacteria to stay away.
Sauerkraut makes a perfect acidic punch to go along with any dish. Add it to sandwiches, salads, soups, or just as a tangy snack. My personal favorite is on top of a slice of toasted sourdough with avocado and a crispy fried egg.
Making your own sauerkraut couldn’t be easier. Follow my recipe below and feel free to get creative with the add-ins. Experiment with spices, herbs, or other shredded vegetables to customize your kraut!
* Keep an eye on the top layer of the kraut as it ferments. If you see any mold starting to develop–that’s ok! Just simply skim that part off and make sure the rest is fully submerged. Everything under the brine is safe to eat!