Monday, December 16, 2013

My New Schmitt German Fermentation Crock

Dec 13 2013

I did a lot of reading when I started fermenting sauerkraut last year.  The more I read the more I learn and here is a link to the site I have found the best info so far. Click here for the link
It shows a chart for the fermentation times at 65 deg. F (18 deg. C) to get the optimum kraut is 20 days.

Some people like to try and cut the amount of salt but it is needed to get good fermentation. Here is a good explanation from the site. “Adding salt not only draws out juice but also creates hostile conditions for spoilage bacteria. Commercial producers add around 2.25%, home producers add usually between 2.25 and 2.50% salt by weight. Adding salt between 2-3% will produce quality sauerkraut. To meet 2.5% salt requirement, 25 g (4 tsp.) of salt is added to 1 kg (2.2 lb.) of cabbage.”

Thursday I bought a pint of organic Greek yogurt to make whey for my kraut. The best explanation I can give is the whey speeds up fermentation. My recipe for the Cortido, (S.A. style sauerkraut) called for it. This will be the first time I have used it.  I placed a colander over a bowl, added two layers of cheese cloth and the yogurt to drip overnight.

Friday I had all my ingredients ready, my whey, and my new Schmitt fermentation crock to use for the first time. I have a gallon of kraut in my glass jar that will be ready for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
I wrapped the yogurt in the cheese cloth and squeezed out what water I could. Left over is yogurt cream cheese. A lot more healthy than the store bought processed cream cheese.

I grated the carrots in my food processor, sliced the onions and cabbage on my mandolin. My recipe is for two quarts so I had doubled it for the crock. I mixed one batch in a stainless stock pot. I let sit 15 minutes then stomped and worked with my hands. I let set another 15 minutes and then repeated with the second batch.

I let it sit about a half hour and then packed it in the crock. I used a wide mouth funnel and it helped keep the rim of the crock clean. After it was all in I packed it down firmly. I made sure there were no bits of cabbage on the sides above the cabbage and added the clay weights. I let sit about an hour and added filtered water to cover the weights.  After reading more this afternoon I now know I should have let it set a day or two before adding the water and should have used salted water, 4 tsp. per quart. I will mix up a quart tomorrow and if I need to add water I can and use it in my water seal too.

I just now realized I forgot to add the garlic! Too late now, I think I will add some when I put it in quart jars for storage. In spite of myself I have had three gallon batches that turned out good, tasted like good kraut and no one got sick! I hope the two batches I have going now will be good too.

I know our parents and grandparents made kraut in an open crock, a plate over it then a cloth and a stone or brick for weight. Air (oxygen) is the worst enemy for making good kraut so the only two containers I would recommend is a glass jar and lid with air lock or a fermentation crock with a water seal lid.

My glass jar with air lock has worked well, the only disadvantage I have seen is I have trouble the first 4 or 5 days keeping the cabbage down under the water. After that is over it is just a matter of making sure the air lock has water in it until it is done.
This is my first time using my German, Schmitt fermentation crock. One disadvantage is the cost, pretty expensive for making kraut a couple of times a year! It sure is a beauty though and if I quit using it, it will be a nice decoration that fits in with our early American deco! The only other thing might be keeping the water seal filled properly. We have baseboard electric heat and it is dry, I might have problems with the water evaporating so will have to keep watch on it.

I ended up with a little over six pounds of the cabbage mix. The crock should hold about seven pounds and still have some good head room left. The instructions say not to fill over four fifths the total height of the crock. I took this to include the stones and water too.

Cortido Recipe:

1 med. head of cabbage, shredded
1 small head of red cabbage, shredded
2 cups grated carrots
2 Med. Red onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. dried oregano or 3 Tbs. fresh chopped
¼ to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. sea salt

½ cup of basic whey, I used organic Greek yogurt to make mine.

Making my whey

The whey and yogurt cream cheese

Cortido ingredients

Mixed up

Stomped and set a while and adding to the crock

Funnel helped keep the rim clean

All in the crock

Weights added

Water added

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