Thursday, August 11, 2016

Kraut Source

Have you ever made sauerkraut?

I'm not asking if you've ever cooked it. I'm asking if you ever started with cabbage and turned it into sauerkraut.

I've made sauerkraut a few times. Usually in large quantities. Like in a 5-gallon crock.

So when I saw that the Kraut Source product allowed me to ferment a much smaller amount of sauerkraut, I knew I had to try it.

Actually, I had been wanting to make kimchi for a while, and I only wanted to make a small quantity, so that was the first thing I thought about making. But then I decided to a quart of sauerkraut instead. I'll be making the kimchi later. Maybe a pint.

While this is a great idea for people who only want to ferment a small quantity of something, it's also a great way to test a recipe - make a pint or a quart before you commit to that giant 5-gallon crock of kraut.

To be clear, while you can make a pint or a quart of fermented foods with the Kraut Source, if you want a larger quantity, you can use it on any jar that has a wide-mouth top. I know there are half-gallon jars for sure.

The Kraut Source came with a small recipe booklet, but there are more on the website, so I looked there to see what was interesting. The first sauerkraut recipe I saw was pretty basic, with just cabbage, salt, and caraway seeds.

I decided to ditch the caraway seeds.

It's not that I don't like caraway, but if I it them in my kraut, I can add it later. So that left me with 1 1/2 pounds of cabbage and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Easy peasy.

And that's it. Just cabbage and salt.

If you're wondering, 1 1/2 pounds of cabbage was about 3/4 of a small head of cabbage. I used the last part of the wedge to make cole slaw. And that 1 1/2 pounds of cabbage fit into a quart jar, with room at the top, just like it should be.

At first, it doesn't seem like it's going to fit, but as the salt does its magic, the cabbage softens and releases water and it can be shoved into the jar.

Then it just has to sit for a while - a week or two - and you just have to make sure the moat doesn't dry out. And that's it - it's sauerkraut. If you prefer, you can keep it fermenting for a little longer, or you can put a regular lid on it and refrigerate it for later, or you can cook it right away.

The Kraut Source device is pretty ingenious. There's a flat piece that sits on top of the cabbage, and there's a spring that pushes the flat piece down to keep the cabbage submerged under the liquid. So you don't need a separate weight on top of the cabbage.

The lid has a moat and a cap that create a water-seal airlock that allows the carbon dioxide to escape. You fill the moat about halfway with tap water when you set it up, and then top it off during the fermenting time, if needed.

Hand-rigged systems need to be "burped" to release the gas every day to avoid explosions. Your small batch of sauerkraut or an open-crock ferment is probably safe from a major blow-up, but releasing that gas is an important part of the process.

This little kit is everything you need to make sauerkraut or other fermented foods in one neat package. And since it's made from stainless steel, it's easy to clean. You can even wash it in the dishwasher.

The only part of the Kraut Source that you might need to replace after a lot of use is a silicone gasket. The good news is that it comes with an extra one. So this should last a long, long time.

I got the more basic kit with just the Kraut Source device. There's a slightly more expensive  Kraut Source Kit that includes a quart jar, a 4-ounce pack of Celtic sea salt, and a pack of organic spices that are needed for the golden sauerkraut recipe.

Who's it for: People who want to try fermenting.

Pros: Made from stainless steel. Easy to clean. Elegant design. You can make small quantities.

Cons: It's not inexpensive.

Wishes: It would be great if there were more recipes available.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

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