Monday, January 26, 2015

Homemade Sauerkraut and Yogurt

We have started making a few things of our own on the boat. First, we seldom find sauerkraut in the stores here. When we do find it it is a German brand with spices we are not used to. I remembered that when we were in Mexico, some years go, we saw a restaurant making a 5 gallon jar of sauerkraut out back. That gave me the idea. Therefore a quick google and lots of information.

 This is all it takes:
Salt without iodine and cabbage, a bowl and clean jars.
The directions are simple too. Shred the cabbage. I slice it as thin as I can. Put it in a large bowl. Add one tablespoon salt per pound of cabbage. Stir and mash together with your hands. After the salt is well mixed and you have pressed the salt into the cabbage, it starts to make its own juice, salt water!

Taste it now to see if you got the salt right. It should be like you normally eat it, salty but not too much.It is easy to add more salt. A little harder to shred a second head cause you got too much salt, like in this batch. Don't use the weight from the store for determining the amount of salt, cause you take off a few leaves and leave out most of the cob.

Now pack it into a jar by hand, or a spoon if your hand won't it the jar. pack it down tight so that the natural juice floats above the cabbage. We put a small plastic bowl or lid to keep the cabbage from floating up into the air. It might spoil if it is not covered by the salt water.

Now let it sit in a cool dark place till it is done. They talk about weeks however, one guide suggests to taste it every day. When it tastes like the sauerkraut you like, put it in the refrigerator, or just eat it. I like it best on the 4th day, when there is still some green in the leaves. But we usually seem to wait about  week.

Oh I should mention, room temperature on the boat is between 82 and 92F, so it sets faster here than in cool places.

Smoked sausage and sauerkraut.

Greg also got me started on yogurt. I always thought I hated yogurt. He insisted I taste his homemade. It was much better than I remembered. It could be the low carb/high fat way we're eating lately that has changed my taste buds, or just getting old! But a cold bowl of yogurt with some sugar free blueberry jam or a few sliced strawberries really hits the spot on a hot afternoon. And it is almost lactose free, so Trinda can eat it without worry.

The recipefor the yogurt is actually less work than the sauerkraut. One pouch full fat powdered milk and 4 cups water in a pot. Bring to about 180F, almost a boil. Cool to 115F and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of your last batch. Stir and put in the jars. Screw the lid on tight. I put the jars in a styrofoam 'six-pack' cooler for 4 to 6 hours. Then move to the refrigerator and your good for a week.

The first time you either get some from a friend or buy some from the store. Get unsweetened, plain yogurt with 'live culture' or 'live enzymes'.

If you like it thick and sour, leave it warm longer, like 6 to 8 hours. Or more mild and creamy, then 3 1/2 to 4 hours is good.

The INTERNET says it would be much better if we used the fresh whole milk, but the powdered milk keeps up to a year without refrigeration and it is always available here.We can get good powdered milk here, not only skimmed like in the states. But whole milk, full cream, 2% and skim. And it can be pure spray-dried or a mix of weird chemistry including oils, soy, palm oil, cornstarch, and all the multi-syllable chemicals 'additives allowed by law' it says here. So we read the labels. Some of that stuff just kills the culture and spoils.