BYOCJ = Bring Your Own Cabbage and Jar
I decided to host a Let's Make Sauerkraut Party on Saturday night. I made an Evite for it and everything. I have been totally fascinated with the idea of making my own raw sauerkraut and cultured vegetables lately, and wanted to make a party out of it. Why not? Everyone likes to eat good food, people like to hang out, and this is a pretty cheap way to have a night of fun. Anyway, this is the kind of party to expect from a hippie foodie German girl. Eight of my more food nerdy friends were able to make it; six made sauerkraut with me, and two observed the whole thing. It was a hit! I invited a ton of friends, but to be honest, I'm glad only eight came - we had so much cabbage flying around as it was, I don't know what I would have done with more guests!
I instructed everyone to bring at least one 1 qt jar, at least 1 head of cabbage, and any other stuff they wanted to add. I also told everyone to bring their own cutting board, a big bowl, and a knife. I provided salt, filtered water, and extra add ins and some backup heads of cabbage. It was a wild mess of a party. I think that cabbage has now been ground into my carpet, somehow cabbage ended up in my bathroom sink, and I got covered in cabbage juice after an unfortunate incident involving a bowl of salty cabbage water and a very slippery, heavy jar of newly packed kraut....
Lacto-fermented vegetables are really good for you. I've discovered that I tolerate them well, and while I do love the convenience of purchasing all those tasty, high quality prepared krauts, I don't want to pay $6 or $7 for a mere 16 oz of fermented vegetables any longer. Time to cut the cord and do this myself, the way that my German farm wife great grandma probably did back in the day, long before anyone in their right mind would pay $6 for a 16 oz jar of humble cabbage. According to the inflation calculator I found online, a $6 jar of cabbage in 1920 would be the equivalent of $65.62 jar of cabbage today. That really puts all of this in perspective. Cabbage is cheap. Chopping vegetables is easy. And fermenting stuff is totally effortless - nature does all the work for you. So let's get it on. Let's make some sauerkraut.
To prepare for this whole thing, I bought all sorts of extra veggies for my guests to add in: green onions, a big bag of carrots, onions, jalepenos, garlic, red peppers, ginger, beets, lemon, and turnips. I also had all the basics from my pantry: chili flakes, some different vinegars (rice, apple cider, ume), soy sauce, honey, different seaweeds, and a pantry full of herbs and spices. I also had an extra head or two of cabbage, just in case - which was good, because we NEEDED it. I was hoping my guests would want to use some of those vinegars and soy sauce packets and other pantry items that I can't use anymore. : ) For reference, I had out a few books so we could get proportions of salt to water right, and have some recipe suggestions:
s by Sally Fallon,
Healing with Whole Food
by Paul Pitchford, and
by James Levin, M.D. and Natalie Cederquist.
Everyone got really creative with their krauts, and it was fun to have so many ingredients to choose from. Here's the kraut round-up, left to right:
- Becky and Dylan made a kim chee-type kraut, with a mix of green and purple cabbage, carrot, jalepeno, ginger, green onion, and garlic. It was a beautiful rainbow in a jar!
- Scott and Tracy went classic with green cabbage, garlic, and dill. Beautiful in its simplicity.
- I made a dilly kim chee thing, with napa cabbage, green onion, grated carrot, slivered red pepper, garlic, and dill weed and dill seed, it was very pretty and very juicy. That napa cabbage really crushed down - I ended up needing about 2 1/2 cabbages!
- Dana and Ben, a.k.a. Team Cilantro, made two Thai inspired krauts: one with bok choy, tons of cilantro, green onion, yellow onion, jalepeno, and ginger, and another batch that used that mix as a base with added napa and green cabbage, red pepper, and red curry paste. The first batch was a beautiful dark emerald color, and second batch was kind of an everything-but-the kitchen-sink thing that smelled awesome.
After everyone left, and I cleaned up the crazy mess that was my kitchen and dining/art/craft room, I also made a batch of pickled turnips and beets, because I positively adore turnips and beets, I had the ingredients ready to go, and I was on a roll, baby.
This party was really fun. My friends were totally surprised at how much fun they had cutting up cabbages and pounding the cabbage and getting all covered in cabbage juice, and are really stoked to see how their kraut turns out! In the end, it was a total blast! Plus, it gave me a great excuse to make some tasty food for my guests: Squash, Parsnip, and Carrot Soup, raw and steamed vegetables with Red Pepper Goat Cheese Dip and Beet Bean Dip, pear and blueberry salad, and some tasty Asian rice crackers, just to name a few things. And from a monetary perspective, as suspected, making kraut ended up being way cheaper than buying it pre-made. For example, I ended up with a 1 qt (32 oz) jar of lovely kraut for about $4. My batch of pickled turnips and beets were also a pretty good deal; I ended up with 1 1-qt (32 oz) jar and 1 1-pint (16 oz) jar for probably about $6 total. Great grandma would be proud.
You know, I think more people should have sauerkraut parties. Just try googling "sauerkraut party". Not a lot of results. The most prominent match documents a sauerkraut-making birthday party for an 80-year-old guy named Al in Michigan. It looks like a lot of fun, and they are making their kraut in big buckets! I've always connected well with old men due to my interest in history, the ways of old, and other such things; apparently, the similarities continue. Anyway, not a lot of mention of sauerkraut-making festivities online; this needs to change.
So, in sauerkraut making solidarity, I will be offering up recipes for the two batches of lacto-fermented goodness I made at my sauerkraut soirée: the newly named Kim's Dilly Chee (my own spontaneous creation) and the recipe for Pickled Turnips and Beets from Nourishing Traditions. Right now these are both fermenting in my kitchen. In a few short days, I'll open them up and try them. Then I'll post the recipes and let you know how they turn out!
Yours, in cabbage loving solidarity,