Sour Puss

Ours is a family that loves big flavors.  Salty, bitter, spicy, sour – you name it, we love it.  Even the kids adore things like garlic, dijon mustard, kalamata olives, and tonic water, which is a dream for me, ’cause there’s no way I’d enjoy cooking nothing but plain pasta or white bread sandwiches.

One of our very favorite things is sauerkraut.  A hot dog or reuben sandwich (veggie or otherwise) just isn’t the same without it. I remember my grandmother making sauerkraut when I was a kid, but it’s something that I’ve never been brave enough to try my hand at. The benefit of making your own kraut is that it can be left unpasteurised so that it will retain the healthy probiotic bacteria (similar to those found in yogurt) that are responsible for the fermentation process.

Until now, the thought of overseeing a crock of fermenting cabbage for several weeks has always seemed a bit daunting, but this year I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it.

I sliced up the heads of cabbage (one green, one purple so that I’d end up with pink sauerkraut) using my mandoline to ensure uniform thickness, and stirred it together with some sea salt (the cabbage didn’t end up releasing enough juice on its own, so I had to make some extra brine to cover it).  This is a very small batch, as I only used 2 1/2 pounds of cabbage instead of the 50 that the recipe called for, but I thought it best to start small.

I covered the cabbage with a layer of cheese cloth, tucking in the ends, and put a plate on top to keep the cabbage submerged.  It’s supposed to sit like this for several weeks, and the house already smells of fermenting cabbage, but I’m hopeful that we’ll end up with something delicious.  More to come…

Another treat with pucker power is the oh so lovely dill pickle.  I made ten quart jars last week using my favorite recipe, and I can’t wait until they’re ready to eat.

Cukes chillin’.

Since we all love pickles on our burgers but don’t always like to take the time to slice them, I was thrilled when I came across Dill Pickle Relish in a store last year.  Thinking that was the smartest thing I’d heard of in a long time, I went on the hunt for a similar recipe.  Canadian Living magazine is well known for its excellent recipes and cookbooks, so when I found a recipe for this relish on their site, I was pretty sure that it would fit the bill.

The resulting relish is a pretty close approximation to chopped pickles, but I’ll probably tinker with it a bit the next time I make it (omitting the sugar and upping the amount of garlic to make it more like Kosher dills).  In the meantime I’m sure it will be a nice addition to our winter meals.

Our weather has turned in the last day or two and it’s suddenly feeling very much like autumn.  The chickies have had their first taste of west coast weather and I’m not sure they’re fans. They were so stunned by the sudden deluge that we had this morning that they just stood there looking confused and pathetic.  After about 5 minutes of waiting for them to run inside, my daughter finally took pity on them and pushed them in through the pop-doors one by one (I guess they hadn’t yet realized that it wouldn’t be raining inside the coop as well).  They’ve since figured it out, but they actually seem to be enjoying the light drizzle right now.

As for me, I’m sitting beside the first fire of the season, and enjoying a warm cup of chai.

Labor day indeed – ha!

4 thoughts on “Sour Puss”

  • Wow! You've been busy. I wanted to try my hand at pickles this year, but didn't find any place that had pickling cukes. I had grown some, but ended up eating them all as they didn't produce in large enough quantities. Keep us informed as to how the sauerkraut turns out. My grandfather used to make the stuff when I was young and I always loved it, but like you, just haven't tried my hand at it.

  • Your pictures look delicious. My family likes all sorts of flavours too and my oldest son recently discovered a love for sauerkraut. I'll have to show him your post to see if he wants to try making it. Because of our move and because we know we are likely moving again in a year I decided not to do as much canning as I normally do and didn't do my usual dills. But…we were given access to a garden with loads of big cukes and so I decided to make some refrigerator pickles (one jar sweetish and one jar spicy) and I am surprised by how delicious they are. Don't you just love the abundance of this time of year and squirreling away all this goodness?

  • I was also planning to do pickles for the first time this year, but haven't been able to find pickling cucumbers. Well, I saw them in the store before I was ready for them, then they were gone! We did grow some, but nowhere near enough for pickling…Better luck next year!
    Thanks for the recipe links!

  • Carla – They're definitely worth the time, considering the price of good pickles.
    I'll let you know how the sauerkraut goes.

    Heather – I had the same issue when we moved, so now I'm trying to restock the canning cupboard. Luckily we just used the last jar of pickles this summer.

    pipnmillycreations – I've had that problem in the past, but was lucky enough to find someone selling them on Craigslist (a group of young women who started their own organic farm).
    I actually grew some this year, but because they only came one at a time, by the time I had enough, the first ones had gone bad. Next year, I'll have to have more plants!

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