Most people find the idea of making fermented vegetables at home intimidating. Hygiene obsessed, our society has built-up an intense fear around doing anything with (gasp) bacteria! The bubbles, the smells- I completely understand. For a long time in my traditional cooking practice I avoided doing any of my own fermentation, instead sneaking measely scoops of sauerkraut and samples of cultured condiments from my more experienced and wiser friends whenever I could. However, it turns out that fermentation is actually extemely simple (and even enjoyable) to do! All it really takes is some getting started. And as for the myths about poisoning yourself with evil bacteria from cabbage-gone-wrong, trust me- you will know if something isn't quite right and then you just try again. I have found that with the right gear it is nearly impossible to mess up, and you can fall into a rhythm of having some kind of nutrient-dense deliciousness abrewing nearly all the time. Enjoy this easy five step recipe for classic raw sauerkraut using a fermenting crock.
When making sauerkraut, or any fermented dish for that matter, absolute purity and cleanliness is key. This rule stands for both the ingredients and the vessel they will be fermented in. By selecting only the most beauitfully robust and organic vegetables, as well as an impeccable mineral-rich salt and purified water (chlorine wreaks havoc with the fermentation process), your ferments will be delicious tasting nutrient powerhouses. While people use a range of containers in which to store fermenting vegetables- everything from plastic buckets to mason jars- traditional stoneware crocks are truly the gold standard. Although somewhat less common to find and a bit more pricey than alternatives, they follow an elegant age-old design with features that enable large quanitities of vegetables to be fermented cleanly and effectively. The Original Harsch Stoneware Fermentation Pot includes a lid with an air-tight water sealing system and a two-piece weighting stone that applies the proper pressure for fermentation. This particular patented crock is made of stoneware, baked at 2200° and covered with a lead-free glazing. It wipes clean easily and hardly absorbs any water, thus preventing mold and film-forming yeasts which can significantly alter the preservability of the vegetables. Making fermented vegetables is so awesome that I recommend getting started with whatever means you have. But if you are seriously considering making fermented vegetables on a regular basis, a high-quality stoneware crock is a beautiful piece of equiptment you may want to invest in.