Q: I just harvested my cabbage. How do I make sauerkraut?
Carol B., Atascadero
A: Sauerkraut is easy to make in your home kitchen. You mix sliced cabbage with an easy-to-make brine of salt and water and let it ferment for several weeks at room temperature. You will need to use some type of weight to hold the cabbage under the brine. You will know it’s fermenting when bubbles begin rising throughout the jar.
Fermentation inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and supports the right kind of bacteria that produces the acid needed for fermentation. Even though fermentation is an easy process, it is important you follow a scientifically tested recipe to make sure the chemistry is right to inhibit the growth of any harmful bacteria.
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Many vegetables can be fermented. If you are growing napa cabbage, you can make a delicious kimchi. Cucumbers made into pickles is one of the most common. Another popular fermented product is kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented drink made with water, sugar, tea and a culture or SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). SCOBYs are best purchased from a reputable source to minimize risk of contaminants, such as molds or harmful bacteria that could cause illness.
Would you like to learn more about fermentation and how to make sauerkraut and kombucha at home? Have you tried making fermented foods at home and wondered whether certain “scums” and funky smells are foods going bad or just science at work?
Register for our upcoming workshop on Saturday. It will be held in the UCCE Auditorium next to the parking lot at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. There will be a $5 charge to cover class supplies, and you must register at http://ucanr.edu/fermentation as space is limited. If you have any questions regarding the class or general preserving questions, please call the UCCE Master Food Preserver Helpline at 805-781-1429 and leave a message or email the UCCE Master Food Preservers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tami Reece is a UCCE Master Food Preserver.
Got a gardening question?
Call 805-781-5939 in San Luis Obispo, 805-473-7190 in Arroyo Grande and 805-434-4105 in Templeton. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or email us at email@example.com. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 805-781-5939.