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Fermented Summer Favorites: Mustard & Sauerkraut

Join me and my mom, Margaret (Airbnb superhost and my fermenting buddy), virtually from your own kitchen, as we make two probiotic-packed condiments, perfect for any time of the year! 

Most people don't know this, but "real" mustard is simply fermented mustard seeds. Basic commercially-available mustard sold outside the refrigerator case does not have beneficial probiotics from fermentation, but when we put in just a little extra effort to mix and blend a few ingredients together, we get gut-healing, tongue-tingling, sophisticated, gift-worthy mustard!

Most of us do know that "real" sauerkraut is fermented, but it can be hard to find ways to eat it because - let's face it - eating a bowl of plain sauerkraut isn't fun (for most). It needs to be combined with the right ingredients to shine. Ingredients that are creamy and mild, or smoky and meaty for instance, contrast wonderfully with sauerkraut!

Here's how to make these two popular condiments that can pair with more meals than you could ever guess!

Mustard

Prep time: 15 min

Yield: 1 cup

supplies

  • Glass jar (2 cups or ½ liter)

  • Fermenting lid or tea towel plus rubber band

  • Food processor with S-blade or strong blender like Vitamix

ingredients

  • ½ cup (96 grams) yellow mustard seeds (use ½ brown if you want it spicier)

  • 1 ¼ cup hot water

  • 2 ½ teaspoon (15 grams) sea or himalayan salt

  • about ½ cup + 1 - 2 Tbsp liquid:

    • white wine &/or apple cider vinegar (to make it tangier)

    • mustard brine (to make it saltier).

  • Optional: ½ tsp turmeric

  • Optional: ¼ tsp paprika

  • Optional: ¼ tsp garlic powder

directions

  1. Make your brine by dissolving your 1 teaspoon salt in your water. Let it cool down.

  2. Add your ½ cup mustard seeds to your ½ liter jar.

  3. Pour your cooled brine over your seeds.

  4. Twist on a fermenting lid, or place your tea towel over the top and secure with a rubber band.

  5. Allow to ferment at room temperature for 1-3 weeks.

  6. When finished fermenting, use a strainer to drain your seeds from the excess brine over another bowl to save this now probiotic brine to use later.

  7. Using your food processor or blender, grind the seeds. Add spices and liquid. You'll want to add more vinegar than brine (~1-2 Tbsp brine). Add a little at a time and taste as you go. If you do this, it's hard to go wrong! Be patient with blending. Scrape down the sides periodically till mustard's as smooth as you like it.

  8. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. The longer you wait to eat it, the less spicy it will get. The sooner you eat it, the spicier it will be. Lasts 6 months to1 year

Sauerkraut

Prep time: 30 min

Yield: 1/2 gallon (2-liters)

Notes regarding the preparation process:

  1. “Salt water” means a proportion of 1 tsp (6 g) salt dissolved in 1 C (235 ml) water OR juice from a prior batch of sauerkraut. 

  2. Any extra water you add to your sauerkraut mixture should be filtered - or even better - distilled.

supplies

  • Quart (1-liter) jar (or several smaller jars)

  • Fermenting lid (or small tea towel plus rubber band) per jar

  • Sharp chopping knife

  • Large cutting board

  • 1 extra-large bowl (or 2 medium-to-large bowls)

ingredients

  • 1 head (2 lb, or 1 kilo) green or red cabbage

  • 1 Tablespoon + 1/2 tsp (18 grams) unrefined salt

  • Optional garlic (up to 2 large cloves, thinly sliced or minced)

  • Optional seeds: caraway and/or fennel and/or celery (up to 1 Tbsp worth seeds)

directions

  1. Wash your cabbage in cold water, discard leaves that look especially wilted. Save one outer leaf to use later, this leaf can be imperfect, but not wilted, moldy or with extensive dark spots.

  2. Slice your cabbage according to your desired consistency of the final product, trying to have a consistent size - you may use a food processor, but make sure to use the slicing function, not the shredding function.

  3. Sprinkle with salt.

  4. With clean hands, massage the cabbage by repetitively squeezing the cabbage between your fingers until plenty of liquid has been released and the cabbage is a bit mushy and translucent. This portion of the process usually takes about 5-10 minutes. If more water needs to be released, wait about 30 minutes, then massage a little more.

  5. Stuff the cabbage into the half-gallon mason jar (or smaller jars), pressing all of the cabbage underneath the liquid and squishing out any air bubbles. Add any water left at the bottom of the bowl or extra salt water to ensure sufficient liquid (see notes above).

  6. Be sure to not overfill the mason jar. Leave 2-3 inches from the top of the mason jar to account for expansion.

  7. Cover your kraut with your cabbage leaf, tucking it down the sides of the jar. Remove any extra pieces of kraut floating on the surface.

  8. Cover jar with a fermenting lid, or, place a tea towel over the top and secure with a rubber band.

  9. Allow the sauerkraut to ferment at room temperature for 15 to 30 days depending on your ambient temperature and the spices you may have added. Check at least every other day to see if the cabbage is still under the brine. If it's not, push it back under with your clean fist or tool. Start tasting after a week or so. A longer fermentation period can be used if desired. SEE NOTES BELOW regarding the fermentation process.

  10. Once the sauerkraut is finished, move to the refrigerator.

Notes regarding the fermentation process:

If you see scum or foam, it’s generally harmless so you can leave it. If you see white or bluish furry surface mold on the top of the brine, scrape it off with a wooden or plastic utensil as too much could affect the flavor. If mold grows on the actual cabbage because the cabbage went over the brine, and especially if it's black, green, red or pink, then throw those pieces away. Make sure everything is pressed below the brine again.

After about 5-7 days, taste your kraut. Using a fork, gently push the cabbage leaf covering your kraut aside and sample the kraut beneath. It’s ready when it has a pleasing pickle-y flavor and the cabbage has softened a bit but retains some crunch. If it’s not ready, (using a clean utensil if needed) make sure all of the cabbage is back below the brine, replace the leaf, and re-cover the jar. Wait another few days then taste again to see what you think.

When it’s pleasing to your tastebuds, skim off any possible scum from the surface and replace the fermenting lid or cloth with the regular lid that came with the jar. Refrigerate for up to 1 year.

© 2017 Libbie Spielmann

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