I fell in love
with a pot, a particular pot and
it opened all kinds of new doors and led to an experiment or two!
I wandered next door to the pottery studio of Maggie Black and spied this really cool crock. Love at first sight. "So you make sauerkraut?" Maggie inquired casually. "No," I thought, "But it looks like I am about to!"
I made my purchase and inquired of Maggie about recipes and such and left determined to learn the secrets of the kitchen term "fermentation." Quite simply, before there was refrigeration there were limited ways to preserve crops when the bounty exceeded the table. Salting was one way to preserve meats, brining or fermenting was a similar process used on vegetables. See this link and this one for more details.
I enlisted my husband's help, he has an interest in probiotic foods so was willing to find out if this worked. He finely cut up a cabbage and placed in the largest bowl we had.
We added the correct amount of the proper salt (do some reading please) and began to massage the kraut. Some folks let it sit a while, others knead it until the liquids began to gather and the cabbage wilts.
We then packed it down in the crock...pack and pack and smush and crush. We had some left over so we tried the mason jar method (go on line again), the knob you see in the jar is holding down a leaf to keep cabbage submerged. My beautiful Maggie-made crock came with correct size weights which did a wonderful job of holding it all under the brine.
We put the lid on and began the hard part: waiting! This is where tales diverge and everyone offers a slightly different version of "how to." Some prefer the slow-method of using a dark, cool closet (such as our pioneer brethren had to do), others are tried and true warm-environment-shorter time krauters. Since fermentation is a very scientific method of bacteria development (and mold avoidance) I highly recommend you experience the pleasure and confusion of reading a lot of the really wonderful web sites dealing with the subject. I found lots of good advice and some yummy recipes that will interest you, as well as ways to temporarily use a jar while you seek your own beautiful crock.
bisque fired crocks in various sizes
Maggie Black Pottery
I am happy to report that our first attempt was a success! My husband loved the sauerkraut and ate it every day (for breakfast if you can imagine). Serve it cold or room temp so as not to destroy all those wonderful bacteria you just spent time growing - heat kills them off. I had added some seeds for flavoring and you can find a wide range of ways to flavor the final product. I am anxious to try red cabbage with beets as well as a vegetable medley. I did garlic carrots and they were fabulous.
You just never know what new paths you will travel when you fall in love with a piece of hand crafted art. Just having this pot was not enough...I truly enjoyed using it and look forward to many more experiments as I learn more about the benefits of fermentation.