Making Sauerkraut at Home

Luke here. Every year I look forward to harvesting cabbage from our garden so that I can make sauerkraut and kimchi. I absolutely love making these vegetable ferments! They are fun to make, delicious to eat, and really good for you! Plus, they are a great way to make use of excess produce from the garden.

In this blog post I'll walk you through making sauerkraut and I'll also throw in a link to my favorite kimchi recipe in case you want to get adventurous!

Sauerkraut is incredibly simple to make. All you need is cabbage and salt! You can add other ingredients like caraway seeds, juniper berries, carrots, or beets, but really all you need are those two ingredients. In reality you also need some microbes to make the fermentation happen, but they come with the cabbage so you don't have to worry about them!

In case you're not familiar, traditional sauerkraut is made though a process called lacto-fermentation, where lactic acid bacteria and yeast consume sugars in the cabbage to create by-products of lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and wonderful flavors. It's the microbes that do all the work, but you have to make sure you create the right environment for them to do what they do best!

Here's what you need:
Note that 5 lbs of cabbage yields roughly 1 gallon of sauerkraut

- Cabbage
- Fine sea salt*
- Caraway seeds**

*roughly 1/2 Tbs of salt per pound of cabbage
**optional, roughly 1 tsp of caraway seeds per pound of cabbage

Start by slicing the cabbage as thinly as you can manage and chop into pieces about 2-4 inches long. A vegetable mandolin really helps with this, but I've always just used a large chef's knife. Weigh out the cabbage to determine how much salt to add. Measure out 1/2 Tbsp of fine sea salt for each pound of cabbage. Add the sliced cabbage into a bowl in layers sprinkling each layer with salt to evenly distribute all the salt you measured out.

Next you need to bruise the cabbage by squeezing it or pounding it with a wooden kraut pounder until water squeezes out and the cabbage turns slightly soggy. Now you can mix in the additional ingredients like caraway seeds. I use 1 tsp of caraway seeds for each pound of cabbage because I really like the flavor and it reminds me of rye bread. But you could add juniper berries, sliced apples, beets, or carrots instead. Whatever you think will taste good!

After your cabbage is bruised and additional ingredients are mixed in, pack it into a glass jar by pressing down on the cabbage as you pack to squeeze out all the air bubbles. This is where a wooden kraut pounder really comes in handy to help you press down the cabbage, especially when you use a large jar. You can sometimes find these wooden pounders at antique malls, but we also sell them in our shop. I like to use quart jars for my kraut, but you can use any size. Just make sure the size is appropriate for the amount of kraut that you are making.

Continue to pack the jar until full. Press down the cabbage so that the liquid brine rises above the level of the cabbage. Finally, check for air bubbles in the cabbage and try your best to squeeze out the bubbles or pack the cabbage in tight enough that the air escapes.

Now its time to lid your jar. I am 100% sold on these stainless steel Kraut Source lids that we now carry in our shop. They make this step so much easier and less messy than the alternative. It is rare that I come across a kitchen gadget that is this elegant and effective.

But if you don't have a Kraut Source lid you can still make great kraut! You just need a smaller glass jar or weight that will fit inside the mouth of your mason jar to weigh down the cabbage while your kraut ferments. The key is to keep that cabbage submerged under the salty brine so that mold doesn't grow on the exposed cabbage leaves. This is something the Kraut Source lid does for you, but with a little creativity you can find something in your kitchen that will do the trick. If you do not have one of our lids, a trick is to fill the smaller jar with water so that is is heavy enough to weigh down the cabbage. And I would recommend covering the top with a kitchen towel or cheesecloth so that flies don't get in your kraut.

Now just wait! Let your kraut ferment at room temperature (65-75 degrees F) for 5-7 days or until it tastes just right. I would recommend sampling your kraut every day to taste how the flavor changes over time and to know when it's time to halt the fermentation.

When the kraut is done, just put a lid on it and pop in the fridge. This will halt the activity of the microbes and keep your kraut preserved for as long as a year. But hopefully you'll finish it off before then!

If you can't get enough and need more recipes and fermentation inspiration check out these two books by Sandor Katz. They are the best! I got my kraut and kimchi recipe from Wild Fermentation. His newer book, The Art of Fermentation, includes some great backstories on how these delicious foods were discovered. Michael Pollan has called Katz his "fermentation guru" so that says enough!

And as promised, here is my kimchi recipe taken from Wild Fermentation.

Happy fermentations! Reach out if you have any questions!

- Luke

in the garden: june 2016

i'm not sure how i managed to forget about sharing an overview of our may garden except to say that it was quite the busy month! may came & went with lots of homegrown salads & some sugar snap pea harvests. 

we're now in the thick of the hot & humid june garden with the hopeful promise of summer crops just around the corner. 

in the garden - june 2016

our annual tradition of zinnias & sunflowers in the front garden bed is coming along! we should have many blooms in the next week or two! i am so excited to begin harvesting large bouquets of sunflowers for our kitchen table!

my nephew comes over once a week for a little farm date. last week he spent the evening helping in the garden while luke fixed our irrigation. oliver weeded the garden beds & fed the goat while i harvested cilantro & onions for dinner. three is such a fun age!

our herb garden looks better than ever this season. i hope to make a few batches of pesto for freezing soon!

it's just about time to harvest our potatoes! that's always one of my favorite garden activities. 

our tomato plants are dripping with heirlooms! i am so looking forward to a homegrown tomato, but for now we're harvesting handfuls of tiny cherry tomatoes warm & ripe from the vine.

last week i also managed to plant a smaller variety of zinnias for accents in bouquets. next week we will harvest garlic!

i am just so grateful for this time of year spent outdoors sweating & working among the bright colors of the harvest. 

and for these two who make the june garden even happier! happy summer solstice!

what is happening in your june garden? please share!


homemade popsicles

this summer i am on a mission to make the perfect homemade popsicle. 

i've always wanted to make my own popsicles & this summer felt like the perfect time to invest in such a hobby. i was first introduced to the art of the homemade popsicle by stephanie of 3191 miles apart (her blog post here is great for recipes!)

for my first popsicles (shown above), i dug around in my freezer & fridge for ingredients already on hand. i concocted a honey-infused raspberry & blueberry vanilla yogurt popsicle perfect for hot days by the pool or in the garden. 

to make this popsicle, simply warm up a cup or two of mixed frozen berries on the stovetop with a tablespoon of honey. mix until the honey is fully dissolved throughout the fruit. with your popsicle molds at hand, add a couple of spoonfuls of honey fruit into your molds. then add a spoonful or two of yogurt & top it all with more honey fruit. allow popsicles to freeze until they're solid. eat & enjoy!

popsicle molds can be found most anywhere during the summer season. my molds were gifted to me (thank you, mother-in-law!), but i do love stephanie's mold found here (the simple wooden popsicle stick is so classic)

next up - watermelon mint & lemon lime! yum!

have you made popsicles before? please share your favorite recipes!


traveling susie q: starkey campground

on saturday we pulled out of the driveway with sweet susie q in tow for our maiden voyage! to say i was a little excited would be quite an understatement - i was downright giddy!

we were away for just one night - our weekends are really filling up! - but it was a wonderful 24 hours. 

we planned to head out to the river, but after many hours researching the best camping sites with full camper hookups, we opted for beaver lake. 

we would highly recommend starkey campground!  it's wonderful for both campers & tent camping. the facilities are clean, the lake is crystal clear, the swimming spots are beautiful & it's just 30 minutes from downtown eureka springs!

once we arrived, we set up camp in less than thirty minutes. we brought along our pups - huck & dandy - & they did so well! they're definitely outdoor loving dogs.

before we left, i managed to paint this area of the camper. there's still so much to do, but i really love the white walls. we are having the cushions recovered this week... i cannot wait to show you!

i also set up this water station just outside of our camper. it's blueberry & mint-infused water & it was perfect for hydrating. 

luke also baked fresh bread for the trip! i made rice krispy treats for dessert, too. 

later that evening we cooked dinner over the fire & enjoyed the sunset. we woke up the next morning to an equally beautiful sight. 

we enjoyed hot coffee in the crisp morning air while watching a bald eagle's nest from our campsite! 

{mug is from 1canoe2!}

i cooked breakfast for the first time in our little camper kitchen! it was so much fun! we have a little list going of supplies we forgot that are needs for our next trip... like salt. oops!

after breakfast, we headed out to the lake for some much needed rest.

i brought along my taproot magazine, la croix & watermelon. such a wonderful couple of hours soaking up the sun!

 living life with this man is indeed the sweetest. we had such an amazing time with susie q & are thrilled for more adventures to come!


the newest addition: our camper!

say hello to the newest addition to our little family! after months of saving & months of researching, we finally have a cute little camper for our many adventures!

she's a 1997 13ft shadow cruiser. i had my heart set on a vintage scamp camper, but after considering our needs, we opted for practical over pretty. specifically, we wanted a bathroom & hoped for a full kitchen with ample counter space. this camper also has a little bunk bed, which is perfect for our nephew & any additions to the freeman family in years to come! she can be pulled with our smaller vehicles, which is also a plus!

as you can tell, she's in need of a little love! i am working within our budget & plan to be very mindful of spending. i am keeping all of our receipts & hope to share a breakdown of our remodel costs. to start, i am having the cushions recovered. i hope to paint the interior this summer, too! i can't wait to share the process as it unfolds.

for now, aside from some simple changes in aesthetic, she's in perfect condition & ready to hit the road! we're taking her out on her first maiden voyage this weekend! to the river, we go! 

what do you think? do you have a camper? how have you saved money on remodel costs? tips for what to include in our little camper? please share your thoughts!


p.s. she needs a name! we're thinking susie q, the shadow cruiser! what do you think?

quick & easy pickled beets

tis the season of beets!

today i thought i'd share my favorite quick-pickled beets recipe - perfect as a topping on salads or eaten straight from the jar.

2 cups vinegar (plain vinegar or cider vinegar is just fine)
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 teaspoons black peppercorn
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf per jar 
roughly 3 pounds of red beets, peeled & cut into large chunks

in a medium-sized saucepan, heat up your vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, cloves, peppercorn, thyme & oregano to a boil & allow to simmer until your beets are fully cooked.
in a large pot, submerge your beets into salty water. bring to a boil & cook until tender, roughly 10 minutes or so. test for doneness with a fork.
once your beets are tender, drain them & stuff them into your jars along with a bay leaf. pour brine over beets using a stainless steel funnel until beets ar fully covered with liquid. screw on lid & place in the fridge. allow beets to marinade with brine for a day or so ... if you can wait that long.

please note: this recipe is not shelf-safe so keep in the fridge for freshness. enjoy!


p.s. my quick-pickled sugar snap peas are a favorite around here - click here to find the recipe.

our weekly salad bowl

i've been working toward establishing weekly routines in an effort to be more intentional with my days, weeks, months, years & truthfully - life. for so long i disliked routine & schedules. just recently, though, i've grown to appreciate a thoughtful rhythm to my work & home life.

some of the chores & habits i've introduced into my week include purchasing (or harvesting when the time comes) a fresh bouquet of flowers every week, planning our weekly menu on sunday night, shopping for groceries on monday afternoon & harvesting/building an extra large garden salad each week.

the harvesting & building of our weekly salad is quite labor intensive on the front end, but it saves me so much time come lunch & dinner. 

i harvest a variety of greens from the garden - lettuce, mesculin mix, kale, swiss chard, spinach & arugula - & wash them thoroughly in our kitchen sink. once they've been washed & chopped, i fill up the largest bowl i own & mix. i chop up an assortment of in-season vegetables, too, & add them to the top. i cover my large bowl & pull it out for lunchtime & dinnertime salad needs, adding additional toppings & salad dressing at that time.

 it's been such an easy way to encourage more greens into our diet & the peaceful time outside in the garden is quite wonderful.

what weekly chores & habits to you make room for within your weekly rhythm? i'd love to learn a handful of your tricks! please share in the comments below.

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