This weekend, my mother was making the last batch of her “German-Russian” sauerkraut. She buys massive cabbages at our local farmstead and keeps them in her “root cellar” box so she can make sauerkraut through the winter.
Unlike the German and US culture, where sauerkraut is eaten with hot dogs or sausages, Russian people eat it as a salad (often adding onion, boiled potato and sunflower/vegetable oil) or incorporate it into other salads, usually accompanying potatoes, beets and carrots. All of these vegetables preserve well and are staple vegetables for a huge chunk of the year…or at least it was when we were growing up. I am sure now days you can easily find fruit and veggies in Russian supermarkets during their off season.
With that said, every fall, my mother stocks up on kraut cabbages, each weighing 15-22 pounds and treats all of us to her homemade sauerkraut. She uses four ingredients: cabbage, carrots, salt and sugar. She works the cabbage with her hands and then allows the fermentation to take place, It is always amazing to me how much cabbage she starts with and how much kraut is there at the end. Fermenting vegetables is on my list of to do and learn. So I watched her carefully and took notes.
- Kraut cabbage (15-20lbs)
- Nonionized sea salt (4tbs)
- Grated carrots (2lbs)
- Cutting board and knife
- Large dish to hold a lot of cabbage
- Large enamel pot
- A plate or dish that would fit into the pot
- A large vessel of some sort to be used as a weight
- Slaw the cabbage, as finely as possible
- Grate carrots (they add pretty color and taste awesome)
- Add salt and sugar
- Press/work the cabbage to release juices, the size should decrease A LOT!
- Transfer to an enamel pot
- Place a plate on top, not sealing completely
- Add water weight on top
- Cover with cheesecloth
- Keep at room temperature to ferment for 3-4 day (the cabbage juice should get watery, and the cabbage should be fermented but still crunchy
- Transfer to a glass jar and keep in the fridge, good for a week
Sauerkraut and Potato Salad:
- Sauerkraut (pressed, to get rid of water)
- Raw chopped onion to desired size
- Boiled potatoes, chopped to desired size
- Sunflower, vegetable or olive oil
- Pepper to taste or chili flakes if a little heat is appreciated
Mix everything in a bowl and enjoy! Complementary to a nice bratwurst!
“Vinaigrette” Russian style vegetable salad:
Boil and chop the following vegetables:
Add the following to the vegetables
- Pickles (chopped)
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped raw onion
- Canned or boiled kidney beans or red beans
- Oil of your liking
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix and serve! I like to chill it and let it sit for all the flavors to marry. Great as a light lunch or a side dish. There are many variations to this salad. Like all good recipes, every Russian woman has their own way to make this, their own.
Delicious and simple!! Happy Krauting!