Making Pickles and Sauerkraut (the lazy way)

A photo of some sourkrout that had been fermenting for a few days at the time of taking the photo

I’ve made three long posts about decentralized social media, followed by making a client that works on decentralized social media, so I’ll call all that good for now and talk about making some pickles and sourkraut. And not just canned cucumbers and cabbage, but the actual fermented stuff, which is surprisingly easy to make.

So, the lazy way to make Sourkraut:

  1. Boil some water on the stove or in a kettle (makes sure it’s sterile and cuts out some of the chlorine if you’re on city water), then let it start to cool until it’s about room temperature
  2. Cut up some cabbage. Wash the outer leaves where other people may have touched them, but don’t bother with the inner leaves
  3. Put a couple of tablespoons of salt in a mason jar and pour a tiny bit of water in to dissolve the salt
  4. Put the cabbage in, pack it tightly, and then fill the jar with water close to the brim
  5. Use something to keep the cabbage under water. You can use a large cabbage leaf, something like the handle of a plastic fork, or buy glass weights built to do exactly that
  6. Cover loosely with a cloth or a paper towel to keep dust out, and let it sit at room temperature. Check it every day or two to scoop off any bits of cabbage that’s risen to the top or any film that shows up, and within a week or so fermentation will slow down and it can be stashed in the fridge for consumption.

Pretty easy if you ask me. There’s plenty of lactic acid producing bacteria on cabbage (and most vegetables), so you really don’t need to do much to get the process going.

Fermenting Pickles instead

As for pickles, I follow the same process except I start with cucumbers or some other form of vegetable. Again, boil the water, throw a couple of teaspoons of salt in the bottom of a mason jar, and throw some washed cucumbers in the jar (and/or whatever else you want to pickle). Assuming you’re using cucumbers you can use small ones whole, do halves, spears, or slices - though the larger they are the more they’re going to retain their crunch. Follow that up with whatever seasonings you want to add in (say dill and a few cloves of garlic), and I usually add a small unwashed leaf from the inside of a cabbage to guarantee a bunch of the good lactic acid bacteria is included. The cabbage is probably unnecessary, as you usually can’t get rid of the lactic acid bacteria without boiling the vegetables, but I might as well guarantee the good bacteria gets a decent jump start.

Again, make sure everything is submerged and let it ferment. Depending on the temperature of where you’re leaving it, fermentation will probably slow down considerably after a week or two and you can then stash it in the fridge.

Refrigerator Pickles

Or, maybe you want to give it a go but don’t want to ferment anything. In that case, look at making refrigerator pickles. Pick up some distilled vinegar, mix a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar, and bring it to a boil. Wash some vegetables of any kind, although cucumbers are a great choice, and place those vegetables (and any seasonings) plus about two tablespoons of salt into a mason jar (or just about anything else). Once the water/vinegar mixture is cooled off a bit - still warm but not still boiling to avoid breaking/melting your container - pour it over the vegetables and stick in the fridge.

Leave for a few days to soften things up and let flavors exchange, then enjoy. Refrigerator pickles are definitely the easiest, and even just a great way to preserve any kind of vegetable that’s about to go bad.

Well, that’s about that, no need to jump into the history of pickles or anything. I’ve gotten plenty of enjoyment out of making/eating/sharing pickles, and figured it’d be interesting enough to share.