Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Monday, January 16, 2012


The art of preserving vegetables by fermenting them is something that goes back thousands of years, and is prevalent in cultures around the world. Considering my family's strong German heritage, it's sort of strange that I've never really learned how to make Sauerkraut before now. The process is incredibly simple: shred or chop vegetables, add salt, squash to release the veggies' juices, top off with some water, cover it, and let it set. As the vegetables ferment, the beneficial microbes and bacteria that are present help to break down the ingredients, preserve it, and make it easier to digest when you eat it. If you cook or can it, all of those organisms are killed. I decided to make my kraut with some carrots and radishes, along with the cabbage. Why? I had them sitting around and I thought it might be good.

I cut the veggies coarsely with a kitchen knife

I used coarse kosher salt to mix them in a large bowl.

This is what the mixture looked like after a few minutes of squeezing. There was a fair amount of liquid that formed as a result of this.

I put it all into this large jar and topped it off with a little water. I used a small plate and a cup to keep the veggies submerged. I covered it with a thin dish towel, and let it sit in my basement for about 3-4 weeks.

Once the Kraut was fermented, I put it into mason jars to keep in the fridge. From 2 cabbages, a handful of carrots, and 6 big radishes I ended up with 2 1/2 quarts of Sauerkraut.

The fermented Sauerkraut is crisp, tangy, and delicious.

I'm not certain how long this stuff is good for in the fridge. At the rate I've been eating it, I don't think I'm going to find out. It's darn tasty. Making it in smallish batches like this seems to be the smart way of doing it. Cabbages and root vegetables store really well on their own, and this is something that lets you make use of them throughout the year. Below is a video featuring the eclectic fermentation guru, Sandor Katz (who may or may not have been the narrator for the infamous "Honey Badger" video). It lays out the process that I followed pretty clearly.


  1. Do you know how much salt you added to your kraut?

  2. I guessed. The video was pretty vague, and remembering my experience making hot sauce, I erred on the side of caution. Also, I tasted it as I went, so I was able to gauge it that way.