My neighbors across the street have their front yard torn up due to sewer work and my mailbox had to be taken out of the ground, so I’ve been without mail delivery for about a week. I finally managed to run out and talk to the mail carrier who had my mail for the day, but told me that my mail was being held at the post office. I was planning on going there this afternoon on my way to the gym and my usual mailman came to the door with a large box. I talked to him for a few minutes and he ranted about how lazy and worthless the temp carrier was because she wouldn’t get her ass out of the truck to take mail to my door – which is policy in a situation like this. For as much shit as the ol’ pony express gets, it’s good to see that there’s USPS employees out there who are actually concerned with taking care of the customer and taking a bit of pride in their profession – I think everyone has a horror story or two about customer service from the post office.
Anyways, today was a pretty good mail day. I received the following:
– The latest issue of Mother Earth News
– The latest VFW magazine
– About 30 packets of seeds as well as some old-timey gum from Victory Seeds
– A copy of “Bankruptcy of Our Nation” by Jerry Robinson from FTMdaily – they had a deal where you could get his book postpaid for $5 last week. I will review it later.
– 100 wide mouth and 100 small mouth reusable canning lids from Tattler from a deal on Markdown.com. For some reason I thought I was buying 100 lids total, but was pleasantly surprised when 200 showed up – I thought some guy messed up the order in our favor. These lids are BPA free, made in the USA, dishwasher safe and durable. If you do any canning, these are a good investment. The lids that come with jars are useless after one use, so you would need to purchase new lids every year otherwise.
– A power bill showing a $32 credit from overpaying last month. Score.
– Byzantium: The Lost Empire volumes 1 & 2. This is what happens when you neglect managing your Netflix queue. While I suppose I’d say I’m interested in all things Byzantine, I’m not really that enthused about getting two documentaries like that right now.
I can’t say I’ve ever imagined myself owning a 20 liter fermenting crock, but we ordered one from Harvest Essentials last week with the weight stones which arrived on our doorstep Wednesday. First, let me say that this thing appears to be built like a tank. It was made in Boleslawiec, Poland and I know that the jokes make them more famous for things like screen door submarines and helicopter ejector seats, but the craftsmanship on this thing is definitely noteworthy. This looks like something that could be in the family for generations and certainly many fermenting crocks have survived the test of time – in fact, my mother showed us one tonight that she had from my grandparents. It looks sturdy enough to take some abuse and I also have to say that it’s not a bad looking piece of ceramic either.
Since it will be a while before we have cabbage in our garden (seeds aren’t even started yet), I went out last night and picked up four or five heads of cabbage, which came up to about 13.5 lbs. I figured we might as well get some use out of it now and make sure we know what we’re doing so we’re ready when our homegrown cabbage is ready.
There’s all kinds of recipes for sauerkraut out there, but Adena insisted on a basic cabbage, salt and water recipe which was probably a smart idea for our first time. Using a food processor it didn’t take long to strip the outer layers, cut out the hearts, wash the cabbage, chop them into smaller pieces and then shred. Once we finished that, we put some of the cabbage in the crock, pressed it down with the stones, added some salt and then repeated the process a few more times with more layers of cabbage. The recipe stated that if you didn’t have liquid from pressing the cabbage, you should add boiled (and then cooled) salt water to give it a liquid layer. Our cabbage was dry, so we had to do that. The crock was about half full (or half empty if it turns out bad) with 13.5 lbs of cabbage. We’re unsure if we have to skim the top layer off every now and then (as I’ve heard before), but the recipe that came with the crock said that isn’t necessary with the crock. It has a ring around the lid that you fill with water which allows gases to escape but limits air coming in. All we have to do is leave it alone for a couple of days and then move it to a slightly cooler spot for several weeks. I’m a little skeptical of this, but if we have problems I’d rather we work them out now rather than on the cabbage we’ll surely put our heart and soul into.
I guess there are some good health benefits to eating sauerkraut and other fermented foods, as well as a ton of other things that can be fermented. Honestly, my annual sauerkraut consumption is low but I’m sure we would eat more of it if we made it ourselves. If it turns out alright, I’m sure we won’t have any problems giving/bartering our surplus away.
UPDATE – Two weeks later and everything seems to be going fine. We can hear the water bubbling every now and then. So far no significant smell either, which is a plus.