Sauerkraut and Local Community

There are many reasons to love Gainesville, but one of the most important for me is the delicate balance here between “decent sized city with cosmopolitan culture” and “small-town enough to know your neighbors”. A perfect example of this shall be known henceforth as The Sauerkraut Story.

A couple weeks ago my husband and I decided we wanted to make Reubens from scratch… really really from scratch. We got excited talking about techniques we’ve never tried before to make each component. One of those techniques is lacto-fermentation using whey. Time to make sauerkraut!

So then at the farmer’s market that Saturday we came across a cabbage larger than my 2nd baby. No lie. This was one huge cabbage. Then we realized we needed whey. Now I know I can get whey from draining yogurt but the local yogurt is very thin and I wasn’t sure what I would end up with. I decided to call our friends at Glades Ridge, who also come to the Saturday market every week. They sell goat cheese, milk and eggs and I hoped they would have whey. Joe said yes, of course, and he would bring it Saturday.

The next Saturday came and I made a beeline for the Glades Ridge booth to pick up my whey. Joe looked crestfallen. He had forgotten the whey! So then we figured out that his partner works at the same middle school my two younger kids go to so his partner would bring the whey to the school, give it to my daughter, and  my daughter would bring it home on the bus. So the “whey day” came. I wrote a note to my daughter’s home room teacher giving her permission to visit the other teacher to pick up the jar, just in case. It turns out that another teacher decided to “hold” it for her because she couldn’t carry around a glass jar! So my 11 year old daughter got to smuggle a glass mason jar of goat’s whey out of the school and home to me. How many kids can say that?

Yesterday I finally had enough time and space to actually make the sauerkraut. It took me almost 2 hours (2 episodes of Downton Abbey, to be exact) to core, slice, salt, and pound that humongous cabbage into submission and pack it into the faux pickling crock I bought. It was one of the most productive upper-body workouts I’ve had in a while. I’m not going to post the recipe- there are numerous websites with detailed instructions. It’s just as easy as it sounds.

I can’t wait for the sauerkraut to ferment. The first jar is going to Joe to thank him for the whey… and the awesome story.

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