As I spent last week working on my take-home final exam for Master Food Preservers and preparing for graduation night and the presentation of ceremonial aprons, I’m even more excited than I was at the start, more than five weeks ago. I’m so looking forward to the growing season so I can try some new stuff...like sauerkraut.
I have never been a fan of sauerkraut and generally thought it was a perfectly crappy thing to do to a perfectly good hot dog (or corned beef on rye). Several classmates were already experienced in fermenting sauerkraut and Jeffrey brought some for me to try, promising not to take offence if I winced and even gave me a napkin to … purge into should I feel the need. As it happens, fresh (I use the term loosely) sauerkraut tastes NOTHING like the noxious stuff that comes in a can. It actually tastes like cabbage. With a kick.
A few years back I fell in love with a cabbage salsa served at a (now defunct) Mexican restaurant here in Eureka and made a decent attempt at replicating it though it wasn't quite right. Now, I have begun wondering if it was actually fermented.
I did some online research and found a number of spicy kraut recipes that added jalapenos so I jumped in and started my first batch of kraut...with a few jalapenos tossed in. Now, I wait for the bubbles, showing me the fermenting process has begun. Soon, my kitchen should smell like....well, like the kraut should be aging out in the barn. If it turns out, I plan to make more this year when my Bayside Park Farm CSA share is overflowing with cabbage. I also pickled a few jars of asparagus this weekend while they're in season. With new skills acquired, seasonal abbondanza is anticipated greatly.
I recommend the Master Food Preserver program highly. The State Ag Extensions make these programs available as a way to get the information out to the people. There is a Facebook page that you can follow to keep up on upcoming classes and demos. The Master Gardener program works similarly. Ours was a fun class with awesome fun people. Though I’m not much for public speaking and waxing eloquent in front of a crowd, I’m looking forward to maintaining my certification by sharing the information I now posess. Food Security is more than just a buzzword around here and I hope to help people to recognize that feeding their families well IS possible, no matter the income. Taking advantage of gleaning opportunities and planting just a few vegetables in the summer that can be preserved to last through the off-season can greatly expand your food budget. PLUS, it’s fun and few things are as satisfying as a collection of jars filled with a rainbow of foods that you have canned yourself.