Last month, David and I traveled the new road to Volcan, on the other side of the volcano, and found some beautiful and fresh produce to bring home with us. We bought 3 large, red cabbages and 50 pounds of carrots! You can read about what I did with some of the carrots in an earlier blog.

Oh, yes, I used up all the carrots. I also researched how to make sauerkraut. Then, I carefully sliced the cabbages very thinly, added some grated carrots, and made the most delicious sauerkraut we have ever tasted!

Handmade Red & Orange Sauerkraut

3 large heads of cabbage, red or green, finely shredded
3 cups carrots, finely grated
1 cup salt
large crock, jar, or plastic, food-safe bucket
round, “cover-plate” to fit inside the fermenting container
large, clear-plastic, food-safe bag
dish towel as final cover

Remove outer leaves and any undesirable portions from firm, mature, heads of cabbage and wash. Cut into halves or quarters and remove the core. Use a food processor or sharp knife to cut the cabbage into thin shreds. In a large bowl, thoroughly coat the shredded cabbage and grated carrots with salt. Let the salted cabbage stand for 20 minutes to wilt slightly.

Pack about half the salted cabbage mixture firmly into a large, clean crock, jar, or plastic food container. Several local bakeries have white, food-safe buckets for sale that work perfectly for this purpose. Using a wooden spoon, pound down on the cabbage mixture firmly until the juice comes to the surface. Pack the remainder of the mixture on top of the first half and pound down again.

Insert the “cover-plate” into the plastic bag and partly fill the bag with salty water. Twist the top of the bag and wrap with tie-wrap to seal. Set the bag inside the container, making sure the plate rests firmly on top of the cabbage. The bag seals the cabbage from air, yet allows for fermentation.

This photo shows the bucket I used and the white plate inserted into a clear, plastic bag, which was the cover. Drape the entire container with a clean cloth that matches your kitchen decor, a dish towel works fine. The amount of water in the plastic bag can be adjusted to give just enough pressure to keep the fermenting cabbage covered with brine. Keep the sauerkraut on your kitchen counter, so you can look at it every day or so. Wipe off any mold from the bag or sides of the container with a folded paper towel, lift out the bag, stir the kraut, press down and return the bag to the top of the kraut. No need to change the water inside the bag. You’ll love the aroma in your kitchen as your cabbage ferments!

Fully fermented sauerkraut, which takes 4-5 weeks, may be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for a few months, or it can be frozen in sealed freezer bags. If the finished kraut seems too salty, rinse with clear water just before using. You may like to add a bit of sugar to the kraut while heating to serve. You will find more sauerkraut variations in “Boquete Gourmet Community Cookbook”, coming in June.

This kraut is especially good served with Berard’s bratwurst, “Chorizo de Ternera”, Dijon mustard, and garlic mashed potatoes. This menu makes a “fancy dinner party”, as Martine and Mark hosted recently in their lovely home high up on a mountainside, overlooking Boquete.

Recipes for using sauerkraut are easily found on the internet. Enjoy this easy, nutritious and delicious dish, especially when made with Boquete’s plentiful, fresh, firm and beautiful cabbages, and served with an ice-cold bottle of Panama’s Cerveza Balboa.
Very nice, indeed!