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Adventures with a 3 gallon sauerkraut crock

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kraut

kraut

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Oh sauerkraut, you most delicious of sandwich additions. I put you on my breakfast sandwich, drop you in my rice, place you delicately in a heap next to my steak. You bring me such joy with your salty crunch, and as a bonus, you're good for me (at least I think you are.) I read a piece a couple months back in Gastronomica about sauerkraut. It went through all the claims that people make about its health benefits, refuting them one by one on the basis that they didn't have scientific backing. But then I heard a story the other day on how probiotics are being discovered to reduce anxiety. My conclusion is that if something has been believed for thousands of years to be good for you, it probably is, plus it's delicious, so why not eat it? Therefore, I’ve embarked on a new adventure. I recently bought a 3 gallon stoneware crock, something I've been wanting for a while, but couldn't get over the sticker shock of spending $250 on a vessel used specifically to ferment cabbage. Luckily, I found a solution. For $35 you can order one from ACE online, and then pick it up at a local store. Feels like I’m pitching you here, but I would be remiss to not tell you about the wonders of this deal.

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For my first batch, I wanted to go simple. Just salt, cabbage, and caraway. It's astounding how many recipes there are online, not to mention in one of my favorite books, Wild Fermentation, on how to do this. I’d made it before in small batches, but there is something about filling up a 3 gallon container that makes you want to do some recipe research. I watched a video on youtube put out by the Ag. Council of a nice woman in Alaska, (seeming very 1950's) which gave exact instructions (2.5Tbsp of salt per 5 lbs of cabbage). Then I watched a video of Sandor Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation, who has a more democratic approach (just put salt in until it tastes right).

I settled on 3 Tbsp per 5 lbs of cabbage. Something like 20 lbs of cabbage went into this batch, and the only place in my house to deal with that kind of volume is the sink. After a good scrub, in went the cabbage. First sliced and cored. After all the cabbage was sink-side, in went the salt and caraway seeds. As I said before, exactly 3 Tbsp per 5 lbs. For the caraway I just eyed it, probably about the same ratio though.

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Once seasoned, mix. Get all the salt evenly distributed around the cabbage, and then wait 15 minutes. Some folks recommend bashing the cabbage rather than letting it sit, and this is what I've always done in the past As soon as it was cut and salted, I would cram it into jars, awkwardly using a wooden spoon to push it in. It's a hassle. Using this new method, you just leave it for a bit, go drink some coffee, and voila! It's reduced by more than half! You should never use a metal container as your fermenting vessel, but I don't think the 15 minutes in the sink hurts it at all.

Now is the pack, which is made much easier this way. Pack the sauerkraut into your crock (I like to use my hands), and push it down until the liquid (which is naturally being released from the cabbage), is released. The juice (which, when fermented, is the best hangover cure I've found) should be at least an inch above the veggies. Place a plate on top to weigh it down, and wait and wait. The waiting is the hardest part.  As this is a bit of an experiment, I've been taking some out periodically to see how its progressing. Check back here in a few weeks for the finale. Now go buy a crock! It's better than paying $9/jar at rainbow.

Iso

UPDATE:

I've been taking out samples during the fermentation process, in the guise of experimentation, but really just because I'm too impatient to wait to eat some:

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After 8 days the kraut is good, starting to get a fermented flavor, but a little on the mushy side.

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On day 12, it's started to firm up a bit, with a good "krauty" flavor.

SF Underground Market

Night Market

The Underground Market

The Underground Market

A couple weeks ago, we had our real first Underground Market collaboration with Public Works.  It went really well.  Dare I say it was one of the best markets yet?  Almost all the vendors sold out and over 2,700 people came throughout the day.  The Public Works space is really great: two floors with enough nooks and crannies that you’re always discovering new food creations around every corner. On top of that, there were two full bars, which is of course never a bad thing.  We had 60 vendors with everything from bacon wrapped mochi to brick oven pizza to jerk chicken to Vietnamese crab noodles to kombucha. Throughout the day portion of the market, about 500 people came through, which was a good amount for the space. We had a pretty broad range of vendors, from chicken and waffles to kombucha, and everyone who came through seemed to have a good time. The space is such that less people fill it out, although the capacity is still pretty high.  I left at 4 to get some last minute prep done (I made ramen with char siu for the market).

bacon wrapped mochi

bacon wrapped mochi

Although I also organize the market, I almost always cook something.  The reason I started the market in the first place was so I could have a booth, and I’m always more happy cooking than just standing around. When I came back just before six, there was already a line wrapped down the block, and around the corner.   It was great to see. It felt like the second market we did. The first market we ever threw attracted 150 people, and the second one had over 800. I never imagined it would be that popular.  It was so exciting to walk out and see that many people at an event I was organizing. This felt the same way; it had that same sense of excitement. The line was there for most of the night, although it was moving pretty fast, and the market didn’t really die out until around 1am.

Pizza

Pizza

Music has always been something we’ve wanted to include in the market.  From the first time, with 15 people sitting in a circle around an acoustic guitar player, I’ve always imagined that music was one of the things that set our market apart from a regular farmers market.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time it’s been an afterthought, something we have, but is not given the attention it needs to really be a focus. Public Works handled that this time. Although it wasn’t exactly the kind of music I listen to, I thought that it gave a nice vibe to the day.  It really went off just like we talked about, with chill, background music during the day that gave way to hard electronic from 12-2. We also had a smattering of acts, from a violin player to an accordion, that were playing throughout the market. It gave a nice vibe, something akin to a Parisian street fair.

Public Works is definitely somewhere we’ll be again. The guys who work there made it super easy to pull off a great market, and the space is great.  We’re actually thinking about having it outside when the weather gets better, which should be a lot of fun. We would close off the street, with a beer garden, music, and lots of vendors outside.

That’s all for now. Overall I think it went great.  A good first collaboration, and definitely not the last (I’m meeting with Kelly from Indiemart this week).   The great thing about this kind of collaboration is the way it takes us out of our heads. Gets some fresh ideas, and exposes us to other audiences. It’s good to see so many people come out to support this kind of event.

Every vendor at the market is someone who is trying to make their passion their profession, and a market like this shows that it’s definitely possible.  For those of you who came late and didn’t find too much food left, very sorry. Amazingly, almost every vendor sold out by 10pm. We actually went out to the market and bought ingredients for egg sandwiches at 11, just so there would be something left. It was amazing how much people bought.  Thanks to everyone that came out, both sellers and buyers, you’re the reason it all works.  For more pics from the market, check out our facebook page

The next market is Saturday Feb 5th at SomArts, 934 Brannan, SF from 11am-11pm

Thanks

Iso Rabins

photos by Andria Lo

Uncategorized

and the third market is done!

The SF Underground Market has turned 3 (in months, not years).  It began with me and 7 other vendors selling wild mushrooms, jams, pies and corned beef sandwiches in a mission neighborhood home.  The first market had about 200 people attending. By the third, amazingly, it has grown into a warehouse sized behemoth of 47 vendors selling everything from salami to ginger beer to pickled grapes to wild boar, with over 1,200 people lining up outside to get in.

At this market I made salt and sugar cured pork belly buns. People really seemed to like them, which was nice to see, although I need to figure out how to make them faster (some people waited for 20 minutes for a bun). That’s what’s cool about the market; there is this great public that shows up willing to wait a bit longer for something. Almost all the vendors at this market sold out of what they brought; the hot vendors seemed to be the most popular.

The SF Underground Market is a pretty straightforward idea. It was created as venue for all those of us who make stuff. Maybe its jam, maybe its pulled pork sandwiches, maybe its. It’s a space for those of us without the resources to jump through the increasing maze of regulatory hoops that have been imposed on food producers in this great city.  I've given a lot on thought to why so many people come to these markets. Not that I'm complaining, any organizer loves to see people lining up for their event, but people throw food events all the time without this kind of draw.

I think people love the idea of coming out to support people like them.  People who love to make food, have been making it for years, but have never, for whatever reason, been able to make that leap to selling it.  The vendors at my market don't have business licenses or commercial kitchens.  Many of them are 9-5'ers who have had an interest in starting a small business for years, but need a jumpstart to get it going.  Anyone can be a vendor at the SF Underground Market, all you need is a skill and focus.

If you want to be a vendor at the next market, go to http://foragesf.com/market/vendors/faq/

Uncategorized

SF Underground Farmers Market is Back

The market is back! We found a space, booked some music, got some vendors, got some workshops going...got some wild boar to cook....If you want to check out the full post, or sign up for our email list, please click here.

When: Thursday Jan 28th from 5-11pm

Where:199 Capp st. at 17th, San Francisco

How Much: Free -  sign up on our list

Here is a full list of the vendors that are going to be at the market:

Erin Murry - sauerkraut

The Girl From Empanada - Fresh Empanadas

Indu Kline -

Ghee and other Weston A Price foods

Rana Chang (House Kombucha)

-kombucha

Olivia (little cake peddler)-Cupcakes

Margaret Wong-Wild mushroom spreads

Jeff tidwell-kraut

Katherine Kirby - Granola

Patricia- 

home grown veggies

Jessica (golden crust)- Pies Pies Pies

Will Schrom -

sarasparilla

Jana Blankenship - soaps and salves

Shakirah (Slow Jams) - Jams

Tanya-lasagna

Amber-dosas

Arianna Montmayer - Cupcakes

Susan 

Marjanovic

-

Raw chocolate

Pearl's Kitchen-corned beef sandwiches

Lane Kennedy-kettle corn

Heartbaker-

amazing desserts

Julia Abbassi-bread

Soul Cocina- mexican food

Becky Spencer-Jams

John Farais-Acorn fudge

Stephanie Rosenbaum - Bread and jam

Kate Thompson and Christine Waring - Granola

Robin Jolin-Kombucha

poster by philip clark 

phclark@gmail.com