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Fall favorites: Sauerkraut, squash corn soup, and apple butter

Oct 2nd, 2015 | Category: Cooking

by Susy Hymas

Fall arrived this week which to some is a welcome relief after our hotter than usual summer.  Some things in the garden were challenged by the heat. At our house the winter squash was ready almost two months early. Personally I love fall and look forward to preserving produce that arrives with it.  sauerkraut web

Whether you freeze, dry, can or ferment there is a lot to choose from this season. Fermented foods present not only an excellent way to preserve produce, but gives the nutritional benefit of healthy bacteria for the digestive system.

Sauerkraut is one of our favorites. You can grow cabbage, or purchase some great Kraut cabbage at local farmers markets and stands. Kraut cabbages are ones harvested in the fall and tend to be better for sauerkraut as they are a little sweeter. Ideally it is harvested around the time of the first frost. I did see some recently for 25 cents per pound, so it is ready early as well.

The following directions are for making sauerkraut in a mason jar. This is a great way to start out if you have not tried fermenting vegetables before. If you decide to take the leap and make a crock full be sure that you use a crock that is not glazed with lead, often a concern with some older models.

All you need is cabbage and salt. The salt should be kosher or pickling salt, as they are additive free. The salt when massaged into the chopped cabbage causes the cabbage to give up water that turns into brine.

A mason jar of sauerkraut can ferment in 7-10 days. It is best to keep it in a dark location at 55-65 degrees F. I keep mine on the kitchen counter covered with a dish cloth. I have a thermometer to make sure it is not too warm. If the temperature is too warm, it will ferment too quickly and may not be good. Placing your jar in a garage or basement also works perfectly.

You can use any size glass container or crock, but whatever size container you use, you will need to have something to weigh down the kraut so that it stays below the brine. Some folks use a plastic bag filled with brine. A zip- loc works fine. Make a brine that is one cup water to one teaspoon salt.  I use both ceramic fermentation weights and a bag of brine to assure that the kraut is below the brine. You definitely need to cover it to keep flies out. Some folks put a lid on their jar, but I loosely cover mine and it works great.

You can taste to determine readiness, and when done, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to six months. It usually doesn’t make it that long in our house as it is quite popular.

 

Mason Jar Sauerkraut

Ingredients 

For 2 – 3 quart jars:

5 – 6 lbs of cabbage

3 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt

 

Directions

Wash hands. Wash heads of cabbage and remove at least two outer leaves to set aside. Cut cabbage into quarters, remove core and either shred or cut into even slices. You can use a kraut cutter, but do not grate. Slices should be uniform in size.

Sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into cabbage, using a good amount of pressure similar to kneading bread. You can use a potato masher or mallet and mash in a crock. The goal is to break down the structure of the cabbage and release the juices. As it gives up its juice, transfer it into a jar or bowl to continue mashing and capture the brine.

When cabbage is soft and has given up brine, pack down in jar. Place any additional brine over cabbage. To make additional brine use 1 teaspoon salt to 1 cup of water. You should not need additional brine if cabbage is massaged thoroughly. Place a cabbage leaf over the kraut.

Weigh down kraut to assure that the kraut remains below the brine. You can use fermentation weights, another jar filled with water or a zip loc bag filled with brine (1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water).

Place the jars on a dish or tray in case they bubble over. Place jars in a dark place with a temperature between 55 and 65 degrees F.

Monitor the kraut regularly. If a white scum appears, remove the weight and cabbage leave. Rinse them, skim off the scum and replace the leaf and weight. The kraut should be ready in about a week. Refrigeration halts the fermentation process, but preserves the beneficial bacteria. You can also freeze or can kraut, but that does not maintain good bacteria for digestive health.

 

Winter Squash Corn Soup

 

Winter squash is plentiful and easy to store. Most squash will keep at about room temperature. If you have a quantity, you may want to find a cool dry place to store it. Here is a recipe for a great squash soup given to me by my friend Michelle.

 

Ingredients 

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup red onion chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 garlic clove

4 cups peeled, chopped winter squash (butternut works great; about 2 pounds)

2 cups water

2 cups fresh corn, roasted (you can substitute frozen or canned)*

1 cup of vegetable, chicken or beef broth

½ cup chopped green pepper

¼ cup chopped cilantro

 

Directions

Cook cumin seeds in large saucepan over medium heat 1 minute or until toasted. Remove from pan.

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat , add 1 teaspoon cumin seed, chopped onion and sugar, sauté 5 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Stir in flour, chili powder, and garlic

Add squash, water, corn and broth, bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until squash is very tender and stew thickens.

Stir in 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, chopped bell pepper and cilantro.

Makes 4 ½ cup servings.

 

I roast fresh corn in the oven. Just spread kernels on cookie sheet and roast at 350 until they begin to brown. You can also substitute hominy.

 

Unsweetened Apple Butter 

 

Apples are all over right now. You can make this yummy butter with or without sugar, and it works well with pears also. If it does not have sugar it may not keep as long after it is opened.

 

Ingredients 

6 pounds apples, chopped, any variety

2 cups apple cider

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

 

Directions

Cook apples in cider. Add spices. When apples begin to soften stir frequently to prevent sticking. You can transfer to crock pot if desired.  You may need to add more cider or water as the apples cook to prevent sticking or burning.

Cook until apples are all mashed and they are a nice brown color.

Prepare half pint or pint jars. Ladle into warm, clean jars leaving ¼ inch head space. Place lid and screw band in place and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off burner and allow to sit for 5 minutes in canner. Remove and cool for 12 hours. Remove ring and store in cool dark place. Makes 4 pint jars. Enjoy.

 

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