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Small batch sauerkraut
Clean a coffee plunger thoroughly in really hot water.
Pick a really small drumhead cabbage from your garden. When making sauerkraut, organic is best because of the healthy microbiota on the plant.
Take off the outer leaves and pick out any slugs.
Finely slice the cabbage (I use the attachment on my food processor, but you can use a mandolin or a knife).
Use 1 tablespoon of salt per coffee plunger of cabbage.
Pack in the cabbage, layering it with salt, using the plunger to pack it down between layers. A clean bottle is good to use as a tamper. As you layer the cabbage and salt in you can add flavourings. Fennel seeds, caraway seeds, pepper, juniper berries, finely sliced shallots and bay leaves are examples of potential flavours.
When your plunger is full leave it out in the kitchen so every time you walk past you push the plunger down. It should have enough juice to cover the plunger part with liquid within a day. You will see bubbles rising as it ferments. When it stops fermenting, pack the sauerkraut into a clean container and put it in your fridge. Eat some every day and drink the juice.
Quick cider vinegar
There is no need to squash your apples — just cover them with water and leave the plunger sitting on your kitchen bench. It will start fermenting by itself, but to be really sure you can start it with a splash of cider vinegar. When it finishes bubbling and tastes nice and vinegary, you can strain the liquid into a bottle and it is ready to use.
Add more apple pieces to your container, cover with water and it will start the next batch.
It is just so easy to make, and the coffee plunger makes it easy to pour off the finished vinegar into a bottle.
Note though that this vinegar is no good for pickling. It is not concentrated enough. It is good for cooking, dressings, and drinking.
- Hilary Rowley