The use of brine in preparing vegetables for winter use has
much to commend it to the household. The fermentation method is in general
use in Europe, and is becoming better known in this country as a means of
making sour-crout and other food products which do not require the
containers used for canning. No cooking is required by this process. Salt
brine is the one requirement. The product may be kept in any container that
is not made of metal and is water-tight. The vital factor in preserving the
material is the lactic acid which develops in fermentation. An important
feature is that vegetables thus prepared may be served as they are or they
may be freshened by soaking in clear water and cooked as fresh vegetables.
The outside leaves of the cabbage should be
removed, the core cut crosswise several times and shredded very finely with
the rest of the cabbage. Either summer growth or fall cabbage may be used.
Immediately pack into a barrel, keg or tub, which is perfectly clean, or
into an earthenware crock holding four or five gallons. The smaller
containers are recommended for household use. While packing distribute salt
as uniformly as possible, using 1 pound of salt to 40 pounds of cabbage.
Sprinkle a little salt in the container and put in a layer of 3 or 4 inches
of shredded cabbage and pack down gently with a wooden utensil like a potato
masher. Repeat with salt, cabbage and packing until the container is full or
the shredded cabbage is all used. Press the cabbage down as tightly as
possible and apply a cloth and then a glazed plate or a board cover which
will go inside the holder. If using a wooden cover select wood free from
pitch, such as basswood.
On top of this cover place stones or other weights (using flint or
granite and avoiding the use of limestone or sandstone). These weights serve
to force brine above cover.
Allow fermentation to proceed for 10 days or two weeks, if the room
is warm. In a cellar or other cool place three to five weeks may be
required. Skim off the film which forms when fermentation starts and repeat
this daily if necessary to keep this film from becoming scum. When gas
bubbles cease to arise, if container is tapped, the fermentation is
complete. If there is scum it should be removed. As a final step pour melted
paraffin over the brine until it forms a layer from 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick to
prevent the formation of the scum which occurs if the weather is warm or the
storage place is not well cooled. This is not necessary unless the crout is
to be kept a long time. The crout may be used as soon as the bubbles cease
to rise. If scum forms and remains the crout will spoil. Remove scum, wash
cloth cover and weights, pour off old brine and add new. To avoid this extra
trouble it is wise to can the crout as soon as bubbles cease to rise and
fermentation is complete. (To can, fill jars, adjust rubbers and partly
seal. Sterilize 120 minutes in Hot-water Bath or 60 minutes in Steam
Pressure Outfit at 5 to 10 pounds pressure.)
Fig. 23. Arrangement of cover on crock containing fermented
products. Note the use of paraffin, board and cloth.