I learned many of my cooking skills from my grandmas. Having grown up during the Great Depression, they taught me to make do with what we had – I didn’t need a biscuit cutter, that’s what jam jars (or juice glasses) are for, and pastry cutters – Why buy that when there are forks on hand? To this day I use both those implements when making biscuits from scratch.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I ever heard the expression “the right tool for the job.” In my 20s, I was all about kitchen gadgets, but I have reverted back to using only what I had. It’s cheaper and more convenient. Recently, however, I’ve learned that there are some things where the right tool makes all the difference.
Over a year ago I got it into my head that I wanted to make sauerkraut. I got a Japanese pickle press thinking that it could work – and also to make some Japanese-style lightly pickled vegetables. Here is the beginning of my first attempt at sauerkraut – with purple cabbage from my CSA.
It turns out that the pickle press is not the right tool for sauerkraut. Every attempt molded. I’m sure everyone is grateful I didn’t take pictures of that!
[Author’s note: Whenever you see mold (except on hard cheese), throw the food out! Mold spores are invisible to us and have burrowed further down into the food.]
I have made some rather nice pickled carrots and cucumbers in the press – it’s the right tool for that.
After the holidays this year, as part of my “exploring” year, I treated myself to the right tool for the sauerkraut job: the FARMcurious Mason Jar Mold Free Fermenting Kit.
I love the packaging! The lid and bubbler unit turn any wide mouth mason jar into the perfect anaerobic environment for fermenting.
The strange thing is that I didn’t know if I’d like sauerkraut when this whole quest started. Much like with chow chow, I hoped that my tastes had changed since my first (and only) taste as a kid. Also, since I had the store-bought stuff that has added vinegar instead of simply being cabbage and salt that has fermented on its own, it probably tastes completely different than the real stuff.
I waited my two weeks and opened the lid. NO MOLD!!!!! When it came to trying the product, to me it simply tasted like really salty cabbage. I think I took the instructions to apply salt liberally a bit too literally. Next time I will actually measure and follow the directions more closely. At least I know that I want a next time.
What have you found to be your favorite right tool for the job? Or Did you know that real sauerkraut was made without vinegar?