Right Tool for the Job

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.

Japanese Pickle Press

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.

FARMCurious Packaging

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?

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