For over a month, a crock of chopped cabbage sat, covered, in a corner of my kitchen. It was supposed to bubble, but I never saw it bubble. I was supposed to skim off scum, but I never saw any scum. I'm pretty sure I used too much salt, but my Russian friend said not to worry about the salt, just rinse the kraut before you cook it.
I noticed last week when I lifted the towel covering it that it smelled like kraut.
Really? It didn't bubble, it didn't produce scum to skim.
My German neighbor, Dianne, called to discuss gardening and I asked if she ever made sauerkraut.
"Oh yes," she replied.
I told her I had a crock sitting in the corner, but I had never skimmed off any scum.
"What? We never skimmed ours! We just put it in the basement in a crock, weighted it down, and covered it up. Sometimes the kraut on top looked a little nasty and we just got rid of that, but it was fine."
By the way, when I say my German neighbor, I mean her bloodlines are 100% German. This is true of many people in my community. They are 100% American, but all their ancestors came from Germany.
So I decided to give my crock of kraut a chance.
Tonight I had Cliff lift the crock up on the kitchen table and I ladled out enough for the two of us. I put it in a colander and rinsed it off like my Russian friend said to do. Then I added a little brown sugar, half an apple chopped up, some kielbasa, and some caraway seeds.
It was a thing of beauty.
Tomorrow I will be canning my kraut.
I have decided there is no way you can ruin sauerkraut. I did everything wrong, but it turned out right.