In addition to homemade applesauce this winter, we will also be enjoying Vitamin C-packed homemade sauerkraut. Thanks to the tremendous physical effort of our local Kraut Master, we’ve got a stoneware crock of the bubbling goodness fermenting away in our basement at this very moment.
It began with the highly sought-after Cabbage Award, which was awarded to Isadora and myself at our food coop. Among the other groceries on our list, we managed to pile over 50 lbs of delicious, locally-grown, organic cabbage into our shopping cart. If grocery shopping is synonymous with drudgery on your To-Do list, I suggest filling your cart with about 20 heads of cabbage. I guarantee it will change your outlook – there’s just something inherently funny about pushing a cart full of cabbage through the store. Isadora and I giggled the whole way and waited with anticipation to ask the check-out clerk if we had won the award. Turns out we were, in fact, the shoppers with the biggest purchase of cabbage that day, and we basked in our glory as the chartreuse vegetables rolled their way down the conveyor belt. Of course, there was the press conference to follow, as well as sizing for our sashes, Miss America style, not to mention the tiaras. We could barely contain our excitement long enough to load said cabbage into the car and call Daddio with the good news. Daddio, in this story, also bears the title of Kraut Master.
I suppose it could be said that kraut, of the homemade variety, was an instrumental force in cementing the budding relationship of our younger selves. We had only recently begun going out, and were deeply entrenched in the requisite get-to-know-you period, which revealed favorable attributes to each other. At the same time, we were exploring the meet-the-immediate-family stage, which also proved to be highly successful, at least from this vantage point. (they didn’t protest, far as I can tell) Then, that first summer, I was invited to a family gathering to meet the extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. And there was kraut. Homemade sauerkraut, best I’ve ever tasted, and every molecule of my German heritage buzzed with approval at the match. This man was likely a good catch; more time would certainly tell. His family, on the other hand, was undoubtedly one worth marrying into. And from that point, the celestial motion was set. We were bound together, traveling down this this inevitable path toward the very auspicious day when that which was foretold long ago would come to fruition. Kraut day.
I believe that “normal” people who make kraut (i.e. ones not bound by a rich family heritage of illustrious kraut-making) use a food processor to shred the cabbage. Not the case for this Kraut Master. Upon announcing the decision to carry forth the family tradition, he was bequeathed the equipment necessary to complete the task. A stoneware crock, a wooden tamper for pounding the shredded cabbage and releasing the juice, and the archaic-looking box grater for shredding were carefully handed over. Then the shredding began. And continued. And continued. Shred, pound, add salt. Shred, pound, add salt. Over and over, with his muscles on the verge of failure, these 50 pounds of cabbage were transformed into the makings of kraut by the able hands of the Kraut Master. It was a proud day in our home, fulfilling this destiny, and we look with much anticipation to the day when we can enjoy the fruits of his labor.