Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sauerkraut & noodles

September is the start of sauerkraut season. Cabbages should have been ready to harvest by the first of September. Sauerkraut is made by pounding salt and cabbage together in a crock or barrel, and then letting a lactic fermentation take place. The lactic acid produces the "sauer," which puts the cabbage into a state of preservation for the winter. The whole process takes about six weeks. I started my sauerkraut in mid-August, so it should be done in a couple of weeks.

In Cache Valley, Utah, there's a little town called Providence. The town was settled by German/Swiss immigrants in the 1860s. They've been making sauerkraut every year since then. This past August I talked to Ken Braegger about how he makes sauerkraut using his great-grandfather's formula. He gave me some of his sauerkraut, which I'm saving for fall.

In Providence, they have an annual feast which places sauerkraut as the centerpiece. The event is called the "Sauerkraut Dinner". It also has been happening every year in October for a hundred years (or more). In days gone by, the sauerkraut was served with home made noodles, fried. The women of the congregation made the noodles at the church ahead of time. They rolled the noodles out in sheets on the floor (the floor being covered with sheets as well), and then cut the strips and hung them to dry on the backs of the pews. Some noodles were served with the dinner; others were sold in packages as a fund raiser.

Here's a traditional noodle recipe from the pioneer era, attributed to Effie Ensign Merrill:

1 egg, 1 egg-shell water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup flour
Beat egg, water, and salt. Add flour until dough is very stiff. Roll out thin with plenty of flour on a board. Flour thoroughly, fold and roll out again. Repeat, adding flour each time, then flour again and roll tightly like a jelly roll and slice very thin. Shake out into strings of dough, sprinkle into 2 quarts of soup stock and cook 10 minutes.

I like these quite well, especially with chicken noodle soup. I've never tried frying them with sauerkraut and bratwurst. I hope you enjoy them this fall with your soups. Aren't you excited for soup season? I know I am!

P.s. you might notice that I've added lables to index.


Tawna said...

Mmmmm. I've been wanting to get a noodle thing, that you feed the dough through while you turn the crank and it makes uniform beautiful noodles for boiling up. Great post today.

Brock said...

Ya know, that's funny because I've sort of developed an aesthetic about home made food-- I love the non-uniformity of it. You can always tell when you're eating industrialized food because of the uniformity. It all looks the same. And you can tell when you're eating hand-crafted food because of the non-uniform shapes. So we've never used a noodle maker.