It has been a month since I filled my giant stoneware sauerkraut crock with shredded cabbage and salt, weighted it down and filled it with water. The instructions said to wait a few days until I heard bubbling before moving the crock to a cooler place. They also said not to lift the lid for at least two weeks.
I waited for several days, and never heard any bubbling. I came and went, made coffee or toast or did the dishes or fed the cat. Silence. When I pressed my ear to the side of the crock, I imagined I could hear the ocean in there, but no bubbles. The process inside of the crock was utterly mysterious. For all I knew, Schrödinger’s cat could be in there.
You can’t hurry these things. Fermentation follows its own idiosyncratic timeline. So I left the crock in the kitchen and did not lift the lid.
Finally, just a few days ago, I decided enough was enough. It had been nearly a month, after all. So I lifted the lid to peek inside.
The water had turned a light, briny green. A distinct odor of sauerkraut emerged, but with a raw edge to it. Just from that single whiff, I could tell that the cabbage was fermenting, but was nowhere near done yet.
I gave the stone weights a good solid push, and bubbles floated up. Bubbles! Very quiet bubbles. I replaced the lid, and refilled the water reservoir that forms an airlock around the top.
The very next day I walked in to the kitchen just in time to hear a very deep bloooop sound, like a submarine breaching, followed by the tiniest pop!
The lesson I take from all this: there is a time to be zen about things and a time to give matters a push in the right direction.
The sauerkraut is now bubbling. Time to move it to a cooler location.
Stay tuned for Phase Three.