Fermenting fears

by Bella

Just the smell of sauerkraut used to make me queezy. In fact, the first time I smelled it, I actually lost my lunch. It has made me feel sick ever since.  That is,  until  now. 

Growing up, the only sauerkraut I’d ever encountered came from a can. I thought that something magical must happen in the factory to make fermented foods safe that couldn’t be achieved at home. Therefore,  I had yet to see smell or taste homemade sauerkraut. 


Canned sauerkraut smells like rotten socks. Its consistency  is squishy and the color of a corpse.  It’s no wonder I found it so repulsive. Still I thought  sauerkraut and so many other preserved foods were both difficult and dangerous to make yourself.  Even as an adult,  it wasn’t something I had expected  I’d ever do.  Besides,  why would I try to make something that I’d always found revolting.  I feared fermentation, but I feared sauerkraut even more. 

Purely out of curiosity,  I recently read the book Fermenting Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey.  The book sings the praises of not only the taste,  but also the health benefits of fermented foods while making it so simple, and less frightening than I ever expected. In fact,  the authors provide a mantra that is the key to successful fermentation and demonstrates how easy it is,  “Submerge in brine add find all will be fine.” It truly is that simple.


I quickly got over feeling inferior to factories in my ability to preserve food. More importantly,  I wondered if homemade sauerkraut  might be better than canned.

So I gave fermentation a go. I started with basic things first making leek and garlic pastes. Both tasted phenomenal, so I decided to get more adventurous.

wp-1453152581825.jpgLeek paste left. Garlic paste right.

The true test was make my own sauerkraut. If I could make it and the smell didn’t make me gag, that in itself would be impressive.  If I could make sauerkraut that I could eat, I would finally be over my fermentation fears and undoubtedly a convert for life.

It took all of about 10 minutes to prepare and one week to ferment. And then came the moment of truth. The taste test.

It smelled fine.  No rotten socks.  The consistency  was crunchy.  The taste was sour and salty. Not only could I tolerate it,  I loved it and promptly devoured it.   I ate it in salads,  as a side dish with eggs, and on a wrap filled with veggies,  sprouts and cheese.  Though I had planned to take a pic of the final product,  it didn’t happen.  Sorry.  That’s just how good it was.

So I can now say I am officially over my fermentation fear. More surprisingly,  I got over my fear of sauerkraut.