Holiday Fermented Pork Sauerkraut

Monday, December 26, 2011
Posted in category Food & Nutrition

I try to eat fermented foods at least once or twice a week to facilitate the restoration of beneficial bacteria and a healthy gut. Like fat and organ meats, this is one of those stellar foods that most folks are lacking in their diet.

Since I have not yet found the time to ferment my own sauerkraut (one of my goals for 2012), I buy quarts of fermented sauerkraut from a seller at Detroit Eastern Market for $5/quart. He makes 150 gallons at a time to bring to the market. A bargain, especially considering how many meals I get from one quart.

I start off by putting pastured neck bones in my smallest crock pot at night, on low, and in the morning I awake to the smell of fresh-cooked neck bones with the meat falling off of the bone. I carefully peel off all of the meat and the desirable fat – most of the fat (about 90%) from a pastured pork neck bone is edible and tasty. I don’t find the same to be true with industrial pork. My pork comes from my favorite pork farm, Melo Fams, in Yale, Michigan. In fact, this pork sauerkraut recipe was inspired by my farmer and friend, Melody Nye.

I throw the kraut in another crock pot (my medium size) and toss in the pork meat and fat. I add red pepper flakes, sea salt, pepper, and some dried onion flakes.

After cooking for about an hour, I add some dark lager to the crock pot. In this case it was Michigan Brewing Company Nutty Brown Ale.

Then I mix it all up, throw the lid on, and let it cook on low for 2-3 hours.

Meanwhile, in the oven goes the pastured bacon while I multitask – usually while blogging/writing.

I keep the bacon in the fridge, and for each serving of the sauerkraut I tear one piece of bacon over the top of the serving of sauerkraut. Thanks to James H Lewis II, on Facebook, for planting the beer & bacon idea in my head.

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3 Responses to Holiday Fermented Pork Sauerkraut

  1. Damon says:

    December 27th, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Sounds delicious, Karen. When you are cooking the neck bones (1st step), do you just throw the bones and meat in the crock by themselves, or do you cover them with water or something? I always thought crock pots needed something “liquid” in them to transfer the heat to the rest of the ingredients. Something liquid like water, tomato sauce etc etc….

    And one criticism, if you cook raw sauerkraut, you will kill off the bacteria and probiotics that you say you want out of it. At $5 per quart (!), I’d probably just use mass produced sauerkraut and save the good stuff for eating raw.

    That said, I’ve made sauerkraut before and it’s not very labor intensive at all. For people like us, who cook a lot of our own meals anyways, it should be a breeze. I urge you to give it a try. :)

  2. Karen De Coster says:

    December 27th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Damon – I cook the neck bones with a broth … any kind that I happen have on hand. Vegetable broth works well. Also, slow cooking sauerkraut on low does not kill off all of the benefits of fermented sauerkraut – I disagree with that statement. The key to enjoying food is diversity. I eat enough raw sauerkraut that occasionally cooking it is not impacting me in any way. Eating food made the same way all the time = boredom = failure at a healthy diet.

    p.s. – on fermenting sauerkraut, I love the idea , but … doesn’t it depend on one’s life and priorities and weighting of tasks? As one who cooks all her own food, and buys all her meat and most fruits/vegetables/eggs from farmers (and not industrial sources), and as one who works two demanding jobs (writing + a full-time, very high-stress career) and who has a family life, how much *more* can I possibly do? Work 110 hours / week instead of 90, and sleep 3 hours / night instead of 5? Priorities mean that I do writing/canning foods/working/living, because homemade, fermented sauerkraut can be had for $1.50/serving. Thus, a much lower priority with my available time.

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