It’s a muggy, hot and humid 92 degrees here in Michigan this afternoon, so of course I decided to cook something appropriate for the weather. NOT!
I decided on sauerkraut with pork, sausage, and dumplings. This calls for the stove to be running for at least four hours at the highest setting. Granted that’s only one burner, but then the other four are going intermittently to make the dumplings, sear the pork, and what would this meal be without some garlic and white beans on the side. Oh, and did I mention, our air conditioner is on the fritz? Well, it just wasn’t hot enough in my kitchen this morning after canning another batch of pickles, so heck, why not throw on a pot of sauerkraut to heat things up to that oh so pleasant temperature of 97 degrees?
Now this wouldn’t have been such a bad idea, if when I went to test the meal, about two hours before serving, I didn’t notice that my homemade sauerkraut was too sour and too salty.
With homemade sauerkraut, I find rinsing it prior to cooking is not a good idea. The reason being that many times all the sour gets washed out. When this happens, there is no fix other than opening another jar and adding it to the washed sauerkraut. Therefore, I empty the jars of sauerkraut into a stock pot and add several jars of water to start the process. As the kraut cooks I add water to it as necessary so it doesn’t cook down and burn. Usually this is enough to tone down the sourness and make the sauerkraut perfect by the time dinner is served.
Today I used two quarts of sauerkraut and added about three quarts of water. After adding the sausage, pork, and dumplings, my 8 quart pan was pretty full. This was left to boil for several hours. When I tasted it however, the sauerkraut was too sour and salty to the extent of almost being inedible.
What to do?
My fear was that if I were to wash the sauerkraut now, I would be left with tasteless sauerkraut and the meal would be ruined. Doing nothing however would result in the same, so here is what I did.
First I removed as much of the meat as I could. Then I strained out most of the original water in the stock pot, reserving it for later.
Next I filled the pot half full with fresh water and returned it to the stove. Right away I tasted the sauerkraut and found the salty taste gone, unfortunately so was the sourness — just what I had feared. But, I had planned on this. So, slowly I added back some of the reserved original water. Each time I added the sour liquid I let the pot come back to a boil and then did a taste test. Eventually I got it to my liking and then added back in the meat.
Once the meat was back in the pot and it came to a boil I again tasted the sauerkraut. Because of the reintroduction of the meat the sauerkraut was a bit more sour and a little more salty. Not too much, but definitely something that should be kept in mind next time. It is possible that the meat could have taken the salt/sour ratio over the top again, so in the future I will add the meat back to the pot immediately and start taste testing from that point.
In hindsight, making this meal on the hottest day of the year might not have been the smartest thing, but I learned something new and that made it well worth it, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.