Silage is like sauerkraut. And around here we’re making both this fall!
In case you aren’t familiar, here’s an earlier post of mine about silage. If you don’t feel like clicking through, I’ll just tell you corn silage is made by chopping up the whole corn plant, packing it down into a silo or pile, and letting it ferment. This creates an easily digestible and nutritious animal feed.
Sauerkraut isn’t that much different. When making traditional fermented sauerkraut, you finely slice or grate the cabbage, pack and smash it tightly in a crock, and leave it to ferment. And you need to add the proper portion of salt as you pack it. The literal translation from German means ‘sour cabbage,’ and I’d say that is a pretty accurate description.
Merriam Webster online tells me that silage is “Fodder converted into succulent feed for livestock through processes of anaerobic acid fermentation (as in a silo). Short for ensilage, first use 1884.”
When I ask Webster about sauerkraut I get “Cabbage cut fine and fermented in a brine made of its own juice with salt. German, from sauer sour + kraut greens, first use 1617.”
Maybe that is more language education than you wanted on a weekday, but I still think it’s interesting. We finished our corn silage one week ago today, and we made the last crock (of two) of sauerkraut on Saturday. This is the second time we’ve grown lots of cabbage and attempted sauerkraut, but it’s the first time we have had real fermenting crocks. Last time it was definitely edible but a little salty and we had to scrape off a lot of spoilage. I’m hoping this time things are smoother. I’ll know in another month or two.
I wasn’t kidding about lots of cabbage. If you think this was a smooth process where we knew what we were doing, well, it wasn’t. The process isn’t too hard, but between grating and smashing your arms eventually go limp and your kitchen gets messier and messier. And everything has a pungent aroma for a few days.
Almost 90 pounds of cabbage later sauerkraut 2015 is complete. If you have specific questions about making it let me know. Otherwise I’ll keep you posted on the results.