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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fiddling with Filderkraut

This year I was so intently focused on the fact that our tomatoes actually turned red, I rather neglected other crops in the garden. Almost daily, I zipped by the bed of brassicas as three cabbage plants got bigger and bigger. I had planted a variety of cabbage called Filderkraut last spring. The Territorial Seed package description states:

This arrow-shaped variety was bred for the cold regions of Europe so that self-reliant gardeners could make batches of sauerkraut for winter consumption.

I liked the idea of an "arrow-shaped" cabbage; the ones in the stores are mostly round with the exception of Napa cabbage. We are also rather self-reliant, I guess, even in an urban environment. We're probably more self-defiant than anything. We both have 'Kraut' genes, too. The problem is, neither of us eats that much sauerkraut, even though Roland is Swiss. In fact, he doesn't eat cheese, mustard, vinegar, mayo, or salad dressings either - but that's another post. In spite of these noble brassica's original purpose, I was thinking more along the line of making soups and stews.

By the time my focus shifted (when the weather turned colder - like it ever got hotter much this year), one of the heads was so heavy, it flopped over in the bed.
To harvest the thing, it took some large loppers to cut through the 3" caliper stem. The leaves pretty much shaded out everything within a 5 mile radius and worst of all, this behemoth of a brassica became a snail and slug nursery! I spent the better part of harvesting this thing stripping off the layers of outer cabbagey leaves and disposing of the mollusks that hid deep down in the crevices near the base. After all, Roland doesn't eat escargot either. After that, I managed to wash off any goo residue and stored it in the refrigerator. Mr. Roland stood for a portrait of him and the cabbage for scale.

Growing monster vegetables serendipitously gives you a good excuse to have to clean out the refrigerator. Luckily, the fridge has heavy duty shelves as the thing must have weighed close to 10 pounds.
Cabbages can be as dense as bowling balls.

The cabbage leaves have a rather peppery flavor. Even at this large size, it cooks up tender and goes great in soups and with pot roast. It's comfort food time, so I don't think I'll have much problem using it up, although it's taken us several weeks to eat down just this one cabbage. There are several more just like it still waiting their turn; however, they haven't flopped over yet, so I figure there's time. I wonder if they'll sweeten up like Brussels sprouts do after a frost. Oh, did I mention? Roland won't eat those either.

I may have to try my luck at making sauerkraut.
After all, I seem to have good luck growing brassica crops. I remember Roland telling me that his dad scraped the mold off his batch every couple of days while it was doing it sauerkrautie thing. Luckily, Roland will eat it. Go figure.

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