The crazy purple exploding mess…

I have a story to tell you.  (Do not raise those eyebrows to the sky.  I caught you!  Of course she’s going to tell a story.)

Worst of all, I’m going to tell you a story without photos.  This is a test to see if the story is interesting enough to capture your attention to the messy end where we add the spiritual philosophy to the mix and stir well.

Today’s story deals with making homemade sauerkraut.

I was pondering the different ways we storytellers can tell stories.  Some storytellers tell thus:  I made homemade sauerkraut.  {Here’s how you make it.}  It was good!

Other storytellers share their sauerkraut stories differently.

Some concentrate on details.  Others share the Larger Picture of health benefits.  Still others won’t even tell sauerkraut stories at all, claiming they’re boring.  Still others will ask, “What is sauerkraut?”

But never you mind.  My storytelling mind always goes to the drama.  Was there any drama involved in the creation of homemade sauerkraut?

YES!  *shouts Memory.  THERE WAS DRAMA!  There was high tension.  I kid you not.


Thus, that’s how we tell the story.  We find the moment of excitement, despair, fright and relief.  We highlight that.

We type a headline:  The purple exploding mess.   {Later we add the word “crazy” just because Life is kinda crazy.} Then we go off in a tangent about storytelling.  Finally, we get to our discussion about Dana’s homemade sauerkraut.

How many of you remember Dana?  Show of hands, please.  How many of you read Dana’s post about making sauerkraut?  Good for you.  We must support our fellow bloggers in their fermenting endeavors.

I knew the moment Dana started writing her epic storyteller’s sauerkraut tale that I too wanted to make this.

Her directions are explicit, and funny too.  The perfect kind of directions.  She even quotes Dr. Obvious!  (I have never heard the phrase Dr. Obvious before.  Within two days of reading this I had stumbled upon references to Major Obvious and Mr. Obvious, obviously.  That’s the way the Universe works.)

The recipe calls for purple cabbage and–you’ve never heard of this before, have you?–beets.  It involves chopping and food processing and tossing in caraway seeds (even though you’re not sure you like ’em) and salt and water and pounding the mixture into mason jars before they ferment for nine magical days.  (Or anywhere between four days and four weeks, depending on climate.)

Dana warns:  Do not add to much water.  A half cup, max.  Don’t go overboard.

Dr. Obvious asks Kathy, “Were you reading that sentence?”

Kathy replies, “Yes…but…it seemed like I should add MORE water.  Because when you can tomatoes or anything you want the liquid to mostly fill the jar.”

Dr. Obvious asks again, “Do you think there was a REASON Dana highlighted that sentence?  Do you think there was a POINT in saying so?”

Kathy hangs her head in shame, but secretly grinned, because here’s what happened:

On Day 2 the purple sauerkraut exploded!  OK, it didn’t explode with a BANG!  It leaked.  It fizzled.  The purple goo busted through the lid of the mason jar and created a Purple Mess all over the newspaper that Kathy had cleverly thought to prevent a possible disaster.

You may assume the sauerkraut was ruined, yes ruined!, but no, Dana had suggested such might happen and advised said sauerkraut novices to open the jar and pour out some water and try, try again.

Which Kathy did.

Then she washed her purple hands, washed the purple lids, washed the purple jars and put down clean newspaper.  What a Mess.

Yesterday came the Big Moment!  Dana advised that nine days was a magical moment to test the kraut.  But because Kathy rarely does exactly what someone suggests (or maybe she was busy?) she waited until ten days, even though nine sounds like a more magical number.

She tried to unscrew the fermenting purple kraut.  The lid would not budge.  She tried to use her magic can-opening tool which Daughter gifted at Christmas.  Wouldn’t budge.  She waited for her husband to come home from work.  He showed her how to better place the magic jar opener.

It opened!

Gosh, did that sauerkraut stink.

It smelled like–fermented cabbage.

It’s really, really good for you, eaters, because of that fermentation.  It digests food in your stomach FOR you because it’s so potent. It’s the secret of long life, I swear it.  Kraut rules.

I plugged my nose and took a bite.  Chewed.  Took a second bite.

“We shouldn’t eat any more until we determine if we live,” I advised the husband.

We lived.

Happily ever after.  Or at least until today.

Now, how would you have told the story?  Would you have started with the explosion (of which you needed to exaggerate slightly because it really was a fizzling purple leak) or the recipe?  Would you have started at the beginning or the end?  Would you have added details?

We’re all storytellers, my dears, every single one of us.  Each of us tell stories every single day when Things Happen.  Are you telling the kinds of stories you like, or might you want to try different ways of fermenting your life?

Next time I’m going to try the green cabbage.

P.S.  Aren’t you glad the kraut exploded?  Otherwise what kind of story would it be?  That’s why we create drama in our lives.  Because we’re all very good storytellers…

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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58 Responses to The crazy purple exploding mess…

  1. I don’t know that I would tell the story, simply because you do it so well. Right now I’m trying to tell the story of my sauerkraut life (or at least create a list of stories) and feel like I’m failing utterly. Should one begin at the beginning, the chaos, or the peaceful moments? I struggle telling the stories I want my daughter to know. Sigh.

    • Kathy says:

      All our lives are sauerkraut lives at times, Lisa, I do so believe. The voice that says we’re failing utterly is not a true voice. It is the voice of “should and shouldn’t”. I always want to see what’s beyond that voice of shame and grandeur. To see the story in its entirety, not just from the perspective of the main character. Hasn’t happened completely yet, but I have hope.

  2. Janet says:

    You were brave to eat it, I probably would not have. My favorite line: “It digests food in your stomach for you.”….made me laugh. I don’t think of myself as a storyteller. In my blogs I go from beginning to end, so I assume that’s what I would have done with this story. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      It actually tasted kinda good, Janet! You would have liked it, if you could have forced yourself to try the first bite. I suspect that some of the best storytellers go from beginning to end, my friend. After all, Life is a grand storyteller and that’s how she tells it. 🙂

  3. Brenda Hardie says:

    Kathy, I love the way you tell stories! Your words conjure vivid pictures in my mind and I can “see” what you’re describing. Who would have thought that making sauerkraut could be soooo entertaining!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Brenda, you are the best! I thought some of you might be able to substitute pictures in your mind for the “real” thing. And one of the missions of my life have been to be able to tell stories about ordinary things that make them look, well, almost extraordinary. So thank you again.

  4. Fountainpen says:

    OK, my grandmother made saurkraut in a large crock with a board?
    over it???????not sure, but surely more primitive than your cans with lids
    I don’t remember them canning it……they must have….

    • Kathy says:

      My grandma used to make it that way, too, fountainpen, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve never tried to make it. We didn’t have a crock. I don’t think the old timers canned it; I think they dished it out of the crock and ate it like that. Maybe…?

  5. Sauerkraut is made from cabbage? Who would have thought!
    I could see the story…with photos are not…the story still rocked!

    • Kathy says:

      Seriously, did you not know the cabbage part? Now that’s an interesting twist to the story! 😉 I love those of you who love the story even without photographs. Makes me want to hug you. Thank you.

  6. Elisa says:

    OH yay! this post was exercise for my lungs! Did you REALLY have to hold your nose?!?! did you hold it for the stink, did you hold it for the taste? I did read that recipe but well…if you held it for the taste, I do not think that I wish to make it. lol giggling and laughing and lung exercising!

    • Elisa says:

      oh, hey if you are still nursing an owwie or two over the Not Funny Kathy comment, I suggest you send them this blog, I’m still laughing! wait, does that mean I am not funny too? frowns
      bursts out laughing again

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, the taste was pretty darn good, Elisa. It was the fermenting smell that seemed a little–well, fermenting. The taste was kind of mild. Which probably means I could have left it more days or weeks. Glad you enjoyed this little giggle.

  7. Susan D says:

    When I read your headline, this mind of mine danced back into the days of mimeograph machines, complete with the wonders and horrors of purple ink. Messes were common ~ spills, spurts, mini explosions of that purple stink (which I loved) … Jumping back into current time, I loved reading about the great purple kraut explosion! Mmmmm … another (purple) stink that I love. Beginning, middle, end ~ I go for embellishment every time no matter where the story starts.

    I adore your style! The double entendres, all your plays on words, the humor, the drama, the pithy wit (is that redundant? Who cares?). Nothing like reading one of your blogs on an icy morning and toddling off smiling, hungry for kraut and feeling that all is “write” with the world. Rock on, Sauerkraut Mama!

    • Kathy says:

      Susan Dee, how I adore thee. (Kind of sounds like a poem, eh?) I could SMELL the mimeograph machines as you described them. I do not know why you do not have a blog. (Did you like that double negative?)

      If you were here, would you eat a spoonful of the sauerkraut? You would. You’re that kind of friend. I’m so lucky to know you.

  8. I tell stories in as many ways there are to tell stories and I do not think there is any right way. The way you told this story was the right way because it was engaging, funny, and no one died. I like stories where no one dies!

  9. rehill56 says:

    Andrew did a thing on youtube about making sauerkraut. It is still crunchy and fresh tasting. Amazing. We also have turnip kraut. 😉 He has like 5 sections of the video to show start to finish.

    • Kathy says:

      Ruth, I promise to watch! I remember that you told me about Andrew making that. But then I forgot. I have never made kraut before because we don’t have a crock. The reason I *latched* on to Dana’s recipe was because it called for mason jars. Something simple that was handy. Gracias, mi amiga!

  10. Lori D says:

    I rarely make cabbage. Would you believe I’m making it today? And, here I come across Kathy’s blog about exploding cabbage/sauerkraut. This happens to me a lot with your blog.

    Being associated with many writers, I’ve learned we each have our own styles and techniques that work for us in telling stories. My latest blog is titled “Optimists Beware.” You might like it, but be warned it is a little bit of a rant that I tried to make lighthearted. Now, if I ever visit Kathy in the UP, I will beware of exploding purple stuff.

    • Kathy says:

      Lori, we are sooooo zinging with synchronicity at times! The Universe is chanting, “Cabbage, Cabbage!” I also think the Universe loves all the differences in styles and techniques. Why would the Universe want to listen to a story in the same old/ same old way? That’s why it created all of us so different! Looking forward to heading over to your lighthearted rant, told only as you can tell it.

  11. gigi says:

    I would’ve stated out telling about my family history about making sauerkraut; grandparents, my mother’s, my sister’s mother-in-law’s recipes would have all been mentioned.

    I miss them.

    • Kathy says:

      Gigi, I actually got tears in my eyes reading your comment. That would have been a lovely way to tell the sauerkraut story. And I am sure your grandparents and mom and other relatives would be sitting there in Heaven leaning forward to whisper the exactly right details in your mind so the typing fingers wouldn’t miss them.

  12. I blame it all on the beets, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh my gosh, Patty, I am laughing like crazy! I didn’t get it at first–and then remembered your blogs about beets. Of course the beets are at fault! You are one funny storyteller.

  13. Carol says:

    I don’t know how I’d tell this story, but I do know I couldn’t do as well as you! I will never ever try this though – I don’t like sauerkraut and it brings back memories of our train trip to Portland, where we all wondered what that horrid smell was. The conductor finally determined that was the kimchi one of the girls in the car had brought along for lunch, silly her! Sauerkraut = fermented cabbage. Kimchi = fermented cabbage. Yech!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh sure, Carol, you’d tell the story in your own very cool way. Hey–I do want to reassure you that this doesn’t taste like kimchi! Barry doesn’t like kimchi (I do) and he wouldn’t have had a second bite if it did. He doesn’t like the fishy taste of kimchi, which I can’t understand, considering that he’s Part Fish. As for smelling like kimchi–well… the smell was a little fermented. I will try not to bring it along on a train trip. 🙂

  14. Kathy — I love your stories! And the way you paint such vivid word pictures, you don’t even need need photos.

    • Kathy says:

      You are the best. Have I ever said this before? YOU ARE THE BEST!! Wanting to send you your heart’s desire…whatever that might be…

  15. lisaspiral says:

    I want to know why all that purple goo, purple counter and purple hands didn’t have you speculating on dying Easter eggs!? Enjoy your kraut.

    • Kathy says:

      My goodness! Easter eggs? I have a sauerkraut mess and you’re thinking of Easter eggs? LOL! I’m thinking that way, now, Lisa… 🙂

  16. Robin says:

    LOL! Good to know… about the extra water. I’m going to give this a try and I’m pretty sure I might have done the same thing. I tried Dana’s first sauerkraut recipe, but didn’t blog about it because, well, it didn’t turn out well. But as a lover of sauerkraut, I’m looking forward to trying again.)

    You told your story so wonderfully that I could visualize it without photos. I had a dream about you last night in which we talked about all sorts of stuff including using images on blog posts, and I’m sure that stems from reading a post (probably not recent since I keep trying to catch up) about how your heart isn’t in it with the camera and photography and all that. We had a wonderful conversation about following out hearts. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I forgot about Dana’s first sauerkraut experiment! (I’m not sure if I saw it or just heard about it later…) That is so cool about your dream. I love it! Glad that we had a good conversation and that we spiritually figured out the world. 🙂 Now, if it would just last until the next dream…

  17. bonnie says:

    No pictures necessary, My immagination took off, and I chuckled out loud when you got to the part where you were cleaning up all the purple things. Love it. You are the best story teller. I have actually used a cabbage shredder, and pounder etc, back in the day, about 45 years ago or so. We made kraut the old fashioned way. (It was green cabbage, so there’s no colorful story here, just blistered hands).

    • Kathy says:

      Bonnie, Barry asked me where the pictures were. He was shaking his head and frowning at the lack of photos. He said I at least could have showed the purple Mason Jar! In response I read him your comment. And a couple other comments in which you said “No pictures necessary”. As for those blistered hands…yikes…no wonder most people stopped making their own kraut.

  18. Heather says:

    First off – it’s not really fair if you tell us ahead of time that it’s a test and we must read…what kind of wimps would we be if we didn’t stay through to the end then? 😉
    Second – I’m so glad you told your story Kathy-style and not some adulterated version like your fairy oatmeal. Or at least I think it was oatmeal. Anyway, it was something you made and you set to write about it creatively and were then stifled.
    Caraway I love; fermented cabbage…sometimes. Not convinced I would bother to make it – especially not if it’s going to spew its guts onto my kitchen!

    • Kathy says:

      Ha ha, Heather, you caught me! Of course it wasn’t fair. But all’s fair in love and storytelling, isn’t it? Please agree. Second–I believe that was fairy granola, not oatmeal. You are remembering oatmeal bars when you should be remembering granola. You know, I have no problem with people writing beginning to ending blogs. I just think we should be true to our unstifled selves. Errr, sometimes. 😉

  19. Dawn says:

    My Mom made sauerkraut once…I think….do not remember fermenting exploding jars though. And never with purple cabbage, which I happen to love. In fact my Aunt makes a really good something or other with purple cabbage…I should find that recipe for you. Anyway…this is how I would tell the story in a sort of rambling manner sure to confuse…but eventually I’d get to the point…if there was one. Or not. I think.

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, probably most Wise & Efficient cooks do not have fermenting exploding jars because…well, they’re Wise & Efficient cooks! I would have never imagined purple cabbage in sauerkraut either. It really works. And looks very colorful.

  20. I’ve never read a sauerkraut adventure before – first time for everything, I guess! Glad it had a happy ending. 🙂

  21. Dana says:

    Oh, Kathy! I probably should have highlighted and underlined the *first* post I wrote about making sauerkraut, in which I overfilled my jars and everything exploded EVERYWHERE. (It started off as a puddle in my cupboard but literally went KAPOW when I tried to take the lid off the jar. I had kraut in my hair! And all over my clothes!) Maybe that would have helped you not overfill your jar. 🙂

    I love the way you told the story (and am over the moon that you tried making your own kraut! Next time, you can always try the recipe without the beets. It’s a lot less messy that way, although I happen to love the zesty taste that the beets bring to the jar.) Anyway. Many stories are just fine without any drama added in, but my humble opinion is that stories involving sauerkraut pack a lot more punch when something outrageous happens. Like an explosion. Or a border crossing. OR BOTH. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Dana, It seems I’ve got carried away and written two blogs AFTER this sauerkraut story & am just now returning to comment. You had kraut in your HAIR? On your clothes?

      Am wondering now if I ever read your first story, or read and forgot it.

      Glad you enjoyed the kraut drama, but, yes, next time am sure it will be tamer. We can only hope. I had such fun making this recipe. Just as much fun as reading your blog about it!

      • Dana says:

        Yes, I’m afraid to say I had bits of cabbage stuck in my ponytail. And my cute purple shirt reeked of fermented cabbage juice. It was awful!

        Fingers crossed for a less dramatic second-go-round. I rarely have kraut drama now, but it’s still fun to remember the ‘good times’ I had when I was still beginning…

  22. dorannrule says:

    You are right Kathy – there was high drama in this oh-so-funny story! Will you ever make sauerkraut again? And if so, what title will you give that post? I need to watch for it. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Dorannrule, that is such a good question. I think I’ll make it again. But first must eat through the two quart jars. Barry is really not helping in the eating. I think he’s afraid of the color purple. But the fortune cookie at the Chinese restaurant today said the color purple is my lucky color this week. LOL! I didn’t even GET it until now!

  23. I was also intrigued by Dana’s wonderful enthusiasm over her “Royal Kraut” and all the health benefits derived. I’m happy to hear of your exploits before I make an attempt at it myself! I like cabbage, and eat quite a bit of it, but I’ve never been a big fan of sauerkraut. My dad made his own, in a big crock, and the smell of the fermentation was so off-putting, it influenced the taste. Pickled beets, though, are the only way I eat beets. Also, I thought the red/purple color may help to disengage this experience from past sauerkraut-eating, so that I might find that I like it. Fortunately, I don’t jump right in to anything, so have time to learn from your experience. Thank you, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Will you make an attempt to make the sauerkraut, too, Cindy? It will be fun to hear of your adventures. Except you probably won’t have any explosions because you’ve carefully read of both Dana and my experiences. Glad you enjoyed this!

      • I may, when I have cabbage from the garden this summer. This time of year it’s a bit expensive here to experiment with something I may not like. Dana’s enthusiasm sure makes it sound intriguing!
        Expensive or not, when Claire raved about her homemade lemoncello, I marched right out and bought twelve lemons and a big bottle of vodka…I guess you can see where my priorities lie!

  24. Val says:

    I would have left it to you, which – wow, and I didn’t even know this – I did! 😉

    • Kathy says:

      Grinning back atcha, Val. Just typed in a comment up above that my fortune cookie at the Chinese restaurant today said something like, “This week your lucky color is purple.” Didn’t even remember about the purple sauerkraut and thought the fortune was stupid–until now.

  25. Reggie says:

    OK, that story – BRILLIANTLY told! – has just convinced me never to try making purple sauerkraut! Not sure I could stomach something fermenting like that! 😉

    • Kathy says:

      I am glad you liked this “brilliant” sauerkraut story, Reggie, lol! I am still eating away on it. For some reason Barry won’t eat it either. You nay-sayers are all missing out on a whole lot of fermenting going on! 🙂

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