Seth and his sauerkraut

Kraut.jpg

Sausage recommended, but not required.

By Jessica Pasko

So about a year ago, some friends turned me on to Hawthorne Valley's lacto-fermented sauerkraut and now, no other kraut can compare.

It's crispy, it's tangy, it's almost, well, effervescent. It's eat-straight-from-the-jar-good. No sausage required. It will give your Oktoberfest that certain je ne sais quoi. ]

And it's the brain child of a guy called Sauerkraut Seth.

No, really. That's what they call him.

Martha Stewart claims to be a fan of "Sauerkraut" Seth Travins' kraut, and you can get the stuff at "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio's 'Wichcraft sandwich joints.

Travins, has been making his kraut at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent for about a decade now. He first came there from Queens as part of a visiting students project.

As an apprentice on the farm in 1999, Travins attended a workshop where someone was serving their own homemade sauerkraut - which he says was like nothing he'd ever tasted. That taste, combined with that season's bumper crop of cabbage, caused him to have something of a "eureka!" moment. He started experimenting and pretty soon, he'd created his own kraut - and it was delicious.

So, what's so special about it? Well, for one thing he uses lacto-fermenation. It's an ancient process, but a very efficient one. See, most commercial sauerkraut is canned using heat, but Seth's is raw -- the plain variety contains just cabbage, sea salt and water. The sugars in the cabbage convert to lactic acid and cause the fermentation.

The sauerkraut, and the fact that there was already another Seth on the farm, earned him his nickname, "Sauerkraut Seth."

What started out as just a few barrels has now turned into a venture that can produce 20-30,000 pounds of the stuff a year. Travins says October is pretty much prime kraut-making season. Apparently after a couple of frosts, the cabbage has a higher sugar concentration, which makes for a better product. Once it's shredded and packed into 300-pound barrels, it can take up to two months to ferment into the perfect kraut. Getting a really good batch of cabbage, he says, feels like spinning straw into gold. He says, "You kind start to become part of the flow of the creation process."

Seth has branched out a bit from plain sauerkraut. These days he makes several varieties including caraway, jalapeno, curry and ruby red. He also makes a lacto-fermented kim chee, gingered carrots, pickles and a few other items.

Yes, they are a little pricier (a jar of the plain kind costs about $5-6) than the stuff you find in a can at the grocery store. But Hawthorne Valley is a teaching farm and school, so you can be sure your kraut isn't being made by poorly paid migrant workers. And it's made with organic, locally grown ingredients. And oh yeah, did I mention that it's really good?

Locally, you can get Seth's products at the Honest Weight Co-op, from the farm's store or online .

So what does sauerkraut go with? Seth says he eats the kraut (especially the curry kraut) with everything, including eggs -- and often just straight from the jar.


Comments

Sauerkraut is actually great in tuna salad--gives it crunch and tang.

Dear AOA/Jess,
Glad you like the stuff. I got hooked on it via a recommendation from "almost-foodie rene." Looks like a new flavor in the photo-- I don't remember curry-flavored kraut. mmmm. It's good stuff-- nice article, too.

Picked up jar of plain Friday night at WIYO's show in Vermont (great show too)....this kraut IS the best. Opened it tonight for a Chicken Oliver dish and could have run out just eating it from the jar...stopped just in time. Need to find out where to get it in NH.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

The week ahead

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (autumn), to hauntings, to... (more)

The Kenmore Hotel and Steuben Club, uproar on Elm Street, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

Exciting Tales of the Albany Planning Board is a program recorded before a live studio audience once a month in which the fates of multi-million... (more)

Seeking foregiveness

This area has a lot of public employees, so we suspect this will be of interest: You know that federal program that was supposed to... (more)

Fall foliage maps 2018

Fall officially starts Saturday. That means colorful foliage. That means maps about where to see colorful foliage. The map above is from I Love NY,... (more)

Local coding or 3-D printing classes for kids?

Tom emails: My 11 year-old son has expressed interest in computer coding (he's been doing some at code.org) and also 3-D printing. He's a very... (more)

Recent Comments

La Mexicana is a treasure. We always buy a few packages of the Chorizo and freeze them (after stopping in for tacos) -Great market and really cool restaurant.

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 3 comments, most recently from Rich

All the current Stewart's seasonal summer ice cream flavors, ranked

...has 7 comments, most recently from Amy Smith

A look around the Maiden House residential + retail conversion in downtown Albany

...has 12 comments, most recently from Peter

Local coding or 3-D printing classes for kids?

...has 3 comments, most recently from Kate

A booming global industry, human blood, and an Albany strip mall

...has 14 comments, most recently from Alton Henson