Sauerkraut was ferment to be

This year’s crop at Adamama seemed to have been plagued, but nothing was going to stop the “Kraut Krew” making their Rosh Hashanah sauerkraut.

From left: Jackie Elias, Mitch Burnie and Emma Rapaport.
From left: Jackie Elias, Mitch Burnie and Emma Rapaport.

NOTHING was going to stop the Adamama urban farm’s “Kraut Krew” from making sure their crop of sauerkraut was ready for delivery in time for Rosh Hashanah.

This year’s crop of cabbages at Australia’s first urban Jewish educational farm seemed to have been plagued.

The Alma St Pickling Co-op project commenced in April with the mission to grow and harvest cabbages to produce sauerkraut. Adamama director Mitch Burnie recruited a team of nine eager gardeners and fermenters from across the city, ready to get their hands dirty as Sydney emerged from the pandemic.

The “Kraut Krew” met up, planted and watered the seedlings and waited for big things to grow.

But their first crop was smitten by an unknown pestilence and most of the plants were destroyed. A second lot of organic seedlings was ordered but then came the floods and the nursery was cut off and unable to deliver them.

In May, the “Krew” replanted, rewatered, netted and waited again. The cabbages sucked up the winter sunshine and water and thrived.

But in late June, Sydney was in lockdown again. Even though the cabbages would be ready for harvest and preparation by early September, the logistics of watering, harvesting and production had to be re-considered.

“We created a new watering roster and set up a date to go to Our Big Kitchen to make the sauerkraut, all within the COVID-19 guidelines,” Burnie said.

“However, we had to rethink it all again. Most of the ‘Krew’ don’t live within five kilometres of the farm and we can’t go to Our Big Kitchen, so how could we harvest and produce?

“We weren’t deterred. The jars were purchased and the labels printed. Come hell and/or high water – not too high – we’d get the job done and have the ‘kraut ready for collection by the start of September.”

And that’s what happened.

The finished product.

When Sydney reached week 10 of the lockdown the cabbages were ready. A team of four harvested the crop on the first day of spring. They were able to deliver cabbages to everyone, along with jars, labels and spices, so they could be made home style – via Zoom.

“We worked together – but remotely in the COVID tradition – in our own kitchens and produced 90 jars. Just in time for us to gift them to friends, family and the community within each person’s five kilometre radius,” Burnie said.

“No-one could have predicted how our winter cabbage project would unfurl. We couldn’t sell them, but cabbages don’t wait, and we were adamant not to let our customers down.”

A few jars remain to share with others in the community. In the spirit of giving – while jars last – they will be free.

Adamama began in December 2019 at White City as an initiative of Shalom. The Alma St Pickles project produced its first batch of kosher, vegan, organic pickled cucumbers in 2020.

Visit the Adamama website to find out how you can get a jar and learn more about the history and health aspects of sauerkraut: 

Follow Adamama on instagram.

Make a donation to the farm and its projects.

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