Growing up in Canada, my mother used to pickle all kinds of vegetables and they were always delicious. I was inspired to experiment by Sandor Katz’s book: Wild Fermentation.
Buying organic fermented vegetables can be expensive and limited in variety. You can definitely enjoy a great variety at a fraction of the cost. Fermentation imparts a lot of vitamins and live enzymes, and breaks down the food so that it is easy to digest. It is like hiring an a complete digestive system outside your body. Also, my kitchen feels zesty and full of life.
- Cut up the leaves of cabbage to any shape you like. I cut them up to roughly half inch by one inch. You can slice them thinly with a grater or food processor as well. The smaller the pieces the faster they are ready for consumption.
- Put the cabbage in a big metal or ceramic bowl, sprinkle two to three tablespoons of salt. Knead them like bread to bruise the cabbage. Taste the cabbage; add more salt if you like. All the salt is on the surface of the leaves, fermentation allows the salt to penetrate the inside as well, so the final product will taste a little sour and less salty. Let the mixture sit for about an hour, longer is perfectly fine. This softens the leaves, and makes the next step easier.
- Put the cabbage in a glass jar. I use a spaghetti sauce jar. Press them down as tightly as possible, the idea is when the juices come out, it will cover all the cabbage so that fermentation results. Use small clean rocks on top so the cabbage comes to about one inch and a half below the rim. You want to have some room for the gases from fermentation to bubble. Cover with lid, and let sit out of the way for some time. Put some protection under the jar, in case the gases bubble over. I usually eat it within a week or two. To get true sauerkraut, ferment the thinly sliced cabbage for ten to twelve weeks. Enjoy!
Variations: add your favorite herbs and spices: garlic, caraway seeds, pepper. Or, try different vegetables: broccoli, kale, carrots.
Children: They can help knead and taste or select flavors!
Family and friends: trade batches of different veggies and flavors.