If you love the tang of vinaigrette-dressed greens, fresh squeezed lemonade, or a sip of kombucha, then you want to try my favorite new appetizer and snack: a chèvre-smeared cracker topped with a forkful of fresh-fermented cabbage. I know. I was skeptical my first time, too.
The kraut was served at our last Montana Cooks meeting. Janice’s friend, Karie, joining us for the first time, brought it and served it with Amaltheia’s smoked chèvre, and Mary’s crackers. While we talked about lentils, cooking, and our adventures in the world of food, I took the smallest bit of Karie’s kraut and placed it atop my heavily cheesed cracker. I wasn’t expecting to like it and am generally a bit nervous trying other people’s kitchen “experiments”. But after the creamy, delicately smokey, crunchy, tangy first bite, I had to have more! The flavors made my tastebuds zingy with pleasure, and by the close of our meeting, I was planning my first batch of kraut. Many thanks to Karie, Jody, and especially Janice, for her detailed Curtido instructions that started me off fermenting with confidence.
In case you’re wondering, “naturally fermented” means that the kraut has gone through lacto-fermentation and contains a thriving culture of probiotics – this is why kraut is so good for your gut! (For more information, see Jody’s post, “Why Raw Sauerkraut is Better for You Than Probiotic Pills“.) When lacto-fermented, the starches and sugars in the veggies are converted into lactic acid by the lactic-acid-producing bacteria naturally present on the veggies and in the whey I use as an inoculant. This is nothing new. People have been using fermentation to preserve food for thousands of years! Come on. You’ve got to try it!
- ½ head purple cabbage
- ½ onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 jalapeño
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or use fresh if you have it! about 1 tablespoon)
- ¼ cup whey (strained from plain yogurt with live and active cultures)
- Thinly slice cabbage, carrot, onion, and jalapeño with a mandolin or sharp knife. Place in large ceramic bowl, sprinkle with salt, red pepper flakes, and oregano, toss and let stand for 30 minutes so the veggies release some of their liquid.
- Massage the veggies using your impeccably clean hands, then stir in the whey. Transfer to a clean, wide-mouthed quart jar.
- Fashion for yourself a "fermentation crock" by filling a small canning jar (4 ounces) with water, screwing on the lid, and using it to press down on the veggies in the quart jar, so that they are submerged under a layer of liquid. Leave the small jar in place, and put a gallon-sized plastic bag over the jar tops, securing with a rubber band. (Janice, this is genius!)
- Let sit out at room temperature for six days (burping the jar daily) and taste. If you like the flavor, you're done! Put a lid on the jar filled with cabbage and store in the refrigerator. (Plastic bag and small jar of water have done their jobs and are off duty.) If you want your kraut softer and more tangy, let it ferment additional days at room temperature, but call it done before you hit 14 days.