Monday, June 27, 2011

Krauts and Pickles

Making lacto-fermented mixtures or pickling is an easy and extremely healthy way to use your extra vegis.  You can really use any vegetable mixture but it is important to use the best quality organic vegis, pure sea salt, and filtered water.  My favorite traditional sauerkraut is made with green or purple cabbage.  I also recently tried this sea kraut variation for my seaweed loving children.  Begin by rinsing your cabbage.  Remove the outer leaves and set aside, then slice the cabbage thinly.

Use any type of edible sea vegetable,  I happened to have this huge bag of wild Japanese wakame
(I purchased pre-nuclear meltdown) in my pantry that needs to get used up.  If you can harvest your own even better!

Add to your chopped cabbage one tbls. sea salt and as much sea weed as you like, I added about one cup.  (Remember the dried sea weed will rehydrate and become much larger.)

Now mix and smash with your hands, a pestle, or a potato masher.  Whatever method, you just want to pulverize the cabbage mixture until it is wilted and the juices are released.  The volume of the mixture will decrease significantly. 

Fill a clean glass jar with the kraut leaving about an inch space at the top, the vegetables and their juices will expand slightly during fermentation.  You can pack it in but not too tightly.  If there is not enough liquid to cover the kraut then make a brine with one quart filtered water and one tbls. salt.  I usually boil a cup of water and dissolve the salt in that then add the other 3 cups of room temperature water so I don't have to wait for the whole thing to cool.  (Do not add hot liquid to the jar.)  Pour the brine into the jar until it is covering the kraut.  

 Now you can take the extra cabbage leaf and carefully push the sides down into the jar to cover the kraut and keep it submerged under the brine.  You may have to push gently to get it to all fit in there.  Everything should be submerged under the brine to prevent molding. 

Seal your jars tightly and leave in room temperature place of about 72 degrees for a few days to a week.  More time is needed if it is colder and less if it is warm.  After 2-4 days at room temperature it needs to be stored in a cool dark place-about 40 degrees. 

Next I tried some fermented greens.  There really is no end to what combinations you can make.  I had a lot of dinosaur kale in the garden.  It looked like the aphids were beginning to move in so I decided to harvest. 

After washing thoroughly I chopped them finely, adding some sliced leeks.

Then using the same process as above, I salted and pressed them.  Put them in the jars and added the brine.  I'm excited to see how they turn out.  Use these krauts as condiments on your dinner table, add to salads, or just eat plain in small amounts. 

One more recipe we tried recently that turned out well was a zucchini pickle from Recipes For Living In Big Sur, by The Big Sur Historical Society (a really great book, by the way, if you are interested in California history).  I made mention in an earlier post of a certain excess of zucchini these days.  This recipe can be made with any surplus garden vegi. 

2 lb zucchini sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
1/4 cup salt
1 pint white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp turmeric
1.4 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp mustard seed

Slice zucchini lengthwise.  Cut slices in quarters if zucchini is large.  Cover zucchini, onions, and salt with water.  Let stand 1 hour, then drain.  Mix remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Pour over zucchini and onions.  Let stand 1 hour.  Then boil 3 minutes.  Pour into hot jars and seal.  (Makes about 3 pints).

Note:  I changed the recipe a bit and added ginger and curry pwd as my spices instead of celery, turmeric, and mustard.  It turned out really yummy but I will definitely use way less sugar next time.  (I like sour pickles better than sweet.)  Enjoy!


  1. I'm in love with this blog!!!!! Have to try these recipies!

  2. Just found your blog, love reading it, especially because we're in the East Bay too. :-)

    Your tip about using the cabbage leaf to hold everything down is ingenious, I can't believe it had never occurred to me, thanks!

  3. Hello. Also writing from the East Bay (Richmond).
    I am looking for any advice (there is very little) about preventing slime when krauting. I use a Harsch pot and have made many successful batches of cabbage and red cabbage kraut; however, four of my last six batches got slimy. Instead of watery juice, the juice becomes gooey like ocra and the cabbage is wilty. Basically I have to throw these batches out. One friend suggests it's a yeast that has gotten in. Do you have any experience with this and any advice for preventing it from happening? Thanks!
    anybody with advice can email--I'm desperate. efflux at sonic dot net. Thanks!