January Harvest: Red Cabbage
To ring in a new year of healthy eating, we began our 2018 with a purple sauerkraut recipe. In Vermont we experience a shorter growing season and during the month of January, there are not many plants being harvested. But what happened before the time of refrigeration? How were people able to make food last them through the winter? The answer lies in the traditional wisdom of fermentation.
Over 12,000 years ago, humankind began fermenting foods to preserve the quality of their nutrients. Like most discoveries in the realm of food science, it was actually an accidental discovery- one that would change the course of civilization. When we were able to preserve food instead of needing to eat it immediately after a harvest, it allowed us to go from a nomadic people who wandered hunting and gathering food, to a people who stayed in one place and not only farmed the land, but developed art and culture, because they finally had the opportunity to.
Just like a pickle has a longer shelf-life than a cucumber, this purple kraut can be stored for up to a year versus a head of cabbage that will decompose much faster. These foods, and yogurt too, are all probiotic and aid in digestion, support your immune system, and even make you feel happier! Do you know that 80% of serotonin ( the happy hormone) is produced in your gut? So replenish your inner ecosystem with this colorful take on sauerkraut.
Purple Kraut Recipe:(Makes two 24 oz mason jars worth) Ingredients:
- 1 Small Napa Cabbage
- 4 Carrots
- ½ Red Cabbage
- 3 inch piece of ginger root
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 T of Himalayan Salt
- Clean the cabbage- remove the outer leaf and put it to the side. If it is in good condition, save it for later as this can be used as an additional layer at the top of your brine to prevent molding.
- Slice the cabbages into 1 in. ribbons, cutting out its dense core for the compost.
- Grate Carrots and mix in with cabbage.
- Sprinkle the mineral-rich Himalayan salt, tasting how salty the cabbage gets to get a good idea of how much to put in. Let veggies and salt sit under a lid for 10 minutes. The water inside the veggies will naturally be drawn out from the salt and they will appear moist.
- Mash, knead, and squeeze out the liquid from the cabbage. This is your brine!
- Place veggies in a fermentation vessel. (I use a clean mason jar). Only fill ¾ of the way to allow for fermentation expansion.
- Compress vegetables until the liquid from the cabbage rises above the plant material. If it does not rise right away, not to worry, there tends to be less moisture in cabbage harvested in the winter so you may just need to be a bit more patient. Just seal the jar, if you have any weights, place them on the cabbage to apply pressure, and return to your ferment in an hour. *Adding a weight is helpful in getting the liquid to rise (Some people fill plastic bags with water if you don’t have a proper fermentation glass weight). All plant material must be submerged in the brine to prevent molding.
- Store sealed jar in a cool, dry, dark place, and wait patiently. If you see bubbles, that is a good sign that your ferment is underway, just make sure to “burp” your jar daily to release this lactic acid buildup. While it is important to burp your jar by removing its lid briefly, try to limit your batch’s exposure to oxygen as this can reintroduce harmful bacteria. After 1-3 weeks (depending on how tangy you like yours), your purple kraut should be good to go! Enjoy the probiotic goodness and the fun that is making ferments! 🙂
Featuring Rick Marcotte Central School: