Number one condiment? Most Americans say ketchup …or ranch, maybe salsa or guacamole if they live in the southwest. For me, it is fermented vegetables. Sauerkraut, kimchi, or naturally fermented vegetables. This one company from Ohio makes an extreme garlic variety that is so on-point that it is hard to eat anything else. For cost savings and for those people without access to amazing grocery stores, making your own vegetable ferments is just as rewarding.
Why eat fermented vegetables? Well, they are pungent and flavorful adding another layer of complexity to a dish. Also, they contain healthy doses of probiotics as well as prebiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microbes that live in our large intestine. They help to digest food more thoroughly, excrete vitamins, provide immune support, and protect our intestinal mucosa from damage. Wonderful teeny, tiny bacteria, yeast, and microbes that act on our behalf if we take care of them. How do we take care of them? By maintaining their supply through the consumption of fermented foods and providing them with food called prebiotics. Prebiotics are basically just fiber, whether thats from vegetable, fruit, grain, nut, or legume.
This recipe uses red cabbage only, but another super-food fermented vegetable combination is cabbage and beet. For a kimchi variation try cabbage, scallion, carrot, red pepper flakes and then grate in some garlic just before pressing into the jar.
1 tsp sea salt
1 head red cabbage
Large mason jar with lid
Choose organic vegetables only. Organic vegetables are free of chemical herbicides and pesticides, they are grown in more biodiverse soil ensuring a bioactive soil full of vitamin and minerals that contribute to a healthier, tastier, and more nutrient dense plant. This will also ensure a consistent ferment. Herbicide and pesticide residue can disrupt the natural fermentation process.
Slice all vegetables thinly using a knife or mandolin. Toss into a large bowl that is wide enough for both of your hands to be in and move around comfortably. Sprinkle with sea salt and let stand for 10 minutes. Just by allowing the sea salt to sit on and work on the vegetables, their cell walls begin to breakdown and become more pliable. Wash your hands and then rinse them with a splash of white vinegar. Rub hands together with the vinegar this will help in removing any lotion or soap residue, which can affect the ferment. With both hands, massage vegetables. This can be accomplished by grabbing handfuls and squeezing, rubbing vegetables between your palms, or pressing down on the vegetables and kneading them like bread dough. Keep massaging until water begins to release and the vegetables become very pliable.
Fill your jar about half way up with the salted vegetables. Using the middle knuckle of your index finger or fingertips, firmly pack the cabbage down removing all air bubbles as you press. Keep packing the vegetables as you turn the jar releasing air bubbles and allowing liquid to raise to the top. When most air bubbles are gone, add second half of the vegetables. Pack this half down as you just did for the bottom half. There should be very few air bubbles. Liquid from the vegetables will rise to the top. You can top off the jar with a little more water to ensure at least a 1-inch bath forms on top. Leave head room in the jar for the vegetables to expand as they ferment, place lid on lightly and then put in a bowl to catch rogue liquid that could spill over and trickle down the sides of the jar. Place in a warm place that will not be disturbed. I put mine on top of the fridge. Leave for 3-7 days. After the veggies look ripe and smell sour, move to the refrigerator where this naturally fermented and probiotic rich condiment can stay indefinitely.
These recommendations are for educational purposes only. They are not intended as treatment or prescription for any disease, or as a substitute for regular medical care.