I needed to clear out my crisper before heading out to New York City a couple of weeks ago. I decided to whip up a two batches of cultured vegetables, my absolute favorite way to preserve the harvest.
A friend recently told me that Common Roots Cafe, a local organic restaurant, is serving grated pickled kohlrabi with their entrees. Inspired, I decided to embark on a pickled grated kohlrabi adventure of my own, a departure from my usual pickled kohlrabi spears (from this recipe or this recipe). I combined shredded kohlrabi with red cabbage, scallions, and red pepper flakes, inspired by the flavors of kimchee and Japanese sauerkraut, sealed up the jars, and hoped for the best.
With temperatures in my apartment approaching a balmy 87º, my cultured vegetables and kombucha were all going a little bit crazy (so was I). This jar of kraut totally cracked me up, actually. As it fermented, it took on a vibrant pink color, was making hissing sounds, and was bubbling away violently. I'd suddenly hear strange gurgling noises coming from the jar, or look over to see brine oozing out under the jar rim. "It's alive!" I cried, audibly cackling alone in my kitchen like a mad scientist as I doted on my jars. Truth be told, I wouldn't have been surprised had I woken one morning to find that my jars had grown legs and walked off somewhere; those things were teaming with happy live bacteria.
I wonder what Dr. Frankenstein would think of my fermenting experiments?
After three days, I carefully opened the jar. It nearly fizzed over! Yes, ladies and germs, this is some seriously live food. Prudent fermenters know to open jars over the sink for this very reason. I tasted it, and was struck with delight. It was tart, spicy, peppery, and had a nice crunchy texture and a lovely, cheery pink color. It was, by far and away, the best batch of sauerkraut I had made yet! Then I put in the fridge and left for New York.
Now that it has sat in my fridge for about two weeks, the flavor has developed quite nicely and it tastes even better. Sadly, I hardly have any left, because I've been eating big scoops of it at every opportunity and took it to work to share with coworkers (who all loved it, by the way). I have to make another batch with fresh farmers market produce this week, because I am totally addicted to this stuff.
I am on a mission to spread love of fermented kohlrabi around the globe.
Speaking of fermented vegetables, I will be posting a KILLER recipe for cultured dill pickles very soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, here are a few tips for culturing, and the recipe for this awesome kohlrabi kraut.
TIPS FOR MAKING GOOD KRAUT AND CULTURED VEGETABLES
yield 1 quart
This is delicious scooped on salads, eaten with grilled meats, or used in place of regular sauerkraut in any recipe. It is also very tasty wrapped with rice in simple vegan sushi rolls. Don't be intimidated - there are a lot of instructions, but this couldn't be easier to make. One disclaimer, though: you will make a big watery, salty mess on your countertop, so get your towels ready to clean up. If you feel fancy, try adding a little shredded carrot, daikon radish, or ginger to this recipe for a fun variation. don't be afraid. Just do it.
4 medium kohlrabi, grated
1/4 small head red cabbage, finely shredded
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 quart glass jar, sterilized with boiling water
Combine kohlrabi and cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. With clean hands, massage salt into vegetables and squeeze, working them for about 5 minutes. Let sit for a few more minutes, and then massage again. You could also pound with a kraut pounder or a big wooden spoon. The cabbage and kohlrabi should be soft and nice salty juices should have formed in the bowl. Then add thinly sliced scallion and red pepper, and mix in. Scoop out handfuls of cabbage mixture and squeeze out some of the liquid, then pack firmly into the jar, pressing down after each handful.
Pack sterilized jar full of kraut, leaving 1" of open space at the top, and make sure that cabbage mixture is covered with the brine liquid. Then put on jar lid tightly. Place the jar in a dish on or a plate to catch any drips during the fermentation process, and let sit at room temperature to ferment 3-6 days.
After 3-4 days, open jar (you may want to do this over the sink, it tends to bubble over), and taste the kraut. If the kraut it isn't sour or tart enough for your tastes, reseal and let ferment another day or two. Hotter temperatures will quicken fermentation time, colder temperatures will make it slower. In my hot 87º F apartment, I fermented for 3 days and got a great kraut. Just taste it as it goes along, and when it is how you like it, stop.
When kraut is done, place the jar in the refrigerator. It will keep for 6 months in the refrigerator, and flavor gets better with age.
Other favorite Cultured Vegetable Recipes: