The Humble Cabbage

In Fall, cabbage is as abundant as are its many uses. It is pickled, boiled, stuffed and rolled, braised, fermented, and eaten raw. Cabbage has a long 4000 year history being cultivated from wild cabbage in the Mediterranean region. Varieties emerged over time including flat leaf, curly leaf, headed and headless (aka kale), red and green, early, and late bloomers. Throughout history cabbage has been a culinary staple and used medicinally for its anti-inflammatory properties. Though cabbage recipes are many, I want to focus on a couple of favorites.

Sauerkraut: Late variety cabbage is perfect for fermentation. If you’re into sauerkraut in a big way, a 50 lb bag will yield 16 to 20 quarts. On a modest level, a 1-gallon stone crock will hold 5 pounds of shredded cabbage. I go small making a 1 litre mason jar with 2 lbs of cabbage. Homemade sauerkraut has the health benefits of being high in fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as being a probiotic due to the fermentation. Most commercial sauerkraut has undergone pasteurization which destroys the health benefits of fermentation. Try your own; it’s rewarding and better for your health.

Small Batch Sauerkraut

2 lb cabbage, stem end cut off, rinsed, outer leaves removed, and cored.
Shred with knife or mandolin.
Add 2 tbsp pickling salt and massage the cabbage for about 10 minutes until juices are released creating a brine.
Push the cabbage firmly into a 1 litre wide-mouth mason jar pressing down to remove air. Leave a 1-inch headspace. Weight the cabbage down using a fermentation weight, or small mason jar filled with water pressed into the jar. The cabbage must be kept below the brine. Lactic acid fermentation is anerobic (no air) and it releases carbon dioxide as it ferments. Therefore, it is wise to use a fermentation lid with an air vent. If you do use a regular lid, take it off every day to release the carbon dioxide. Check the ferment in 3 days and then in 6. Some people like a very light ferment while others like it stronger. I’m medium in my taste, which takes about a week. Once you like the taste, move the jar to the fridge as the cold will almost halt the fermentation process.

Not a sauerkraut fan? Try this fantastic non-mayo coleslaw that will last in the fridge for at least 3 weeks!

Refrigerator Slaw

2 lbs cabbage, 3 carrots, 3 green onions shredded; 1 garlic clove minced; 3 stalks celery and 1 red or green pepper cut in small matchsticks, 1 TBSP chopped fresh dill (optional).
In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup white vinegar, ¼ c sugar, ½ cup oil, ¾ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Pour hot marinade over cabbage mixture. Stir. Store in mason jar or other container in fridge.

The humble cabbage continues to be one of the great vegetables for storing, cooking, preserving, or eating raw. Enjoy

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