Fermenting cabbage

Cabbages are wonderful raw or cooked, but they really come into their own when fermented and preserved, Jian Liu writes.

Cabbages come into their own when preserved or fermented.
Photo: iStock

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a natural and low-energy way to preserve cabbage. It’s made using naturally occurring lactic-acid bacteria in an anaerobic environment, rather than pickling in vinegar. Sauerkraut is packed with probiotics to supercharge digestive health and the homemade variety has more lactobacillus than yoghurt. Made with white cabbage, it’s an easy way to extend your abundant cabbage harvests for year-round enjoyment. Here’s how:

1.Shred a large head of cabbage into a bowl and then sprinkle over about 2 tablespoons of salt and let it sit for the salt to draw out the moisture. 

2.After 20 minutes, use your hands and squeeze hard to remove excess liquid but set this liquid aside. 

3. Once the cabbage is wilted and most of the juice has been wrung out, pack it tightly into a clean jar. Pour your excess liquid on top to fully submerge the cabbage, adding more water if needed. 

4. Cover loosely with a lid and leave for about 5 days, or until it tastes tart and fizzy. It can now be enjoyed or stored for up to 6 months in the fridge. Experiment by adding other flavours such as dill, mustard or fennel seed. 

Kimchi

For a punchier alternative, try kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish. It uses Chinese cabbage (wombok), along with paprika, chilli, garlic and spring onion during the fermentation process. It is a gutsy and addictive dish! 

Rotkohl

Rotkohl is a traditional German side dish that is sweet and tangy, and an ideal accompaniment to meat or potato dishes. There are plenty of good recipes online or in books. But a basic recipe is to shred a small head of red cabbage into a pot with a couple of chopped apples, oil, vinegar and spices such as cloves and bay leaves. Bring everything to boil and then lower to a simmer, gently braise the cabbage for about an hour or until the cabbage is soft and silky. Season to taste. Rotkohl stores well in the fridge or freezer.

Cabbage comes in many shapes and sizes and are a great addition to winter meals and summer salads -- you can read Jian Liu's full article on growing on this old-time veg that's making a comeback in our Autumn 2022 issue (0G 132), available at mymagazines.com.au

By: Jian Liu

First published: March 2022

Related topics

Organic Food, Vegetables, cabbage, sauerkraut, kimchi, rotkohl, Issue 132 -- March/April 2022, Recipes