Fermentation is an old-world tradition that has reemerged in culinary culture. Fresh ferments are packed with probiotics, which help maintain essential balance in the digestive tract, contain heaps of vitamin C and other healthy enzymes that boost the immune system, and they’re delicious! In "Fresh and Fermented" (Sasquatch Books, 2014), authors and founders of Firefly Kitchens Julie O’Brian and Richard J. Climenhage provide in-depth instructions on how to make traditionally fermented carrots, krauts, and kimchi, at home. This recipe for Caraway Kraut is from Chapter 3: Making other Firefly Kitchen Ferments.
You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Fresh & Fermented
We didn’t start making Caraway Kraut until our third year in business—we just weren’t sure if our customers would like the distinctive caraway flavor. When we started experimenting, however, it took just one test batch to convince us that Caraway Kraut belonged in Firefly’s lineup of fermented foods.
Caraway Kraut contributes its pleasing earthy taste to some of the recipes in this book and also makes a great side dish for grilled meats or mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect addition to the classic Reuben (of course) and adds intrigue to potato salads and coleslaws too. Whirl it with fresh avocado for a simple sandwich spread or as a dip for chips and veggies. (The acid does double duty—it adds flavor and keeps the avocado from getting brown.)
Caraway Kraut brine, which results from the fermentation process, is a delicious tonic on its own. For hundreds of years people have been drinking sauerkraut brine to heal ulcers or temper hangovers—it’s a well-known Russian remedy—and that inspired us to start bottling and selling the extra brine as our first Tummy Tonic.
• 1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
• 1 tablespoon sea salt
• 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1. Peel off any older, discolored outer leaves from the cabbage, reserving the leaves, and rinse the head. Quarter and core the cabbage, reserving the core. Slice the cabbage into 1/8- to 1⁄4-inch-wide strips. You should have about 12 cups of shredded cabbage.
2. Put the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle it with the salt. Use your hands to thoroughly work the salt into the cabbage. When the cabbage has shrunk to about half its original volume and has generated a briny, watery base, taste it and add more salt or water if necessary. Stir in the caraway seeds, making sure they’re evenly distributed throughout the ferment.
3. Pack the cabbage tightly into a quart jar until it’s about 2 inches below the rim, weighing it down with the reserved leaves and core. Make sure the brine completely covers the compressed cabbage by about 1 inch, and that it’s about 1 inch below the rim of the jar. Let the jar sit at room temperature, roughly 64 to 70 degrees F, topping the cabbage with more brine if needed. The kraut could be ready to eat after 1 week (or let it ferment longer for a richer taste). Store it in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
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(c) 2014 by Julie O’Brien and Richard J. Climenhage. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Fresh & Fermented by permission of Sasquatch Books. Buy this book from our store: Fresh & Fermented.