Cultured vegetables are made by shredding cabbage or a combination of cabbage and other vegetables and then packing them tightly into n airtight container. They are left to ferment at room temperature for several days or longer. Friendly bacteria naturally present in the vegetables quickly lower the pH, making a more acidic environment so the bacteria can reproduce. The vegetables become soft, delicious, and somewhat “pickled”.
The airtight container can be glass or stainless steel. Use a 1 to 1½ quart container that seals with a rubber or plastic ring and a clamp down lid. Room temperature means 70 degrees Fahrenheit, for at least 3 days. We prefer to let ours sit for at least six or seven days, and have even left them culturing for weeks. You can taste them at different stages and decide for yourself.
During this fermentation period, the friendly bacteria are having a heyday, reproducing and converting sugars and starches to lactic acid. Once the initial process is over, it is time to slow down the bacterial activity by putting the cultured veggies in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows the fermentation, but does not stop it completely. Even if the veggies sit in your refrigerator for months, they will not spoil; instead they become more like fine wine, more delicious with time. Properly made, cultured vegetables have at least an eight-month shelf life.
TWO OF OUR BEGINNERS’ RECIPES
One important secret to making really delicious yet medicinal cultured veggies is to use freshly harvested, organic, well-cleaned vegetables. After washing the veggies, spin them dry (Salad Spinner). Clean equipment is essential. Scald everything you use in very hot water.
3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor or chopped finely with knife.
3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor
6 carrots, large, shredded in a food processor
3 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
To Make Cultured Vegetables
1.Combined all ingredients in a large bowl.
2.Remove several cups of this mixture and put into blender.
3.Add enough filtered water to make a “brine” the consistency of a thick juice. Blend well and then add brine back into first mixture. Stir well. (If using starter culture, see below)
4.Pack mixture down into a 1½ quart glass or stainless steel container. Use your fist, a wooden dowel, or a potato masher to pack veggies tightly.
5.Fill container almost full, but leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand.
6.Roll up several cabbage leaves into a tight “log” and place them on top to fill the remaining 2 –inch space. Clamp jar closed.
7.Let veggies sit at about a 70-degree room temperature for at least three days. A week is even better. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation. Enjoy!