While I got off to a bit of a rocky start with sauerkraut, kimchi (and the incredible spread of Korean pickles) was love at first bite. The version we so enjoy here at Spreadwing strays some from the traditional preparation, a fusion of daikon, ginger, and burdock from the east, and the classic kraut making process of the west. I love that the longer two month fermentation in this version renders the raw onion and garlic, which usually wreak havoc on my digestion, much more agreeable to my system. It’s downright addictive… now that our supply is running low and we’ve had to scale back our consumption, I definitely miss eating it with almost every meal. On the upside, I got learn how to make the next batch! Here is a scaled-down version, nearly the same as Mexi-kraut, or any kraut for that matter, with its own irresistible blend of ingredients.
1 1/2 pounds green cabbage
4 leaves of kale or collards (optional)
1 green onion (optional)
1-2 green garlic, or a few cloves garlic
1 carrot (optional)
1 small turnip or radish (optional)
1 burdock root (optional)
1 tablespoon salt (non-iodized, this is important!)
2-3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1-2 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne, to taste
Remove outer leaves and any “brown spots” in the cabbage, and cut in half or quarters. Grate or slice finely (a food processor makes quick work of it), and combine with salt in a pot, bucket, or large bowl. Chop or thinly slice the remaining vegetables, and mix into the cabbage, along with the ginger and cayenne. Work the vegetables with your hands, a potato masher, or a wooden pounder to begin drawing out the liquid in the cabbage. Continue pounding until liquid pools when you press down on the mixture. If you’re not in a hurry, let the mixture rest, covered with a damp cloth, for an hour and let the salt do some of the work. The more liquid you can elicit, the better… it can be quite a workout!
Pack kraut tightly into a quart jar and pour any remaining liquid over it, making sure the vegetables are well covered and there is about an inch of headroom at the top of the jar. Place in a small bowl out of the way, with a smaller jar of water as a weight to keep the kraut below the liquid. Alternately, you can screw a lid loosely onto the jar. If possible, allow to ferment for the first 2-3 days at around 70°F, checking once or twice a day to ensure kraut remain below the level of the brine, then move to a cooler place, around 50°F, to continue fermenting more slowly. In hot weather, the ferment can be moved to the fridge after a few days to finish ripening. Taste it from time to time and enjoy it whenever it is to your liking (generally 2-6 weeks).