Updated: 2 days ago
Inspiration can come from unsuspecting places.
While I grew up watching my dad making sauerkraut the old fashioned way in a large crock, stone on top of a plate method, I did not embrace making it myself. My journey with making my own fermented foods began nearly 14 years ago when I needed to take some drastic measures to heal the gut of my two year old. It started with kombucha and yogurt, simple and easy to schedule into life.
I LIKED sauerkraut growing up... overcooked in a crockpot with a good roast. But as I started to dig into traditional vegetable ferments I began to see the absolute nutritional value that was unlocked AND the enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics that came with eating them raw. The very first thing I decided to make was a Ginger Carrot Slaw. It was touted to be "the best ferment to start with". One taste and I was ready to toss it. If this was the best, we were in trouble. I was not about to try another.
A young lady we had gotten to know decided to try her hand at fermenting and got a kombucha starter from me. She started researching vegetable ferments and asking me a lot of questions. I only had my handy "Nourishing Traditions" book and the info it contained. (This is when internet was still barely a thing.) But it was HER questions that inspired me to dig a little more and try again.
Bean paste. Real saukerkraut. Carrot sticks. These things became the norm. And we like them. The kids liked them!
Anna took it a step further. She started sharing kraut blends that made my mouth water. If it was not for her I am not sure this Mexican kraut would have been introduced into my world so smoothly or the idea that I could blend any veg or herbs and create endless combinations for my family... and even the dog!
Over the past 10 years or so, Mexican slaw has been our most loved and asked for kraut. It is easy to mix with mayo or sour cream to create a chip dip and tops well on baked potatoes, eggs, a burger or in a lettuce wrap. Sandwiches love to be graced with it's pretty orange and green flecked speckles but sometimes we just eat it with a spoon!
Every diet plan agrees on one thing- MORE VEGGIES! So, from our house to yours, I give you, Mexican Slaw!
2 large cabbages, cored and shredded
5 # carrots, end removed and shredded (we do not peel them)
2-3 generous bunches of cilantro, chopped with the s-blade of your food processor
1-2 onions, chopped with the s-blade of your food processor
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1-5 jalapenos or cayenne pepper to taste
Real salt, Himalayan pink salt, Persian blue salt, etc.
Combine all ingredients into a large bowl. Adjust flavors according to your taste preferences. Start with about 3 T of real mineral rich salt. I always err on the side of less salt. I allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes, mix the veggies and taste it again. The slaw should be just a bit saltier than you normally would want a dish to be. The salt preserves the veggies from spoiling while encouraging the beneficial bacteria to flourish. However, too much salt will not allow the fermenting process to proceed. Don't fret! There is some gracious wiggle room here!! (See salting tips below before adding more!)
Pound with a tamper for about ten minutes or mix well and allow to sit for approximately 15 minutes. This allows the salt to pull water out of the cabbage. Adjust flavors as desired. Pack the cabbage mixture (including the juices) in a quart sized jar and press down firmly on the veggies. The top of the cabbage should be at least one inch below the top of the jar. Add an additional weak brine if necessary (see below). Let veggies sit at room temperature for 3 days - 2 weeks.
Additional brine if needed : 1 T sea salt to 4 cups of quality water. Closing notes for all ferments: Let your ferment sit 3-4 days at room temperature. Veggies are ready when they begin to taste tart. Consume and/or move to cool storage or your fridge. The salt destroys bad bacteria but allows the good bacteria, prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes to flourish! How to perfectly salt ferments: I am a dumper when it comes to recipes but practical tips are especially necessary when starting out. I like this tip from fermentedfoodlab.com
"While your slaw is sitting, make a brine by mixing 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Mix until it dissolves. Now taste it. This is how perfectly salted kraut should taste like (kind of like the ocean). This brine is like your training wheels and with a little practice you won’t have to use it anymore." Return to the kraut you have been letting sit with the salt you have already added. Taste some of the kraut at the bottom of the bowl. It should taste the same as this brine. Not salty enough? Add 1 tsp or so at a time until it is. Too salty? Add 1-2 T of quality water until it is corrected.