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Garden Greens Ferment
Fermenting is not only a useful way of preserving greens throughout the winter, but helps to cultivate friendly bacteria, including the Lactobacillus species which are naturally present on cabbage leaves. Making traditional recipes, such as kimchi and sauerkrauts at home allow you to access these friendly bacteria to improve and maintain gut health that can be missing in some pasteurised, shop-bought brands. And who wouldn’t enjoy experimentation with unusual flavours, using different foraged leaves and seeds?
1/2 cabbage head (any cabbage), approximately 500-750g
2 cups (60-80g) of chopped wild greens*
1 grated carrot (optional)
2 tablespoons wild carrot seed (Daucus carota)**
1 tablespoon sea salt
* There are plenty of abundant wild greens which are suitable. These include common mallow leaves (Malva sylvestris), nettle tops (Urtica dioicia), plantain Leaves (Plantago sp.), fat hen (Chenopodium album), dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinale), wild cabbage and brassicas, and the not-so-wild garden nasturtium leaves (Tropaeolum majus).
** Make sure you have identified the correct species. If you do not have access to wild carrot seeds, you can use coriander instead.
Clean all equipment and hands thoroughly (this increases the chances of the beneficial bacteria on the cabbage getting off to a good start). Discard the outer leaves, then thinly shred the cabbage. Place in a large mixing bowl with the chopped greens. Sprinkle over the salt and thoroughly massage the cabbage around the bowl (if using nettles in your wild green mix, use gloves). After about 10 minutes, liquid should appear in the bowl and the cabbage and greens go limp. If not, carry on until this stage arrives. Mix in the wild carrot seeds at this point.
Pack the cabbage into a clean mason jar and pack it down well. Pour any excess liquid over the top of the cabbage. Place some muslin over the mouth of the jar and tie securely with a rubber band or string to allow the whole thing to breathe. You can also buy special fermentation lids for this if preferred.
Keep the jar in a cool dark place for 3-10 days for fermenting. Bubbles should appear and keep rising to the surface. You may need to occasionally ‘tamp’ the bubbling cabbage down using a clean rolling pin. Taste the sauerkraut every now and then and once you think it tastes like its fermented, you can seal it and keep it in the fridge.
Shelf life: 2-3 months, discard if tastes off.
If mould appears, skim it off but the stuff below the brine should still be good to eat. For help with other fermentation troubleshooting, check out this fermenter’s bible.
For more great recipes just like these, visit www.handmadeapothecary.co.uk