Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fermenting isn't just for dairy: Curtido, or Latin "sauerkraut"

As I mentioned in my kefir post, once you start fermenting dairy, you've entered into whole other world of local-hippie-whole food.  Fermenting a few veggies to create the Latin relish curtido was the next logical step.  From what I can tell, the recipe I used most closely resembles the Salvadoran version of this common condiment.  I adapted the recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  Who would have thought fermenting your own veggies would be so easy?  Again, as far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on whether probiotics are a panacea or not, but at least they taste darn good.

Salvadoran Curtido (a la Nourishing Traditions)

1.  Shred 1/2 to 3/4 of a full green cabbage, grate about 1 cup's worth of carrots, and finely slice half of a large red onion from pole to pole.  Combine in a large bowl.

2.  To the bowl of veggies, combine a tbsp of kosher salt, a 1-2 tsp of dried oregano, and a big pinch of crushed red pepper.  Add 4 tbsp of whey (I strained out some from an over-fermented batch of kefir).

3.  Do some light stretching, then smash all the veggies to extract their water.  It should take about 10 minutes worth of smashing.  You could use a meat tenderizer, or do like I did, and grind them with a pint glass.  I believe Alton Brown would call that a multi-tasker.

After ten minutes, and switching arms a few times, it should looks like this:

4.  Transfer the veggies and liquid into a very clean quart-size jar with a lid.  Pack down the veggies so that they are completely submerged by the fermenting liquid.  This is important, because from what I've read, failure to do this may lead to spoilage (growth of the bad rather than the good bugs).  Make sure that there is at least an inch from the top of the jar to prevent explosions.  Cover and leave at room temperature for 72 hours, then transfer to the fridge.  The curtido will improve with time in the fridge.  I finished mine within two weeks, and it was great until the end.  Not sure how much longer it would last.

I let mine ferment with its friends...

When it's finished, it will look something like this:

Tangy, flavorful, and spicy.  A bit too strong on it's own, but it is incredible with the richness of meat.  Especially with my almost-daily burger:

Unintentional paleo...
Here's to good bacteria, in milk and in veggies.

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