Archives for posts with tag: sauerkraut

IMG_20180304_121548.jpgLots of people don’t like the straight shot of ferments just on their own.  Integrating them into salads is a great way to ensure the health benefit in your diet, with sour and salty flavours softened.  I made this wonderful salad yesterday, and thought to record it here.

  • Brown Rice (leftover)
  • Seaweed Kraut (white cabbage, dried kelp)
  • chopped coriander leaf (cilantro)
  • pumpkin seeds roasted in Garlic Turmeric Oil, inspired by delicious Burmese salads.

I’m not into recipes so much as approaches.  So in this there’s the template of grain plus ferment or pickle plus green or herb plus garnish.  The dressing is intrinsic really, the oily seeds and the brine of the ferment, but you could add other or additional. Possibilities are endless.

Have a look at similar approach to Root Vegetable Salads that include ferments.



Often when I teach workshops, participants seeking the health benefits of fermented foods ask about consuming them: how do we eat these foods? how do we incorporate them into our diet, our day, our meals? How do we use the ferments we make?

So I launch into my talk on the variable use of the word “pickle” and the idea of a savoury morsel, and sauerkraut and kimchi as foods that go as condiments or digestives or piquant flavour-rounders with many other foods.  And of course you can cook with ferments, and traditionally around the world many functioned to preserve raw ingredients later to be be used in cooked dishes like soups and stews. I explain how I like to toss kraut and small pieces of pickles in green salads, and sometimes to puree them in dressings, and to add probiotic, succulent brine to bolster flavour and acid. Raw is good for maximum bacterial benefit.

Lately I’ve been layering ferments in root vegetable salads.  These salads are nourishing, delicious, filling, and can be invented truly from what’s on hand in a well-stocked kitchen of local and seasonal ingredients. If you find yourself fermenting, then you’ll have interesting, creative fermented elements to incorporate, for endless possibilities, into your meals.

The formula I’ve been obsessed with is so basic: shredded roots, layered with a ferment and fresh herbs, then dressed.  And add whatever you like. Proportions are yours to decide. Leftovers are yours to use up.  Alliums, garlic, ginger and spices– yours to choose.

Here are a few salads I’ve made recently on this theme.



Shredded BEETROOT and LEEK, RED ONIONS, SAUERKRAUT w white cabbage, spring greens, radish tops, coriander and cumin seed and ginger, PARSLEY, RED PEPPERS, Olive Oil and Vinegar.



SWEDE (rutabaga), CARROT, KIMCHI with dandelion, cleavers, alexanders, chives, CORIANDER LEAF, DILL, YELLOW and RED PEPPERS, OLIVE OIL, LEMON JUICE, SESAME OIL.









I filmed this at a fermentation workshop I gave with Sector39 Permaculture at the amazing Reading International Solidarity Centre.  This place has a cafe with really delicious Ethiopian food which was wonderful to eat with a great group of people.  Sorry the video is badly blurry– it’s nevertheless worth it to me to share it.

A participant in the session was an experienced sauerkraut maker, and showed us all his massage technique.  His hands were so strong and active with the salted cabbage, I’d never seen brine be delivered as readily.  Of course I wanted to film it as part of this Recipe by Gesture tag.

Hands belong to Prof. Chris Rhodes.


Under cloud and periodic rain,  I am trying to imagine ancient biblical people in a desert in huts of willow and palm, feasting with strangers on sweet harvest fruits.  Sukkot is a wonderful Jewish festival, a kind of thanksgiving and harvest festival for which people build outdoor structures from symbolic natural materials; there’s always great creativity with resources and lots of artistry, beauty and folly.  After all the emotional and spiritual heaviness of the preceding High Holidays, Sukkot represents the “Days of Our Rejoicing,” a time to be grateful for somewhere to sit down, beneath a starry sky, with family, friends and to eat, drink, relax….

Today is the last day of Sukkot this year but I didn’t want it to go by without a notice…

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Fermenting in the Kitchen: Probiotics and Permaculture Principles

A Workshop with Elderflower-Tibicos Champagne

Today I am having a great time at home preparing for a workshop tomorrow….
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A Girl Called Jack, A Cabbage Called Kraut

Just in case any of you haven’t read Jack Monroe, she’s a real food hero, mixing her righteous politics with ultra low-budget cooking. She speaks truth to power to hypocritical Tories about their wrong and moralistic assumptions about poverty and the poor in Austerity Britain. She writes tasty, nutritious, immaculately costed-out recipes. She washes the sauce off budget baked beans to get nice haricots. She understands a jar of fish paste as a delicious ingredient. Even as she’s coming into her own as a respected food journalist, and political commentator, she speaks from her experience raising a child with the anxieties of being cold and hungry, and she is amazing. I can’t wait for her book. That’s the link to her blog, above.

She is intelligent, articulate, canny and wise, and I only have one thing to give her: a friendly but strong nudge in the direction of sauerkraut, as in my last piece, or as in a million great methods searchable on the internet. Cabbage is cheap, salt is cheap, sauerkraut is a powerful and delicious and very usable ingredient, raw or cooked. And, for so many people who “can’t afford gluten intolerance,” as a recent parody joked – sorry, can’t recall who said that– dietary probiotics as in fermented foods arehealing and healthful in the face of diets that can be too heavy in wheat, sugar, and other inflammatory foods.  Lots of people are truly suffering from contemporary diets– putting a little kraut in there can only help.

Jack– I wish I could give you some sauerkraut– I know you’d be convinced!  Best wishes to you. Love, A Fan

A Rainbow of Sauerkraut

Two years ago around now I was writing this piece on how to make sauerkraut. I think sometime soon it may be put up on their website, but here it is, transcribed in this blog, for now. I’ve done a little re-editing with the gift of hindsight and experience. I wanted to make sauerkraut seem easy, which it is really. And the idea was, you could really play with cabbage, with colour, with spices and flavours, thus I called it:

How to Make a Rainbow of Sauerkrauts
Permaculture Magazine No 70 Winter 2011

Lacto-fermenting is preserving through an alchemy of salt and vegetables and time – in it’s simplest form, creating a salty brine to encourage beneficial bacteria to protect food from spoilage, transform flavours and augment nutrition and culinary possibility. So much of traditional British preserving requires such intensive boiling and processing that much flavour and goodness is lost. “Pickling” by natural fermentation keeps raw food crunchy and fresh, makes lots of nutrients even more accessible to the human body, and will give you stores of living, enzymatic, “probiotic” food to eat during the dark winter.

This is an ancient technique, low carbon (no heat to cook, no definitive need to refrigerate, though it’s good to thoroughly clean vessels), delicious, a way to get more veg into your diet, and exciting: once you have restored the power of sour to your plate, you will want more and more. I truly can’t eat hummus without sauerkraut anymore, and love pickled veg as a final ingredient in my soups. Salads come alive with the addition of whatever preserves you happen to have on hand. You are gifted with an incredible freedom with what you have available and need to use up. And our modern repertoire includes such a wide range of exciting inspirations, including healing herbs and spices which gain potency in fermented brine.

Take your glut of cabbages. Shred, finely or roughly. Mix with spices. Add ginger, leeks, onions, garlic, chilli, or chopped seaweed, grated beetroot, apple– in whatever combination you like. Toss purple cabbage in with with the white to make it pink. Think about cumin, caraway, fennel, dill seeds. Curry powder perhaps? Follow your fancy. Be creative. Experiment. I’ve been foraging for nettle seeds– they went into a kraut with the hope for a little extra vitality. Or keep it simple. The plainest of sauerkraut, undressed, is wonderful too.

A good general rule of thumb: cultured cabbage requires one tablespoon of unrefined, mineral-rich sea salt for each head of cabbage. Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl, knock with your fist to break down cellular walls, add the salt, and toss. Add a little extra water, if you wish. As time passes the cabbage will release natural juices which become the brine in which your souring cabbage – your sauerkraut – develops. Stuff firmly into a jar or crock, leaving only a little space at the top.

The most important thing is regularly pushing down the vegetables beneath the brine. This is what allows the eponymous lactobacilli to thrive anaerobically– without oxygen. The bacteria that spoil and rot food need air. Sometimes it can feel like a battle in which it’s our job to support the Goodies versus the Baddies.

Keep a room temperature for roughly a week, remembering to keep poking down any errant veg underneath the surface of the brine, or using a weight if necessary. Once the process has begun, refrigeration or chilling in the coolest part of your home is appropriate. Under snow would be ideal! Eat all along the life cycle of your kraut, and experience different tastes as they “mature.”

The hardest part about lacto-fermenting is finding enough large glass jars or ceramic crocks for all you endeavours. I spy the pickled egg jar at the chip shop….

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