One of the things I’m enjoying about the Mastery Challenge is that it’s motivating me to try new recipes and different preserving techniques right along with you all. This month, in addition to doing a batch of garlic herb salt and some preserved lemons, I pulled down my copy of Amanda Feifer‘s Ferment Your Vegetables in search of something new to try that would meet the perimeters of the February project.
There’s so much to love in Ferment Your Vegetables, but nothing delights me more about this book than the fact that so many of the krauts and kimchis are scaled to make just one quart’s worth. It means that you can explore flavors and styles without overwhelming your kitchen with bubbling crocks.
I settled on Amanda’s recipe for Krauty the Vampire Slayer, because it sounded delicious and also felt like it served as a useful reminder that kraut is essentially a blank slate. You can always combine just cabbage and salt for a traditional batch, but why not mix it up with shredded beets, macadamia nuts, or as you do in this recipe, a whole head of roasted garlic cloves?
The recipe is simple. You cut a head of garlic in half across the equator, tuck it into an oven-safe dish, and roast until caramelized and tender. Once it is cool, shred two pounds of green cabbage and massage it with a tablespoon of salt (keep squeezing and kneading until there’s a goodly bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Pack the garlicky cabbage into a wide mouth quart jar, weigh it down, cover the jar, set it on a small plate or saucer and let it ferment until you like the flavor.
My batch has been humming along since Wednesday afternoon and already smells deliciously funky (I’m going to let it go until at least the two week mark). I’m so happy to have been reminded of the world of krauts that exist out there beyond my beloved carrot and cabbage variety and plan on exploring more of Amanda’s single quart creations in the coming weeks!
If you’re looking for one more project for this month’s challenge, I highly recommend this kraut!
Krauty the Vampire Slayer from Ferment Your Vegetables
- 2 pounds 900 g green cabbage
- 1 tablespoon 18g kosher salt
- 1 bulb of garlic peeled and roasted until soft but not browned
- Remove any unattractive or wilted outer leaves from the cabbage, reserving one. Cut out the core and rinse cabbage.
- Grate the cabbage into a large bowl and add the salt. Gently massage and squeeze the cabbage, or let it sit for a bit to make the work easier, until there is a visible puddle of water in the bottom of the bowl and the cabbage pieces stay in a clump when squeezed.
- Break the roasted garlic cloves into pieces and drop them into the cabbage mixture. Toss and knead the mixture, distributing the garlic as evenly as possible.
- Pack the kraut into a clean quart (1L) jar. First, pack it along the bottom using the top of your fist or your fingers. Continue packing in this fashion, pressing along the sides and bottom, until it comes to 1 1/2 to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) below the rim. If you need more space, press down on the cabbage and tilt the jar to pour the cabbage liquid back into the bowl.
- Use the reserved cabbage leaf to create a cabbage shelf. Pour the cabbage liquid from the bowl into the jar to cover the cabbage. Leave 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2.5 to 4 cm) of headspace at the top of the jar. Using your preferred method, weight the cabbage down and cover your jar.
- Place your jar on a small plate or bowl and allow to ferment at room temperature for 2 to 6 weeks. Check weekly to make sure that the brine level is still above the top of the cabbage. If it isn't, press down on your weight to bring some brine up to the top.
- Once you're happy with the acidity, remove the weight, secure the lid, and place the jar in the fridge. Enjoy chilled.