by Louise Lee
This is an embellished version of a very simple recipe for Donna Schwenk’s Orangeade Kraut. She is one of my favorite fermentation experts. Cabbage is the most common basic ingredient for cultured vegetables, because cabbage is naturally high in probiotics. Her addition of apple and orange slices makes the kraut more palatable to someone new to eating cultured vegetables.
Her very simple recipe calls for a small head of cabbage, an apple, an orange and a tablespoon of Celtic sea salt. Since I’ve been making cultured vegetables for over a decade, I have developed an ever changing list of things I like to include. They are all optional.
I start by chopping the cabbage. I like to do it by hand, but you can use a food processor. I core and chop the apple and add it to the cabbage. I prefer to use a Granny Smith green apple if I have one. As soon as the cabbage and apple is done, I add the salt and set the mixture aside to let the salt start drawing the water out of the cabbage.
I slice the orange and set it aside until the end when I put the kraut in the jar(s).
I always put grated carrots in my kraut, and I like to add daikon when I have it.
Red bell peppers add color.
All this slicing and dicing is labor intensive, so it’s nice to have a kraut friend like Casey Jones to help.
Kale is another vegetable that cultures well.
I slice it very thinly.
I like to add some type of seaweed, in this case, dulse flakes. Dill weed is one of my standard ingredients. Black seed is a more recent addition. I always add garlic when making kraut for myself, but I am a garlic lover.
When everything is in the bowl(s), I toss it with tongs. It makes a beautiful mixture, and it is already somewhat reduced by the salt.
When I first started making cultured vegetables, I made it in a crock pot liner. Then I bought a big crock especially for sauerkraut. Eventually, I realized that putting it in a jar was better. I use a half gallon jar and add smaller jars if I need them. It’s always surprising how much it reduces by the time you fill the jar(s). I use wide mouth canning jars — half gallon, quart, and pint. I buy plastic lids and give the metal ones to friends who do canning.
Sometimes I save some of the outer leaves of the cabbage to put on top. I have glass weights that are nice to add. The vegetables need to be covered with juice as they ferment, and you add spring water if there is not enough juice to cover the vegetables. It’s important to leave an inch at the top of the jar for expansion during fermentation.
I learned about airlock lids from Donna Schwenk and bought several from her store at CulturedFoodLife.com. They were a huge improvement in my fermentation efforts. The big crocks of kraut made my laundry room very stinky. I live in a much smaller house now, so the jars with airlock lids are much more civilized.
I leave the jars with the airlock lids on my kitchen counter until I want to stop the fermentation process. You can open the lid and taste the kraut every day. If you refrigerate it after a few days, the vegetables will be somewhat crunchy and the taste will be mild. The longer it ferments, the mushier the vegetables become and the tarter it will taste.
You can add it to your plate, or you can get creative by adding it to a salad — it’s the magic ingredient in mine — or to vegetables. It’s great on sandwiches too.