This week, we're building on our kraut skills, inviting a celebrity superfood into the mix. (Turmeric can stain badly, so expect your fingers to look like little Minions!) One of the many benefits of eating fermented foods is their gut-supporting role.
Funky ferments such as kimchi, kraut and yoghurt not only taste crazy-delicious, they also party with your pipes. The art of lacto-fermentation involves Colonel Lactobacillus converting veggie sugars into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative that stops the growth of harmful bacteria. How groovy is that?
Of course, being uncooked, ferments have their goodness locked into a tango with all those beneficial bacteria. You're left with a crisp tang that is both bewitching and nourishing. But what I love most about fermented food is that it lasts for weeks in the fridge. I don't have to figure out which veggies need prepping for dinner - it's like having vitamins on tap.
Makes 1 large jar
You will need:
1 large napa or sweetheart cabbage
1½ tablespoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh turmeric
½ teaspoon coarsely ground or smashed black peppercorns
1 Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut out its core, which can be composted, and finely shred the cabbage. You're looking for around 900g. If you fall shy of this amount, you can compensate with some strips of carrot, fennel or spring onion. The ratio of veg to salt is critical to avoid any spoiling.
2 Put the shredded cabbage in a large ceramic bowl with the fine sea salt, the finely grated fresh turmeric and the ground or smashed black peppercorns, and toss to coat. If you'd rather avoid yellow staining, feel free to wear gloves. Leave for 30 minutes. When you return, the salt will have helped to create moisture in the bowl.
3 Now knead the cabbage as if it were dough. You'll hear it crunch and break down its own natural juices. Great! Napa cabbage does this almost immediately, so you'll achieve a wonderful wet mixture in no time. Green cabbage takes the longest, so keep scrunching to release its juices. You need enough natural juice to cover the cabbage in its own brine when it is pressed down into jars.
4 Decant the wet cabbage into one or more glass jars. It's important that the jars are scrupulously clean. Press the cabbage down hard into each jar, submerging it fully into its own brine. You'll need to keep it submerged, so find a small, clean shot glass or other weight to hold it down under the lid. Then leave the cabbage to ferment at room temperature for three to five days. Transfer the jars to a fridge and tuck in whenever the mood yodels. We tend to finish ours within three weeks, and love it served alongside toasties. l