Mixed Greens Sauerkraut: Tangy Goodness from the Winter Garden
Sauerkraut is one of the crowning achievements of man. Take some raw vegetables, let 'em rot in a dignified and salty fashion, and they reveal hidden treasure troves of nutrients and scrumptiously enhanced flavor.
Traditionally made with cabbage, sauerkraut can be made with any mix of vegetables of which at least half come from the brassica family: the familiar cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, and more.
In my winter garden, brassicas are heavily featured. Some, like collards, are meant to be consumed by the leaf as they ripen. Others are typically harvested for the full grown heads or flowers, like broccoli and most cabbage. All of these, though, make a delicious, tangy, probiotic-laden kraut!
Fermenting sauerkraut is easy and fun. Store bought sauerkraut is usually pasteurized, killing all of the wonderful little friends it holds for your gut. Homemade sauerkraut is a great way to use your leafy greens from the winter garden, a fantastic holiday gift, and a cornucopia of beneficial bacteria.
This is my recipe for mixed greens sauerkraut. It's tailored to the veggies growing in my winter garden. Feel free to modify it to suit what you have on hand. The only rule is that at least half of the ingredients should come from the brassica family. Enjoy!
- 4 lbs mixed vegetables, at least half brassica family (I use cabbage, kale, collard greens, komatsuna, and broccoli, cauliflower, and romanesco leaves)
- 4 tsp salt
- 4 tsp caraway seeds
- Wash greens and shave into thin strips. For cabbage, cut out heart and shave remainder. For leafy greens with tough stems, like collards and broccoli leaves, cut stem out from center, roll leaves, and slice into thin strips.
- Layer shaved greens in a large, non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with salt.
- Massage greens and salt vigorously for 15 to 20 minutes, or let sit for 1 to 2 hours, until the greens release enough of their water to form brine sufficient to cover them (about 2-1/2 cups of brine for 4lbs of greens).
- Add caraway seeds and mix well.
- Pack greens and brine densely into a jar, crock, or Perfect Pickler system. If using a jar, cover greens with a few full leaves to seal in juices, then press down with a cup or a chunk of cabbage and cover jar with a clean cloth. In a crock, add weights to keep your kraut below the top of your brine. In the Perfect Pickler system, pack to within two inches of the top of your jar, fill with brine to within 3/4 inches (adding distilled or boiled water if needed to reach 3/4 mark), attach lid and airlock.
- Ferment at room temperature (65 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit) for one to three weeks. Test every week for flavor. When kraut is suitably tangy, transfer it to a loosely covered bowl or jar in the fridge. Don't disturb your fermenting kraut more than once a week.
I love the Perfect Pickler fermentor system. It fits the top of any wide-mouthed mason jar, allowing pickling and kraut-making without any expensive crock setup. The top airlock is simple and elegant, and allows for in-jar fermentation with no worries about explosion or contamination. Easy, inexpensive, and effective!