We had a fantastic open house and invited many friends old and new. Everyone came and feasted on vegan black-eyed peas, rice, and greens, mini corn muffins with ham and mustard butter, fantastic desserts provided by our party co-host and much much more.
We made wild sauerkraut to go with our black-eyed peas, rice, and greens. Sauerkraut tastes particularly good when used as a foil for any rich bean dish and, I recently learned, it’s a traditional lucky New Year’s Day food in Eastern Europe.
Not only is sauerkraut lucky, but you would do well to add fermented foods to whatever healthy diet resolutions you may have made for the New Year. Fermented foods are filled with healthy microorganisms that are beneficial for your immune and digestive systems. And they taste great. Fermentation is a cornerstone of civilization itself. Honestly, where would we be without salami, cheese, coffee, chocolate, sourdough bread, wine, beer, and certain teas, like puer? The good news is you don’t need a degree in microbiology to ferment foods at home. And you don’t even need a starter culture. You can ferment in your own kitchen using the microbial organisms living unnoticed among your silverware, spices, and olive oil. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years. For more information on wild fermentation, check out Sander Katz’s site. If you ever have a chance to attend one of his workshops when he’s in town, don’t miss it. He’s an engaging and funny speaker and self-described “fermentation fetishist”.
Wild Happy New Year Sauerkraut
1 head green cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible
2-3 carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
3-4 red turnips, grated on the large holes of a box grater
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
Put all the vegetables in a large bowl along with the salt and fennel seeds. With clean hands, toss and squeeze the vegetables until they start to soften and release their liquid (about 5 minutes). Pack them tightly into a glass jar, pushing down on them with as much force as you can until the level of liquid rises above the vegetables. Put a smaller jar inside the glass jar to keep the vegetables submerged. Cover with a clean tea towel and secure with a rubber band. Set on the kitchen counter for about 5 days. Check once daily to be sure the vegetables stay submerged, pushing down on them if needed. Taste daily starting on the 3rd day. The sauerkraut is ready when it tastes good to you. This could be anywhere from 3-10 days. When it’s to your liking, you may screw the lid on and transfer it to the refrigerator. Will last weeks or months in the refrigerator. It’s only bad when it doesn’t taste good to you anymore.