The winter garden is fading fast. The onions, once growing in neat rows, must be hunted for among the ragweed and evening primrose. The lettuce has become tall spires of bright yellow flowers, and the Brussels sprouts have been harvested all the way up the stalks.
The cabbages this year have begun to split open and bloom if i don’t pick them in time, an unusual occurrence, no doubt caused by the harsh winter that vernalized the collards as well.
Really all you need to make pink sauerkraut is red cabbage, but the beets are prolific in the garden this year. Unlike places with richer, sweeter soil, Florida is not friendly to beets. An exciting harvest for me would likely look small and pathetic to the lucky Northern gardener, and it’s only by adding quantities of dolomite lime when they are seeded do i get any sort of harvest at all.
I like beets a lot though. Their rich color and sweetness paired with the earthy flavor appeals to me. In this recipe, i used them to sweeten up the cabbage a bit, which has lost a lot of its sweet flavor in the hot weather.
I almost never can vegetables, preferring the old-fashioned salt pickling instead. I like that it preserves vegetables as a living food, with incredible numbers of diverse beneficial probiotic bacteria rather than the sterile and highly cooked canned pickles.
These salt-pickled vegetables become delightfully sour and keep their crunch better than heat canned veggies, and they provide us with a steady supply of vegetables while we wait for the summer garden come along.
A good- sized head of cabbage
Fine, non- iodized salt
- Very finely slice the cabbage and grate the beets.
- Now the vegetables must be salted. There are specific weight ratios you can follow, but i never have time for that. I salt the grated vegetables until they taste just a little saltier than i would like for a salad. I sprinkle some salt on, mix it up, and add more as necessary.
3. Next the vegetables must be crushed or pounded. This releases the juices so the microorganisms can thrive, and creates a brine to submerge the vegetables under, keeping them in an anaerobic state that preserves them from mold or undesirable bacteria.
I have a wooden vegetable pounder, but just crushing the shredded vegetables with your hands works well too.
4. Now they must be packed into clean glass mason jars. Press the vegetables down with a wooden spoon or your knuckles so the juices are squeezed out.
5. Cap the jars and let them ferment at room temperature for 1-2 weeks at least. If they still taste too salty and not sour enough after 1-2 weeks, your kitchen is colder than mine! Leave them out another week or so, until the kraut is tart and tangy.