I’m always on the search for new things to do with wild food. Whilst foraging and cooking with ingredients on the same day is great, it’s nice to have a way of preserving them so that you can eek out that wild goodness for a bit longer.
Step in FERMENTATION!
Me and fermented food have got it GOIN’ ON at the moment, what with wanting to eradicate the whole Group B Strep thing, so I’m on a fermenting frenzy.
Saurkraut is super easy to make and ridiculously good for you. When you add in some wild food, well, that just takes it to a whole other level of nutritional supremacy.
HEALTH SOVEREIGNTY, BABY!
First step is to pick and wash (in spring water) a couple of handfuls of wild greens. There’s not much on the go here at the moment. I managed a whack of baby cleavers (sticky willies), a dod of garlic mustard and a handful of young leaves of dandelion. Wild Spring greens are still a couple of weeks away…
Then choose what you’re going to put in your saurkraut. Cabbage is the usual fayre but you can chuck in ANYTHING you like. I raided the fridge for what was hanging about. I opted for 1 x green cabbage, 2 x celery, 1 x apple, 2 x carrot, 3 x garlic cloves. Grate all the ingredients. We use a Magimix for speed. Fold in the wild greens – chopped!
Make sure to save a couple of the big cabbage leaves from the outside of the cabbage. You’re gonna need these at the end.
Once it’s all grated, sprinkle with salt – good quality Celtic Sea Salt, not any pish table salt! I guess I probably used 2 teaspoons all in all.
How much salt to use depends on taste but it’s needed to extract the liquid from the veg and you need the liquid to submerge the vegetables in so that it ferments.
Sprinkle it through the layers of veg. I usually leave the salt on it for a good half hour to seep in. Because I have such an awesome social life I was going out for a few hours yesterday so I ended up leaving it to sit for four hours or so. I think that’s good for getting bacteria from the air in aboot it 🙂
Next comes the hardest part – massaging your veggies!
Work the salt in to the mix and give it a good squeeze to get the liquid flowing.
This should probably take about ten mins or so, depends on how good a vegetable masseur you are! 🙂
We finally sprinkled a probiotic capsule in to the mix. You don’t have to do that but the probiotic capsules we use have a particular strain known to help eradicate Group B Strep (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) so we want to encourage that one to flourish!
Once you feel you’ve got some liquid on the go it’s time to squeeeeeze it in to your container. You can use one of those fancy-shmancy containers with the air lock but I just use a flip-top lid one. Using the flip-top containers just means you need to keep an eye on it, if it is making noises you might need to release the pressure every once in a while. I usually don’t have to do this provided there’s a good amount of space left at the top.
Knead it right down in there to get the liquid rising and making sure there’s very little air gaps. It helps if you do it a small handful at a time. Push down hard!
Load it up until the veggies are submerged under the liquid. Now you pop your saved big cabbage leaves on top and push down so that they’re under the liquid too. If you want to wedge something between the lid and the cabbage leaves to make sure they stay submerged you can do. I used a little bowl for this (can’t even see it in this picture) as I had a bit of a gap.
Pop it away somewhere reasonably warm and dark for about 6 weeks to let it ferment. Like I said, keep an eye on it to see if it’s fizzing or leaking slightly and be careful when opening it.
If you want to learn how to ferment anything (including your Gran), I highly recommend The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz.