Cabbage is one of the emblematic vegetables of lacto-fermentation.
And for good reasons: it's nutritious, inexpensive, hard to miss and delicious once fermented.
However, don't think you have to limit yourself to plain sauerkraut (however much we love a good plain sauerkraut...).
Given it's widely available around many parts of the world, numerous cultures have used this vegetable to make dishes as colourful as they are tasty.
Whether it's for seasoned fermenters looking for new recipes or those starting their adventure in the world of fermentation, here are six ways to ferment cabbage around the world!
When we talk about sauerkraut, the first image that comes to mind is surely that of traditional Alsatian sauerkraut.
Very popular in the Alsace region (France) and Germany, this sauerkraut is composed of cabbage, salt and some herbs: juniper berries, bay leaves and caraway seeds.
This sauerkraut is light, tangy and a bit scented, making it the perfect side for heavier dishes such as cold cuts and meat dishes.
It is the basis of "choucroute garnie" (garnished sauerkraut), where it is served with sausages from the French terroir.
If you want to highlight the cabbage and taste all the nuances, sauerkraut Alsatian is made for you!
In Russia and other Eastern European countries, cabbage is either fermented alone or with other vegetables such as carrots, beets or peppers to make an Eastern European-style sauerkraut.
Did you know? Russia and Eastern Europe countries are large consumers of fermented foods!
Traditionally, vegetables were fermented in large quantities to get through the long winter months. Indeed, the fermentation process preserves and improve the nutrients in food for the long term.
Once fermented, the vegetables are eaten cold as a side salad or made into a tasty and nutritious soup.
Want to try something different? Add some cranberries to your sauerkraut.
The Korean adage says it well: a meal without kimchi is not a real meal!
Kimchi represents a variety of fermented vegetables that are very popular in Korea. The best-known kimchi is certainly baechu kimchi, also known as nappa kimchi.
A special feature of kimchi is the use of gochugaru pepper, a Korean chili pepper that is vibrant, mildly spicy and with a slight smoky taste.
In addition to this pepper, baechu kimchi often contains daikon, onions, Asian pears, garlic, ginger and fish sauce.
It's hard to find one single recipe: there are as many recipes as there are Korean families!
Curtido is halfway between a cabbage salad and a relish made of cabbage, carrot and onion.
Spiced with jalapeño and oregano, this condiment is both fresh, crisp and pleasantly spicy!
Curtido is usually served with the national dish of El Salvador: pupusas, or delicious flat bread made of corn and stuffed with meat, vegetables and/or cheese.
Curtido is easy to make, and sometimes pickled with vinegar. However, why not ferment it? A short fermentation will create a pleasant tanginess while preserving the crunchiness of the vegetables.
Want to experiment with spicy fermentations? Pikliz is a good way to start!
Pikliz is a Haitian specialty made of cabbage, carrots, thyme ... and Scotch bonnet peppers!
This chili pepper is up to 140 times stronger than jalapeño, which gives a strong personality to pikliz.
Every Haitian home has a pot of pikliz in its kitchen, to accompany the traditional grillot (fried pork) and any dish that needs a little uplifting.
Pikliz is infinitely customisable, by adding or removing spices or vegetables. It's up to you to find your favourite combination!
Several recipes marinate pikliz with bitter orange juice. In a fermented version, citrus zest plays a similar role and brings a pleasant freshness to the condiment.
There is more variety of cabbages than green cabbage!
For example, gai choy, also called mustard cabbage, is very popular in Vietnam. This cabbage looks like bok choy but with a more pronounced taste.
It is delicious in the form of cai chua, fermented in a sweet salty brine with a little onion and sometimes chili.
The result? A crunchy, tangy and tasty accompaniment that slips into everyday meals. In stir-fries or served alongside fatty foods, it helps digestion and stimulates the appetite.