Time for another ferment.
The idea for this came from a recipe for Brussels sprouts, halved and fermented with dill, garlic and chilies I found at Saveur.com. I was tickled that it was actually fermented; most mainstream recipes I find for pickles (and that’s all a ferment really is) are made with vinegar. But since Beloved has been asking me to make more ‘kraut – he loves it with the grass-fed beef hot dogs our butcher has begun making – I decided to see just how it would taste using my favorite cruciferous vegetable.
It’s interesting. I tend to prefer ferments before they get too terribly sour (the exception to that was the dilly beans, which just got better the longer they fermented); not much of a problem because we eat them quickly once they make the transition from the counter to the refrigerator. This particular ferment, however, is different.
Brussels sprouts have a much stronger flavor than cabbage and even a week after transferring the jar to fridge, the kraut still tasted overwhelmingly of garlic and Brussels sprouts. The longer it cures, though, the more sour – and the tastier – it becomes; I’ve begun to wish I’d left it on the counter for at least a week before putting it in cold storage, which slows down the fermentation process (but does not stop it).
Again, it’s interesting; I pull the jar out of the fridge every day or two and eat a big forkful to see how it’s coming along. I’m literally tasting it as it changes character from salty, garlicky Brussels sprouts to a sharp, sour kraut that makes my tastebuds tingle. It’s going to be marvelous by the time we get to the end of our jar, and I’ll make it again.
I used celery seed in this instead of the fresh dill called for in the original recipe because, for one, I have a large jar of celery seed in my spice cabinet that should be used and because the fresh dill in the dilly beans, while delicious, was a bit of a mess at the end and I didn’t want to have to pick most of it out of the kraut in order to eat it. It was a good choice; the celery flavor is subtle, but delicious. You can leave out the red pepper flakes if you like, but they do a lot to tame the strong, cabbagey flavor of the sprouts. The garlic is a must – don’t skip it.
Click the image to enlarge
- 4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
- 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- filtered water
- Have ready a clean, dry 1 quart glass jar.
- Layer the shredded Brussels sprouts into the jar until it is about 1/4 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the sprouts begin to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a bit of the celery seed, a few peppercorns, a pinch of the red pepper flakes and a clove of garlic.
- Repeat the previous step, pounding the mixture between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add enough filtered water to cover the kraut. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
- Top off the kraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged, or use a glass weight. Cap loosely and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the kraut begins to bubble.
- Transfer to the refrigerator and continue to cure for 3 to 4 weeks before eating.
- Nutrition (per serving): 13 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 358.6mg sodium, 99.3mg potassium, 2.7g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein