Swedish cabbage massage, a lot of vinegar and a whole lot of cleaning up!

Before the pickling began…

This month our multi-talented secretary Sophie (WI admin skills and pickling – what a combination!) led us in a session on the ancient art of pickling and fermentation.  Who knew that the Chinese invented sauerkraut years before the people of Eastern Europe claimed it as their own?  Originally used as a way to preserve vegetables grown in summer before the barren winter months in pre-refrigeration days, fermenting is definitely having a resurgence!

As well as being really good for your digestive health (all that natural bacteria formed in the fermentation process is great for your belly), pickling and fermenting is also really fun and easy.  We all went home with a jar of red cabbage saurkraut and some cauliflower pickle after just an hour (although the sauerkraut is at the time of writing still in the fermentation stage…)  Here are some recipes to get you started if you missed out or loved it so much you want another go!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

  • 1/2 red cabbage
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp juniper berries
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds

You will need sterilised jars, for instruction on how to do this check out this BBC link

Slice the cabbage into ribbons 5mm wide.  Put in a bowl with the salt.  Then get your hands in the bowl and massage the hell out of it!  Definitely think sports or swedish rather than a nice relaxing massage…  It wants to be looking nice and shiny and be good and squished.  Leave for about an hour to sweat out its juices.

Fill your jar about half way with the cabbage.  Grate in the apple and add the chilli, juniper and caraway seeds.  If there is any liquid from the cabbage chuck that in too.

With a muddler, rolling pin or anything else with a flat end, squash everything about until you have enough liquid to cover the cabbage.

Put something on top of the cabbage to weigh it down (we used plastic bags filled with water).  Make sure that the sides of the jar are free of any stray bits of veg (or these will go manky in contact with the air).  Cover the top with a muslin square or clean tea towel.  Leave without the lid on in a warm place for 2-3 weeks.  Fermentation should start in 10-15 days.  After this you can taste it until it gets to the flavour you want.   Then chuck the lid on and pop it in the fridge.

Vegetable Pickles

finish pickles
The finished product!
  • 1 1/2 cups white or cider vinegar (we used cider)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Vegetables (we used cauliflower and chillis)

We slightly cheated and used a pickling spice mix instead of the bits listed above!  We also added some turmeric for the lovely yellow colour.

You will need more sterilised jars as above.

Chop up your vegetables and pop them in your jar.  Stick all the rest of the ingredients in a pan over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour over your veg (making sure it is covered) and pop the lid on securely.  Leave to cool before sticking in the fridge for at least a week.  Et voila!