tsukemono (aka lacto-fermented Japanese cabbage salad)

We have a guest post today over at Modern Alternative Mama about how (and why you would want to) remove added sugar from your diet.  Click here to check it out!

Jeanne here.

Remember our post from yesterday about simple and effective ways to combat cold/flu season?  I thought you might want another (super easy) lacto-fermented veggie salad that goes with just about anything.

And I’m not sure if you need more evidence to support your decision to make some lacto-fermented veggies, but if you’ve read Sandor Katz [most famous for his book “Wild Fermentation” (affiliate link)], he’s got a great quote about why it’s so important to have fermented foods in our diets:

“In the normal scheme of things, we’d never have to think twice about replenishing the bacteria that allow us to digest food.  But since we’re living with antibiotic drugs and chlorinated water and antibacterial soap and all these factors in our contemporary lives that I’d group together as a ‘war on bacteria,’ if we fail to replenish [good bacteria], we won’t effectively get nutrients out of the food we’re eating.”

That pretty much nails it for me.  And is one of the primary reasons we started fermenting foods (that and I have a love of pickles and sauerkraut 🙂
Here’s what I use to make a simple lacto-fermented tsukemono (Japanese cabbage salad):

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1 gallon fermentation crock (affiliate link)

  • You don’t need to buy a fermentation crock (Abby uses the insert to an old crock pot).  The point is, it should be non-reactive and large enough to hold about a gallon of goodness.

Vitamix mallet or a potato masher (not pictured)

  • I use this to “mash” the cabbage before adding the water.

lead-free glazed saucer

  • There are stone weights you can buy that are made specifically for the crock.  But I’ve never needed one.  A 6-inch saucer turned upside down with a rock on top of it does the trick just fine.

a large rock (or a mason jar filled with water that can act as a weight)

  • I use this to hold the saucer pressed down and in place over the veggies so they remain covered in the saltwater through the process

unbleached organic cheese cloth & a rubber band

  • This is to keep any dust or impurities out of the veggies while they are fermenting.

1/2 gallon mason jar (or 4 quarts, 8 pints, or any mixture of the above)

  • After the veggies are fermented (about 5-7 days), I transfer them to mason jars to store in the fridge.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small head of green cabbage shredded
  • 2 medium carrots julienned
  • 1 daikon radish julienned (optional)
  • 1 piece of dashi kombu (thick japanese seaweed … about 2 inches by 4 inches) (optional)
  • Sea Salt
  • Filtered water

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add the cabbage to your crock and sprinkle with two tablespoons of sea salt and mix to coat the cabbage.  (I use sea salt because of the trace minerals in the unbleached, unprocessed salt.)   Using the VitaMix mallet, I “mash” the cabbage for about 10-20 minutes doing my best to squeeze out as much of the natural liquid in the cabbage as possible.  Then add the carrots and daikon radish and stir to combine.  Add four cups of filtered water.  If the water doesn’t cover the cabbage by about an inch, add another 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt.  (That’s the ratio … 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of salt) until the cabbage mixture is covered by about an inch of water.

Place the piece of dashi kombu on top of the vegetables.

Place the saucer on top of the dashi on top of the cabbage and PRESS DOWN until there’s no more give.

Place the rock on top of the saucer and cover the crock with the cheese cloth.

Put in a warm spot in your kitchen (out of the sunlight) and let it rest.

I check the veggies daily to make sure they are still covered.  With clean hands, I press on the rock to make sure things are nice and squished down.

After 5-7 days, I remove the rock, the plate and the dashi and transfer the cabbage, carrots and daikon to the glass mason jar and move the mixture to the fridge.  It’s ready to eat, and I add it as a side to most meals 🙂

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NOTE:  You can use this method is almost ANY vegetable (cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, onions, scallions, garlic, cucumbers, et al).  It’s easy and delicious.  This is my go-to because I LOVE the delicate Japanese pickle flavor.  But like I mentioned earlier, Abby has a recipe for Mexican Fermented Veggies that I’ve also used and is delicious (goes great with all things Mexican).

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