Fermentation is a mysterious alchemy that’s intimidated me for years. The idea of harnessing bacteria to create my favorite foods felt like something only an expert could pull off. I was also pretty sure it would smell terrible.
Then my friend Autumn Giles’ book Beyond Canning, New Techniques, Ingredients, and Flavors to Preserve, Pickle, and Ferment Like Never Before landed on my doorstop. Autumn quickly allayed my fears, showing me how simple fermentation really is and walking me through the process step-by-step. I was ready!
I bought my supplies – the kitchen scale I’ve needed forever, as well as a simple airlock system to keep smells at bay. With those, I first made a batch of Pink Salt Kraut, Autumn’s most basic kraut recipe. And by basic, I mean the only ingredients are cabbage and pink Himalayan salt. A week on the counter, and a quart of perfectly fermented kraut was mine! Next up, I tried the Pink House Kraut. Where the Pink Salt Kraut was simple, this vivid kraut is wild. Made with red cabbage, beets, daikon, and ginger, the intensity of the hue is matched by the flavor. I let this batch go for longer than my basic kraut, tasting daily as the bite of daikon and ginger mellowed with beets and cabbage into a flavorful and complex creation.
Beyond Canning is full of inventive recipes and clever twists on basics. Autumn walks readers through each step of preserving, pickling, and fermenting, offering helpful advice and hand-drawn illustrations throughout. The mark of a good cookbook is how quickly the once crisp pages become rumpled and splattered and my copy of Beyond Canning is showing the love. For future experiments, I’ve bookmarked Autumn’s Bloody Mary Pickled Eggs, Celery Shrub, Salty Dog Kraut, Gochugaro Preserved Lemons, Old Bay Pickled Cauliflower, and Roasted Strawberry Compote. But Autumn’s book doesn’t just offer creative recipes, it gives readers the tools and basics they need to invent their own flavors and ferments, making a practice of preserving in every season.
I’m thrilled to be giving away a copy of Beyond Canning, New Techniques, Ingredients, and Flavors to Preserve, Pickle, and Ferment Like Never Before! To enter, leave a comment below with the most adventurous, interesting, or just delicious flavor combination to come out of your kitchen. Giveaway closes Wednesday, March 23rd at noon. Thanks for entering! Update: Giveaway is closed – thanks for entering!
In the Pink House Kraut headnote, Autumn tells us readers that this kraut is nearly the same hue as the exterior of her Arizona home (!!!). She also tells us that she enjoys the recipe atop a bed of arugula, though I had only a bag of mellower spinach in hand and went with that. To the spinach I added carrot matchsticks and avocado slices, plus a generous pile of Pink House Kraut, a drizzle of olive oil, and a big pinch of smoked sea salt. The vibrant kraut transformed what was a nice, if a little boring, salad into something lively, delicious, and super nourishing.
Since fermentation relies on proportions, you’ll need a small kitchen scale for this recipe. You’ll also want to use an airlock system (easily available online or at a cooking supply outlets with a focus on canning).
For some of Autumn’s fermentation basics, check out this article.
- 340 grams red cabbage (about half a small head), thinly sliced on a mandoline or as thin as you can with a knife
- 180 grams daikon, thinly sliced on a mandoline or as thin as you can with a knife
- 170 grams red beet (about 2 small), thinly sliced on a mandoline or grated
- 15 grams fresh unpeeled ginger, grated
- 11 grams sea salt
- In a large glass bowl, combine cabbage, daikon, beets, ginger, and sea salt.
- Use your hands to stir ingredients together, then work salt into produce using your hands for about 2 minutes. If you've ever "massaged" kale for a salad, that's the motion you want to employ here. In slightly less technical terms, it's basically smooshing. The vegetables will begin releasing their liquid.
- Use your hands to pack the produce tightly into a quart mason jar, one handful at a time.
- One produce is packed in the jar, push it down with your fist, the back of a wooden spoon, or both, a few times.
- Now produce should be just about covered in its own brine.
- Secure jar with an airlock system and allow kraut to ferment for up to 2 weeks. You may begin tasting for doneness after 3 days. (Note: Kraut took about 10 days for me.)
- Cover, label, and refrigerate for long-term storage.
Disclosure: I was given a free copy of Beyond Canning, New Techniques, Ingredients, and Flavors to Preserve, Pickle, and Ferment Like Never Before.