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Curtido - Salvadoran Sauerkraut
El Salvador / Nicaragua
  -   Curtido
1-3/4 c  
3+ days  
This condiment is essential to accompany the popular pupusas (a thick corn totilla stuffed with cheese, pork, beans, or any combination of those). Many recipes today just pickle the cabbage in vinegar. Our recipe uses the traditional salt fermentation - just like real German / Polish sauerkraut and Korean Kimchee (see Note-4).



Cabbage, white
Jalapeño chilis (1)  
Oregano, dried (2)
Sea Salt (3)
Make   -   (3+ days - 25 min work)
  1. Core the CABBAGE and shred about 1/8 inch wide. I cut cabbage in quarters lengthwise and slice each quarter crosswise.
  2. Cut ONION in half lengthwise and slice thin crosswise.
  3. Shred or grate CARROTS thin. I use a julienning vegetable peeler.
  4. Cap, core and seed the JALAPEÑOS. Dice small.
  5. Mix All Vegetables and weigh them accurately.
  6. In a large, non-reactive bowl, mix Vegetables, including Oregano. Add Sea Salt at a ratio of 0.6 T per pound of vegetables (0.0375 T per ounce) - thus 3-1/2 pounds (this recipe) would need 2.1 tablespoons. In metric it's 11.1 grams per pound (454 grams), or 0.7 grams per ounce.
  7. Tumble very well to make sure the salt is evenly distributed. Let the vegetables sweat and soften. Periodically, massage them firmly, and pound them with your fists. About 45 minutes is good.
  8. Pack into a crock or very wide mouthed jar, including all liquid - and I do mean pack - push it down hard. Packed down, this recipe should fit into a 1/2 gallon kimchee jar (what I use). By this time there should be almost enough liquid to cover. Weight it to squeeze more liquid out. A jar full of water, one that just fits into the container, will do.
  9. In about 10 hours, enough liquid should have been squeezed out to completely cover the vegetables. To be sure, add some brine to cover by about 1 inch. The brine should be a shade less than one teaspoon of salt per cup of water.
  10. Cover so nothing can get in, but not so tightly as CO2 can not escape. The condiment can be used in about 3 days, flavor improves if given 5 days. If you want to maximize probiotics, you can ferment for 2 weeks or more. As it ferments, the vegetables may "heave" (rise). If so, punch them down and add brine if you need to. Fermentation stops when refrigerated, and it can be kept for months.
  1. Jalapeño:   Two of these produce a curtido with barely detectable heat. Use your own judgement as to whether you want it hotter. For details see our Chili Page.
  2. Oregano:   Properly, this should be Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens), leaves of a shrub that grows in the region. This is rather hard to find even here in Los Angeles, so you may have to use regular oregano. Mexican Oregano is a bit more minty in flavor, so maybe add a little dried mint.
  3. Sea Salt:   Important - While this recipe will ferment with regular table salt, it works better if you use real, unrefined sea salt. Most major brands of "sea salt" may have come from sea water but are heavily refined (they make more on the stuff they refine out than on the salt). Those "trace minerals" are important to proper fermentation. The best place to get real, unrefined sea salt at an acceptable price is from a Korean market. The Koreans do a lot of salt fermenting, and demand the real thing. Note that the quantity of salt per pound is fairly critical.
  4. Fermentation:   Aside from a generally better flavor, naturally fermented vegetables are noted to improve gut flora, which is held by many health practitioners to improve everything else, including brain health.
  5. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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