Soured Cabbage

Every country in Europe including Turkey seems to have a tradition of souring cabbage by fermentation. Soured cabbage = Sauer kraut. It's delicious, dead easy and could help to keep you healthy – there's a very good case for eating live, fermented foods.

Cabbage ferments naturally, adding salt stops it from going off and the process preserves the vitamin content. And since cabbages are grown and available thoughout the year it can be made anytime.

The process requires a vessel with more or less parallel sides, a large straight sided cassrrole will do, but so will a large jar or a large food grade plastic container. A round plate is also needed that will sit snuggly inside the vessel without too much of a gap between it and the inside perimeter of the vessel.

You can use any sort of cabbage, a white cabbage will give something closer to traditional sauerkraut. Discard the outer leaves then shred the cabbage. While filling the vessel with the cabbage, sprinkle a little salt on each layer – there should be a flatish tablespoon of salt per 2lbs of shredded cabbage.

Fill the vessel, put the plate on top. You need to find a weight to put on top of this. A jar full of water will do. Cover with a cloth and put somewhere cool.

Over the next couple of days the salt will draw liquid out from the cabbage and the fermentation will begin. Press the plate down and you'll hear CO2 bubbling out of the cabbage. In a week or so (depending on the temperature) the cabbage will be sour and ready to eat*. Take it out bit by bit and replace the plate etc.

You can remove the last inch or so and keep it in a jar in the fridge. Hang onto any remaining liquid and include this in the next batch you make – it'll get off to a flying start

*The souring process can go on for months. In some traditions cabbages are soured whole or cut into large portions, and soured along with other vegetables. This process is clearly an excellent way of preserving vegetables and their nutitional value. Captain Cook took soured cabbage on his pioneering round-the-world voyages to keep himself and his crew healthy and free from scurvy – so perhaps the British have only recently forgotten about souring cabbage.