Friday, July 6, 2012

Cabbage Time! – July 6, 2012

I love cabbage, but a little cabbage goes a long way, so you definitely need several ways to prepare it if you plan to grow it in your garden.  Fortunately, cabbage will last several weeks in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator if stored in plastic bags with as little air as possible.  I love it cooked in soups and as a side.  I also like it cooked with potatoes and Amish noodles with a little sugar.  But, as much as I love all those warm weather ways to cook cabbage, all I can think about today is the fact that it is 103 degrees in the shade and I’m looking for a summer recipe.

I’m not a mayonnaise fan although I think making it in the blender is a blast, so I always thought I didn’t like Cole Slaw, but then I saw this recipe from the Neely’s of Bar-B-Que restaurant and Food Network fame and I became a convert.  This is the perfect compliment to Bar-B-Que:

Neely’s Sweet and Spicy Slaw

1 pound shredded cabbage
2 grated carrots (optional)
½ minced sweet onion
¼ c. mayo
1/8 c. mustard (I used Dijon)
1 tsp. cider vinegar
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Mix cabbage, onions and carrots.  Whisk other ingredients and pour over.  Chill 2 hours to overnight and serve.

I have also been experimenting with sauerkraut making.  I have made two batches now.  The first was just cabbage, salt and lemon.  It tasted fine but it took 10 weeks to ferment.  So, I read more and realized the secret ingredient is whey.  I bought a container of yogurt and separated out the whey and used to make the second batch (I’m sure you can already guess about next week’s blog since that left me with the yummy firm cheese from the yogurt to experiment with as well).  This time, it only took four days for fermentation to begin. 

Not only does sauerkraut allow you to keep cabbage in the fridge for weeks and freezer for months, it is really, really good for you.  It puts all those healthy enzymes in your stomach and helps you digest other foods.  And although it takes a good deal of time, it’s quite easy.


8-10 cups shredded cabbage, loosely packed (about 2 lbs), about 1 cabbage
10 juniper berries
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
1-2 tsp. un-iodized or pickling salt
½ cup whey (optional)
1 c. filtered water mixed with 1 tsp. salt
1/2 lemon cut in half (optional)

In a clean, non-metallic bowl, mix cabbage, juniper berries, caraway, mustard seeds, and salt.  Stir cabbage to release juices, let rest 10 minutes, add whey if you have it and mix again.  Sterilize jar and lid by boiling.  Pack cabbage into a sterilized quart-sized, wide-mouthed jar, pushing down with a wooden mallet.  Add filtered, or non-chlorinated, salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water) water to rim of jar and cap loosely with a sterilized canning lid. You can also rub a lemon half around the rim to help sterilize.  Place jar on a tray to catch overflowing juices. Keep jar between 65°F and 72°F for 2-3 weeks.

After bubbling stops, check container and top off with salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water, warm slightly to dissolve completely) water if level falls below rim. Skim any (harmless) white spots or film from the top, close jar tightly, wipe off outside of jar and store in the refrigerator until you use it up.

One other idea when growing cabbage to extend your harvest!  After picking your mature cabbage heads from spring planting you can later enjoy a harvest of small heads commonly referred to as cabbage sprouts. The sprouts form on the stumps of the cut stems. You cut your mature head as close to the soil as possible leaving the loose outer leaves intact. The sprouts that will grow here in the loose leaves usually become two to four inches in diameter and should be picked as they firm.

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