Why should cabbage have all of the fermented fun? Let's see if you can make sauerkraut with collard greens!
Two years ago I went to Asheville for Moogfest. I was in my second trimester of pregnancy, and I got to have supper with an out-of-town coworker, Brett, before the sets started one evening. We ate at Plant, and we talked about blogging, food, and fermentation.
I can't remember how we got onto the topic of fermented food, but there we were. Brett told me about his recent adventures in making sauerkraut, and I wondered out loud whether you could make kraut with other cruciferous leafy veggies. For some (probably pregnancy-related) reason, my brain got fixated on making collard kraut.
Brett's take on the idea was basically, "Why not? Try it!" So when I got back to Atlanta, I used the directions he gave me for kraut-making and started a batch. When it was ready, though, I got cold feet. I was pregnant, and the idea of eating an experimental home fermentation project seemed a little bit too risky.
But y'all. I'm not pregnant now.
I recently took over as site director at my friend Andrea's site: Vibrant Wellness Journal. One of my jobs is to give older content on the site some love, and when I was looking for awesome older posts to feature, I came across her tutorial for making sauerkraut. I featured it in this list of fermented foods, for example.
It reminded me of that sauerkraut conversation from a couple of years ago. Then Cadry shared a bunch of sauerkraut ideas on her site, and that was it. This was on. Collard kraut, ahoy!
The collard kraut recipe that I'm trying out is based on Andrea's instructions. Basically, it's her recipe with collards replacing the cabbage. I mean, not basically. That is my recipe. I don't know how it's going to turn out yet, so I'm not going to post a proper recipe yet. If it works, I'll add the recipe to this page, AND I have a plan for a sandwich that uses the finished product. So I hope it works out.
Let the fermentation begin!
Collard Kraut Notes
This is not a recipe yet! Below are some sketchy notes, so I won't forget what I did and what I still need to do.
I edited the list below on the evening of 10/6. It was day four, and my kraut smelled like death. For real. I'm woozy just thinking about it. Some kraut-making pros looked at what I did and gave me tips. The edits in bold below reflect their advice, so I can come back here and see where I blew it.
- 1 bunch collards, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3 ½ cups)
- 1 tablespoon salt (I didn't have sea salt.)
- Massage, just like making a collard salad, then set aside while you boil your jar(s). Collards need to sit for at least 15 minutes, so also set a timer in case the jars don't take that long. The jar part took me longer, but who knows how the laws of physics behave in your kitchen? - Heidi Hansen, kraut pro, says that the 15 minutes don't really matter. What does matter is letting the jars cool.
- Cover jar in water, bring to boil, boil 5 minutes. Add lid and ring and boil for another minute. Leave everything in the pot with the heat off, pull jar out right when you're ready to pack it. - Do this first next time, while the jar is cooling.
- With clean hands, cram collards into jar, pour over liquid that it released. Add extra water, so your kraut is submerged. I swirled a splash of water in the bowl where my kraut wilted, because there was salt stuck to the sides, and I wanted to make sure there was plenty of salt in that jar for preserving. I think collards must release a lot less water than cabbage, because I had maybe a tablespoon of brine in my bowl, tops, after massaging and then letting it wilt for 15 minutes. - DO NOT ADD PLAIN WATER. Heidi suggested something like lemon juice instead.
- Place a clean collard leaf on top, put the lid onto your jar, and let it sit at room temperature for three days, pressing the kraut down once a day with a clean non-metal spoon. Taste on day three and daily afterwards until it tastes sour and delicious. - Heidi says not to use the leaf, though I may, since I don't have any other non-reactive barrier to use and some folks do use it. Also, I need to use a jar with a wider mouth, so whatever weight I use actually fits inside. Also don't close the jar, because you need the oxygen to be able to leave.
Well, that didn't go so well. But! My scientist friend Karen reminded me that, "In science, negative results are still results." So I'm channeling my inner Sam Vimes and focusing on getting a result at all.