Okay, I tried to get the directions from my mother the best I could, so hopefully this would work if someone were to try it. (Does anyone else have a harder time getting a recipe from their mom than they would pulling teeth?)
I can't guarantee that this recipe will work for everybody, but I did my best to get the best instructions. *I am not* an expert at this, so please don't blame me if it doesn't come out right. My mother is the "expert" here, so I hope this works for you all. Also, I want to warn you guys that the 5-6 days that it is left to ferment, it's going to stink up your house (especially if you're not used to it), but don't let it discourage you from eating it!
The most basic fermented cabbage is just with cabbage, which would traditionally (Eastern European) be served with potatoes and meat. To dress the cabbage and cover the sourness, fresh grated carrot and apple would be added to it.
You can make your own fermented cabbage with any or all of the following ingredients:
fresh red cabbage-1; sliced
fresh white cabbage-1; sliced
3-4 cloves garlic(or as desired)-diced/chopped
celery-1 stalk; sliced/chopped
ginger root-as desired; minced
raw beet-1; shredded(food processor?)
carrots-3 large; shredded
Ideally a wooden barrell would be used to ferment the vegetables in. My mother used a 1 gallon (?) glass jar. You are going to need something to apply pressure onto the vegetables. Ideally, a wood plate with a heavy granite stone on top. The jar top is smaller than the circumference in the middle, so we had to use a bendable plastic lid that was around the same circumference. We used a closed glass jar filled with water to weigh it down (make sure there's no paper on the jar). Then a cloth is used to cover the top of the barrel/jar for the duration of the fermenting process.
To avoid any yeast or mold from contaminating, boil water and swish it around in the jar, the lid, the weight, and whatever you use to pound the vegetables with. Something like a wooden baseball bat would work. This is done so that it doesn't turn into vinegar. (We used a home made wooden mallet type thing my father made in the workshop).
Put all ingredients in the jar and pound until the juices come out and the vegetables look like they've had a good pounding. If you want to add some flavor, use a cup of water (distilled;filtered) and add a heaping tsp. of Sea Salt
, cayenne, pepper, ginger, etc., so that it mixes well with the veggies. Add the water and spices after it is pounded to release the juice.
Now the fermentation is ready to begin. Place the lid and weight on top your veggies and cover with the cloth.
The fermentation process will depend on the weather. Warm weather will speed up the fermentation which is good if you want to eat it ASAP :). The best way to tell if it is done fermenting, is when the bubbles stop to form. Then, you can put it in the fridge. Also, if you want to speed up the process, you can use purchased raw fermented cabbage (not canned pastuerized) or a previous batch, and add a heaping tablespoon to the new one.
As it ferments, the juice will start to fill up. You can remove some of the juice and let it ferment some more (1-2 days?), and then drink it for a healthy drink. A cup in the morning is what some people did, and it's even good for kids. You only have to take out the juice if you don't want it to overflow, otherwise, just leave the juice if you want.
To taste if it is fermented to your liking (not too sour), use a clean utensil, but do not put it back in. Our last batch was made on Wednesday and put in the fridge Monday morning. It had 1 head of cabbage with garlic, onion, celery, apples, and carrot. The temp. has been mild (60-70 deg.) with the exception of Sunday going up to 80. It came out great.
That's pretty much it for the recipe. I just want to mention that I wouldn't want to eat some before a social gathering as it gives me some serious flatulence on occasion (giggle). Here's some other stuff my mother told me:
Growing up, making cabbage took a whole day with help from the whole family. My mother's uncle had a huge wooden barrel in the cellar, so that it would stay cool in the winter. She helped slice the many heads of cabbage that they grew in the field. Her aunt would also add carrots to it. Her uncle pounded the cabbage with a huge wooden club, and it was a pretty laborious job. Before placing the wood on top, they placed whole apples on top of the cabbage to sweeten the taste. A large stone was placed on top, and it was covered with a cloth.
Fermented vegetables was also made by farmers as feed for pigs and cattle. All the leftovers from the field (tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, etc.) would be placed in a large concrete basin. A large wooden cover would be placed on top and it was left to ferment through the fall months. The smell in her town was overwhelming, but it was very healthy for the animals.
I can try to help with any questions, but as I stated, I'm not the expert. Good Luck Cabbage Lovers!!! :D