January 01, 2004

A Winter Ferment

Most typical winter dishes goes under the unassuming name of kvashenaya kapusta – sour (fermented) cabbage. Ordinary and unsophisticated as it seems, this cousin to Germany’s sauerkraut can be an exotic treat to the taste buds, plus a great source of vitamin C.

In Russia, cabbage is usually fermented in November, when healthy-looking white heads travel from the farm to the stores and markets. However, timing is of no importance. The main thing is to secure cabbage that is white and fresh (avoid the greenish looking ones).

Prepare a space in the kitchen large enough to accommodate the coming mess, especially if you are making a batch larger than 10 kilos. Then you will need a large capacity urn or bucket in which to ferment the cabbage. Traditionally, Russians used oaken barrels, and this would be ideal for the purpose (and very authentic) if you have one at hand. But a large ceramic pot will do.

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