This is the time of year I typically ferment a lot of vegetables from the garden. The cool fall weather provides good growing conditions for things like cabbage, kohlrabi and radishes, all of which are tasty when fermented. This year I have added collard greens to the list of foods I am fermenting. I first heard about making collard kraut on an episode of A Chef’s Life that aired on our local PBS station. I didn’t have enough greens to ferment last year, so this year I made sure to plant more so we had plenty for fresh eating and for fermenting.
For my first collard ferment, I choose to make a recipe from Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer. Whole Leaf Collard Greens is a quick ferment that uses whole collard leaves that are rolled up like a rug and fermented in a salt water brine solution for a week or less. My leaves didn’t quite fit in a quart jar after rolling , so I folded them in half before stuffing in the jar and covering with brine. I let them ferment at room temperature (around 74°F) for one week. I used leaves from the hybrid Flash for this batch since it had a lot of big ones.
We got our first taste of them yesterday. The leaves are not as tender as cooked collards, but they have a lovely flavor. My idea was to use them as wraps for a savory filling. Chef’s Life star Vivian Howard has a recipe for Collard Dolmades in her book Deep Run Roots, which should serve as a good starting point for recipe ideas. The salty, tart leaves should pair well with a number of fillings. They could also be cooked, but that would kill the beneficial probiotic bacteria.
The kimchi I started earlier in the month is now ready to put in the refrigerator and start eating. I got my first taste yesterday when I had some for a side dish at lunch. It was tasty at 18 days old, and I think it gets even better with age. Since I made two quarts it should be around for a bit.
The kimchi has a deep red color from the homemade gochugaru powder I used. The cabbage gets brined overnight in a 5% salt brine. I also like to add a bit of grated daikon radish and some green onion to the cabbage after brining. Then I make a seasoning paste from garlic, ginger, onion, fish sauce and soy sauce along with the gochugaru powder. I add the paste to the cabbage mix and into the jar(s) it goes for a couple of weeks.
Another thing I like to do with the kimchi is add it to grilled cheese for a ‘kimcheese’ sandwich. I make it with homemade rye bread, and toast it in a skillet on low heat so as to preserve all the probiotic bacteria in the kimchi. It’s also tasty as a topper for other sandwiches, and if I are hot dogs or brats more often I would surely use it on those!
Next in line for fermenting will be some of the daikon radishes I have sizing up in the garden right now. The purple Sweet Baby daikon radishes make a particularly colorful and tasty kimchi. I hope you have enjoyed a look at some of what’s happening here in late October.