Brussels sprouts are basically teeny tiny heads of cabbage. Anything that tastes good with cabbage, tastes good with Brussels sprouts. One of my favorite ways to make sauerkraut is as Curtido, a South American (El Salvado if you want to get uber specific) sauerkraut. Why not try it with my little mini cabbages?
I’ve read that curtido is traditionally made with pineapple vinegar, though some will use apple cider vinegar. I actually do have pineapple vinegar (recipe here: Pineapple Vinegar) but vinegar inhibits lactic acid bacteria, the bacteria we are trying to encourage. So rather than add pineapple vinegar, I added some canned pineapple. Fresh pineapple would probably be better but I didn’t have any. Normally I advise against using canned food in a ferment but there is enough lactic acid bacteria on the cabbage and carrots to get the ferment going.
That being said, curtido is not traditionally fermented. In El Salvador, they make it with vinegar and eat it right away. But that doesn’t mean we can’t ferment it. We can put all the wonderful flavors of curtido together and make an amazing ferment.
This teeny little morsels of yumminess do take more time that other ferments, especially if you leave the brussels sprouts whole. Cutting them in half will speed things up, so feel free to do that if you are impatient.
I normally let my cabbage ferments go for a full 12 weeks. Ferments naturally produce a lot of histamines and cabbage in particular is bad. If you are sensitive to histamines (google histamine sensitivity if you have no idea what I’m talking about), make sure you let it go the full 12 weeks. If histamines don’t bother you, feel free to start enjoying them right away. The sooner you eat them, the more fresh they taste. The longer you wait, the more sour they get. I would suggest waiting at least 3 weeks (one week on the counter, 2 weeks in the fridge) or longer. You can test when they are done by cutting a brussels sprout in half. If it looks fresh in the middle, it’s not done.
And for the record, it is curtido with a u, not cortido with an o. I have a good friend from El Salvador who I asked about this. C-u-rtido [coor-tee-do].
- 3 cups brussels sprouts
- 1 cup carrot coins
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1/2 pineapple pieces (fresh or canned)
- crushed red pepper to taste (fresh jalapeño peppers are great too)
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- pinch of oregano
- 2% brine
- Peel off any leaves from brussels sprouts that don't look good. Leave whole or cut in half.
- In a 1.5 liter jar, add brussels sprouts, carrots, onion, red pepper, cumin and oregano.
- Pour 2% brine over everything. Use a glass or clay weight to keep everything under the brine.
- Seal jar and don't forget to add water to your airlock if using one.
- Set in a warm place and let ferment for about a week or until bubble activity slows down.
- Move to cold storage.
- If you are sensitive to histamines, let ferment in the fridge for at least 11 more weeks. They are ready when it tastes like sauerkraut instead of cabbage.
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