Hi there! Today I am going to talk about our very exciting cabbage experiment! For the last year or more John (boyfriend) has been every so often making sauerkraut with cabbage, along with some other fermentation experiments. Fermented foods are a great thing to eat, one because they are tasty, and two because they contain probiotics, good bacteria that help make our bodies healthy. When I began my San Diego garden last October I decided to plant some expired cabbage seeds to see if I could grow some of them in hopes that we might have some home grown cabbage for John to ferment and maybe even for us to cook or use on salads. How does one grow cabbage from seed and then make sauerkraut you might ask? I will tell you!
Growing Cabbage (The Life of the Cabbage)
Step one: Dig out expired cabbage seeds that you gave to your parents a couple of years ago that they never used. (Or get some new ones, these will work even better!).
Step two: Find some garden soil-either some rich looking soil in your yard or some organic stuff from a nursery. I used some of the organic stuff from the nursery that we filled our garden beds with 3 or so years ago.
Step three: Decide where to plant and plant 1/4″ or so deep.
I decided to plant in a pot that I could keep on the patio so I could easily monitor it closely and care for it each day, but you could plant it right into your garden bed. I haven’t had luck with that yet, but when I tried it I was using expired seeds. Of the first batch of expired seeds I planted only one cabbage grew. And it grew magnificently. It is the cabbage that is now in a mason jar fermenting as kraut. I then planted some in the garden bed directly, and not one of them even sprouted. I then just recently planted probably 50-70 seeds in a pot again and 3 of them have sprouted and they have now been transplanted to the garden to hopefully grow as magnificently as our precious kraut cabbage did. My sweet sweet baby cabbage all grown and living it’s after life. 🙂
Step four: Water regularly. Anytime I saw the pot was dry I watered. It sprouted. Our lone little cabbage sprout. I’m not sure how long it took, but I’m sure it was within a month of planting the seeds.
Our lone little cabbage began to grow. Many of our other vegetable sprouts got chewed up and eaten by rabbits, snails, and what I suspect to be a ground squirrel. But not this one. Not our little precious. It grew and grew and started turning purple. And started to look like a mini head of cabbage. This is when I transplanted it to the garden.
Step Five: When it looks like a tiny head of cabbage transplant it to the garden bed.
After being transplanted it grew and grew. It was by far the prettiest edible plant I ever grew.
Step Six: Water the cabbage every 2-4 days.
By a few months it was a small but full sized cabbage.
Step Seven: Harvest the cabbage when your intuition tells you to.
For me our cabbage was fully grown and ready to be cut when I noticed more and more snails, aphids, and worms in the garden bed. The top of the beautiful cabbage began cracking from growing, some of the leaves were beginning to split. I had spotted some worm or snail bites on the lower outside leaves and I had started seeing snails and bright green worms in the bed and I wasn’t sure if they were cabbage worms. And with the leaves naturally starting to split a little it was getting hard to tell if it was natural or if little creatures were nibbling. I decided to pluck it out to make sure my perfect (and only) cabbage wouldn’t become a worm’s meal instead of our sour and delicious probiotic snack. Chop chop chop. I used a knife to cut it. I left a small stalk coming out of the ground because I heard if you cut an x shape into the top it will branch and form 4 new smaller cabbages. I’ve never grown cabbage before so I don’t know, but I gave it a shot. It’s been about 2 weeks and I am just now starting to see the signs of new growth, so I will have to see. When I cut the cabbage down I found about a million gillion snails living under the deep dark moist shade of the lower leaves. It was kinda disgusting. But I tossed the leaves that were chewed and had snail poop on them 😀
Step Seven: Put in fridge until you or whoever (in our case John) is ready to make the sauerkraut.
Fermenting Cabbage (The Afterlife of the Cabbage)
Step One: Chop cabbage into thickness you want your kraut to be.
Step Two: Generously sprinkle salt all over cabbage.
Step Three: Grab a sanitized mason jar. We use hot water and soap for sanitizing. We don’t boil the jars. You can do whatever you wish.
Step Four: Cram the chopped cabbage into the jar.
Step Five: Fill jar with water.
Step Six: Make sure water covers the cabbage all the way so the cabbage doesn’t mold.
Step Seven: Put lid on jar, just slightly loose to avoid too much pressure and allow juices to flow out of jar if needed.
Step Eight: Put somewhere (maybe in a dish or a spare sink) where it is OK to have blue/purple stinky cabbage juice drip.
Step Nine: Wait. Let your jar of future healthy tastiness sit for a minimum of a week. Ours has been sitting for a week and a half and we are going to taste it today! After a week you can start tasting it (with a clean fork of course! So as not to infect it with other bacteria). When it has reached a desired sourness and is as soft or crunchy as you want it close the jar all the way and store it in the fridge. We personally like it tart but crunchy. If you cut it in bigger pieces it stays crunchier than slicing it thinly. If you want it softer you can press or tenderize the thinly chopped cabbage before putting it in the jar.
There you have it! Happy growing and fermenting!
P.S. I have been busy working on various creative crochet and pine needle jewelry and accessory projects lately. My two latest crocheted items can be found on my Etsy page by clicking the photos below if you want to see details. The pine needle jewelry will be up shortly, in the next week or so, so make sure to check back if you are curious! I am also working on some floor rugs made out of recycled fabric 🙂
P.P.S. I have been finding all kind of good new music that I love on Spotify! Here are my top 4 new favorites I have found if you want some sweet earthy indie folk tunes to sooth your weary ears: Lord Huron, First Aid Kit (If you like them check out Mountain Man too), Boy Named Banjo, and Paper Kites!