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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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November 27, 2013

Russian Soured Cabbage

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Posted by Derek

Here's a recipe that I'm trying out this year from The Joy of Pickling, an excellent book full of all sorts of pickle recipes. I have a good-sized batch of this going right now, and samples so far confirm that it's good stuff.

1 2 1/2 pound cabbage (1 kilo), shredded
1 tablespoon salt (17 to 18 grams, table or pickling, not kosher, unless you want to adjust the amounts)
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 apple, sliced
1/2 cup cranberries (55g)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (7g)

Cut the core from the cabbage, save a couple of outer leaves, and shred it. Add the salt to it in a large bowl, mixing it in well and pressing it together. Add the carrot, the apple (cored and sliced into 16th, the book says), the cranberries and the caraway seeds, and mix gently. Place this mixture in some sort of deep crock or jar (jars, if need be). Press the mixture in tight and lay some of the reserved cabbage leaves (or a piece thereof) on top. Weight this down with a small plastic bag (one that's OK for food) full of brine (made from 1.5 tablespoons of salt (24g) in one quart (950 mL) water) - this will keep the cabbage under the liquid layer. If your cabbage was fresh, it should make enough liquid to submerge itself. If not, you can check it after sitting overnight and add some brine (1 tablespoon of salt (18g) in one quart (950 mL) water) to just cover the shredded cabbage.

Leave the jar or jars at room temperature. Twice a day, you'll want to stick a wooden spoon handle down in there a few times to vent the carbon dioxide that will develop. If you don't, especially at first, you're like to have an overflow, so be warned. Four or five days, at a minimum, should do the trick - after that, you can keep it in a cold room or refrigerator. If you ferment it from the start in a cooler room, it'll take longer, but may have even better flavor. According to the Joy of Pickling, the initial burst of gas is from Leuconostoc mesenteroides, which produces good anaerobic conditions for Lactobacillus plantarum, among others, whose acid fermentation products give the sour flavor.

If you like sauerkraut, you'll be very much up for this. If you're not a big kraut fan, have no fear - this is a lot milder and more delicate than the store-bought stuff, and tastes something like rye bread with all that caraway in there. Enjoy!

Comments (14) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. Russian on November 27, 2013 3:47 PM writes...

Dear Derek

Actually you can skip apples and cranberries, while carrots and caraway seeds are crucial.
Your cabbage is ready when the liquid becomes clear with no foam.
Good luck and enjoy!

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2. An Old chemist on November 27, 2013 4:04 PM writes...

Derek, Now that, for your famous blog, you have got readership from so many countries, you should also compile a book about top delicacies of the World, with detailed recipes in the format of Organic Synthesis collective volumes,with duly checked and reproduced by you.

BTW, you must be bored of your mother-in-law's recipes of basmati rice that you posted last Thanksgiving also.

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3. Anonymous on November 27, 2013 4:20 PM writes...

why do you need to add salt to the bag of water if it s just a weight? is the plastic permeable?

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4. Russian on November 27, 2013 4:45 PM writes...

You just need to put a press on top (another jar filled with water or a medium size stone, as they use in Russian villages, will do).
Some people cover cabbage with a cheese cloth.
And, yes, don't foget to give juices some room and remember that they tend to run away.

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5. enotty on November 27, 2013 8:28 PM writes...

...not a caraway fan, but will titrate and add alternatives...

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6. LJSTewartTweet on November 27, 2013 10:46 PM writes...

Lets give Thanks to Derek for In The Pipeline!

Thanks Derek!

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7. Ivan Bushmarinov on November 27, 2013 11:55 PM writes...

In Russia, cabbage with apples, cranberries and caraway are 3 separate variations of the basic recipe which goes without any of this ;)

Strange how the recipes merged during travel.

Must also note that cabbage with apples, while my current favorite, needs specific sour apples to get the originally intended flavor.

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8. RM on November 28, 2013 11:15 AM writes...

Anonymous@3 - The reason for using a brine in the bag instead of just water is in case of leaks. If your plastic bag has just plain water in it and springs a leak, you've just ruined your cabbage. You've diluted down the salinity, and run the risk of having harmful microorganisms take over the culture.

If, on the other hand, your bag contains brine at the appropriate salinity, not all is lost. You can tip out the excess liquid and prep a new bag. You'll possibly dilute down some of the flavor and acidity, but you don't run (nearly) the risk of food poisoning from the non-salt-tolerant microbes the pickling process was designed to exclude.

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9. Kazoo Chemist on November 29, 2013 8:25 AM writes...

Inquiring minds want to know..... did the sour cabbage produce more gas during the preparation or after consumption?

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10. MoMo on December 1, 2013 10:06 PM writes...

Keep pushing words that make the people think- you have ours and their attention.

In the meantime, I'll make some fermented cabbage!

Happy day to all! And the Black and Polars are gaining!

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11. Vader on December 2, 2013 10:34 AM writes...

Will have to try this one. I am fond of fermented food; I already drink a couple of glasses of kefir a day.

"And, yes, don't foget to give juices some room and remember that they tend to run away."

Trying to make good their escape, eh?

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12. Vladimir Chupakhin on December 2, 2013 5:41 PM writes...

Strange to see the caraway seeds in Russian Soured Cabbage but the cranberries and carrots are definitely must have ingredients. There is a very similar way of "souring" the source apples.

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13. WM on December 4, 2013 6:41 AM writes...

It is very good with boiled potatoes, salo and vodka.

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14. Kent G. Budge on December 7, 2013 10:09 PM writes...

"According to the Joy of Pickling, the initial burst of gas is from Leuconostoc mesenteroides, which produces good anaerobic conditions for Lactobacillus plantarum, among others, whose acid fermentation products give the sour flavor."

It actually discusses the microbiology at the species level?

Gotta get a copy.

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