Food & dining

Recipe for curtido (spicy Salvadoran sauerkraut)

Makes 2 quarts

Similar to sauerkraut, curtido is a lightly fermented cabbage preparation flavored with onion and oregano. If you are expecting plain old sauerkraut, you’ll be surprised by this spicy version. If the vegetables do not make enough liquid, you need to use the water and sea salt to make a brine. Store the curtido in a cool. dry place, which traditionally was a root cellar but which, in modern times, if your cellar isn’t dry, might be the refrigerator.

1medium green cabbage
(2 pounds), quartered, cored, and very thinly sliced
2carrots, grated
1onion, thinly sliced
2fresh red or green jalapeno peppers or other hot chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2teaspoons pickling or fine salt
2teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
½cup water (for the brine)
½teaspoon pickling or fine sea salt (for the brine)

1. Have on hand two 1-quart canning jars or one 2-quart jar.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, onion, and jalapeno or other chili peppers. Sprinkle with salt, toss well, and set aside for 30 minutes.


3. Using a potato masher or your fists, pound and press the vegetables until they release their liquid and are quite wet. Add the oregano and toss well.

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4. Pack the mixture and any liquid in the bowl tightly into the jar or jars, tamping down on the vegetables with a wooden spoon or your fingertips with as much force as you can until the level of liquid rises above the vegetables.

5. If necessary, make the brine: In a saucepan, combine water and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the salt dissolves completely. Cool to room temperature before adding to the jar or jars; you should not need more than a couple of tablespoons. Cover the jar or jars. Set in a roasting pan to catch any overflow that happens when fermentation starts.

6. Place the jar or jars in a place that is 65 to 75 degrees. Leave for 2 to 3 days to ferment. Taste the mixture and when pleasingly sour, store in a cool, dry place. Adapted from “The Pickled Pantry”