14 July 2011

Pickled Young Cabbage Leaves

My garden has been doing its thing, as you can see here and here, and about a week ago was high time for thinning out the red cabbage. I'm a big fan of thinning! Not only does it make the remaining plants grow faster and healthier by removing competition, but I get to eat baby greens!!! 

Instead of eating these greens, as I've been doing with the chard, beets and mizuna, I wanted to indulge my infatuation with vinegar-pickled veggies. A search on the internet led to my realizing that although many many people pickle cabbage (usually using lacto-fermentation, but that's a whole other post!), no-one seems to be interested in pickling the tender early leaves. Or at least not anyone I could find. So I started doing the next best thing... experimenting!  I used this recipe as a basis for my vinegar mixture and method, then added and changed ratios to compliment the mild sweetness of the young cabbage leaves.

(Click through for the recipe!)


Here is the resulting recipe, which could be changed up endlessly to suit your tastes:

Pickled Young Cabbage
(Makes 1 quart)

4 cups (more or less) young cabbage leaves
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 Tbs cane sugar
1 Tbs sea salt (finely ground) or kosher salt
15 peppercorns 
3 whole cloves
6 dried red chilis, sliced lengthwise, including seeds

Combine all ingredients except the cabbage leaves in a small saucepan. Heat just until boiling. Meanwhile, rinse cabbage leaves and spin or pat dry. Pack tightly into a 1-quart glass jar.  When mixture boils and both sugar and salt are fully dissolved, take off heat and pour into jar over cabbage leaves. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating. My brine didn't completely cover the greens, so I flipped the jar over a few times over the 24 hour period.

This is a very strong snack, not to be eaten lightly! Munch a few leaves out of the fridge for a satisfying treat, toss some into a salad and use a little of the brine as a dressing, or add to a sandwich to give it some major zing. But don't do what I did and forget to add the water. I ended up with such a strong pickle that even adding the water later hardly toned it down. The leaves were still delicious, but next time I'll be sure to add the water from the start!

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