Friday, March 14, 2014

Sweet Cabbage Pickle

The use of "fresh" pickles in recipes is very popular these days and for good reason. Pickles made to be stored for years in your pantry are delicious but bare no resemblance to the flavor and texture of the vegetables before they were processed. Not to say that we don't like pantry pickles, on the contrary, we wouldn't dream of having a grilled cheese sandwich without Nana's pickles. The idea of fresh pickles includes a still somewhat crisp texture and briny flavor before all of the ingredients have a chance to meld with each other and become one. These pickles can also be stored in the fridge in a sealed jar for weeks or processed and sent to the pantry to "serve time" with the rest of the preserve family.
I'm really partial to eating these pickles on the day that they are made because of the still present crunch of the cabbage and the somewhat strong flavor of toasted mustard seeds. The independent flavors will begin to marry more and more in the following days after the pickles are made. We've been using this sweet cabbage pickle on everything and still keep finding new recipes where it shines. It currently resides on the two new tostada cup appetizers on our menu and it's been seen topping curries, soups, perogies and salads in our day to day cooking. Hopefully you'll find new and exciting ways to use it as well. Happy pickling.

1# Red or green cabbage. Thinly slice across the spine.
1/2 C. Coarse salt.
2 1/4C. Cider vinegar
1C. Water
1/2 Oz. Bourbon
2C. Sugar
2Tsp Black peppercorns
5 Bay leaves
2Tsp Brown mustard seeds.

Toss cabbage with the salt in a colander and allow to drain in the sink for 2-3 hours. Rinse cabbage very well to remove the salt. Cabbage should be quite wilted at this stage and quite salty tasting. If the salt is still too much for you then continue to rinse under cold water. Dry cabbage with paper towel. Prepare brine by simmering vinegar, water, bay leaves and peppercorns for about 1/2 hour or until reduced by almost half. Strain and add the bourbon and mustard seeds to brine. Allow to cool slightly and pour over cabbage. At this stage you can allow the pickle to cure for a couple of hours before eating it "fresh" or pack into sterile jars with tight fitting lids to be stored in the fridge. We have yet to process a batch for long term storage since we like it fresh so much.

Did you know that the humble cabbage is a powerful antioxidant, a rich source of vitamins K and C and a high source of fiber, not to mention countless other health benefits. You're a bit of a super food aren't you cabbage.

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