Introduction: Varză Murată - Pickled Cabbage
First of all thank you all who viewed and liked my previous instructable Gogonele murate -pickled green tomatoes (here is the link: Gogonele murate - pickled green tomatoes )and to the staff of instructables.com for making it featured.
Now...this is the second part of the "preparing for winter" instructions and now I will try to show you how to make pickled cabbage (in romanian varză murată). For us romanians this is a very important winter food resource. We - me and my wife, make it every winter and a barrel of 100 litres of capacity is enough for an entire winter. We start using it at half november and finish the barrel somewhere about of the end of february.
What you can do with pickled cabbage?
Well I'll try to make it as clear as possible:
1. Simple as it is, chopped, with a bit of olive oil and grounded pepper it's an excelent salad to eat stand-alone or side-dish to fat foods.
2. Chopped, salted and fried with a little bit of oil and polenta (in English it would be hominy or samp)
3. Heavily coocked : with greaves, some carrots and onions and polenta
4. Using the leaves as whole and some meat rolls to make SARMALE - and this is the main course.
There are many uses for the pickled cabbage and the brine. If interested please let me know in the comments section and I will try the english versions of recipes.
Now let us proceed with the instructable.
Step 1: Ingredients
You will need:
Cabbage : choose the simple one, the white cabbage (this type here) and not the type with hard leaves. See photos. Can use different sizes... just make sure that will fit the mouth of the barrel so you can put it in without damaging the cabbbage.
Coarse salt - again! DO NOT USE IODIZED SALT
Quince(s) - because it's that time of year when quinces can be found you can use one or two to give a particular taste of bittersweet to the cabbage and also to give it a yellowish shade to the cabbage.
Not used here but you can do it if you like:
- cauliflowers - chopped in not so small parts
- RAW red beet - to give a mauve tint to the cabbage. It's also edible.
- red cabbage - to give a pink tint. Also edible.
- raw corn grains - will give a sweet and yellow taste.
- a clean plastic/wood barrel with a lid that can seal well.
How much materials:
For a barrel of 100 litres I've used almost 35 kg. of cabbage, 50 litres of cold water, 1.8 kg. of coarsed salt and a quince.
Step 2: Preparations
First of all...to have an idea of how much cabbage you will use just peel off the rotten, damaged leaves from some cabbages and try to put them in the barrel till you almost fill it up. And add an extra 3-4 cabbages
Now... take out all that you put in the barrel, rip off the damaged leaves but not too much and not too many. We are talking about the very damaged leaves. Wash well with cold water.
As pictured in photos above for the whole cabbage you must take off the inner core of the stub. Why? First it is because could give a bitter, unpleasant taste and second it will help to get the cabbage well pickled by putting one or two teaspoons inside the caved stub, mainly because the cabbage is way too big and the brine won't get all way inside. See picture 2 and 6 in this step.
For the cabbages cutted in halfs or quarters you should cut off the core of the stab as pictured in photo 3 and 4. You can eat the inner core, the result of cutting off (photo 5) as it has taste of cabbage and consistency of a carrot.
Now for the quince. Use one, two or as much as many you like. You should wash them well in order not to have anymore of that fluffy thing on it. After that just cut it in slices as an apple. See photos 7 and 8.
Step 3: How to Properly Arrange the Cabbages in the Barrel
Well...ignore the title. It's not really a big science. It just takes a good tetris player.
You must do it in layers and fill the empty spaces on each layer with halves and quarters.
Ok... you must put in the cabbages with the carved stub up and fill it with salt - see the first picture in this step. And you do it this way for each and every layer. If some space is left on any layer fill in with halves and/or quarters. You'll use them to make salads. The halves always put them with the cut upwards to get better with the brine.
Do the layer till you almost reach the top and here just fill in with halves and quarters - if you have a barrel as pictured - a small mouth on a wide barrel or, if you have a wide mouth, just put another layer in such a manner that after that you can put something to hold down the cabbages when you'll add the brine.
Any time you like and wish you can throw in the quince(s), carrots, corn grains, beet or other things listed previously.
Pictured in the last photo you'll see that there's a little tunnel...if you can acquire such space it will serve you better when, from time to time, you'll blow through a regular tube, air to mixture again the brine. This is needed just to keep activated the solution. Not necessary but useful. If you can't blow it you can just shake the barrel well.
Step 4: The Brine
After you've done with the tetris game of cabbage and obtained the high score it's time to prepare the brine. For 50 litres of cold water I used about 1.8 kg of coarsed salt or just to simplify the math it's about one and 1/4 tablespoon of salt for a litre of water.
With this in mind just use a big pot in which you can make the brine. Pour in the water using some measure and the needed salt and stir till the salt is vanished.
And now pour into the barrel. After each pot poured into the barrel hit gently the barrel to make the air bubbles come up. Air is not good...
Step 5: Final Preparations and Considerations
Now that everything is complete seal well the barrel, put it into a dark and rather cold corner and cover it with blankets. It requires the same 3 to 4 weeks of rest before being edible and in this time it must get always a cold temperature, not above 15-18 Celsius and not below 7 or so.
After 4 weeks - we usually give it a 4 week time you can eat the pickled cabbage. And from time to time, like a week or so, blow the brine or shake the barrel just to reactive the brine.
Please feel free to ask me anything, recipes included.
Thanks for reading this and I hope that you'll get it done.