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Curtido is a spicy Salvadoran pickled cabbage slaw made with cabbage, red onion, carrots, and spices. It’s a must-try recipe!
This recipe is a great alternative to my Jalapeño Sauerkraut.
What You’ll Love About This Recipe
- This recipe is lacto-fermented, so you get all the gut health benefits of a traditionally fermented sauerkraut with a spicy and super flavorful punch.
- The fermentation time is a short three days. You can stretch it out longer for a tangier slaw and even more gut-healthy goodness.
- In a hurry? You can also make this recipe with vinegar for a quick and easy spicy slaw recipe.
Fermented Crudito vs. pickled Crudito
Most curtido recipes you’ll find are pickled. Which means they are made with vinegar. While this is delicious and also quick to make, I think you’ll find that the tangy zing of the lightly fermented curtido recipe is not only has better flavor but it also has the health benefits of sauerkraut.
What You’ll Need
Ingredients for making fermented curtido are simple. Just make sure to wash all of the veggies before using them.
- Cabbage: You’ll need one large head of green cabbage.
- Carrots: One large carrot or two medium ones.
- Onion: White of red onion are both good in this recipe.
- Oregano: Dried or fresh, if available.
- Cumin: Dried cumin is optional, but I love the flavor it adds.
- Jalapeño peppers: Use one to three peppers. Or more if you like it spicier.
- Salt: You want to use fine sea salt, NOT iodized salt. [note 1]
👩🏼🍳 Optional Ingredients: I’ve also added fresh garlic and a pinch of cumin to this recipe.
Kitchen Tools To make The Job Easier
- Sharp chef’s knife: An essential tool for every home cook.
- Mandoline Slicer OR Food Processor: Either will make slicing and shredding quick and easy.
- Large non-metallic bowl: A large glass mixing bowl is perfect.
- Mason jars: This recipe will fit into two one-quart jars. You could maybe fit it into one if you pack it super tight.
- Pickle packer: A heavy wooden tool used to pack down sauerkrauts.
- Fermentation lids: These vapor lock lids are the best. They make fermentation so easy and straightforward.
- Fermentation weights: These glass weights keep all the vegetables under the brine for perfect fermentation.
Note: If you are making this recipe and want to pickle it instead. You’ll need some apple cider or white vinegar.
How To Make Curtido
Step 1—Prepare the ingredients
Slice the vegetables into thin slices—approximately 1/8th of an inch. Shred the carrots.
Toss with salt: Combine the cabbage, onions, and carrots with the salt in a large bowl. Toss the vegetables with the salt using your hands or tongs. Allow the cabbage mixture to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The vegetables will release water as they sit in the bowl.
Add the jalapeños, oregano, and cumin. Toss to combine
Step 2—Pack your vessel
Fill the jars with the cabbage mixture. Add the liquid to the jars, ensuring the vegetables are completely covered. [note 2]
Weight down: Add the weights to the jars and top them with the airlock lids.
Now, let the jars sit in a cool place for three days.
After three days, taste the curtido. You can let the fermentation continue, but call it done if you like the flavor.
Step 5—Pack it up
Remove the air lock lids and the weights. Cap the jars and place them in the fridge.
Common Questions About Curtido
Traditional curtido is made with cabbage, onions, carrots, jalapeños, and oregano. It can be pickled with vinegar or fermented by adding salt and waiting three or more days.
Traditional Salvadoran curtido is cultured or lightly fermented and is very similar to sauerkraut because they are both fermented cabbage recipes. They differ in the spices used.
German sauerkraut flavors include juniper berries, caraway, and dill.
Salvadoran curtido is seasoned with onion, jalapeño, and dried oregano.
Curtido, made with lacto-fermentation, contains healthy probiotics and is very good for your gut.
Curtido is delicious any way you serve it. You can eat a small serving by itself. It is best when paired with spicy meats, pupusas, or empanadas.
Curtido will last for several months in the refrigerator. It doesn’t really go bad, but the vegetables will get softer over time.
Jars can be sterilized by boiling them in water. Or by placing them in the oven.
To sterilize jars in the oven place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and place freshly washed jars and lids on the baking sheet. Heat the oven to 275℉/140℃ and heat them for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool before using.
Note: Do not use antibacterial soap for fermentation, it will kill the good bacteria that you need to start the fermentation process.
What To Serve With Curdito
Hungry for More Lacto-Fermented Recipes
Fermented foods are a healthy addition to your diet. Here are just a few of my favorite ferments and pickles.
Optional Ingredients (I've added these with good results)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Prepare the ingredients: Slice the vegetables into thin sliced—approximately 1/8th of an inch. Shred the carrots.6 cups cabbage, 1 cup onion, 1 large carrots
- Toss with salt: Combine the cabbage, onions, and carrots with the salt in a large bowl. Toss the vegetables with the salt using your hands or tongs. Allow the cabbage mixture to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The vegetables will release water as they sit in the bowl.1 to 1½ tablespoons sea salt
- Add the jalapeños and oregano: Toss to combine.1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 to 2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon cumin
- Pack your vessel: Press the cabbage mixture into the jars. Use a pickle packer to pack the vegetables into the jar. Add the liquid to the jars, ensuring the vegetables are completely covered. [note 2]
- Weight down: Add the weights to the jars and top them with the airlock lids. Wait: Now, let the jars sit in a cool place for three days.
- Taste: After days, taste the curdito. You can let the fermentation go on longer, but if you like the flavor, call it done.
- Pack it up: Remove the air lock lids and the weights. Cap the jars and place them in the fridge.
Laura’s Tips + Notes
- Salt: Always use fine sea salt, kosher salt, or Himalayan salt for fermenting. NEVER use iodized table salt when fermenting.
- Jars: I like to use wide-mouth mason jars to ferment. They come in a variety of sizes and you can find many accessories that make your fermentation projects super easy like: fermentation weights (affiliate link) and airlock lids (affiliate link).
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