Why do I feel like I need to reintroduce myself here ? haha! Yes, It has been a while since my last post and I miss my little space like you won’t imagine!
The holiday was great! It always is. On a holiday you get the chance to spend quality time with your family and friends and really enjoy the little things in life, the things you would never notice or give attention to in everyday hectic life. I knew I needed this long break, I needed some time for myself to reflect, focus and correct. Slowing down this fast paced life is sometimes a necessity, and that is what I did. I captured so many pictures and I took my time capturing them. I learned a lot about light and I had aaall the time in the world to practice outdoor, which I believe made me a better photographer. I read lots of books, magazines and bed time stories with my kids. I spent time with my little brother – well, he’s not little anymore – who was here on a short visit from Germany, I also cried a lot when he left. I fell in love with yoga when I joined this amazing yoga studio, and for the very first time I felt this body.mind.soul connection and I became addicted to it somehow. In yoga I learned how to breath properly (you know how important this is?), how to let go of negativity and how to live the present moment to the max. I connected more with nature and I started appreciating its beauty more than ever. I tried new food and visited new places. I cooked from my favourite cookbooks. I met new inspiring people. I reconnected with old friends overseas and I learned life lessons from their stories. But most importantly, I became more grateful for what I am blessed to have and I count my blessings everyday now and genuinely say ‘AlhamdulAllah’, Arabic for ‘all praise be to God ‘
So now what ?
I have decided to keep my posts nice and short from now on, because I know how busy our lives have become and how valuable your time is. When I share a recipe here with you I usually make sure it has worked for me not only once or twice but at least three times, and so I would love you to try my recipes and give me an honest feedback. I believe food is all about sharing experiences and stories and I would love to hear from you, so don’t forget to leave a comment down here after you read or try this recipe.
Fermented pickles of cabbage is probably one of the most well-known fermented food. White cabbage is more popular in the pickles world, but here I used red cabbage instead. There is something extremely attractive about this vibrant color of red cabbage that I just cannot resist, not only that, but also red cabbage has more health benefits than white. This deep purple color carries a fair amount of antioxidants which are great for our overall well being. In saying that, if you prefer white cabbage or if that’s what you have at home now and would like to use it instead of red in this recipe, by all means you can. You can also use white cabbage and add a small amount of red cabbage to turn it into a pretty pink color. In Egypt they use this concept in turning white turnip flesh into pink, by adding slices of beetroot in the glass jar while fermenting. We call it in Arabic ‘ Torshi left’ which means ‘Turnip pickles’ and it’s the most popular pickled vegetable there.
Fermentation is a naturally occurring process, it has been used since forever to preserve food as well as increase its nutritional content. It is basically a chemical reaction that happens in absence of oxygen and in presence of yeast or bacteria and sometimes both. I will not go into details about this procedure because this is not a chemistry lecture and I wouldn’t like it to turn into one. I have simplified it in a foolproof recipe that I promise anyone can follow and hopefully get the desired result from the first go. It is that simple.
But why is naturally fermented food important for us ?
Well, it all starts in the gut I believe .. they say if you have a healthy gut you are in a good place ‘health wise’, and how do we maintain a healthy gut? the answer is and will always be : we need good bacteria (probiotics) for our digestive tracts to work and function the best. When we talk about the gut (digestive system) we are basically talking about the immune system which is pretty much the reason why you and I are still breathing .. and so, when you improve your immune system you are boosting your general wellbeing and forcing every single organ in your body to work at its best. How good does that sound?
Ok, so where do we get these creatures from?
I am a big fan of buying good quality probiotics from health food stores, the only down side to them though, is that they are so expensive! and as a result I always try to keep a cheap option at home which I make myself and it costs me nothing extra, because I usually have the vegetable already at home, all I need to do is to add some salt and wait for the power of science to make the magic for me. Believe it or not, fermented food such as vegetables pickles offers a variety of beneficial bacteria (probiotics), enzymes and nutrients which our bodies need on a daily basis, but it has to be fermented the natural and healthy way, and that is with zero artificial preservatives or ingredients that can harm our bodies.
Here is my first pickles recipe.. hope you enjoy it.
- 500 grams red cabbage very thinly sliced (preferably organic)
- 5 teaspoons sea salt, plus extra ( incase u need to add water)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 litre sterilised glass jar with a tight rubber seal
- a smaller jar to fit inside the big jar (use as weight)
- Slice the cabbage very thinly using a sharp knife or preferably a mandolin slicer
- Place the cabbage and salt in a large glass bowl and toss together to combine well.
- Using your hands start squeezing the cabbage gently to release as much water as possible to produce the brine.
- Add the cumin and fennel seeds
- Pack into a glass jar, use the small jar to apply pressure on top of the cabbage to release more water.
- The cabbage must be completely covered with its own water, otherwise it will go off during the fermentation process.
- If your cabbage cannot produce anymore water and it is still not completely covered, then make a brine by adding half a teaspoon of sea salt to half a cup of filtered water, stir to dissolve and use enough of it to cover the cabbage (a small layer of water should sit on top of the cabbage).
- You may need to fill up the small sterilised glass jar with water and use it as weight to keep the cabbage under the water. (see the photo above)
- Leave the lid of the big jar open for a few days, checking everyday to make sure the cabbage is still under the water level, if not then push the weight down to keep it submerged.
- When the cabbage doesn't need the weight anymore to stay under the water level (takes from 2 to 5 days) then it is time to remove the weight, close the lid tightly and set the jar aside in a cool and dark place for 1 week as fermentation will happen naturally without your input.
- after this week it will keep in a cool and dark place, unopened for up to 2 months.
- once you open it, keep it in a cool and dark spot and consume within a month.
- try to use organic cabbage to avoid any chemicals that might affect your fermentation process.
- the jar lid has to be tightly closed during fermentation.
- using sterilised jars for fermentation is a must, simply hand wash your jar with hot water and detergent and rinse thoroughly, use it shortly afterwards.
- keep you r ferment away from direct heat and in a dry and dark place.