Making Pickled Cabbage in Milișăuți, Romania – The Motherland of Sour Cabbage
The last days of October and the earliest of November are very commonly the busiest days of the whole season in Romania amongst those who make pickled cabbage.
In the small town of Milișăuți, known as the pickle town, pickling cabbage presents to the stranger a curious and unusual spectacle. Curious huge wooden barrels seen in every yard represent well the chief harvest of the place, which consists truly of cabbage.
Fermented whole cabbage heads in giant wooden barrels – a unique tradition found only in Romania
In one of these yards, three farmers are loading whole cabbage heads in a big barrel. The effect is pretty, too, as well as curious, for each cabbage is thrown from one person to another.
Brândușa Peslari stands in the trailer, taking cabbages one by one from the pile of harvested cabbage and throwing them to her husband, Petru Peslari, who passes them on to his brother, who lends a helping hand at loading the barrel.
The weather is their main topic of conversation, all know how much their productivity depends upon it and what a difference it will make in their earnings. Making fermented whole cabbage heads is very common here in Romania, where sour leaves from pickled cabbage are in great demand, especially during the cold season to prepare the cabbage rolls, a popular dish especially around Christmas time. The work goes quickly when working together. They get this done much faster.
After the cabbage is put into the large barrel, it is covered completely in brine and allowed to ferment for four to six weeks. Heavy stones placed over big wooden boards are pressing up against the cabbage to flatten it.
The fermented brine contains friendly bacteria, one of the best sources of probiotics that have health benefits when consumed. Brine is an incredible source of electrolytes, antioxidants, and nutrients. Many people drink it to get a healthy dose of micronutrients.
Making Sauerkraut – shredded pickled cabbage
With the remaining cabbage, they make the sauerkraut. Widely known for its German name, sauerkraut is finely sliced green cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. The sauerkraut can be eaten cooked or raw. It pairs perfectly with beef. The process of fermentation gives it a distinct sour flavor. No additional bacteria is added. All the bacteria and yeasts contributing to the process of fermentation are naturally found on the cabbage leaves.
It is crunchy, delightfully sour, and beyond easy to make. All they need to do is combine shredded cabbage with a brining solution of water and salt. The cabbage will also release its liquid. Submerged in the brine for a period of several days, the cabbage ferments slowly. Sauerkraut can keep for up to 36 months if is stored in good conditions.
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