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Culinary Class: Make Collard Kraut

Culinary Class: Make Collard Kraut
Photography by Jonathan Boncek

Kraut Them Collards

So you’ve got a mess of collard greens. This leafy staple of the South is often stewed in large pots with a ham hock and served in its potlikker alongside a square of cornbread. The dish has warmed many a Southerner on a cold winter day, when collard plants have hit peak season.

But another preparation, collard kraut, reigns supreme in Eastern North Carolina. Families gather annually to ferment the greens using recipes passed through the generations. The kraut is easily made in a stoneware crock, but any wide-mouthed, non-reactive container will do. Whichever vessel you choose, it must be sanitized.

The greens are salted, packed into the container, and covered with brine. To ensure the collards remain fully submerged, weigh them down with a heavy plate or stone, or fill a plastic bag with brine.

Cover the container with a kitchen towel or lid that you open occasionally to release trapped air. Allow the kraut to ferment away from direct sunlight for about one to two weeks in warmer temperatures, or longer in colder weather months.

If you see a frothy film on the surface during this process, skim it off with a spoon. Taste the kraut occasionally and transfer it to the refrigerator when it’s fermented to your fancy.

Step 1 of Collard Kraut: bring water and 1 ounce kosher salt or unrefined sea salt to a boil then remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Step 2 of Collard Kraut: Wash collard greens and cut into long, thin strips, or desired size. Add collards and apple to a large bowl. Step 3 of Collard Kraut: Sprinkle collard and apple mixture with remaining 1 tablespoon kosher salt or unrefined sea salt. Mix to combine. Step 4 of Collard Kraut: Pack mixture into a large, sterilized jar or crock, leaving room for the weight. Press downward to help release liquid from collards then pour in brine to cover completely. Step 5 of Collard Kraut: Pour remaining colled brine into a sealable plastic bag, seal and place on top of collards. You may have to add or remove brine from bag to make it fit. Step 6 of Collard Kraut: Allow kraut to ferment away from direct sunlight for about 1 to 2 weeks, tasting occasionally until kraut has reached desired level of fermantation.

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