Alex Lewin’s Fermented Carolina-Style Slaw and Lacto Fermented Vegetables

The recipes below are reprinted with permission from Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen by Alex Lewin.

Fermented Carolina-Style Slaw


Courtesy of Quarry Books.

Carolina-style slaw is a type of coleslaw traditional in the southeastern United States. . . . It’s clear to me that today’s Carolina slaw, soured with vinegar, is a re-creation of the slaws of yesteryear, which must have been fermented—soured via bacterial action—because that was how one kept cabbage. . . . The big benefit, besides taste and texture, is that the fermentation process makes everything easier to digest—both the cabbage and whatever it’s accompanying. The same recipe can be made with broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and shredded turnip. Or you could replace all the cabbage with celery root if you wanted to.    –AL

1 pound green cabbage
1 large onion (red, yellow, or white)
1 large green bell pepper
1 large carrot
½ apple (optional)
¼ pound celery root, or 1 teaspoon celery seed
4 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup honey (or less, if you have included an apple)
6 tablespoons oil (a mixture of sesame, coconut, and olive oils works well)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 piece (1⁄3 inch) ginger root, peeled and grated (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

Yield: 1 quart or 2 pounds
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 4–7 days
Large cutting board (wood is ideal)
Large knife (a chef’s knife is ideal)
Large mixing bowl
2 Mason jars (1 pint each) or similar glass jars with tight-fitting lids
Colander or strainer

Thinly slice the cabbage, onion, and bell pepper. Grate or shred the carrot, apple (if using), and celery root (if using). Ferment the vegetable mixture with the salt using the recipe for Lacto-Fermented Vegetables below, to the desired degree of sourness. Four to seven days is probably about right.

Once the vegetables are fermented, drain them in a colander set over a mixing bowl and press the liquid out with your hands, reserving the liquid. Combine ½ cup of the liquid with the honey, oil, dry mustard, and ginger, and mix well with a fork, whisk, or blender. Pour the dressing mixture and combine. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add more of the reserved liquid if you want more sourness. Refrigerate.

Save any leftover fermentation liquid to use as a starter for your next project. Or mix it with oil and spices to use as a salad dressing, or drink it in the morning as a digestive tonic!

Lacto-Fermented Vegetables

Yield: 1 quart
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 4 days–4 weeks

2 pounds cabbage, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, celery root,
and/or other vegetables, as desired
4 teaspoons sea salt
Seasonings, as desired

Large cutting board (wood is ideal)
Large knife (a chef’s knife is ideal)
Large mixing bowl
1-quart Mason jar, or similar glass jar with a tight-fitting lid

Peel, shred, core, seed, chop, and/or slice your vegetables, as desired. Carrots, turnips, beets, and the like may be peeled, and they may be shredded or cut. Weigh all of the vegetables together after you have peeled, cored, and otherwise prepped them. Measure 2 teaspoons of sea salt per pound of vegetables (or 2{94d79dd6af1e87a94e700e4c297236468333f22e27ed5757b44711974a9a4b91} salt by weight). Combine the vegetables and salt in the mixing bowl, and massage them together forcefully with your hands for a minute or two. Pack the vegetables into the jar with your hands as tightly as possible.

Use a smaller jar, a bottle, a potato masher, or some other rigid object to pack the vegetables even more tightly into the jar. Ideally, when you push down, liquid will rise above the tops of the vegetables. Close the jar tightly. Over the next couple of days, open the jar and pack its contents down a few times. Turnips and beets, cut into rounds or matchsticks, are a great combination. They get tender and juicy after several days. Add parsnips, too, cut into rounds, if you like.