January 30, 2012


I received the most beautiful cookbook as a Christmas gift from my step-sister and her husband,  DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington.  Oh wow, it's one of those cookbooks that you find yourself reading from cover-to-cover.  The photography is done well and the recipes are written simply, in such a way to inspire you to greatness, well, to greatness in making your own food and putting together meals with "from-scratch" elements.  

I've made yogurt in the past, but my first few attempts with raw milk were discouraging.  I followed her directions, and it turned out well.  I've made enchilada sauce  in the past too, but I preferred the canned stuff to the stuff I made, until I used her recipe.  It was probably very close to the same recipe I'd used in the past, but something about her instructions made it simpler and the end result was perfect.  Sauerkraut I tried for the first time a couple months ago using a recipe I found online.  Her instructions confirm that I did it right, and her introduction includes inspiration for changing the flavors up.   

Curtido is similar to saurkraut in that it is a cabbage-based, fermented condiment.  If you are new to the concept, don't let the word "fermented" scare you.  Common fermented foods include yogurt, beer, wine, certain types of pickles and sourdough breads.  Try some.  "Real Food" proponents say we should be incorporating more fermented foods into our diets to aid with digestion and immune function.  Curtido was only my second attempt at fermenting vegetables, but I was very pleased with the results.  (And since then I have tried three other fermented vegetable recipes.)  For a minimum of work (chopping and hand-mixing) and some waiting time, you get a versatile condiment: crunchy, salty, just a bit tangy and mildly spicy.  I made my first quart of curtido a two weeks ago and we've already used more than half of it as a topping for Slow-Cooker Shredded Pork and Beans, as a filling for cheese quesadillas, as part of a filling for pork spring rolls with peanut sauce, and as a crunchy, flavor-boosting garnish on cheese enchiladas and beans.  

Wild Salvadorean Curtido 
Adapted from Vanessa Barrington in DIY Delicious.
Makes 1 quart.

1 head green cabbage
1/2 of a medium onion
2-3 carrots
2 jalapenos
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed between your fingertips

Slice the cabbage as thinly as possible.  Slice the onion half into quarters vertically, then slice as thinly as possible.  Shred the carrots using the larger holes on a box grater.  Slice the jalapenos in half vertically, Scrape out the discard the seeds, then slice thinly.  Set aside.  Place and cabbage, onion and carrots into a large shallow mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables.  Use your hands to mix and squeeze the vegetables until they have given up a good amount of liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in jalapenos and oregano.

Use a one-cup measuring cup and rubber scraper to scoop the cabbage mixture into a one-quart Mason jar. Use your fingers, the rubber scraper or a wooden spoon to pack the mixture firmly.  The level of liquid should rise above the cabbage mixture. Carefully scrape down the sides so that all the vegetables are submerged.  Put a half-pint jar into the bigger jar to keep them submerged.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and secure with a rubber band.  Place in an out of the way corner of the kitchen for 2-5 days.  (Fermenting may take as little as 2 days in warmer temperatures and as many as 5 days in cooler temperatures.)  After 2 days, remove the towel and taste the curtido.  If it tastes "pickled," it is ready.  If it just tastes salty, replace the jar, towel and rubber band and check it the next day.  When you determine that it is ready, put a led on it and refrigerate it.  Generally, fermented vegetables last for months, but they do soften over time.


  1. How do you find time to do all this cooking when you work full-time? You simply amaze me Maria!!!

  2. A friend forwarded this post to me. Thanks so much for writing and glad you like the book. I have some curtido fermenting on the top of my refrigerator right now. Vanessa

    1. Thank you, Vanessa, for so much inspiration!