January 23, 2024

Fermented Cole Slaw

This has become one of our favorite side dishes. 

It's tasty and another great way to get probiotics into our diet. And, it's quick to make.

Technically, it isn't fermented as the finally product, so the name may be somewhat misleading. I start with previously made kimchi or sauerkraut to which I've added shredded carrots.

Nowadays, I usually ferment a mixture of vegetables together in the same jar: cabbage, carrots, daikon, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, onion, ginger, etc., whatever I have on hand. Of most fermented foods, Dan would eat some dutifully for health, but request only "a little bit." One day while I was draining some kimchi, I decided to add a little mayonnaise and serve it as cole slaw. 

After a taste, Dan wanted a larger helping and it's been a standard ever since. I find we eat more of it when prepared this way. 

A bonus is that it takes so much less mayo to make it this way. My original cole slaw recipe calls for mayonnaise and pickle juice, which we always found too tart and so I would add a small spoonful of honey or sugar. My sauerkraut, kimchi, etc., are rarely too sour. If it is, I simply rinse it some before serving. Another plus, this recipe is ready to eat after mixing, whereas my from-scratch cole slaw tasted better if it sat at least several hours or overnight in the fridge. And, of course, there are no probiotics in traditional cole slaw. 

In some ways, I think of this recipe as a transition food. If one doesn't grow up with particular foods, they often aren't cared for as much as what we're used to. For example, if we grow up on white bread, 100% homemade whole wheat isn't as enjoyable (which is probably why they add a ton of sugar to commercial whole wheat bakery products.) When I started making a 50/50 white and whole wheat flour bread, the family liked it. I've gradually shifted the amounts to favor more whole wheat, but still keeping it acceptable to Dan. The fermented cole slaw helps with the transition from traditional cole slaw to lacto-fermented foods. My old 'something is better than nothing' approach.

Does anyone else use transition foods for themselves or their families? I'd be interested in more ideas.

Fermented Cole Slaw © January 2024 by


Anonymous said...

That sounds really good. I have always enjoyed both sauerkraut and coleslaw so like the idea of this. I made a very quick transition from part whole wheat bread to either whole wheat oatmeal bread or an all whole wheat sourdough bread. Both are delicious and very popular with family.

Nancy In Boise said...

Great idea! I love Cuttido, need to make some

Cederq said...

I love fermented foods, but do not have teh skills to do it myself. The cole slaw sound good!

Leigh said...

Anonymous, oatmeal in whole wheat bread sounds really good. I may try it with oat flour. And it's been awhile since I made sourdough. I need to make some of that too!

Nancy, cuttido! That's one I need to try. Actually, the idea of adding herbs to my ferments sounds like something to explore.

Kevin, they are so easy to make! Mix veggies in salt water and let sit. It does make great cole slaw. :)

Ed said...

I guess I didn't so much transition as jump into the fire by marrying into a totally different culture. I'm pretty sure many of my kids peers think them strange for some of the things they like that they won't touch.

As a child, I can't say for certain but I don't think my mom thought to transition things more than to disguise them. Peppers and mushrooms were often emulsified before used in a dish to make it past my younger brother's picky eating patterns. Since our diet was limited due to geography back then, there wasn't much to diversify too. Still, I guess I was born with more adventurous taste buds though I had my fair share of things I disliked eating as a child. Only now as an adult, do I realize that it was more food preparation than anything. Boiled Brussel sprouts of my mom, thumbs down. Broiled Brussel sprouts of today, thumbs up. Well done steak of my mom, thumbs down. Medium rare steaks that I cook, thumbs up. That list could go on for quite awhile.

Eggs In My Pocket said...

Your slaw looks delicious. I had a Japanese aunt, she has passed away. My uncle was in the Air Force when he met and married my aunt. My parents and I often visited my uncle and aunt and many times she had a pottery croc in her kitchen where she was fermenting cabbage, and sometimes squid. She was always making some kind of amazing dish.

Leigh said...

Ed, picky eaters are always a challenge. And you're so right about how our likes change. So many things that were unappealing to me as a kid are foods I really enjoy now.

Eggs in My Pocket, I can't say I' be very enthusiastic about fermented squid! As both you and Ed point out, culture is a huge influence. I think most of my favorite foods are ethnic in origin. Very fun to explore new cuisines.

Quinn said...

Not a transition idea per se, but the picture made me wonder if you have tried making your own mayo? Considering the very few ingredients needed, there is an amazing amount of room to play around with flavors, based on choice of oil/s, mustard or other spices, etc. It's one of my favorite ways to use my homegrown eggs :)

Yesteryear Embroideries said...

This looks wonderful! I have never tried fermentation. I have such picky eaters in my family so I dont think they would try anything I made with this method.

Debby Riddle said...

We've had so many transitions! Skillful preparation is the key and that's been a learning curve! Duck eggs, for example, were all we had from the flock one winter. I discovered that A fried duck egg can resemble a rubber sink stopper! Evidently they have more protein than hens eggs and need a different approach. I learned to cook them over low heat with a little steam towards the end. My gang liked them best with potatoes in the mix. Now I actually prefer them for baking, but still favor hen's eggs for breakfast, but we managed nicely with only duck eggs all one winter.

Leigh said...

Quinn, no, I've never tried making my own mayo but I really should! It would be nice to control ingredients, especially the type of oil.

Yesteryear Embroideries, picky eaters are a challenge! And sour isn't everybody's favorite flavor. I confess it's kinda grown on us, with traditional things like cole slaw helping.

Debby, our transition to duck eggs was sneaky, on my part. The first time I fixed them, Dan thought they upset his stomach and wouldn't eat them after that. But I had tons of them, so I started experimenting. I started by using them in baking. He had no trouble and eventually I revealed to him that he'd been eating them for awhile! He was surprised and now we're able to eat them anytime we eat eggs. :)

daisy g said...

This sounds delicious! What a great way to get healthier food into your loved ones! I gave up on making my own sauerkraut. The process was easy and the taste delicious, but it caused my eczema to flare up. I tried reintroducing it on several occasions, with the same results. Quite disappointing, as I know it is great for the gut.

Homemade mayo is fabulous, especially if you have fresh eggs. The trick is to use light olive oil. Otherwise, it tasted a bit off.

Enjoy some slaw for me!

Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

I went to your page for the Kimchi, but do you have measurements and more instructions on making it this way? I am very interested.

Katie C. said...

So if I wanted to try this as an experiment, how much salt and vinegar would I use for just 1/4 of a green cabbage and some shredded carrots? How long and where, in the fridge, should the jar sit? These are the ingredients that I have on hand. Oh, should I add some sliced yellow onion too?

Thanks, with fingers crossed, Katie C.

Anonymous said...

If you are new to fermented foods or are trying to get others to eat them, try fermented salsa. It's amazing! It's tangy and salty and delicious. Another one that my grown kids ask me to make is Dilly Beans. Fermented whole filet green beans tastes like dill pickles but crunchy. Also they like fermented carrot strips. There's a lot more to fermented foods besides cabbage. Many on line resources for recipes.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, I am halfway there on the fermented cabbage. I do a crock and have the jar "available" for anyone who wants to try it. No takers yet, but hope springs eternal.

I have used oatmeal in honey wheat bread (using a bread maker, to be sure) with excellent results.

Coleslaw is one of those foods that has never really "taken" with me. I think it is a texture thing between the dressing and the cabbage - that, and most recipes I have seem to go over the top on dresssing.

Shug said...

This is something that I have never tried...the closest thing would have to be sauerkraut. I know that fermented foods are needed for our guts. I love cold slaw, but I prefer the sweet kind...the kind that is not heathy for us. Have a great day

Leigh said...

Daisy, by light olive oil, I'm assuming you mean not extra virgin(?) I use the more refined olive oil for my salves because it's cheaper. I'll have give homemade mayo a try with your suggestion.

I'm really sorry you had trouble with sauerkraut! Any idea what it was? The cabbage? Can you eat other fermented foods? At least you figured it out.

Kristina, I don't think I used specific measurements. I looked at so many recipes that I finally decided specific amounts were arbitrary and just used what I had! For my kimchi, I usually use napa (chinese) cabbage, onion, garlic, daikon radish, carrots, and a little bit of fresh ginger, all grated and layered in a half-gallon or gallon jar.

For the brine, I follow Sally Fallon's recipe from Nourishing Traditions. Per quart of non-chlorinated water I add 1 tablespoon of sea salt and 1/4 cup of when (because I usually have it). With no whey, add an extra tablespoon of sea salt. I make enough to cover the contents, weight them, and cover the jar with a lid. I leave it on the countertop for three days, and then refrigerate.

Katie C, absolutely try this! You don't need vinegar to lacto-ferment, you just need sea salt (2 tbsp) and non-chlorinated water (1 quart). Make more if needed. Fill your jar with shredded cabbage and carrots, cover in brine, put on a lid,and leave to sit on the countertop at room temperature for about three days. Taste it daily until it gets to the tartness you like, then refrigerate. (Refrigeration slows down the fermentation process.) A slice of onion on top sounds good!

Anon, I've never tried fermented salsa, but I imagine it's very good. I'll give that a try next tomato harvest.

Some of our favorite fermented foods are turnips and Jerusalem artichokes. We like those better than sauerkraut! For kimchi, I sometimes buy a Chinese cabbage, but I've made it with daikon greens too, and it's delicious.

TB, it's definitely a cultivated taste! But I've always likes sour, so it was easy for me. Dan took more time, but using it for cole slaw really helped.

Food textures are really important for liking foods. I guess the nice thing about simply adding some mayo to sauerkraut is that it's easy to control the amount and make it to taste. If anyone else in your family likes cole slaw, this may be a good introduction to fermented foods for them.

Shug, there are so many wonderful combinations of veggies to ferment. You could certainly sweeten your sauce for a sauerkraut cole slaw and still get the benefit of the probiotics. I used to use honey back when I made it with vinegar. But made with sauerkraut, I don't find it as sour and can omit the sugar.

Fundy Blue said...

What a good idea, Leigh!~. I'm not a fan of fermented foods, so this might help me. "Something is better than nothing is one of the mottos I live by. Enjoy your weekend!

Leigh said...

Thank you Louise! I'm sure most people agree with healthy eating, but changing dietary habits is always a challenge. Compromises are a good start!