As the intense heat of the summer winds down, it’s now time to plant your fall garden. This is an especially welcome change of seasons, as the Coastal Bend saw record temperatures this summer with little rain to offer relief. The current conditions and cooler temps are perfect for growing cabbage.
Cabbage is a popular choice for fall gardens in the Coastal Bend region. Several varieties do well here, with the Copenhagen variety among the most popular. One of the easiest ways to use your autumn harvest is to make a batch of sauerkraut. You will need a large bowl, a mason jar, an airlock lid and a mallet. Ingredients include cabbage, sea salt and — if you like — caraway seeds.
Chop cabbage into thin strips and place into a large bowl. Add salt at approximately 1.5 tbsp per pound of cabbage and mix together. Pound cabbage to release the juice and let sit for at least 1 hour. Add caraway seeds (approximately 1 tbsp per 3 lbs. of cabbage). Pack cabbage into mason jars about 2/3 full, making sure the chopped cabbage is completely submerged in the brine. Place airlock lid on the jar and store in a cool, dark place. Taste sauerkraut weekly or as often as you would like to measure against your desired texture and level of tanginess. If extra brine is needed, mix 2 tsp of salt in 1/2 cup of water and add so the cabbage is completely submerged.
A Need-to-Know Basis
Growing Up: Early November is the best time for growing cabbage in the Coastal Bend region. Choose a spot in your garden that receives full sun in well-drained and heavily composted soil. Space approximately 12-18” and water with a drip line when possible to ensure deep root growth. Your cabbage should be ready to harvest at around 70 days. Rabbits and deer love fall gardens, especially cabbage, so be mindful of these critters and make sure to secure your produce.
Profiling: The variety of cabbage that you choose to grow will determine when to harvest, but it will generally be anywhere from two to three months from the time you plant. Cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks when wrapped in plastic. Those out there with access to a root cellar, or who are able to mimic the environment of one, can store cabbage for up to three months.
Fun Facts: Fresh, raw cabbage offers the expected healthy benefits of eating leafy greens. However, when you add in the fermentation process, it becomes a powerhouse superfood. Consuming sauerkraut in moderation will add fiber to assist with digestion and plenty of probiotics to benefit your overall gut health. It’s also low in calories and high in fiber, leaving you feeling full longer.