Foraging & Fermenting
In April I had the opportunity to take a class from someone I have long admired and whose book, The New Wildcrafted Cuisine, I own: Pascal Baudar. Despite this admiration, it took me a while to get to one of his classes because he was in Southern California and I was in the northern part of the state. Until I moved, that is. Now he’s my practically in my backyard. Well, if you don’t count the whole traversing 3-4 different freeways over the course of the 90 minutes that it took to reach his class, he’s right in my backyard. At least by So Cal standards he is.
There were about 15 of us in class, including the two friends invited along on the adventure. We met at place called Reptacular in the Angeles National Forest. After a brief introduction, Pascal marched us from our picnic table outpost to just across the road where he began pulling up plants. Weeds, really. As he gathered these weeds, he shared the medicinal properties, traditional uses, taste profiles, and post-fermentation qualities of each plant. He identified which plants were native and those, like wild mustard, that are not native and tend to be invasive. Bonus: the leaves and seeds of this mustard are quite tasty when fermented. Who knew weed eradication could be delicious? Pascal, that’s who.
I took quite a few photos but it wasn’t until I began writing this post that I noticed that Pascal is not smiling in a single one, which is odd since he very funny and had us laughing and smiling most of the day.
I will go back to take other classes with the delightful Mr. Baudar since I recall only a tenth of all he shared about the plants we encountered. But there is one little gem that I not only remembered but have already put in to practice in my fermentation rotation: mustard! Adding a generous helping to your salted, massaged cabbage adds such a nice little spiciness to fermented veggies. The mustard Pascal uses is, of course, made with foraged mustard seeds while mine was foraged from the wilds of Trader Joe’s but the results were still delicious. I have a sauerkraut recipe that follows. Because of course I do.
The recipe is a tribute to summer as it is the perfect accompaniment to anything grilled but I designed it with the quintessential summer food in mind: the hotdog! You can find tasty, grass-fed beef dogs these days as well as vegetarian alternatives so everyone can join in the fun. Happy Fourth of July, y’all!
If you find yourself in the LA area and want to join in one of Pascal’s classes, you can find his class offerings here.
Mustardy Hot Dog Kraut
Yields 1 quart
- 1 1/2 pound head of green cabbage, shredded
- 1 T coarse grind sea salt
- 1/2 small red onion, cut in quarters and thinly sliced
- 1 heaping T grainy mustard
Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Add the sea salt and massage thoroughly until the cabbage begins to soften and release liquid. Put a plate on top and weight it down with a few cans. Leave it to sit for 30 – 60 minutes. Remove the plate and mix in the remaining the mustard and onions. Pack tightly into a jar and pour any released liquid remaining in the bowl over the top so that all vegetables are completely covered. If you aren’t using a Kraut Source or some similar device, make sure to use a weight of some sort to keep vegetables submerged below the brine. That said, I can’t imagine why you don’t have a Kraut Source or two. Or five.
Leave the kraut on your counter, out of direct sunlight, for 7 – 10 days or longer depending on your tastes.