Pelustka is fermented pink farmer's sauerkraut with beet and celery.
The vibrant color, spicy flavor and rugged texture, fermented Ukrainian-style white cabbage (Ukrainian pelyustka or Пелюстка) is one of the most popular snacks in the states of the former Soviet Union. The magenta-pink color is one of the defining features of this sauerkraut. The secret of its aromatic taste and unique color lies in the combination of white cabbage, beet, celery leaves, garlic and hot chili.
This delicious kraut is also appreciated in Georgia. There it is known as mzhave (Georgian მჟავე კომბოსტო). I love it especially as a pairing with fatty dishes.
- ½ white cabbage (approx. 500 gr.)
- 2-3 beetroots (approx. 200 gr.)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 80 gr. celery leaves
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 1 l water
- 30-50 gr. salt (3-5% brine)
You can control the spiciness of the ferment yourself by adding or reducing the amount of chili. You can also decide on the salt content. The more salt, the more tart the product will be. In addition, it remains crunchier due to a greater salinity.
First, prepare the brine so that the salt has enough time to dissolve. To do this, add the salt to the water and stir thoroughly.
Then prepare the cabbage. To do this, cut it into quarters and remove the stalk from each piece. For the quantity given above, probably ½ head of cabbage is enough. From the rest you either make something else, or you double all the ingredients and make more pelustka. Cut the quarters into pieces about 5×5 cm.
Peel the beet and cut into 1-2 mm thick slices. The easiest way to do this is with a vegetable slicer. Wash the celery leaves well and chop them into coarse pieces. If you find the leaves too leathery in the finished ferment, you can remove them more easily this way. I appreciate their robust structure, but that is absolutely a matter of taste.
Peel the garlic cloves and cut them in half. If half garlic cloves are too big for you to eat later, you can also chop them. Cut the chili into rings. When handling chili, it is recommended to wear gloves.
Then layer the vegetables in the fliptop jar. Start with beet, then add a layer of cabbage pieces on top. Spread some garlic, chili and celery leaves on top of the cabbage. Keep alternating layers until the ingredients are used up. The top layer should be beet, this will make everything nice and pink. The slices also make a good barrier for everything underneath. It is important that all the vegetables are always under the brine.
Place a weight on top so that some pressure is exerted and fill up with the brine. You should leave 2-3 cm space to the brim of the jar, so that when in the process of fermentation the level rises, nothing would overflow. Place in a dark and warm place, ideally between 18° and 24° C.
After 3-5 days, this ferment can already be eaten. However, I recommend you to be patient for 4 weeks. Then the aroma is balanced and the cabbage crunchy and tender. In that case, after a week, please put a little cooler, between 16 ° and 20 ° C.