Preserve the Season: Sprout Kraut

Sprout Kraut
Sprout Kraut
For a twist on traditional sauerkraut, cookbook author Karen Solomon likes to soak Brussels sprouts in a briny mixture of peppercorn, dill, garlic, and chiles.Helen Rosner

I'm a sucker for food in miniature. Dollhouse-proportioned fruits and vegetables, bite-sized hors d'oeuvres, even travel-sized product samples are irresistible to me in their adorable, tiny packaging. If, like me, you think fun size is better than full, then Sprout Kraut—Brussels sprouts prepared like sauerkraut—is the fermented pickle for you.

Traditional sauerkraut—lacto-fermented chopped or shredded cabbage—is a sustaining thing of simple beauty, bringing to meals an important interlude of sour and salty and, if you’ve made it correctly, crunch. But I encourage you to ditch the cabbage head and turn to its smaller cousin, the Brussels sprout. Packed tightly with tangy cruciferous flavor, Brussels sprouts make delicious, surprising, bite-sized kraut on the go. With a few ingredients and a little time investment, you too can kraut in miniature.

If you're new to preserving, be prepared to catch the bug; the cool weather of fall is perfect for slow, successful ferments in your laundry room, garage, or basement. And if you like what you taste, know that this same formula—salted water, garlic, and pepper poured over vegetables, left to cure for days or weeks—can be used on anything from shredded beets and carrots to tart green apples, cucumbers and onions and, of course, our giant friend the cabbage. And if you find garlic and pepper a culinary confinement, feel free to add (or subtract) with additional flavorings such as celery seed, ajwain seeds, cumin seed, juniper, or whole mustard seeds.

Karen Solomon is the author of the forthcoming Asian Pickles (Ten Speed Press); Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It; and Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It.