Curtido is a fermented Salvadorian slaw made with cabbage, carrots, onions, and oregano. It is easy to make and is chock-full of beneficial probiotics that encourage healthy digestion. It typically accompanies pupusas, but you can enjoy it on its own as a healthy side dish. In fact, curtido has a slightly crunchy texture and fresh and clean flavor that is highly addicting!
The great thing about curtido is that the flavor only gets better the longer it ferments. It will keep fresh in the fridge for months, so long as you preserve it in an airtight container. Think of this side dish or condiment like the Central American version of sauerkraut. It’s fun and easy to make, and you can customize it based on your taste preferences. For example, this recipe includes optional slices of jalapeño, but you don’t have to include it if you don’t appreciate spice. We have to say that it gives it a powerful kick that is pleasant and addicting.
The key to making a great curtido is slicing the ingredients evenly. Much like coleslaw, you don’t want super think slices of carrot mixed in with thin cabbage slices. For this reason, remove a couple outer leaves of cabbage and save them for jarring. At that point, you can use a mandoline slicer or cheese grater to shred/grate the ingredients. Jar the ingredients and let the fermentation begin!
- Prep Time:1h
- Total Time:1h
- 1 medium head green cabbage
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 c carrot, shredded
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tbsp. fine sea salt
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced in rings (optional)
- Remove a few outer leaves off the head of cabbage, rinse them, and then set them aside.
- Finely shred or chop the cabbage with a mandoline slicer, food processor, or a sharp knife. Thinly slice the onion and grate or shred the carrot.
- Combine the shredded cabbage, onion, and carrot in a large bowl and season with the oregano and sea salt. Mix well and let it sit for about 10-20 minutes. The salt will extract the water and natural juices from the vegetables. You can use your hands or a pounder to macerate the mixture.
- If using the jalapeño slices, place the slices at the bottoms of a couple jars. Fill up the jars with the cabbage mixture, packing it tightly and pressing it down into the jar. Just make sure to leave at least two inches of space at the top.
- Pour the juices from the cabbage mixture into the jar, ensuring that you completely cover the mixture in brine. If you need to add more brine, you can easily make more by dissolving one teaspoon of sea salt in one cup of water.
- Pack one of the outer cabbage leaves you saved on top of each jar, or use a fermentation weight if you have that. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth or loose lid.
- Leave the jar on the counter at room temperature for three to five days, checking daily to ensure that the cabbage mixture stays submerged in liquid. You can pack it down more if necessary. And do not worry about tiny bubbles that rise up from the bottom. They indicate fermentation!
- After three to five days on the counter, screw on the tops of the jars and keep refrigerated, making sure the curtido is always in brine. It will develop flavor over time and can keep for a couple months in the fridge, so long as it remains submerged in the brine.