Pelustka (Petal) Cabbage and Beetroot Ferment

Credit: Joe woodhouse

I made some ferments for Dr Smitha Mundasad for the BBC Radio 4 Inside Health. In the second half of the episode I talk about the Ukrainian traditions of kvashennia (fermentation), followed by more scientific talk with professor Paul Cotter. 

I wanted to give you the full recipe for wonderful pelustka here (below). The other two ferments are – a kimchi I mixed with blitzed fermented pumpkin and apples (recipe for the 🍏 🎃 in Summer Kitchens) and also there is kryzhalky (lightly steamed cabbage leaves, fermented in gherkin brine, mustard seeds and garlic). I posted a recipe for grilled chilli, garlic and ginger sauce on The Food That Makes Us my Patreon platform just now (available for all). For more information on fermentation, I have links to online Zoom classes recordings, where I give a lot of information and recipes, available to subscribers. 

Pelustka (Petal)

1 white cabbage (I often use pointed)

2-3 beetroots, clean but unpeeled if young and organic, otherwise peeled

A few garlic cloves, peeled and sliced or finely chopped/crushed

A few allspice berries or any other untoasted lightly crushed spices like coriander or caraway or dill stalks (optional)

Remove any blemishes from the cabbage. Cut in half then into quarters, if bog cut into 8ths. Then cut again across, so you have large chunks of cabbage. Slice the beetroots into wedges (the thinner, the quicker they ferment). 

Clean the jar (but with gentle detergent, no harsh chemicals), layer the vegetables and garlic and other flavourings in. 

Measure out about 1L of water (I use tap, but if you have filtered, non chlorinated – that’s better) and 20-25% sea salt, i.e. 20-25g sea salt per 1L of water. 

Pour it into the jar, almost all the way to the top. Make some more brine in the same manner if there isn’t enough to cover the vegetables and come to -2cm top of the jar. 

Cover with a lid and leave in your kitchen to ferment. The beetroot will paint the brine and cabbage pink, and eventually fuchsia, hence the name ‘pelustka’. Taste it after about a week, but big chunks of beets and cabbage might take up to 2-3 weeks to ferment in a cold kitchen.Keep in fridge when happy with flavour.

This is a version of a recipe that appeared in my third cookbook Summer Kitchens.