Sarah Lemon

Journalist and food-writer turned cooking instructor.

Carrot kraut is our signature salad topper

by | Uncategorized

The pop of coriander seeds, the piquant bite of fresh ginger, the tang of lemon that never could have come from a mere tablespoon of juice.

I just jarred another batch of my family’s favorite carrot kraut. The condiment that started as a savvy way to use up a surplus of homegrown carrots has now become a household staple.

If too many weeks pass without our signature carrots for salads, my partner in particular starts protesting at dinnertime. So I decided to guide him through the relatively simple process of making kraut while I cooked our evening meal.

A shredding attachment for my KitchenAid mixer makes deconstructing a 5-pound bag of organic carrots the work of about a half-hour. Our biggest mixing bowl holds about half the batch, massaged with Himalayan salt, freshly grated peeled ginger, lemon zest and juice and — my adaptation to the original recipe — whole coriander seeds. I have to believe that creator Kirsten Shockey would approve.

A guru of all manner, types and traditions for fermentation, Shockey is an Applegate resident who published her first book, “Fermented Vegetables,” in 2014. Four more books followed, and Shockey now hosts The Fermentation School, an online fermentation community. Find out more at https://ferment.works

Skeptical of kraut that isn’t cabbage? It took just one meal to determine that this recipe elevated our green salads in a way that fresh shredded carrots never could. Even my dad, whose regular diet does not include fermented foods, raved: “Wow, those carrots are really good!”

And the 30 or so minutes of shredding all those carrots for kraut saves me an extra five minutes — multiplied many times over — of peeling and shredding a fresh carrot at dinnertime on busy weeknights. It’s also a shortcut for classic carrot salad with raisins and pineapple, or diced pear and pomegranate seeds, a combination that pleases my kids. Even my basic coleslaw recipe get a boost from carrot kraut, along with the Daikon radish we grew and fermented over the winter.

Or use the kraut to boost the health profile of this lightly sweetened cornmeal-based muffin. These make a a great accompaniment to chili, stews and other hearty fare, rather than breakfast or snacking fare.


Carrot Kraut

8 pounds carrots, peeled or unpeeled (see note) and grated  

1 to 2 tablespoons peeled and grated, fresh ginger  

Juice and zest of 1 lemon 

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, ginger, lemon juice and zest. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the salt and, with your hands, massage it into veggies, then taste. It should taste slightly salty without being overwhelming. Add more salt if necessary. Carrots get briny almost immediately, and liquid will pool. 

Transfer carrot mixture to a 1-gallon jar or crock, a few handfuls at a time, pressing down with your fist or a tamper to remove air pockets. You should see some brine on top of carrots when you press. When vessel is packed, leave 4 inches head space for a crock, or 2 to 3 inches for a jar. 

Cover carrots with a piece of plastic wrap or other primary follower. For a crock, top carrots with a plate that fits opening of container and covers as much of surface as possible; then weight down with a sealed, water-filled jar. For a jar, use a sealed, water-filled jar or a resealable, zip-close bag as a combination follower and weight. 

Set aside on a baking sheet to ferment, somewhere nearby, cool and out of direct sunlight, for 7 to 14 days. Check daily to make sure carrots are submerged, pressing down as needed to bring brine back to surface. 

You can start to test kraut on day 7. You’ll know kraut is ready when it has a crisp-sour flavor and brine is thick and rich. 

When it’s ready, transfer kraut to smaller jars and tamp down. Pour in any brine that’s left. Tighten lids, then store in refrigerator. This kraut will keep, refrigerated, for 1 year, but is better within 6 months.

Makes about 1 gallon.

NOTE: It’s not always necessary to peel carrots. If they’re young and sweet, just scrub them and grate. If carrots are large with darker, bitter skins, peel them before grating.


Carrot Corn Cakes

1 cup flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup low-fat or whole milk (do not use nonfat)

1 1/2 cups grated carrots (2 medium carrots)

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

2 to 3 teaspoons black sesame seeds or black mustard seeds, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar; mix well.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and milk. Add the carrots and dry-ingredient mixture and stir to mix well; batter will have an oatmeal-like consistency.

Divide batter evenly among paper liners, filling cups two-thirds full. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, slather some of the mascarpone on each muffin, then sprinkle with the black sesame seeds or black mustard seeds.

Makes 12 muffins.

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