Home » Lacto-fermented Foods and Drinks, Recipes » Cortido (Latin American Sauerkraut)

Cortido (Latin American Sauerkraut)

Mmmm…my family cannot get enough of this stuff. It is delicious!  Lucky for me because we’re going to be eating a lot of it in the near future.  Lacto-fermented foods are a very important part of the GAPS diet.


Cortido is traditionally made with pineapple vinegar, so I hear, but since I don’t have any of that on hand I stuck with the recipe provided by Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions.


Don’t worry, lacto-fermenting can seem a bit intimidating at first but once you get used to the process you will see the simplicity in it.  The wait to eat it is the hardest part.



Adapted from the Cortido recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Ingredients are the same but method is different.


1 large cabbage, shredded

1 cup grated carrots

2 onions, finely sliced into long, thin strips

1 TBS sea salt (OR 2 TBS sea salt if not using whey)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (use more if you like it spicy)

1 TBS dried oregano

4 TBS whey*


*Whey is optional.  It acts as a sort of kickstart for the lacto-fermentation process, so I like to use it.  If you choose to omit the whey, increase the sea salt to 2 TBS.

The easiest way to obtain whey is to strain it yourself.  All you need is plain, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt (organic is best).  Line a colander with cheesecloth or a tea towel and place over a glass bowl.  Pour the yogurt into the lined colander.  Let sit until all the liquid drips from the yogurt into the bowl below.  (This takes many hours).  The liquid collected in the bowl is whey.  What’s left of the yogurt is very thick and heavy, the consistency of cream cheese.



I prefer this method described by Sandor Katz in Wild Fermentation, as I find it keeps the veggies submerged completely under the liquid, which is essential for proper fermentation and avoidance of mold. Some day I might invest in some of these.


You will need a glass bowl or fermenting crock and a plate that fits inside the opening.


Make sure all bowls, plates and tools are cleaned very well in very hot water before beginning.


Mix up all the ingredients thoroughly.


Gently pound with a meat hammer or other flat bottomed tool until juices begin to be released…about 10 minutes or so.  (This is a fun activity for the kids to help with, but be ready for it to take longer).

The plate clear glass so it is hard to see in this picture, but you can see it if you look closely.


When the juices are starting to collect in the bowl, place the plate directly on top of vegetables and press down firmly.  This will bring more juices out.


Place a weight on top of the plate to hold the veggies under the juices.  I use a 1/2 gallon mason jar filled with water.  You can use anything as long as it is very clean as it will be in the juices.


If the juices don’t cover the veggies yet, don’t worry.  The weight bearing down on it will make it happen.  Just keep checking on it over the next 24 hours and add more weight if needed.


Cover the bowl to keep out critters and dust and check periodically to make sure the veggies continue to be fully submerged under the liquid.


Let sit for 3 days or so (longer if you are in a cold climate).


After 3 days, transfer the cortido to a clean mason jar and store in the refrigerator.


It is fine to eat now, but the flavor improves greatly with age.




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