So a couple months back, I provided my recipe for one of my all-time favorite spice mixes / dry rubs: Montreal Steak Seasoning. (Mostly referred to as MSS from here on out as I’m feeling lazy…)
One of my goals behind getting that recipe up was to later post some ferments using this wonderful spice mix. I plan to make MSS Pickles when it’s cucumber season again, and in the meantime, I made MSS sauerkraut and it is as good as you can imagine.
You might be thinking “why don’t I just buy Montreal Steak Seasoning?” but you need to be careful when it comes to fermenting. For fermenting purposes it can’t have preservatives, anti-caking agents, oil (which actually is an ingredient in many store brands), or iodized salt (sea salt is fine). For those reasons, if you want MSS Kraut, it’s may be best to make my recipe.
You can go about this a couple different ways: If you like to weigh your cabbage and use an exact amount of salt to achieve a certain percentage salinity (e.g. 3.5%), you can go ahead and salt the cabbage as you normally would and then add in an MSS mix that is unsalted. I would recommend about 1 TBS MSS per pound of cabbage, but you can also taste as you go to decide.
The other method is to make the MSS recipe as is, with the salt. I do this because I don’t just use the seasoning for ferments but all kinds of dishes and I’d rather just have the salt in there to begin with for convenience. The salt in that recipe is about 18% of the total. I may in the future go back and weigh each constituent component in grams to know the weights & proportions for sure. But given that salt is only a part of it, you’ll still need to add extra salt to your cabbage to get your brine forming. Instructions for this approach are provided below.
You will need:
- Quart or half-gallon mason/fermenting jar
- Recommended: fermenting airlock & lid, weight to submerge cabbage
- Knife & cutting board
- Large non-reactive mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons
- For a quart: ~2.5 lbs. sliced or shredded cabbage (start with around a 3.5 lb. head)
- For a half-gallon: ~5 lbs. sliced or shredded cabbage (start with around 6-6.5 lbs. before peeled & cored)
- For each pound of cabbage used: add 1 tsp non-iodized salt and 1 TBSP Montreal Steak Seasoning (salted version). If you use an unsalted MSS, increase the salt level to 1/2 TBSP per pound of cabbage.
- As desired, extra salt brine (instructions below)
1.) Remove exterior leaves of cabbage and rinse cabbage
2.) Cut cabbage in half and remove the core with a V-shaped cut (that is my practice, but you may opt to retain the core by shredding, matchstick cutting, or using in another ferment or a dish like soup or stir fry
3.) Quarter the cabbage, cut the quarters in half and slice into strips; place in bowl
4.) Add the salt and seasoning in the proportions explained above
5.) Massage the salted/seasoned cabbage for around ten minutes, until an ample amount of liquid (brine) is released from the cabbage (the cabbage will have softened considerably), enough to submerge it.
6.) After ample brine has formed, pack the cabbage into your jar firmly, adding a little brine as you go and reserving some to pour on top. The cabbage should be fully submerged, and a weight can be added to keep it held down. (Some use the large exterior cabbage leaves to do this, tucked down the sides of the jar.)
If you don’t have enough brine (or just want more, like for gut shots), you can dissolve 1 tsp of salt in a 1/2 cup water, plus add 1/2 tsp of the MSS so as not to dilute its flavor. Thoroughly mix and pour as much as is needed over the cabbage.
Ferment length: This is a matter of personal taste but for flavor and probiotic count, I always recommend at least a month ferment time. If you don’t have the patience for that, consider making two batches, or go as long as you can, whether that’s 2-3 weeks. A 3-month ferment is really special and some people won’t touch theirs unless it’s 6+ months old, but this tends to be much softer and isn’t my preference.
Excited about eating this alongside a MSS rubbed NY Strip? On top of your favorite hot dog? With some deli food? All by its lonesome? Let us know what you think!
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