Ruby Curtido

Source: Kelly McVicker, McVicker Pickles

Recipe Type: | Seasons:

This recipe was demonstrated on our YouTube channel, which you can find here or see below.

Curtido is a cabbage-based slaw that originates from El Salvador. You may recognize it as the delicious stuff served on top of pupusas. It is traditionally made with green cabbage, but using one red cabbage and one green cabbage will give it a beautiful magenta hue. This lacto-fermented adaptation gives it more depth (not to mention, nutrients) than the vinegar version used by most commercial establishments.

Makes about ½ a gallon in a jar


1 head green cabbage
1 head red cabbage
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, shredded or cut into thin slices
1 medium white onion, shredded or cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon cumin seed

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 bay leaf, crumbled
½ tablespoons pickling or sea salt


Remove and discard any blemished out leaves from the green and red cabbages. Remove 1 healthy-looking leaf from each cabbage and set them aside. Halve each cabbage, then remove cores. Thinly slice the cabbages with a sharp knife or mandoline, then transfer to a large bowl.

Add the garlic, carrot, onion, cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, and bay leaf. Toss to combine well.

Sprinkle the salt evenly over all. Then massage it in with your hands, using gloves if desired, to release the juice. Make it wilt for about 5 minutes. Let it rest for 30 minutes to allow more juice to be released.

Using a muddler or pounder, press everything down into a ½ gallon jar, pushing out air bubbles as you go, until the brine rises up to almost covering the curtido.

Top with any remaining liquid from the bowl, making sure everything is completely covered in brine. Leave at least 2 inches of headspace. Use the reserved cabbage leaves (or weight of your choice) to weigh the curtido down.

Place the lid on the jar, then place the jar on a plate out of direct sunlight and away from drafts to ferment for 4 to 10 days, checking daily to make sure the curtido is still submerged. Taste after 4 days to see how the flavor is developing.

Once it’s sour enough to your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator and store for up to 1 year.

Find more recipes like this one from Kelly’s book, “Essential Vegetable Fermentation: 70 Inventive Recipes to Make Your Own Pickles, Kraut, Kimchi, and More,” at her website at Gift certificates for her pickling and fermenting workshops are also available there.

Photo courtesy of Kelly McVicker.

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