Latin American Sauerkraut (aka Cortido)

by lydia on June 21, 2010

I must admit I have a minor, okay, major obsession with cortido. I eat it with everything, with tacos, pulled meats, hot dogs, eggs, I even put it in my soup sometimes. It’s great with any type of Mexican food!!  I like it so much I recently made a gallon of it, all just for me. My kids do not eat this particular ferment, however Christian did just open up the fridge and point to the jar and asked of a bowl of it. Which I gave him, and he gobbled it up!! Yay! When I made this batch I was still finishing up an old batch, so when I finally got around to it, it was nicely flavored. I think from now on I will let my kraut age a bit before eating it.

If you are not familiar with the taste of fermented foods, it could take some getting used to. It’s a more tart and sour taste that unfortunately, we in the Western culture have lost for the taste of all shades of brown and tan heavily salted and preserved foods. Ugh. The cool thing about fermented foods, is that if you have an open mind to try them out, you will eventually get hooked. I honestly think it’s your body telling you that you crave all those awesome enzymes and probiotics!

Anyway, enough babble, you want the recipe right?!

Latin American Sauerkraut (aka Cortido)
Recipe type: Side Dish
  • 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded (I use half red, half green which gives it a nice purple color)
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ -1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 4 Tbsp. whey, if not available, use an additional 1 Tbsp. salt
  1. In a large bowl, mix cabbage with carrots, onions, oregano, red chile flakes, sea salt and whey (along with any additions you choose).
  2. Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices. (I actually leave mine in a large bowl with salt for an hour to let it draw out the juices and then the pounding is easier).
  3. Place in 2-quart sized jars (or one larger jar) press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jars.
  4. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before and transferring to cold storage.

Note – I also like to add a few cloves of garlic, just smashed or halved, and some cumin, either the seeds or the ground variety. Let your imagination run wild, you really could add anything you like to this. Some fresh cilantro would be nice too!

It’s nice to make a large batch of this as it keeps for a very long time and you save on the time and labor of making it over and over again. Not to mention, time only makes it get better! Also, it’s so great to have a side dish always ready in your fridge. How cool is that!!

There is also a variation, that I prefer. Omit salt and whey and use 4-6 cups pineapple vinegar.

Pineapple Vinegar


  • Skin and core from 1 pineapple
  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. red chile flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. whey (optional)


  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl, cover and leave at room temp for 36 hours.
  2. Skim and remove pineapple pieces.
  3. Strain vinegar into clean jars and cover tightly. This will keep in a cool place for several months.
  4. Mix all ingredients for the sauerkraut in a bowl except for the pineapple vinegar and pound lightly.
  5. Stuff cabbage loosely into 3 quart-sized jars and add enough vinegar to cover the cabbage. The top of the cabbage mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jars.
  6. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before putting in the fridge. This method saves you from having to do any pounding, which isn’t all that bad, but it’s a nice bonus.


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