Cortido (Salvadoran Sauerkraut)


Cortido (aka curtido) is a variation on sauerkraut that hails from El Salvador. It is typically served in that country alongside a dish called pupusas.

I enjoy “regular” sauerkraut well enough (I’ve blogged about it before: here and here), but was looking for something else to make with my homegrown cabbage in honor of the Preserve the Bounty Challenge going on over at Nourished Kitchen. I found a recipe for Cortido in the book Nourishing Traditions, then toyed with it a bunch to get what you see here.

This recipe is made using the lacto-fermentation method. Lacto-fermentation is how I make my pickles and lots of other health-enhancing goodies…it’s my favorite way to preserve vegetables. Lacto-fermented foods are live foods- high in nutrients, as well as enzymes and natural probiotics. They also taste great.

Most lacto-fermented vegetable recipes do not contain vinegar: they rely solely on salt for preservation. This recipe differs a bit, because it uses both.

Please note that the fresh ginger, green apple, and kale are my own additions to cortido… I know this isn’t how it’s made in El Salvador. Please also note that you really taste the vinegar in here; if you aren’t a fan of vinegar, you’ll want to use less of it, and add more water.

I shredded everything for this recipe in my food processor. I used the fine shredding disc, but you can use the thin shredding one, if you prefer. You could also shred everything by hand.

This cortido is really flavorful. I’ve been mixing it into salads and wraps, and it went great with a chorizo and potato dish I made recently, as well. One of these days, I’ll try my hand at pupusas , too.

Once the initial fermentation is over, you can store your cortido in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 1-2 months. I’m sure you’ll think of lots of ways to use it in that time frame.

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A Few More Recipes for Cortido:
Curtido from She Spills the Beans
Cortido from Texas Cook
Pupusas Con Cortido from Saveur

This post is linked to Two for Tuesdays!

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Recipe for Lacto-Fermented Cortido


  • *1 small head of cabbage outer leaves removed and cored
  • *3 large carrots scrubbed (and peeled if not organic)
  • *1 onion peeled
  • *1 thumb sized piece of ginger peeled (use less if you aren't a ginger fan)
  • *approximately 1-2 handfuls kale leaves tough stems removed
  • *1 green apple cored (and peeled if not organic)
  • *2-3 teaspoons dried oregano- optional
  • *1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or more to taste
  • *1 tablespoon sea salt
  • *1 1/2 cups raw apple cider vinegar
  • *1 1/2 cups water plus more if necessary


  • 1. Shred cabbage through apple in a food processor (or chop fine by hand). Transfer to a large bowl and mix with oregano and red pepper flakes.
  • 2. Spoon cabbage mixture into 2 quart-sized jars and press down with the back of a wooden spoon. Leave 1 inch of space between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
  • 3. In a small bowl, mix the salt with the vinegar and water. Pour evenly over both jars of the cabbage, then add more water to both, if needed, so that the liquid is level with the cabbage.
  • 4. Cover jars tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days. Store long-term in the refrigerator.

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20 thoughts on “Cortido (Salvadoran Sauerkraut)”

  1. When I ferment sauerkraut or kimchi I also use large mouth mason quart jars. However, I put the lid on so it just does touch the jar fairly lightly. I have read several accounts of these jars bursting when the lids were tight and the pressure builds. So, I set my full jars in a 9″ X 9″ glass Pyrex dish and set this is a Styrofoam cooler, then put the lid on. This does two things – one is to contain the inevitable overflow from the semi-loose lids (check and replace liquid with filtered water and a sprinkle of sea salt every week) and the second is that it will contain the fermenting odors so your house doesn’t smell like sauerkraut or kimchi or any other fermented product. The Pyrex dish makes the overflow cleanup really easy.
    I really like your site — thank you for sharing your recipes/ideas.

    • Hi Tim, I’ve never worried about pressure buildup, but you do need to watch for the liquid bubbling up and potentially leaking out if you don’t leave enough headspace (about an inch).

  2. Hi Dr. Winnie and welcome to the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! I am following you now on twitter and grabbed your RSS feed. I too am enjoying the harvesting the bounty challenge that Jenny is running! I was eying this recipe in NT for a while, so now i have no excuse not to make it as you said it was so good! Thanks again for linking up and we look forward to seeing more of you! [email protected]

  3. I am looking forward to making some lacto-fermented goodies and this is so going on the list! Thank you for sharing it with Two for Tuesdays!

  4. Wow, this sounds fabulous! I dig your additions…and I’d love to dig into this with a spoon. I actually love that kick of vinegar. Thank you very much for sharing this with Two for Tuesdays this week! :)

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  6. This looks divine! Have made several batches of the cucumber pickles the recipe for which you posted at food52. We are crazy about them! I like using the whey method described in “Nourishing Traditions.” Apples just appeared at our markets over the weekend. I’m so looking forward to making this! ;o)

  7. Rachel,
    I haven’t tried the pineapple vinegar version. I don’t think it’s too salty…it has about the same amount as traditional sauerkraut, I believe. The apple cider vinegar does pack a little punch, though…but in a good way, I think.

  8. I love the cortido with made with pineapple vinegar a la NT (one of the few NT recipes I really like, lol). It’s nice to have a condiment ferment that’s not salty for a change. Since you altered the recipe to contain salt, how salty is it compared to say, traditional sauerkraut.

  9. I love pupusas and the cortido that goes with them! They are both on my list of things to make. When I do make them, I’ll definitely try your recipe for cortido.

  10. When you mentioned this at lunch, I thought I would like it. Now I know I will. Can’t wait to make it. Thank you for such an original recipe! I want to layer this on sandwiches.

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  12. One of my favorite things about kimchi is the ginger, so I think I would love your version of cortido! Thanks for the recipe.

  13. Thanks Jenny! I love kimchi too- will be making it very very soon as I’ve got lots more cabbage in my garden to use.