Fermented curtido is a sauerkraut-like condiment from El Salvador. It is traditionally served with pupusas, however, this delicious condiment is perfect for adding flavor to all sorts of dishes. While curtido can be pickled with vinegar, fermentation is more traditional and just as easy!
Typically fermented curtido is served after three days of fermenting when the cabbage is sweet and sparkling. So I recommend stashing your curtido in the fridge after 2 to 3 days to stop the fermentation. It will still be packed full of flavor and probiotics. It just won’t be sour.
However, it’s completely fine to leave your curtido to continue fermenting for longer. After a week it will end up tasting more like sauerkraut, while still holding on to that uniquely South American flavor.
I usually make a large batch of curtido. We eat some of it fresh and leave the rest to continue fermenting for several months in our fermentation closet. That way we get to enjoy it both ways!
How to Serve Fermented Curtido
Honestly, a jar of curtido barely lasts more than a month in our fridge. We use it as a condiment for pretty much everything.
Here are a few of our favorite serving suggestions:
- Curtido is traditionally served with pupusas, a stuffed corn tortilla.
- Trendy restaurants serve fermented curtido as a taco topping.
- My son likes adding a few forkfuls to a plate of nachos. It offers a surprisingly salsa-like flavor.
- My daughter likes eating curtido with cheese and crackers.
- Serve it with a bean and rice glory bowl.
- After fermenting for a month, curtido will taste like sauerkraut. Perfect for serving on hot dogs!
Curtido is a fermented sauerkraut-like condiment from El Salvador. It is traditionally served with pupusas, but it is delicious on everything from tacos to hot dogs.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 1/2 quarts 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Salvadoran
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium-sized head of cabbage (I like purple)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 Tbsp oregano (Mexican oregano if you have it)
- 1 hot pepper or 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp pickling salt, to taste
- Grate or finely chop the cabbage, onion, and carrots.
- Toss the grated vegetables in a bowl with the oregano, hot pepper, and salt.
- Pack the mixture into a jar or two jars for fermentation leaving at least 1-inch of headroom (for bubbling.) Use a spoon to really press all the cabbage into the jars so that there are no air bubbles.
- If the cabbage hasn’t released enough liquid to completely submerge the vegetables, then leave it for 4-12 hours, and press again. If it still hasn’t released enough liquid, then add a bit of purified water. The goal is to make sure the cabbage is kept under the liquid.
- Place the jar somewhere cool and dark to ferment.
- The curtido will bubble for the first three days. It is usually eaten fresh, so it will be ready after 3 days. Move the jar(s) to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation.
- To make sure that the vegetables aren’t exposed to air, use either fido jars or a mason jar with an airlock. Alternatively, use a crock or a mason jar with a weight to keep the vegetables below the brine.
- Field-grown cabbage naturally has the bacterial cultures needed for fermenting. There’s no need to use a starter with this simple recipe.
Keywords: sauerkraut, Mexican, Salvadoran, tacos, vegan, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, egg free, keto, paleo, probiotic, spring, summer, fall
The curtido is an awesome recipe; goto for taco condiment to make Mexi night extra special. It has a great sourness that really complements refried beans and cheese. Thank you thank you!
Hi, fellow fermenters. I had to wait till I was in my mid-60s to discover that these lacto-pickles are irresistible and so good for me! This hybrid is delicious, kinda like sauerkraut meets kimchi. I actually included the same Korean chilli flakes I use for kimchi, but these pickles allow so much personal experimenting. I like to achieve a real sharp tang, 10 to 14 days of fermenting activity at least. Of course, the cabbage can be red, white, green or any mix thereof. I’ve used oregano in mine, but will try some other herbs I grow too. I live alone and use whatever small jars I have around. I find “preppers” make everything in huge jars, but I find I can make lacto-pickles in really small amounts perfectly successfully in “any old jar”. If I can’t recycle something, I try to re-purpose it!
I am Salvadorian and always made it with the short cut of vinegar. After making and tasting this fermented curtido, I will never go back to the easy way. The taste is excellent and the benefits of fermenting outway taking the easy way with just vinegar
Thank you for such a wonderful compliment! Glad you enjoy it.
I love the pickled but love even more the fermented curtido but I like it sour from 1 month – 3 months up to 6 months -also I don’t like garlic (yes I know weirdo) so not much if any but I love the heat so add a fair wack of chillis I would also do a batch with less heat for friend / family , I starting fermenting 19 months ago and absolutely addicted , trying all sorts of different ferments , I love your website in my opinion the best for fermenting – Thank You
Thank you so much for your comments! I’m so glad that you enjoy my recipes. Happy Fermenting! Emillie