“Shannon, don’t let anyone pick my scallions! I’ll be back next week for them!” Three weeks before moving out of the Lil’ House the frost lifted, Durham was showered with plenty of rain, and bam (!) the garden that I thought was otherwise dead, started thriving. “Crap, I’m moving, should I harvest them early? Or just let them go for the next renter?” Luckily I had a two week buffer before the next tenants moved in with plenty of time to harvest my goods. Inspired by the white kimchi that I reviewed last week from Durham’s Kokyu Na’Mean, I felt it only appropriate to try my hand, yet again, at food fermentation. I say that because seemingly I can’t ferment food goods worth shit. Liquid ferments? No problem? Kimchi, sauerkraut, slaw.. nothing.
Did I ever mention that I co-authored a text book chapter on fermentation and the use of starter cultures? While it was quite a laughable learning experience, I do feel a bit more educated in something that before a year ago I knew little about. As many young “hipsters” these days do, I’ve had my share of fermentation fun: kombucha, kimchi, sauer kraut, and now kefir. About a month ago, I was offered a kefir starter culture for some pickles at the Seacoast Food Swap. I had tried store bought kefir before, but never really bought into the phenomenon because I honestly just thought it was another drinkable yogurt product. My first batch went horribly wrong as for some reason I thought fermenting milk at room temperature for 7days was OK (duh). But, now that I’ve got the hang of it, I’m kefir wild! It’s soooo much better and cheaper than the pasteurized kefir products you find at the grocer. I’ve actually started skipping my morning routine of yogurt and fruit for a cup of this slightly tart ferment mixed with local maple syrup. Plus, with the summer temperatures arise, I’m forced to take a break from my other fermentation hobby (kombucha) due to defeat by god damn fruit flies…
You may be wondering, “what’s all the hub-bub about with this kefir stuff?” I am still learning about the history, health benefits, etc. of kefir, but I thought as I’m super excited about this new found glory, that I’d share some interesting stuff I’ve learned over the past couple weeks with you. Because it’s late and I’m feeling weird, I’ve opted to share the odd things about this here fermented product.
It isn’t often that I find a bigger fan of my pickles than myself. It feels silly to say it, but I think I’m my own biggest fan… obviously after my mom. Until recently I definitely thought this was the case, but my friend Abby has recently got me beat. This morning, with plenty of trepidation, we sampled my second batch of sauerkraut. After my last sauerkraut experiment and my dire cry for help (thanks to all of you for providing suggestions), I’ve figured it out and fermentation seems to be successfully underway. It’s been 12 days since I started this batch, and we both agreed that it needs more time. I plan on doing another taste test in a week. Following the general sauerkraut guidelines from the book Wild Fermentation, I’m hoping that much won’t go too wrong this time. To make the perfect mock fermentation crock, I used a 1/2 gallon Ball jar and a 1/2 pint jar to weigh down the contents. While this apparatus will do just fine as I’m still a novice fermentor, as things get more serious I would like to purchase a legit. old fashion crock. 🙂
Historically, fermented foods have played an important role in the diets of almost every society throughout the world. Although initially utilized as a method of food preservation, fermentation also offers health benefits and a way to diversify the diet… GREAT… great if I actually knew what I was doing. Rather than going on about fermentation or providing a killer recipe, I’m switching things up and am asking for advice/book or apparatus suggestions/help with fermenting vegetables. A horrific smelling apartment korean kimchi, a small batch overflow disaster, and more recently a SUPER smart night of experimenting with red cabbage sauerkraut while three sheets to the wind (there was red ALL over my kitchen when I woke up), my experience with fermented foods hasn’t gone too well to say the least.
A couple weeks back I picked up a couple heads of red cabbage from the Heron Pond Farm booth at the Wentworth Greenhouses winter farmers’ market. After thoroughly consulting with plenty of friends, websites, and the book Wild Fermentation I figured a basic sauerkraut recipe couldn’t be that difficult.
Saturday morning kicked off the first week of the Portsmouth Summer Farmers’ Market. In a sentence, it was small, cute, super friendly, and as expected, booming with spring greens. In the spirit of local, in season, and organic preserved goods I scoured the market for a little putting up inspiration. Greens among greens… I spotted several bountiful bunches of pac choy (bok choy) from Riverside Farm and decided I’d go for kimchi rendition number 3. A modification on Doris & Jilly’s bok choy kimchi, I paired this super fresh bok choy with some watermelon radishes from Garen’s Greens at Riverside Farm (aren’t they beautiful??), and carrots from Heron Pond Farm.
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