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fermentation

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Spring Ferments

Image courtesy Toréa Rodriguez

Image courtesy Toréa Rodriguez

Well spring has definitely sprung in this part of the world. I usually can tell by the change in the veg at the farmers markets. This week I was excited to see, not only asparagus, but green garlic too! So exciting!! Plus its a welcome change to the seasons. My friend wrote about Eating Intuitively over at her blog It's Me, Charlotte and it got me thinking about how we naturally change what we crave based on the seasons too.

I crave more vegetables and lighter dishes in the spring and summer. Anyone else notice that?

So in that vein, I decided to make some of our farmers market haul into some crispy tangy fermented veg! I did two batches; the recipe for each are below. I wrote some tips on fermentation a few posts back, in case this is something that is new for you. And this time I am jotting down my technique so you can try too. I just can't help it - I really am loving my Kraut Source lids!

Fermented veg are great additions to salads, scrambles, stir-frys, you name it. Sometimes I will just snack on them plain! 


Herby Carrots & Turnips

Spring Asparagus

  • 1 carrot (any color, I used purple)
  • 4-5 small tokyo turnips, sliced
  • 1 head green garlic, sliced
  • few sprigs fresh dill
  • 1/2 t coriander seed
  • 1/4 t fennel seed
  • 2% brine (see notes below)
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 head green garlic, sliced
  • few sprigs fresh dill
  • 2% brine (see notes below)

 

 

Procedure

For the Asparagus, I simply washed them and snapped them off at the ends with my hands. This is where asparagus naturally becomes tender rather than tough and stringy. Then I cut them to fit in the jar. For the green garlic (in both recipes) and for the Carrot/Turnips, I used a mandolin to slice them thinly.

Then I place the ingredients into the jars. You can stack them on the ends, or layer them however you like. As long as all the ingredient make it to beneath the "shoulder" of the jar. My asparagus was a bit tall, so I twisted them in the jar to get them to be as low as possible.

Then I make a 2% brine. This is super easy. For every 2 cups filtered water, you'll want to add 10g of sea salt. I like to use a super fine pink himalayan sea salt because it is easier to go into solution with cold water. For this batch, I made about 5 cups with 25g of salt mixed in. 

Then I just pour enough brine to cover the veg by about an inch (2-3cm). I use the Kraut Source lids since they are so great at keeping the good bacteria in and keeping out everything I don't want with their water lock. They also help keep my veg submerged under the brine. 

These will stay on my kitchen counter for approximately 3-7 days. I can already see the bubbles forming on the carrot/turnips (24h later) but no activity yet on the asparagus. I'll keep checking them visually each day and do a taste test every few days. Once they change from tasting salty to tangy, yet still have a bit of crispness, that is when I know they are done. Then I swap out the tops for normal canning jar lids and store them in the fridge.

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5 Simple Tips for Home Fermentation

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

I'm not going to get into why fermented foods are so good for you - if you want to dig into the nitty gritty of it all you can read about that here (1), here (2) and here (3). Oh and here's a bit of science goodness here(4).

But here is the rub. Buying commercially available fermented foods is expensive $$$ - It may not seem so much at the time, but if you add it up over time - you end up spending a lot more than you need to. You can spend upwards of $10 for a jar of sauerkraut! If you bought a full pound of cabbage, you'd only spend a few dollars. See what I'm getting at here? 

Some folks are afraid to do their own ferments... afraid they might mess it up. Well, you might. I know I have messed up a bunch of batches, but its much less costly even if I mess it up a few times. Some folks think its too complicated. Well, it can be - I mean, you can get very very detailed about it. But it doesn't have to be. 

Here are some simple tips to make your foray into fermentation (or further into it) easier.

  1. Start with clean equipment. It is possible to culture the microbes that are on our hands, counters, jars, utensils etc. We'd like to try to keep that to the microbes that are naturally present on the veg. So make sure to wash your utensils, counters, jars and hands before starting.
  2. It doesn't have to be fancy! Yes, you could spend a lot of $ on special fermentation vessels. You don't need to. Start with a mason jar and a airlock top, like this one or this one.
  3. Good results start with good ingredients. Try to obtain the freshest produce possible. Organic or biodynamic will always yield really tasty results.
  4. Try to maintain consistent temperature. The colder it is, the longer your ferments will take. And the warmer it is, the shorter. But keep an eye on it. You'd like to keep the cultures proliferating rather than cycling between overactive and hibernation. Best to keep them in a location that has consistent temperatures between 65°-72°F.
  5. Still stuck? Get a good guidebook or try taking a class. It helps to have a resource to go to for details. Books I personally like are Sandor Katz' Art of Fermentation,  Jill Ciciarelli's Fermented or Lisa Herndon's Counter Culture: Pickles and Other Well-bred Foods. Some of these books are very very detailed, but again, its a reference. As for classes, you might be able to find local classes in fermenting. Or you can try an online course, like this one.

Pictured above are my two batches that I started this week. On the left is purple cabbage, fennel and apple sauerkraut. On the right is a batch of purple onions with some garlic and coriander seed. I guess I'm on a purple veg kick these days :).  Oh and the tops of the jars, I use a fermentation system by the folks over at Kraut Source

What do you like to ferment? Or what have you always wanted to try, but have been afraid to do? Leave a comment and let me know!

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