Monday, September 29, 2014

You Ferment For Me...

Although, it's been a long time in the making, I've recently started really getting into fermenting foods. I made a batch of pickles last year, and while I really enjoyed their taste, they were soggy, they were not spicy, and the recipe I was following suggested water bath canning! Let me tell you a little something about fermented foods, and then we'll discuss why I was so angry about the canning process. First of all, fermenting is not new, it's been used probably as long as agriculture has been around in order to preserve foods. Mostly it consists of putting a lot of something in a brine and just letting it sit there until it pickles itself. It's really tasty, and once you've had a fermented pickle, those lifeless things you buy in a store just never taste quite as good. I say lifeless because fermented pickles are teeming with life, bacterial life that is! I know, some of you may be put off by the thought that there are bacteria living in fermented pickles, but they are the same beneficial bacteria that are living right now in your guts. These guys help digest food, keep you healthy, and there needs to be a certain amount of them in your guts in order for you to feel good (it's often referred to as your intestinal flora, or gut flora).

So why should you be concerned about keeping the bacteria in your guts happy? Well, there has been recent evidence that suggests that gut flora being in an imbalance may make you fat! ( So we should not only welcome more probiotic foods into our diet, but prebiotic foods as well (so eat those fruits and veggies!). However, the fermenting stuff I am about to introduce is probiotic, so enjoy the pictures, and since this my new obsession prepare to hear much more about it!

So this is the recent the most recently finished fermenting project. I tried making sauerkraut for the first time ever! It was incredibly simple and it tastes amazing. Not to mention the crazy color because I used half green and half red cabbage. It looks pretty amazing, it's a bright magenta color! However, I made a 2 gallon crock, and now I am faced with having way more kraut than I know what to do with. I have just been eating forkfuls of it here and there. But then I hatched a scheme to get some of it out of my house, I am hosting a Reuben dinner party! I will definitely be posting pictures, as I am incredibly excited to get my friends together and enjoy a ton of fermented goodies! We will all be filled with beneficial gut flora after that party!

This was the previous fermenting project, pickles. I was trying to make them spicy and picked up a pickling spice from the co-op, but next time I am going to add more peppers to the mix myself. It was still pretty good, and a huge improvement over last year however. The secret I have learned is tannins. Though some people put naturally harvest grape leaves, oak leaves, or mustard leaves in their pickles, I didn't have access to any of these things (well, access to any I was sure were pesticide/chemical free) so I put a few pinches of black tea in there from a tea bag that had busted open, and viola! They are crunchy, and a couple of pinches was enough to keep them that way without altering the flavor. That is a gallon sized mason jar that I fermented these guys in, and they fermented in a week! We had a very hot very humid mid-August here, so they were sped along in their natural processes!

Last but not least this is the current experiment in my gallon jar. You can see the cozies I crocheted for this jar, and my half gallon jar. One of the important aspects of fermenting is that they need to be kept out of direct light. But since I like keeping an eye on my projects, I wanted to keep them on the counter in my kitchen, hence crocheted cozies! I took green tomatoes, onions, ground cherries, carrot, and a jalapeno and tossed them together. I made some brine and put a jar on top to keep everything submerged. This is something that I am super excited to break out and try soon, they have been fermenting close to two weeks now and this is the first time I've just flat out gone my own way in fermenting and tried something completely new. I am by no mean an expert, and I did a ton of reading and research before I even started fermenting anything at home. I'll be posting some book reviews very soon about books that had fermenting recipes in them, for those of you interesting in undertaking this adventure as well.

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