My recent experimentation with fermentation was a great success which lead to new forays into this new (but ancient) world of preserving the harvest. Sauerkraut is easier than pie – cabbage, salt, and optional caraway seeds. Mixing red and green cabbage, adding grated carrots, red or daikon radish or just about any other vegetable you fancy are optional enhancements. Easy recipe for making sauerkraut in a mason jar here.

There are thousands of ways to make kimchi, but the basics typically have Napa cabbage, scallions, daikon radish and a mix of spices including ginger, garlic, fish sauce and gochugaru (Korean red pepper). I was fortunate in finding the gochugaru at one of my local markets, with the help of the Korean manager (who also gave me good advice on making my first batch of kimchi).  The recipe I used as a basis for making kimchi is right here. Once you get your kimchi going, try using it in this quinoa, kale and kim chi recipe, or check out these recipes.

Interested in more fermentation?  I recommend Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation as well as these two books he wrote:   The Art of Fermentation and (somewhat more  practical) Wild Fermentation.

Sauerkraut

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As happens every year, winter finally arrived which meant the real absolute final end of the growing season for warm weather vegetables and herbs. Arugula, chard and kale – you guys keep growing while we focus on preserving your less hardy brethren.

This photo shows some of my favorite ways to preserve the harvest which include drying, brining, canning, fermenting, and freezing:

  • Lacto-fermentation (red and green cabbage sauerkraut, Kim-Chi)
  • Brined cucumbers (aka pickles)Preservation Nov14
  • Hot packed tomatoes (and a bowl of soon-to-be frozen yellow tomato sauce)
  • Dried peppers, oven roasted/dehydrated cherry tomatoes
  • Herbed vinegar
  • Drying purple basil, lemon verbena, bowl of thyme/oregano/Mexican tarragon
  • Not sure whether it is rooting or pre-drying – green pepper basil

Take your pick of processes and produce – these are all quick and simple ways to enjoy summer’s bounty during cold winter months.

We flirted with fermentation a few years back with less than stellar results – the fermented green beans were good-but-not-great. Fast forward four years and it’s time for another try.

The route to this reawakened interest was roundabout, as is often the case.
*  A PoPvillager posted about her fermented garlic and how it cures all ills including, I believe, the common cold.
*  I bought some kimchi from a vendor at the Mt Pleasant Farmer’s Market – not knowing what I would use it for but it’s always good to have a container of kimchi on hand, right?
*  Then the NY Times food section had an article on grain bowls including a recipe for kale, quinoa and kimchi (which is why it is good to have a container of kimchi on hand).  I made this recipe on a recent visit to the farm and it was rated “3 excellents.” It also reminded my father of the sauerkraut his mother made when he was growing up – she always had a crock of freshly fermented sauerkraut at the ready.

I had already looked up “how to make kimchi” (here’s how) when I realized sauerkraut would be a a logical first step back into lacto-fermentation. Especially since it requires only two ingredients – cabbage and salt (the 3rd ingredient, caraway seeds, is optional).

Easy sauerkraut recipe here –and check back in a few weeks to see if this experimentation will be rated “3 excellents.”

Sauerkraut

“We’re live people and not meant to eat dead food” says Monica Corrado in this recent WPost article on lacto-fermentation.

The art of lacto-fermentation is a traditional way to preserve food – think sauerkraut, kimchi – by using live bacteria.

All you need are fresh vegetables plus water, salt and spices (although whey is sometimes used as a booster). The fermentation process converts sugar and starches to produce a lactic acid which acts as a natural preservative.  Lactic-acid producing bacteria are present on all living things, especially roots and leaves of things growing close to the ground.

Fruits and vegetables preserved through fermentation are more digestible and retain a high level of vitamins plus numerous other health benefits. Want to give it a try? Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation are two great resources.

Here we’re trying fermented beans using two different recipes….stay tuned for the results!