Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fermenting Revisted

I've set some more veggies to ferment:  Carrots, onions, cabbage and celery.

I enjoy dilly flavored items, with a little heat, so my go to fermenting method is this:

3 T. of sea salt (non-iodized)
1 Quart of warm water

Dissolve the salt by stirring it in the warm water. Set aside.

Prepare the veggies. As near as I can tell, there isn't any kind of vegetable you cannot ferment. There's a lot of discussion about self brining and added brining. I am no expert and I recommend you do as I did, read everything you can and make educated choices. I've yet to make anything by self brining because I don't feel confident. Even with cabbage, I top off the jar with brine.

Back to the veggies... I did both carrot sticks and rounds. No special reason, just for variety. I also did alternating slices of red and yellow onions. Again, no special reason. Celery sticks that grew from the end of a grocery store purchase that I planted in the garden is in one jar. My husband picked it today and mostly it's tiny stalks, but hopefully it will be tasty. There are three jars of cabbage, as well. Decide how you are going to cut the veggies (I don't think it matters for fermenting what way you choose, it's only your preference), then pack the jars.

To each jar:

1/4 t. Dill weed
1/4 t. Dill seed
1/4 t. Red Pepper flakes
1/2 t. Peppercorns
2-3   Garlic Cloves

Note: for the cabbage, I skipped the dill weed & seed. I put peppercorns in one, peppercorns and garlic in another and red pepper flakes, peppercorns and garlic in the last. It's my first go around with cabbage and I wanted a variety to see what I like best. I wonder if anyone has done a slaw? I like slaw on sandwiches and burgers occasionally and I wonder how fermented slaw would be? hmmm....

The key to fermenting is keeping the veggies under the brine. This is somewhat tricky and I've tried several methods and none of them worked ideally. You want to find a way to keep the veggies submerged, yet allow the gas to escape. I'm trying plastic mesh this go around, the sort used to do needlepoint (picture tissue box covers). I cut them into rough circles, using a wide mouth mason jar lid as a guide, cutting them slightly larger than the lid - maybe 1/4 inch bigger all the way around. Then squish it into the jar, pushing all the veggies down. I used small mouth quart jars and once the plastic gets down to the shoulders of the jar, it will stay put even when the brine is added. And it has holes, which should allow the gas to escape. I'll let you know how it works~

Once you have your veggies, seasoning and mesh circle in the jar, it's time to fill it with brine. You want to fill into the neck of the jar, to ensure the veggies will remain submerged. I keep mine under a towel looking at it a couple of times a day.

This is the first day and the bubbling is beginning. I've stuck my finger in each jar, poking the mesh to jiggle the bubbles loose.  Especially the cabbage, which has a lot of air trapped in the shredded layers.
Curious about other things we fermented?  My all time favorite was the salsa, made from tomatoes from the garden. I made a second batch with tomatoes from the store - AWFUL. Actually it was good the first day, but after that, the tomatoes turned to mush and I just couldn't eat it. The first batch was a thing of beauty, though. Salty, tangy, spicy, chunky and delicious. From the first day to the last, which was about three weeks, the veggies though they softened, never became mush.

Fermented ketchup - mixed reviews. Primarily because the spices. It didn't taste like a ketchup any one of us had ever had. It was a weird mix somewhere between a bloody mary and barbecue sauce.

Ginger Carrots - I enjoyed these, but not as much as the dilly carrots. If I make again, I'll add dill seasoning in addition to the ginger I think.

Pickles - we still have pickles from summer. The smaller cucumbers make the best pickles. They are still very delicious, even after all this time. This summer, I tried to use every cucumber and next year I will not. I'll be more selective because once they grow larger than about an inch or 1 1/2 inches in diameter, the centers just do not hold up. As in they dissolve away and are a tad slimy.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask. If you are also fermenting, please, please, share your adventures!

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