Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

More Fermentation!! Like more cowbell only tastier

More cowbell! This just needs more cowbell! I mean FERMENTATION, this just needs more FERMENTATION. I have to admit that I think I’m completely hooked on fermenting things. We already knew I was thrilled with cheese making and all other things cooking related. This just adds another skill to my list of things I like to do. 😀  The really lovely thing is that it’s not nearly as work intensive as cheese making, which is an all day process (12+ hours sometimes) that has to be carefully monitored. Fermentation is MUCH easier, hooray!

Today’s batch of fermentation is a blend of gold beets, celery root, rainbow carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and garlic. I asked for ideas in a Facebook group on food preservation and they suggested curry. I wasn’t sure about it at first but as I put everything together, the smell of the vegetables spoke to me of curry. I happened to have a good amount of Maharajah curry powder from Penzeys spices. It’s a mild curry with good depth of flavor which I thought would go wonderfully with this.

currypickledrootveggiesOct82014

You can see the beautiful color from the saffron threads in the curry powder. By the time it’s done everything should have a gorgeous golden color. These are half gallon mason jars with air locks on top. You can’t see them but there are clear glass weights on top of the veggies.

Everything will sit in the jars overnight and tomorrow evening I’ll check to make sure enough liquid has been released or if I need to add some brine. The smell is FANTASTIC! Even after washing my hands several times I still smell like curry lol.

I had originally thought about making my own curry blend with whole spices. Finally, the fact that the curry powder needed to be used up combined with the fact that I was getting super tired won the day. I think I’m going to be very glad that I did it this way.

The jar on the left didn’t have enough of the original blend to be full so I added a cabbage on top. I’ve still got a couple of cabbages left so I’ll add them to the sauerkraut pot tomorrow when I’m not so tired. 😉

To the right of the jars you can see a plum and some apples.. I’ve got apples, plums and pears which are going into a jar with a nice pour of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. Because you can never go wrong with fruit and booze. That will be tomorrow’s project though. I’m pretty much done for today. 🙂

 

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Fermented pickles – First attempt

I know I’ve been talking about making lacto-fermented pickles for over a year now. Well, I’ve finally got myself together enough to give it a try today. I went to three farmer’s markets yesterday AND bought a second pickling crock just to make sure I could get a batch done before the end of the cucumber season. The second crock was because I needed to get a new batch of sauerkraut going.

Now, that I think of it.. A note on eating fresh sauerkraut: This stuff is beyond awesome for keeping your inside ticking along regularly. Due to the medications I take, this is important lol. So since I’m down to just one quart left of the last batch, it’s time to make more. This is the same dill/onion combo but with daikon radish added.

Ok, back to my pickle preparations… The first part of the prep work was doing some reading up on the process. One of the things I found out was that a key ingredient in making crisp pickles is tannin. Main sources are fresh grape leaves, oak leaves and black tea. An interesting note is that spices like cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves also contain tannins, which explains why you find them in pickling spice blends. I don’t have a handy grape vine or oak tree but I DO have some black tea so I’m going to put a couple of tea bags in the bottom of the crock.

The next step is prepping the cucumbers. Since I bought them yesterday and it had probably been a few days since they were picked, I have had them sitting in water all afternoon to perk back up. Next step, I finished washing them and then trimmed off the blossom end. It turns out there are enzymes in the blossom that can eat out the center of the pickle leaving it hollow. Huh, never knew THAT either.

Once the cucumbers were prepped, the tea bags go in the bottom of the crock along with some garlic, pickling spice and fresh dill. I didn’t have fresh dill seed heads but I did have some dried seed heads I used in combination with fresh dill sprigs.

Once everything was in the crock I added a brine of about 5.4% salinity. This works out to about 1.8 ounces of salt to quart of water. I use weight here because salts come in so many different grain sizes. It’s important not to use regular table salt or salts with iodine or anti-caking agents added. The only ingredient on the box should be “salt.” The additives can create off colors, flavors and cloudy brine. Icky.

In my reading I found that some people recommend adding a bit of a “starter” to get the ferment going. Either sauerkraut juice or boiled wine or boiled vinegar. The wine or vinegar get boiled to kill off any yeast that might still be active. Personally, living in the rich environment of the San Francisco Bay area, I don’t feel a need to use as starter. My previous batches of sauerkraut have done just fine so I’m confident the pickles will too.

While I was filling the crock I decided a tiny bit of heat would be ok so I tossed in a few dried hot peppers. I’m not sure what type of peppers I used but they’re pretty hot as far as I’m concerned. Jene will disagree but too bad lol. Here’s a picture of what it looked like when I started filling up the crock.

picklecrockOct52014

I layered in more fresh dill as I filled the crock with the cucumbers. I like my pickles really dilly. I’m not sure there’s enough garlic. I might have to add more in the future after I taste my first pickle. These pickles will sit on the counter for several weeks before they’re ready. Just as with sauerkraut, I’ll check them every day or two and skim off any bloom that forms. Here’s what it looks like with the plate and weight on top.

picklecrockfinished

 

I will really have to keep a close eye on this because it’s just a bit overfull. I’ll give it a day or two two see if there’s any settling and if not, I’ll pull the top layer of cucumbers off. The pickles should be covered with at least an inch of  brine, which they are, but it’s a very close thing lol. I know I’m excited about seeing how these come out in the next few weeks. 🙂

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Sauerkraut – Take 1

Last year, my mom gave me a beautiful fermentation crock that she used when I was growing up. Since then I’ve been meaning to use it for all sorts of things. I’ve actually managed to use it once to make some short fermentation pickles. BUT! I started a bunch of sauerkraut a couple of weeks. I tasted it last night and it’s coming along beautifully.

The recipe for sauerkraut is pretty easy. Shred the cabbage, toss it with roughly 3TB of salt per 5lbs of cabbage. Then tap it down into the crock. You want to tamp it pretty hard so that it releases more moisture. Cover the crock with a towel and let it sit for a day. Then check it to see how much liquid has been released by the cabbage. Place a weighted ceramic plate on top to press the cabbage down. If the liquid covers the plate by at least an inch, cover the crock with a towel and set it aside. If the water doesn’t cover the plate, add a brine made of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water until it covers the plate by one inch.

After you have the cabbage in the brine, you get to be patient and wait. Check it every couple of days and skim off any scum that forms on the top. I’ve done that a couple of times now. Then last night I tasted it. It’s very mellow at this point. According to the reading I’ve been doing, the flavor gets sharper as it continues to ferment. So we’ll let it sit for another couple of weeks.

I have to say… I was actually really nervous about tasting the sauerkraut last night. I’ve never been 100% comfortable with lacto-fermentation. However, I’ve also resolved that I’m not going to NOT do something just because there’s a bit of an ick factor. So far, I’m quite pleased 🙂

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