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 2 – Update and a recipe, sort of

I’ve had a couple of friends on Facebook ask me what recipe I used to make my second batch of kraut. I figured I’d better share it here too so I don’t forget what I did in the future.

I basically read several recipes online and combined them. The current batch is 9 lbs of thinly sliced cabbage, 5 oz of kosher salt (DO NOT USE TABLE SALT. The iodine and anti clumping agents can kill the ferment), 2 red onions, 1 lb of grated carrots and a big bunch of fresh dill.

I have a 5 gallon ceramic pickling crock that I got from my mom. I had a piece of food grade plastic custom cut to fit inside so that I could use that to press down on the kraut rather than a plate which didn’t fit quite right. You can buy crocks online or find them at hardware stores with the canning supplies. According to what I’ve read online you can also use a plastic container or a mason jar.

This is the primary website I used. http://www.wildfermentation.com/making-sauerkraut-2/

So I sliced up the cabbage and put it in a large bowl and then tossed it with the salt. I also sliced up the onions and grated the carrots but kept them separate from the cabbage. I sprinkled some salt on the onions and carrots too.

Then I started layering it all into the crock. I put some sprigs of dill in the bottom, then a third of the cabbage. I tamped it down firmly using a potato masher. Then I put in half the onion, half the carrot and more dill. Cabbage, onion, carrot, dill, cabbage, dill. I tamped down each layer firmly. The reason for this is to help break down the cell walls to release the juice faster.

After I had everything in the crock I let it sit for 24 hours to let it release the juices. Then I put the piece of plastic in the crock and a heavy weight on top. In my case, I’m using a half gallon mason jar full of honey lol. You want the juice/brine to cover the plate/plastic disc by at least 1 inch. If not, you can dissolved 1.5 TB of salt in water and add that brine to the crock. DO NOT USE TAP WATER!! It has chlorine that can kill the fermentation process.

Cover it and let it sit at room temperature. After a few days you will start to see a white scum form on top of the brine. THIS IS OKAY! You just skim it off. A yeasty smell is OKAY. That just means it’s fermenting. In fact, right now, my kraut smells like the onion/dill bread I like to make lol.

This is a quote from the webpage I linked above talking about the scum that forms…

“Skim what you can off of the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes.”

Some of the reading I’ve done says that Kraut should ferment for 6-8 weeks because that’s how long it takes to form the really good probiotics. I stopped my first batch at 3 weeks because that’s when I thought it tasted good. I might let this second batch go longer.

Once you decide it’s gone long enough, you can scoop it into clean quart mason jars and put it in the fridge. It will last many months in the fridge and will also keep fermenting at a slow pace.

So that’s what I’ve done. I used a bit more salt than the recipe at wildfermentation suggests but that’s because it’s summer and it needs extra salinity to protect against bad molds.

 

 

 

This picture shows the bloom on top of the brine.                                                          This picture shows it after I’ve skimmed the bloom.
sauerkrautpostskim sauerkrautpreskim

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