Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part 3: Fermenting Vegetables: How to Process

Part 3: Fermenting Vegetables: How to Process

Being the novice fermenter that I am, I’m going to attempt to describe the process to you using pictures and Dorene’s notes. BTW, I justed tested this jar of veggies you see (a week after initial processing) and they are delicious. My ferment is on! We could eat it now, or if we really want to take advantage of the health benefits associated with fermented veggies, we’ll need to wait at least 6 weeks before eating. The veggies she used in this batch are: red cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, summer squash, broccoli, onion, garlic, ginger and one hot red pepper (I’m probably missing something).

1. Chop up vegetables. Dorene uses a food processor (CuisineArt) to shred, slice or chop her different veggies. Just make sure they are relatively the same thickness – not more than 1/8 inch wide. You can also just use a knife or a kraut board if you have one. Save some outer leaves of the cabbage (read on to see why).

2. Layering: Put about a two inch layer of mixed, chopped veggies into a 1 quart, wide-mouth glass jar. Use a flat bottomed utensil to push/smash it down really good. Pound each layer for a good 30 seconds to one minute. You can see the stick that Dorene uses in this picture. She said an old wooden rolling pin with one handle taken off would work as well. After you have about two inches of smooshed veggies, sprinkle a little salt evenly on the top of that layer. Repeat this process until jar is filled. You can add 1 to 2 teaspoons of whey in the middle and top of the jar of veggies, if so desired, to speed up the fermentation process. When you get to the top of the jar, top it off with those outer cabbage leaves you saved earlier. Kind of tuck them in around the top of the veggies.

3. Add Liquid: When your jar is filled with layers of smooshed veggies, the veggies should be producing some of their own liquids. If there isn’t enough liquid produced to cover the vegetables, you’ll need to add a brine (1 tablespoon salt to one cup water) or wine. Air is your enemy! You want the veggies to be completely submerged in liquid to prevent spoilage.

4. Add Weights: Fill a smaller (1 cup) glass jar, one that will fit inside the wide-mouth glass jar, with water and cap (read Part 2 for other weight options). Place inside the mouth of the other jar.

5. Cover and Press: Cover the mouth of the jar (with the smaller jar sitting on top of the veggies) with a dish cloth and rubber band or tie it closed around the mouth of the larger jar. For the next 24 hours, press down on the smaller jar every time you think about it. It is important to keep smooshing the veggies down because you want to get all the air out. Place on a plate because when you press down, juices may run out. It is a good idea to date your jar or list the ingredients used.
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6. Ripening: The optimum temperature for fermenting is 62 degrees to 71 degrees. The warmer it is, the faster the ferment will ripen. You can have several ferments spaced with temperature differences to ensure you’ll never run out. Quart jars should ripen in a week in a warmer kitchen. The vegetables will go through some strange smells. Check them often for taste and to make sure the liquid is sufficiently above the leaves.

7. Storage: When they are fermented to your taste, simply cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap and cap tightly with a plastic lid and either put in a cool place for ripening or in the refrigerator (stops the fermentation process). If you are using a crock, pack fermented veggies into clean jar(s), using your pounding stick and remember to replace the cabbage leaves and bring the liquid up above them if necessary (if more liquid is needed, add brine or wine as mentioned before). Pack the jar full, and tamp down as the air space will create mold if anything is above the liquid. Keep checking to make sure the veggies are under the liquid. If you forget about your ferment and mold does grow, skim off molded veggies and you’ll still be able to eat the rest that was under the liquid. If it looks to be moldy all the way through, then toss the whole thing. This will not happen if you keep the veggies under the liquid at all times.

8. Dorene’s Ideas for Serving:
-Add it to green salads or coleslaw and use it like salad dressing, or just mix into your salads.
-Add to soups right before eating
-Use the brine for flavoring soup stock or just drink it straight
-Mix with grated carrots, dates or raisins
-Blend it with its own juice and make a sourdough starter
-Add to burritos, tacos, burgers, eggrolls, quiche
-Eat as a condiment


Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Jackie, you continue to amaze me! I can not believe the stuff you try now. You are doing a great job describing this. You go, Girl!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Hey, I tried making my own dark chocolate bar sweetened with agave syrup and almonds yesterday. It didn't turn out too bad. I'll have to keep working on it to get a better consistency. When I get it perfected, I'll be posting my recipe.

The Vintage Housewife... said...

wow darlin you put this housewife to wonderful...thanks for the comment i would love to know all of their names...and i would have loved to hear you tell the!!!

next let me say my daddy-o would love your hunny's wait to see more...thanks to your family for service to our country...daddy-o was in iraq as well...lovely 40's dress kitten...just

Connie said...

Other than cabbage to sauerkraut, this is all new to me!

Camille said...

Very very do have me intrigued! :)


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