Food Fermentation at the Food Forest

The second food fermentation workshop at the Food Forest was small, cozy, and… awesome! Due to the wet weather we’ve been having (thankfully!), I decided to hold the class inside this time. There were some new and some familiar faces, which was great to see. We made sauerkraut, sour pickles and sourdough, and I did receive a suggestion that I should have had some fresh-baked sourdough ready for the class to try. Definitely next time! It was wonderful to be able to pick fresh dill from the garden and oak leaves from our trees for the pickles. It will be amazing to hold fermentation classes again the late summer, when we can use our farm fresh cucumbers, peppers and whatever else we can find to ferment! Thank you to everyone who came out to the first and second classes –  you are what made them awesome! Check out the pictures below to see how the sourdough ended up…

Marsha, Jay and I working on pickles.

Marsha, Jay and I working on pickles.

Look at all that kraut-to-be!

Look at all that kraut-to-be!

Thanks for taking the awesome pictures, Anthony Pagillo!

Pickles! Thanks for taking the awesome pictures, Anthony Pagillo!

The onion caraway sourdough sponge.

The onion caraway sourdough sponge.

Check out those bubbles!

Check out those bubbles 24 hours later!

The final sourdough rise in the loaf and cast iron pans.

The final sourdough rise in the loaf and cast iron pans.

The finished loaf! It is pleasantly sour, crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle.

The finished loaf! It is pleasantly sour, crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, all with the help of the wild yeasts living in our home and on the organic local strawberries added to the sourdough starter!

I’m greatly anticipating the next series of fermentation classes I’ll teach at the Florida School of Holistic Living beginning April 19. It should be a fun, relaxing Friday night of fermentation learning and practice! I am also busily brainstorming future classes to be held at the Food Forest. What interests you in the realms of food, nutrition, sustainability and gardening? Leave a comment to make a suggestion or contact me. Thanks and enjoy the the lovely cool spring weather!

Crockin’ Kimchi!

I calculated I’ve been a food fermenter for roughly six years now. For some time, I’ve had my thrifting eye on the lookout for a ceramic crock for making sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kombucha or anything else you can ferment in a large ceramic vat. I’ve spotted them at antique stores, for which they charge a pretty penny, much out the range of my frugal budget. Well, my maternal grandma came for a visit last weekend, and what did she bring but the most perfect crock ever for me! I tried to contain my excitement as I helped unload it from her car, not wanting to assume that it was for me. As an “Oooh” came from my mom, my grandma told me she had found it for me.

My new baby!

My new baby!

After visiting the huge Asian market in Orlando Monday night, I was equipped to make some traditional kimchi, a first for me. I usually make a “kraut-chi,” a term coined by fermentation author, Sandor Katz, which is a blend of whatever vegetables and spices you desire and have available. It doesn’t have to “fit any homogeneous traditional ideal of either German sauerkraut or Korean kimchi… my practice is a rather free-form application of these basic techniques rather than an attempt to reproduce any particular notion of authenticity,” says Katz in his new book The Art of Fermentation.

The biggest kraut-chi batch we've made!

The biggest kraut-chi batch we’ve made!

So, on a very hungry aforementioned trip to the Asian market, I saw these beautiful jars of colorful kimchi, remembered a Richmond friend’s tasty recipe, and decided I needed to get the ingredients to make my own. I bought Napa cabbage, a daikon radish, two onions, and fresh ginger. I already had at home the other ingredients: garlic, hot chili peppers from the garden, carros, and sea salt. I followed the recipe in Sandor’s first book Wild Fermentation. First I made a brine of four cups water and four tablespoons salt. I washed and pulled apart the cabbage, used the mandolin to slice the daikon, carrot and onions and put them in the brine to soak overnight. Then this morning, I drained off the brine and added the ginger, garlic and chili peppers, all finely sliced. I transferred the whole mixture to the crock and added some of the extra brine to bring the liquid level up to the surface.

IMG_0606

Kimchi mixture in crock.

You want enough liquid so that when you push a plate into the crock, the brine rises above the surface. See photo below:

Plate and jar weight method.

Plate and jar weight method.

I draped a dish towel over it all to keep out dust, kitty hair or any interested flying things. Now, as Tom Petty says, is the hardest part, waiting. The yummy fermentation smells coming from the kitchen already make it difficult. Luckily we still have about half of the kraut-chi left!