Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Veggie Fermentation Attempt

I've been reading up on fermenting vegetables and I went a little crazy on my first attempt. I got it in my head that cruciferous vegetables have the right microbes for fermentation and I LOVE cauliflower in all it's forms. So, I decided to pair purple cauliflower and purple cabbage. And, I got some organic kale (the kind that looks like elephant or dinosaur skin—can you tell I'm not a botanist?), organic carrots (skin on), a piece of fresh ginger and a Cara Cara orange (for the rind), and some fresh garlic cloves.

First, I made the brine by emptying two 16oz bottles of bottled water into a glass dish and microwaving it for 90 seconds to which I dissolved 2 Tablespoons of fine Himalayan pink salt. As that was cooling, I washed all of my vegetables in lukewarm tap water.  (I had to make one more 16 oz batch of brine before I finished all of my jars).

My first square jar has carrots cut into sticks (skin on), a ginger slice (skin on), and a 3/4” X 4” strip of orange rind, and a dash of red pepper flakes. It looks PRETTY!!! I made a little version in a jelly jar with carrot discs and omitted the red pepper flakes in case baby wants to try them.

Next, I tackled the big jar with the strawberry graphics on the side and the big mechanical top. The seal was old and cracked so I hope keeping the lid closed will do the trick. I packed it with a bunch of the 'dinosaur' kale, several garlic cloves, ½ jalapeno, sliced red cabbage. In a blender, I made a pulp from the outer leaves of the purple cabbage, a bit of the brine (once cooled to room temp), garlic cloves, and a tad more jalapeno. And added about 2 Tablespoons of that pulp. My mom gave me her Swiss kraut juice (digestion aid from the health food store), and I added a teaspoon of that hoping that it might work as a 'starter yeast' as one recipe indicated. I used my glass disc that is supposed to keep pasta water from boiling over to weigh the contents down.

I made a smaller version of this adding freshly ground black pepper and whole coriander seeds in a square jar.

Then I made little sticks out of the succulent part of the cauliflower leaves, and used the green leafy parts to make a pulp as before. I added a good-sized piece of 'dinosaur' kale, a ¼ teaspoon of tumeric powder, and a sliver of jalapeno and a small garlic clove. Perhaps a dash of black pepper...if memory serves. That went into a baby food jar and looks very pretty and uniform.

Then I made a mode-podge of nearly all of it in the tall molasses jar, using an extra portion of pulp.

Lastly, I made one without the kraut juice and without the pulp: Just sliced ginger (skin on), a few pieces of elephant kale (folded into tight little bundles) and added coriander seeds. I'm hoping this will be great with Asian food. If it works well, I might like it with match-sticks of ginger instead of slices. The slices are a scant 1/8” wide and about an inch across. That was packed tightly into a babyfood jar.

Now we wait and see. I will check it in the morning and add brine if any vegetables are exposed at the top. If it is an epic fail, I'll share that too (since I didn't find any examples of this process going bad on the internet). It is very possible that I don't understand the principles at play.

NOTE:  Updates will appear in the comments--not as another post.


Mesa Lee said...

Today, I checked them and the lids of a few were bulging so I took them outside and burped them. A couple of them belched out liquid because of the pressure and the carrots in the square jar and the mix in the molasses jar were highly carbonated and acted like a shaken soda bottle with the "kaachew" sound and everything! And the carrot-ginger-orange rind mix smelled amazing! I learned two important things today: 1) Don't overfill your jars or they will leak. 2) Set the jars in a shallow pan so that if they do leak, your cabinet won't smell like sour kraut and it will be easier to clean.

Mesa Lee said...

Oh, and except for the formation of bubbles, gasses, and shifting vegetables they looked about the same as when I packed them, so I didn't take any photos. The cauliflower leaves did not have many bubbles but smelled alright. The molasses jar had a lot of pulp packed against the lid, so I removed it. I also noticed that it didn't seem to have enough liquid, so I added a Tablespoon or so of the salt brine which I had refrigerated.

Mesa Lee said...

We ate a dish of them at a party and they were a big hit! We ate the cauliflower mix in the square jar because it had the best flavor at the time. I am still letting the others ferment because the carrots are really firm. The sliced ginger is releasing a lot of starch and making the mixes cloudy (which settles to the bottom mostly). I think the flavor will be worth the cloudiness though.

Mesa Lee said...

Buying purple cauliflower was kind of a waste of money since I used purple cabbage in the jar which would have colored white cauliflower just as well. The cauliflower florets that bobbed up above the brine liquid (even in the refrigerator) turned an unappetizing gray color, but they still tasted delicious. I didn't realize that I would need to keep the vegetables submerged even after the fermentation was halted (or nearly halted) by refrigeration.