Wednesday, September 14, 2016

More Fermenting (2nd attempt)

I was given a huge head of cabbage and 6 lbs of carrots. That is too much for our little family to eat up in a timely fashion, so I decided to ferment them. This will be my 2nd attempt (I was very pleased with the 1st). I used Himalayan pink salt again with boiled (then cooled) tap water (last time I used bottled water). I used the nicest outer leaves of the cabbage instead of any sort of “starter” since you can see the blue hazy yeast on the dark outer leaves. I cut the washed carrots into spears because I liked the way they pack the jars without floating up and they serve well in that form. I was careful to cut the spear lengths to match my varied jar heights, packing each jar as I was cutting. I added some powdered ginger to a few jars (this time I didn't have fresh ginger on-hand). I ended up with a lot of bits of carrots because of fussy cutting, so I threw those into a blender with some of the salt brine as well as the bulk of the inner head of cabbage and made that into a pulp. I also added some fresh comfrey herb to it from my garden. The comfrey, I've been meaning to use medicinally, but haven't gotten around to it, so this was a way to utilize it. Comfrey shouldn't add much flavor since it really doesn't have any. I intend to use these blended, pulpy mixes as last minute additions to soups or blend with olive oil for a quick salad dressing. I did two baby food jars of carrot with fresh catnip leaves just to experiment with flavors.

When I went to the garden for the comfrey, I noticed that I have a lot of sage to harvest. I have a lot of dried sage already, and nothing is as good as fresh sage in a cooked dish. That gave me the idea to ferment it. But how? I had used up all of my cabbage and carrots at this point, but still had salt brine. Then I spotted that large zucchini that I hadn't yet found a use for.  I had read that zucchini was difficult to ferment without turning to mush, so I decided to go straight to mush and start it out as pulp. I used a big handful of fresh sage leaves and made the zucchini/sage pulp in the blender (with a few dandelion leaves). The zucchini/sage mixture doesn't have anything for starter except the fresh leaves (no cabbage). That will be amazing to brighten up a beef/mushroom/barley stew!

I still had a little brine left. So, I made a couple of small experimental jars. I had read something online about a corn relish (fermented), but felt like this needed garlic and jalapeno which I didn't have on-hand. So, I carefully broke off each kernel from the cob (not sure why I didn't just cut them off, but I note it here because the juice wasn't released which may affect how it ferments). I diced up some mini red bell peppers (mild) and added it and the corn to a jar with a comfrey leaf.

To the last bit of brine, I diced up a mandarin orange rind and added a teaspoon of dried elderberries. I added a piece of comfrey to the top and weighed it all down by inverting a soda pop lid before putting on the lid to the baby jar.

I did half of this project yesterday, and so I was relieved that some effervescent action is already present in some of the jars! I was a little nervous without my raw kraut juice insurance policy this go-a-round.

TIP: To ensure that my jars were clean, I rinsed them out and while they were wet, microwaved the lot of them for 1 minute. Be sure to let jars cool before filling.

1 comment:

Mesa Lee said...

On my second attempt at fermentation, I had a few failed products. The common denominator in all scenarios is that my salt brine was much less potent than the first attempt.

The orange rind and elderberry baby jar molded over with a white stringy chalky looking fungus. I knew I should have boiled the elderberries instead of putting them in dry. Really, I think all spices should get boiled into the brine before jarring.

One of the two catnip baby food jars had a bloom of white chalky fungus, but the other looks beautiful, so I may have just contaminated it while burping jars outdoors (contents under pressure, easier to clean up a mess outside).

One jar of the zucchini & fresh sage leaf pulp, got a heavy layer of fuzzy white mold in a week or so. I spooned off the mold along with a 1/2” deep margin. I made a heavily salted brine which I cooled and ladled in carefully so as not to mix the contents of the jar, hoping that it would add liquid enough to cover the pulp that had risen. It's been about a week and I've seen no sign of mold reforming, and it smells right, so I think I'm safe to proceed. The sage aroma is much stronger now since the cell walls have broken down. I believe the problem here was a lid probably didn't get sterilized on this one.

My corn kernel and red pepper jar had a poufy white web fungus with tiny navy blue dots on the top nearly the diameter of the jar in about a week. I lifted it out and the mixture looked fine. It smells divine, so I'm reluctant to throw it out. I added a couple of tablespoons of a more potent brine to the top without disturbing the mixture beneath. Now, a week later it has a waxy translucent film that almost looks like cold oil when your refrigerate vegetable soup. It still smells delicious, but it seems that there's a lot going on biologically in that jar and I don't know if it is safe. I'm going to give it another week before tossing it.

My half-head of cabbage in a bowl and baggie looks and smells right, but a lot of brine wicked up the side of the bag, puddling at the bottom below the glass bowl. Thankfully, the storage baggie sealed well and didn't leak!

I noticed that any combination that included cabbage gave me the least causes for concern. Even though the pulp mixes have floated up past the brine level, I'm not getting any “off” odors or molds.

I like my cabbage mixes to be very sour so I'm going to leave them for another week or so. The carrots are perfect now, so they're going into the fridge.