Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The Big Red One: A ferment

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The Big Red One here refers not to the famous 1st Infantry Division (aka “The Fighting First”) but to my new ferment:

red cabbage
• red kale
red beet
red onion
red apple
red cayenne peppers
red Russian garlic
• fresh ginger root
• Medjool dates
• chipotle and ancho chiles

I was aiming for 3 liters (two 1.5-liter jars), but on looking at the gathered ingredients, I thought I would exceed that by about a liter, and I was right:

The two large jars are 1.5 liter each, the small jar is 1 liter. The whole batch, once prepared in my biggest bowl, weighed 2,735g (6 pounds), not counting the weight of the bowl, so I used 55g Himalayan pink salt (a salt to veggie ratio of 2% by weight).

Below is what I did with each ingredient. (The links below are not affiliate links; they’re just meant to be specific and helpful.) It occurs to me that preparing the vegetables would be much easier and faster if I still had my big Cuisinart food processor: slicing and grating the vegetables would be a snap. However, doing it by hand wasn’t all that onerous.

  • red cabbage – quartered and cored it, then I sliced the wedges 1mm thick using my Oxo handheld mandoline (Oxo makes several; link is to the one that I use.)
  • red kale – chopped stems very small, then sliced leaves thin
  • red beet – coarsely grated using my Rösle coarse grater
  • red onion – quartered vertically, then quarters sliced thin with my chef’s knife. (Now that I think about it, I could have used the mandoline, and that may have worked better.)
  • red apple – grated using the Rösle coarse grater
  • red cayenne peppers – sliced in thin cross-sections, using the knife
  • red Russian garlic – peeled (very easy — this garlic’s skin is like a shell and it pops off readily) and then sliced thin using my Oxo garlic mandoline.
  • fresh ginger root – I used about 1/3 of the piece shown, and sliced it thin with my knife; I did not peel it.
  • Medjool dates – pitted and chopped
  • chipotle and ancho chiles – I ground these in my Cuisinart spice & nut grinder

After all the veggies were prepped (sliced or grated or chopped or ground) and in my big bowl, I poured 1/2 cup spring water into my 1-cup measure and stirred in a packet of starter culture. This must hydrate for 10 minutes before use, so I let it hydrate while I mixed and massaged the vegetables.

I added the 55g Himalayan coarse salt to the veggies, and then I massaged and mixed everything by hand, with some vigor and firmness. I made sure the ingredients were well mixed, which required some effort since when I started they were more or less layered in the bowl in the order I had prepared them.

Lesson learned: Mix as I go: add a vegetable or two, then mix that well with everything so far in the bowl. As a result, the mixing at the end will be easy, since I must mix only that last vegetable (in this case, the cabbage) into a well-mixed pile of the earlier ingredients. 

One advantage of using my hands to mix is that I occasionally came across a largish lump of cabbage or onion. When I did, I removed it, sliced it thin with the chef’s knife, and returned the slivers to the bowl.

After 15-20 minutes of mixing and massaging, the vegetables were softened and liquid had pooled in the bottom of the bowl.

At that point I added the culture water and continued to mix and massage for another five minutes to make sure the culture was well distributed throughout the vegetables.

I then packed the two 1.5 liter jars, put the leftover veggies into the 1-liter jar, split the liquid in the bowl among the three jars, and put a fermentation weight into each jar. Then I poured in enough spring water just to cover the weights, and put fermentation airlocks on two of the jars. For the Weck jar, I just rest the lid on top of its gasket.

This should be ready August 25. Lesson learned: start next batch before this is completely gone so I don’t have to go without for two weeks.

See also my general reference post on fermenting vegetables.

Update: I really like the Weck 1.5L jar — easy to pack and to unpack — and I’m thinking I’ll get two more, which for me is ideal. Having three of these jars means that I can make a 3-liter batch (using two of the three jars), and then after I’ve consumed the contents of one of the jars, I can wash it and use it and the third jar to make another 3-liter batch, which can ferment while I finish the earlier batch.

That way, I will never run out of fermented vegetables, and I can always make a 3-liter batch using Weck 1.5L cylindrical jars and let it ferment while I finish off the already-fermented vegetables in the third Weck jar.


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Outcome

I refrigerated the batch after two weeks and have been enjoying it. Very tasty with a little spiciness from the cayenne peppers — not too much, just some warmth. Very good taste. I eat about 1/2 cup a day, with a meal or as a snack.

And the fermented red cayenne pepper sauce also turned out excellent.

19 Sept 2022 – Just had another bowl after a brisk (3.4mph) walk. I have about 3/4 cup with 2 tablespoons hemp hearts poured over it. Really tasty and refreshing, quite apart from health and digestive benefits. Today I had my first serving from the last jar, the 1.5-liter jar on the right in the photo above. I’ll probably make something like this again once I’m close to finishing this batch.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2022 at 12:54 pm

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