Later On

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

Christmas ferment

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Vegtables on a prep board: 5 Medjool dates, 3 small beets, 2 small heads red cabbage, 4 red Fresno peppers, 6 large peeled white cloves of garlic, 1 large piece of ginger root, 1 large red onion, 1 large red apple, emerald green bunch of curly-leaf kale.

As I mentioned earlier, I now have three 1.5-liter Weck cylindrical jars, and I use two per batch (about the right size batch since I’m the only consumer). Thus, I can start a new batch (of two jars) as soon as I empty one jar from the current batch. I emptied a jar a couple of days ago, and today I begin a new batch, which will be ready on December 23 (since I allow two weeks for fermentation). The jar remaining will probably last me until the new batch is ready. (My reference post on fermentation contains a fair amount of information along with a list of the ferments I’ve done to date.)

I like to have a theme in mind, even though I improvise the mix to a great extent. I had planned to reprise an earlier ferment, The Big Red One, but red kale was not available — but the store did have some very nice green kale. So I went with it, thinking the red and green would go with the season.

Above you can see the “before” photo of the current batch. Beginning toward the  bottom left corner and doing a clockwise inward spiral:

• 1 piece of ginger root – sliced thinly, mostly 1mm thick on mandoline
• 5 Medjool dates – removed seeds, chopped
• 3 smallish red beets – grated
• 2 small heads of red cabbage – used one, thinly sliced on mandoline; other not needed
• 1 bunch curly-leaf green kale – thinly sliced; a very nice bunch, firm and fresh
• 1 Cosmic Crisp apple – thinly (1mm) sliced on mandoline
• 1 red onion – halved, sliced across, and then pole-to-pole to make 3 sections of each half
• 5 cloves garlic, peeled – Russian red garlic, thus large cloves; cut into thickish slices
• 4 hot red Fresno peppers – cap removed, then sliced thinly by hand

I have learned from experience to mix the vegetables as I prep them, doing some of one vegetable, some of another, and so on, which gives a good start when I go to mix the veggies after all are ready. I also used a rubber spatula to mix them from time to time as I went.

I pick some ingredients with an eye to providing good food for the lactobacilli: the apple and the dates, for example, and the onion also is high in sugar.

About halfway through the prep, I poured the contents of a packet of starter culture into 1/2 cup of spring water and set it aside for it to come to life, which takes about 10 minutes.

I also made a quart of 2% brine to use in filling the jars — a little more than 2%, in fact, because I used 21g salt rather than 19g.

It took me rather too many batches before I realized that I had to add 2% of salt by weight to both vegetables and water so the mix would also be 2% salt. For a while, I was making sure the vegetable mix was 2% salt by weight but then added pure spring water (no salt). 😦 

Two large (1.5-liter) cylindrical glass jars filled with red chopped vegetables.

Once all the vegetables were ready to go, the total weight (bowl plus veggies) was 3016g (6.65 lbs). The bowl weighs 1135g, so the vegetables come in at 1881g (4.15 lbs), and thus I needed to work in 38g sea salt. I actually used 41g, and I massaged the salt into the vegetables at some length, to tenderize the vegetables, to get them to release some water, and so their own probiotics could contribute. (See this article.)

I added the 1/2 cup of water with the starter culture and massaged the vegetables a little longer to make sure the culture was well distributed through the batch.  Then I packed the two jars. I have a sauerkraut tamper to pack firmly. I then put a fermentation weight on top of the packed veg, poured in brine to just cover the weight, and put the lids on the jar.

The lids won’t be clipped down until fermentation is complete, so fermentation gas can escape when its pressure is enough to briefly lift the lid.

I’ll update this post with the final outcome. I have been reading so many articles about the importance of having a healthy and diverse gut microbiome that I enjoy eating my fermented vegetables even beyond the gustatory pleasure.

Update: I put the two jars in the refrigerator on 23 December, and on the 24th I had a bowl of the ferment. It’s very tasty. I had spooned out the excess liquid, but once in the fridge the liquid level dropped a lot anyway — perhaps the fermentation going inactive meant no bubbles in the mass, and thus the liquid level could drop. Anyway, that’s just an observation, not a problem. I like this batch. My current Beets & Leeks will run a week longer.

Update 1/31/2023 – Just had another bowl of this, sprinkled with pumpkin seed. It is really good — maybe it’s gotten better in the fridge. This is another worth repeating. The kale held its green fairly well, though the beets tend to color things.

Update 2/13/2023 – Just had the first bowl from the second jar. It is so good. I think it must improve as it sits in the refrigerator. I definitely want to make this one again.

Written by Leisureguy

9 December 2022 at 1:52 pm

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