Later On

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

Posts Tagged ‘ferment

Christmas ferment reprised

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Vegetables for ferment, prior to preparation: 2 red apples, 5 Medjool dates, large ginger root, 1 red cabbage, 1 red onion, a pile of garlic cloves, a bunch of green kale, and 2 large jalapeños
Not in photo due to oversight: 3 small beets

My previous Christmas ferment was so tasty I had to have another go. I’m following my usual method, which now includes more carefully rinsing and scrubbing the vegetables — the three small beets, for example, had been scrubbed with a vegetable brush under cold running water and put on the dish rack to dry, so they didn’t make the photoshoot — but they are in the ferment.

• 1 large piece of ginger root, sliced thinly by hand
• 5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
• 3 smallish red beets, coarsely grated
• 3/4 head of red cabbage, slice 1mm thick on mandoline
• 1 bunch curly-leaf green kale, stems removed and minced, leaves sliced thinly by hand
• 2 medium Pazazz apples, coarsely grated
• 1 red onion – halved, then pole-to-pole to make 3 sections of each half, then sliced thick
• a handful of garlic cloves, sliced thick
• 2 large jalapeno peppers, cap removed, then sliced thick by hand

I mixed the veggies as I went, ending with the three beets grated and mixed in. Total weight of ingredients was 2410g (5.28 lbs), so I added 60g fine sea salt and massaged and mixed the mass by hand for some time.

After I had the vegetables softened and some liquid developed, I poured in 1/2 cup spring water in which the starter culture had been hydrating, and mixed and massaged some more.

I packed my two 1.5L Weck jars, tamping the vegetables down well. This time I covered the veggies in each jar with a leaf of cabbage, a suggestion I’ve seen in a few videos. I added a fermentation weight to each jar and enough 2.5% brine made with spring water to cover the weight. Then I put the gasket and lid on each jar, took the photo, transferred to jars to a rimmed baking sheet, and put a large (19-oz) can of beans on each jar. (You could, of course, substitute cans of tomatoes or soup.) I don’t have a fermentation lock for these jars, but the weight on the lid seems to work, and any pressure build-up can lift the lid and burp the CO2.

I’m going to let these ferment for 3 weeks instead of my usual 2 weeks, so the batch will go into the fridge on April 11. I just yesterday had my first serving from the second jar of the fermented potatoes, so I won’t need this batch for a while. The three-jar method seems to work well if you start a new batch as soon as you have two empty jars. 

Update: I always start thinking about the next batch right after I make a new batch. Here are my thoughts now, for a change of pace in color:

• Green cabbage
• Lacinato kale
• 6 Cambray onions (including leaves)
• 1 large red apple
• 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
• Thin asparagus
• 4 jalapeños 
• Ginger
• Garlic


Written by Leisureguy

21 March 2023 at 2:38 pm

Back to walking

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A map showing a walk route — rectangular around a strip of city blocks — with basic info: 2.06 mi, 36:17 time, 3.41 mph avg speed, 119 avg heart rate, 339 calories, 139 max heart rate.

The weather’s picked up — sunny and clear today, and warm enough to have the window fully open and to walk in shirt sleeves, bright enough to require a sun hat and sunglasses.

I’ve been out just a few days recently, but this is my first 2-mile day. I’ll stick with this a week and then extend it somewhat — 2.5 miles probably. I’m using Nordic walking poles, which provide some push: cadence is 110 steps per minute, average stride length is 32″. My usual stride length is about 30″, so the extra 2″ is doubtless due to the pole’s push.

Walking really has a noticeable impact on fasting blood glucose, and a good impact: it reduces it significantly. It also improves sleep, which is good.

After the walk, I had a snack of my fermented potatoes and hemp hearts. That finished one of the 1.5-liter jars, so I now have two empty jars and can start the next ferment. I’m going to make the Christmas ferment again. It was especially good.

Written by Leisureguy

18 March 2023 at 4:44 pm

Redskin-potato ferment complete

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A cylindrical jar of transparent glass that is full of diced potatoes, with some red onion and  jalapeño, that has been fermented for 3 weeks. The liquid is slightly cloudy and the vegetables somewhat pale.

Back on February 20, I started a ferment that was mostly raw redskin potatoes. Yesterday, three weeks later, I called it done and put them into the refrigerator. 

At right, you can see the result. The brine level has dropped (in part because the fermentation weight has been removed), and the potatoes and onions are now paler.

I would say the fermentation is a success. The potatoes have good crunch and some tartness and certainly taste better than a plain raw potato. They have zero net carbs — all the starch in them, uncooked, is resistant starch, which acts as a dietary fiber.

I use these in bowls, perhaps with some stir-fry or cooked vegetables on top, and they are also good in salads as a kind of vegetable crouton.

Potatoes are a good source of potassium, which resides mostly in the skin.

Written by Leisureguy

14 March 2023 at 12:27 pm

Redskin-potato ferment

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Two cylindrical jars filled with diced potatoes and also some red onion, jalapeños, garlic, ginger, and dates. The vegetables are tightly packed and covered with liquid.

I decided that fermented potatoes are good enough to deserve a full batch. These two 1.5-liter Weck cylindrical jars are filled with:

• diced redskin potatoes (the bulk of the ferment)
• 1/2 large red onion, coarsely chopped
• 5 jalapeños, sliced
• 1 head Russian red garlic cloves, thickly sliced
• about 3″ ginger root, thinly sliced
• 5 Medjool dates, chopped

I had thought about including an apple, thinly sliced, but there was no room for it.

I followed my usual method, including using a packet of veggie ferment starter. The total weight of veggies alone (not including bowl) was just over 2kg (2028g), so I used 50g sea salt on veggies. I mixed the salt and veggies well, add 1/2 cup spring water in which the starter culture had been dissolved and had 10 minutes to wake up, then packed the jars, using my kraut pounder to pack the jars tightly.

Then I added a 2.5% brine made with spring water to cover the veggies, added fermentation weights, and capped the jars. 

I plan a fermentation of 3 weeks, until March 13. 

Update next day (Tuesday 21 Feb): We have liftoff: a small stream of bubbles when I tilt the jar. Just starting. Exciting.

Ferment complete

On March 13, three weeks after starting, I declared the fermentation complete and put the jars into the refrigerator. One jar is shown in the photo at the right and gives an idea of the outcome. More details about the batch outcome are available in this post.

I’ve tried them, and they’re good — I’ll add them to salads and also use them in bowls with stir-fry or cooked vegetables on top.

Written by Leisureguy

20 February 2023 at 12:58 pm

Tiny bubbles, in the brine

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After starting a vegetable ferment — like yesterday’s potato-carrot batch — it’s always a great pleasure the following morning to see the thread of tiny bubbles ascending when the jar is tilted. The little guys are alive and well and getting to work.

Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2023 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Non-animal diet

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Potatoes+carrot ferment

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Vegetables on a cutting board: 1 large carrot, 5 redskin potatoes, 4 red Thai chiles, 1 red onion 1 segment of ginger root, and 6 cloves garlic, along with two 1-liter canning jars, fermentation weights, airlocks, and lid rings.
All ingredients ready to start — except Medjool dates, which I forgot

As I mentioned on Mastodon, I liked the previous raw-potato ferment so much, I decided to repeat it right away and get the next potato ferment underway. As I filled the two 1-liter jars (using them to measure how much to prepare, I realized I should have bought two more of those redskin potatoes.

I diced the five potatoes I had and added those to the jars, along with 1/2 the red onion (halved again and then cut across into slabs), 6 garlic cloves (each sliced into fourths), a segment of ginger root (peeled and sliced thin), and 4 Thai red chiles (stem removed and cut in half across). I then used diced carrot to finish filling the jars. I did have a small piece of carrot left over.

Diced vegetables — orange white, purple — in two 1-liter canning jars covered with a liquid that's reddish at the top.

The vegetables weighed just over 1kg — 1.016kg — and I tossed them with 25g grey sea salt. As I did, I separated the onion slabs into quarter-rings. I totally forgot the Medjool dates I had planned, but I think the lactobacilli will find plenty on which to feast.

At right the ferment is in the jar, covered with 2.5% brine with fermentation weights in place. The slight coloration at the top is because I added some brine from the jar of Beets & Leeks in the fridge, to serve as the starter culture. 

I will try for two weeks with this batch: until February 1.

First jar declared ready after 3 weeks

One very valuable lesson learned: some of my ferments — among them the previous potato ferments — developed a film on tops, probably kahm yeast. That’s one reason I cut short the fermentation time on my previous potato ferment.

So this time I was extra careful to ensure a clean ferment. Just before I started, I washed in hot water and detergent the (already clean) jars, airlocks, fermentation weights, and bowl in which I mixed the vegetables. I scrubbed and rinsed the cutting board and then wiped it well with white vinegar. I carefully scrubbed and rinsed the potatoes and carrot to ensure they were totally clean.

And I used 2.5% salt by weight for the veg, and made sure they were submerged under 2.5% brine.

A close-up of a bowl of fermented vegetables: carrots, redskin potatoes, onion strips, and sliced garlic.

The result? Even after 3 weeks, the fermentation liquid is clear, with no trace of any surface film at all. I had planned to ferment the potatoes for just two weeks, but I continued past that and stopped one jar after 3 weeks only because I wanted to taste it. So one jar is in the refrigerator, the other still going. I dipped out a small amount (see right) to try at once, and it’s delicious!

This is a very successful batch. When the liquid was still totally clear of any film after two weeks, I ordered a vegetable brush because I’m going to do this some more and a veggie brush will make scrubbing the potatoes (and carrot) easier.

The nice thing about raw potatoes: they have zero net carbs. The sugars are still bound into starch, and that starch is resistant. Thus I can get the nutritional benefits of potatoes (e.g., potassium, mostly in the skin) without a blood-glucose hit from the sugar.

And I have to say this combination is very tasty indeed. I may have another bowl, and I will certainly make another batch.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2023 at 3:48 pm

Potato ferment done (by fiat)

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The potato ferment was started on January 7, and I’ve decided to end the ferment today, a week later. It hasn’t changed much in appearance from two days ago except that the water is more cloudy, and the original instructions call for just a two-day ferment (which seems way too short to me). The cubes are crunchy and good. I’ll add them to my lunch and also they will work in a salad. One nice thing: they have zero net carbs. My interest, other than the resistant starch (which acts as fiber to nourish the microbiome) is in the potassium, something that potatoes have in good measure.

I’m happy with the outcome, though next time I might go for two weeks rather than one. The tarragon sprigs were a good idea, and I think the onion helped. Next time I’ll include some garlic and perhaps a jalapeño or two.

Update: Just had a bowl of cooked vegetables and greens (Tempeh Greens) with some cubes of fermented potatoes mixed in. Damn good!

Written by Leisureguy

14 January 2023 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Food, Non-animal diet, Recipes & Cooking

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The potato ferment: Progress report after 5 days

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I started this ferment of raw potatoes on December 7. If you click the link, you will see how much the vegetables have collapsed. I observed the same thing when I fermented giardiniera (and an earlier batch collapsed even more, but I failed to get a photo).

I also saw the same sort of collapse when I fermented mushrooms.

The first time I fermented (raw) potatoes, I do not recall much collapse, but I followed (mostly) the instructions, which said to end fermentation after two days. (I actually went for 52 hours, but that’s close.) That fermentation did not use a starter. This time, I used some of the active fermentation liquid from my beet ferment that I had started the previous day, which was quite active. That took hold after 24 hours, producing a good string of bubbles when the jar was tilted.

The bubbles are not so active as that now, but they still appear, so fermentation continues. My plan this time is to continue the fermentation for two weeks (until January 21). In the meantime, I was just curious to see the potato pile collapse so much.

Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2023 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Food, Non-animal diet, Recipes & Cooking

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Fermented Potatoes, reprised with enhancements

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A one-liter canning jar filled with diced yellow potatoes, with some chopped red onion and 2 springs of tarragon, in brine.

I am on a fermenting roll (doesn’t sound very tasty), and I am revisiting the idea of fermenting potatoes. The post at the link explains the nutritional benefits of fermented potatoes. That earlier attempt was somewhat tentative, due to my inexperience. I since have gained a fair amount of experience, so today I went deeper:

• 3 medium yellow potatoes (not the same as Yukon Gold)
• 1/4 large red onion, chopped large
• 2 sprigs tarragon
• salt

As I did with the beets yesterday, I diced enough potatoes to fill my 1-liter canning jar (after first chopping the red onion and adding that to the jar). I dumped the contents of the jarful of potatoes and onions into a bowl already tared on the scale: 350g of additional weight from potatoes and onions.

I added to the bowl 2.5% of that weight — 8.75g, call it 9g — of sea salt and used a rubber spatula to mix well: potatoes, onion, and salt.

[Update – I think I should have skipped this step and just used the brine for salt. Mixing salt with potatoes isn’t like mixing salt with cabbage, say. The potatoes don’t really absorb the salt, and this salt just will dissolve, making the brine much stronger. Next time I’ll not add any salt to the potatoes and rely purely on the brine for salt.]

Then I refilled the 1-liter jar to about the 1/3 mark. I put a coiled sprig of tarragon on top, added more potato and onion to the 2/3 mark, put in another coil of tarragon, and finished filling the jar. The potatoes were heaped high, but a little pressure from the kraut tamper compacted the mass to below the jar’s shoulder. I filled the jar to the shoulder with 2% brine.

Then I went to the beets I started yesterday. They were already active last night — when I tilted the jar, a string of bubbles floated to the surface — and they had brine well above the weight. I took about two tablespoons of excess brine from each of the two jars to serve as the starter for this jar.

I capped the jar of potatoes with the lid and screwed on the lid-ring firmly, then shook it well to mix the culture through the jar (thus the cloudiness of the water). I then uncapped the jar, used the kraut pounder to press the potatoes back down to below the liquid, and added a fermentation weight. No cabbage leaf was needed for this batch since potatoes sink rather than float. I replaced the lid with a fermentation airlock, screwed the lid-ring on to hold it in place, and Robert is your mother’s brother.

This will go for two weeks — January 21 is its date. When I fermented potatoes previously, I let it ferment for just two days (and without any starter culture). I think this will do better.

After 5 days

Canning jar half-filled with diced potatoes with some chopped red onion and some tarragon. Slightly cloudy liquid fills the jar.

The photo at the right shows the potatoes (and onion and tarragon) after 5 days. There is still fermentation underway — tilting jar results in some bubble emerging from their hiding places — but fermentation is not nearly so active as it was on days 2 and 3.

I still plan to continue fermentation for two weeks. The previous potato fermentation went only 52 hours, and that was without using a starter. I think this will be much better.

After 7 days

I decided to call it done after 7 days. Perhaps next time I’ll go for two weeks, but I was eager to try it. It definitely is better than the two-day batch. Adding the tarragon and onion was a good idea, and next time I’ll also add some garlic, ginger, and jalapeño peppers — and maybe some apple slices or chopped dates to provide more nourishment to the microbes. And I think I’ll use Yukon Gold potatoes — more potassium than yellow potatoes.

I put some of the fermented potatoes in a bowl and added a good serving of Tempeh Greens on top. Very good. I might have added roasted pumpkin seeds as well.

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2023 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Food, Non-animal diet, Recipes & Cooking

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Christmas ferment in the fridge

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I started a new ferment a fortnight ago, which I called the Christmas ferment because of its timing and color scheme. I just put it into the refrigerator after removing the fermentation weights and spooning off excess liquid. Tomorrow I’ll have a full bowl. The little taste I took was good.

The appeal of fermenting one’s own selection of vegetables, apart from benefits to one’s health and microbiome, is the opportunity to pick the combination of vegetables that will go into the ferment. This one included:

• 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

My new Beets & Leeks ferment has another week before it, too, goes into the refrigerator. And I have 4 1/2 liters of fermented vegetables to eat before I start the next batch.

Update 24 Dec: Had a bowl of it. Very tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 6:42 pm

Beets & Leeks ferment once more

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Ingredients for a ferment set out on a cutting board: 7 long skinny leeks, 1 fat carrot, a good-sized ginger root, 4 red beets, 5 red Fresno peppers, 6 Medjool dates, 1 Honeycrisp apple, 8 large cloves garlic.

I do love Beets & Leeks as a ferment. I made my first batch just because I like saying “beets and leeks,” and the recipe was improvised. The previous batch (my second, more elaborate than the first) was excellent, so I’ve kept an eye out for some good-looking leeks. On Wednesday I found some — long and rather skinny, but lots of white. Pictured above is the full cast for this batch:

• 7 skinny leeks — sliced thinly by hand; the top leaves are saved to use in cooking
• 8 large cloves of Russian red garlic — sliced by hand into thickish (~2-3mm) slices
• 1 Honeycrisp apple — halved vertically, then sliced on mandoline into 1mm slices
• 1 large red onion — sliced on mandoline, first into 1mm slices but that’s too thin, so then 2mm
• 5 red Fresno peppers — sliced by hand, including core and seeds
• 6 Medjool dates — pitted and chopped by hand
• 4 beets — I used only the two largest beets, and I grated them on a coarse grater
• 1 Nantes carrot — coarsely grated
• Ginger root — about half what’s shown, sliced on mandoline into 1mm slices

I mixed as I went, following what I’ve learned through experience. (See this post for summary of lessons learned.) Below you see it the veggies after being prepped — on the left, after being mixed with a spatula; on the right, after adding 55g grey sea salt and massaging. As you can see, after salting and massaging the veggies are considerably wilted. After massaging the veggies, I found I had tight-fitting leek rings on several fingers.

Why 55g salt? The total batch in the bowl weighed 3531g, and the bowl is 1135g, so I had 2396g (5.3 lbs) veggies. I decided on a 2.3% salt mix, and 2.3% of 2396g is 55g (55.108, but come on). 

I had put my starter culture in 1/2 cup spring water to rehydrate when I was about halfway through prepping the vegetables, so it was (presumably) now awake and active. After I felt the veggies had been sufficiently mixed and massaged with the salt, I poured in the starter culture water and massage some more to ensure the culture was dispersed throughout the veggies.

Two jars side by side, filled with red chopped vegetables.

I still had some Brussels sprout and red cabbage ferment in the 1.5-liter Weck jar in fridge, so I transferred the ferment to a 1-liter jar and washed out the Weck. I don’t have a fourth Weck (two are busy with the Christmas ferment), but I do have a 1.5-liter widemouth canning jar. 

The 5.3 lbs of veggies fit the two 1.5-liter jars quite well. I put a fermentation weight in each jar and added 2.3% brine to cover, then put the lid on the Weck and a fermentation airlock on the canning jar, as shown.

This batch will be ready New Year’s Eve — a celebratory batch. And then I’ll have 6 liters of fermented vegetables on hand, which should last me a good while.

God bless us, every one!

And it’s wonderful! — again

I had some of the finished batch. This is really an excellent recipe, always tasty (and fun to say).

The details of the outcome are in a later post, but the photo at the right gives you a good idea of the colorful appearance of the finished ferment.

This is the one I would enter at the county fair.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 3:27 pm

Fermented foods and fibre may lower stress levels – new study

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John Cryan, Vice President for Research & Innovation, University College Cork, writes in The Conversation:

When it comes to dealing with stress, we’re often told the best things we can do are exercise, make time for our favourite activities or try meditation or mindfulness.

But the kinds of foods we eat may also be an effective way of dealing with stress, according to research published by me and other members of APC Microbiome Ireland. Our latest study has shown that eating more fermented foods and fibre daily for just four weeks had a significant effect on lowering perceived stress levels.

Over the last decade, a growing body of research has shown that diet can have a huge impact on our mental health. In fact, a healthy diet may even reduce the risk of many common mental illnesses.

The mechanisms underpinning the effect of diet on mental health are still not fully understood. But one explanation for this link could be via the relationship between our brain and our microbiome (the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut). Known as the gut-brain axis, this allows the brain and gut to be in constant communication with each other, allowing essential body functions such as digestion and appetite to happen. It also means that the emotional and cognitive centres in our brain are closely connected to our gut.

While previous research has shown stress and behaviour are also linked to our microbiome, it has been unclear until now whether changing diet (and therefore our microbiome) could have a distinct effect on stress levels.

This is what our study set out to do. To test this, we recruited 45 healthy people with relatively low-fibre diets, aged 18–59 years. More than half were women. The participants were split into two groups and randomly assigned a diet to follow for the four-week duration of the study. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 10:22 am

Brussels sprouts and red cabbage ferment done

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I have updated the original post with a report on the outcome.

Written by Leisureguy

19 November 2022 at 12:49 pm

Brussels sprouts and red cabbage ferment

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Not shown: five yellow cayenne peppers

The two 1.5-liter cylindrical Weck jars I ordered just arrived, so I thought I’d break them in by making a ferment from some vegetables I have on hand.. The photo at right shows the two new jars in front, the one I already had in back. My thought is that I can make a 3-liter (2-jar) batch, and when I finish the first jar of the batch, get another 3-liter (2-jar) batch fermenting while I finish the second jar of the first batch.

So I’m hoping the above will make 3 liters. If it doesn’t, I eke it out with some of the rapini I have on hand. And I did look at a recipe for ideas.

No need for rapini. (Sounds like book title, or perhaps an Italian movie comedy. As you see at the right, I had about 1/2 liter left over, which I will also ferment.

The first thing I did was put one packet of starter culture in 1/2 cup of spring water to let it hydrate and wake up.

I first thinly sliced the cabbage and the garlic cloves (the latter using my garlic mandoline). Those turned out to weigh 597g, so I added 12g of sea salt (actually 14g, so just a little over 2%) and massaged the cabbage and garlic well.

Then I thinly sliced onion, apple, ginger, and 5 yellow cayenne peppers and added those to the big bowl. Next, I halved each of the brussels sprouts and added those. At that point it was pretty clear that I was over the 3-liters, which was fine. 

The additional vegetables increased the weight by another 1552g, so I added 40g of salt (just over 2% by weight) and then massaged the whole thing for a while, to mix the vegetables and let the salt dissolve.

Once that seemed done, I added the 1/2 cup of water with the starter culture and massaged more, to make sure starter culture was well mixed throughout the vegetables. I then packed the jars as shown above.

I measured out 1 qt of spring water and added 20g of salt — again, just over 2% — and stirred to dissolve. I then used that brine to cover the vegetables in the jars. I added the fermentation weight and covered the jars. The 1-liter jar has a fermentation airlock, the two Weck jars just used the weight of the lids resting on the rubber gaskets. Now that I am both salting the vegetables with 2% of salt by weight and using a 2% brine solution of spring water, I don’t think I’ll have any problems. (See previous post.)

I’m adding a note to my calendar to remind me on November 19 that the ferment is ready for testing. Two weeks has so far proved enough time.

After taking the photo of the finished batch, it occurred to me that I could leave a little more room in the 1.5-liter jars by transferring some veggies to the 1-liter jar, so I did that. Now the Weck jar lids fit better. (You’ll notice the lid at the left in the photo is tilted open. I transferred enough vegetables to the 1-liter jar so that the lid now fits securely, and there’s also more room in the jar in case the vegetables expand somewhat.)

The next day, in the afternoon: Few things are so satisfying as watching the first string of small bubbles flow upward when you tilt the jar — tiny creatures hard at work, making food for me.

Fermentation complete!

Close-up of fermented red cabbage and brussels sprouts.

It’s now (Nov 19) been two weeks, so I’m shutting down the fermentation and putting the jars into the refrigerator. 

Salting the vegetables (2% by weight) plus using 2% brine worked very well — no growth of yeast on the top.

The Brussels sprouts are somewhat tough. Next time I’ll quarter them instead of halve them or — more likely — halve them and place them flat side down and then slice them. The smaller pieces would make easier eating.

That said, these are tasty. The five yellow cayenne peppers, not shown in the photo at the top, give the vegetables a nice warmth in the mouth. Good flavors overall. 

Except for the size of the pieces of Brussels sprouts, a success. 

Written by Leisureguy

4 November 2022 at 4:02 pm

A brine realization vis-à-vis fermenting vegetables

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I have been fermenting vegetables by preparing the vegetables (shredding, chopping, mixing), then weighing them and adding 2% sea salt by weight, since 2% is more or less the lowest concentration that still offers protection against undesired microbes. (I know the weight of the bowl, so I measure the bowl full of vegetables, subtract the weight of the bowl, take 2% of the difference, and add that much salt.)

But I was then adding spring water to cover the vegetables — unsalted spring water, which thus diluted the overall concentration of salt.

I just realized that, if I am going to add spring water, I must add it in the form of brine, so that the overall concentration of salt does not fall below 2%.

This chart will guide me:

Written by Leisureguy

4 November 2022 at 10:54 am

Fermentation basics

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Some of my readers probably have not yet begun fermenting vegetables, and those might find this video by Adam Ragusea of interest. In it, he explains the basics of fermentation. He mentions how the good bacteria, in vegetables submerged in a 2.5% brine, will gradually take over. One reason I use a starter culture is that, though the good bacteria are in the vegetables, the starter culture gives them a head start so that they can more quickly achieve domination. (For more on fermenting vegetables, including various recipes I’ve made, see this post.)

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2022 at 12:10 pm

Cayenne Pepper Sauce

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What went into the hot sauce today

Rinse well a great number of red cayenne peppers and cut off and discard the stems. Then chop the peppers and put into a large bowl. Add to the bowl:

• 4″ fresh ginger root, sliced thinly
• 8 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
• 8 Medjool dates, chopped
• 1 Cosmic Crisp apple, sliced thinly (that’s the variety I have on hand)
• 1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly
• 1 medium Spanish onion sliced thinly

This recipe uses a carrot and a parsnip as fermentation food for the microbes, augmenting the peppers. I prefer fruit (apple, dates) and onion — which, like fruit, is fairly high in sugar — and I think ginger and garlic will go well in pepper sauce. (If you search the blog for my posts on such sauces, search both “pepper sauce” and “hot sauce” since I never settled on which to call it.)

I wore disposable gloves for the chopping — cayenne peppers. I chopped 4 or 5 peppers at a time with a chef’s knife. I used the garlic mandoline for the garlic, and the regular mandoline (at a 1mm setting) for the apple and Spanish onion.

I had planned to use 1 large red onion, but when I went to the store to buy it, they had no red onions at all. So I made do with the medium Spanish onion that I bought and the 1/2 red onion I had on hand.

I used my lesson learned in a previous batch: to make mixing easier, I did half the peppers, then the onions, garlic, dates, and apple, then the other half of the peppers.

Above left: the chopped ingredients before massaging and mixing: chopped peppers are the bottom layer and the top layer, the onion, garlic, ginger, apple, and dates in the middle.

Above right: after massaging and mixing, including mixing in the starter culture

UPDATE: I have since learned that mixing is fine, but massaging is not the way to do it. Just chop and mix; no massage. When making kraut, one does massage the cabbage to get it to release its liquid, but in fermenting other vegetables no massaging is done — and not massaging is not only for peppers but also (say) for cucumbers when making fermented pickles. I now want to make a new batch of pepper without massaging and with the red habanero peppers I saw recently. Live and learn. /update

Once all the ingredients were chopped and in a bowl, I added the vegetable starter culture to 1/2 cup water to rehydrate and let that sit.

The bowl of peppers etc. weighed 3325g. I subtracted the bowl’s weight (1135g) to get the weight of the vegetables: 2190g, or 4.8lbs.  I added an amount of sea salt equal to 2.5% of that weight — 55g — to the bowl of chopped vegetables. (I’m going a little saltier for this sauce (2.5%) than I usually do for fermented vegetables (2%).) — UPDATE: On reading more about the readiness of peppers to mold, I think the next time I make this (and I definitely will be making it again), I’ll use an amount of salt that weighs 4% of the weight of vegetables, maybe even 5%. ALSO: I belatedly realized that the spring water I added should also include an appropriate amount of salt, otherwise the added water will result in a dilution of the brine. See this post — important./update

I put on a fresh pair of disposable gloves and massaged the be-jesus out of the peppers etc., mixing and mashing well. [As noted in the update: don’t do the massaging. This step reflects my ignorance.] Once the vegetables were tender and some liquid was visible in the bottom of the bowl (though not much), I added the starter culture water and mixed and massaged some more to be sure the starter culture was well distributed throughout the batch.

About 3 1/2 liters, starting to ferment.

I’ll let the sauce ferment for 2 weeks. Then I’ll pour off and reserve the liquid and use my immersion blender to blend the peppers etc. in the jars. I’ll add back reserved liquid as needed to get a good pepper-sauce consistency. I might also add some vinegar or perhaps blended lemon pulp or lime pulp. Then I’ll fill 1-pint jars with the fermented sauce and cap and refrigerate the jars (to slow fermentation to a crawl). 

I discovered a while back that it’s best to use wide-mouth jars for homemade pepper sauce because it’s easier to spoon out as much as you want. Back then, though, I was making cooked pepper sauce. This fermented pepper sauce is a new direction for me. (Sriracha is fermented — but then pasteurized, which kills the probiotics. My sauce will retain the probiotic goodness.)

Some useful articles on pepper/hot sauce

A post on making hot sauce offers good guidance to the variety you can find. See also  How to Ferment Chili Peppers and this Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe.

Also, my general post on fermentation. This is a good starting point for fermenting vegetables in general — for example, The Big Red One.

The final product

The finished sauce (2 liters; full info at link)

After two weeks, I deemed the sauce finished, and I drained it (saving some of the liquid for future fermentation), blended it, and bottled it — details here

The sauce is fairly mild — some warmth, no real heat — and very flavorful. I like it, and I definitely will make another batch of pepper sauce when this runs out and I will include habanero peppers and/or Thai red chiles.

I was lucky to find cayenne peppers in the store since they seldom appear. Someone asked me whether a pepper sauce like this can be made from other peppers, and the answer is definitely “Yes.” In fact, since I doubt I’ll find cayenne peppers when I run out of the batch I made, I’ve given some thought to what I’ll use. Here’s my tentative list of ingredients:

• lots of jalapeños, at least a quart — these will be the main pepper
• good amount of Serrano peppers, say a pint — a supporting role
• a small number — 10-12 — Thai red chiles (for the heat, you know)
• either half a dozen dried chipotles or a can of chipotles in adobo
• 4 or 5 dried ancho chiles, with core and seeds discarded, cut into pieces

And then aromatics and food for the microbes:

• 4″ fresh ginger root, sliced thinly
• 8 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
• 8 Medjool dates, chopped
• 1 apple, sliced thinly
• 1 large red onion, sliced thinly

Or I might follow the suggestion of the recipe that gave me the idea and use a carrot and a parsnip.

Written by Leisureguy

18 August 2022 at 2:35 pm

Fermentation starter started

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Following the steps in this video, I have started the fermentation starter by putting into a 1-pint canning jar:

• about 3 tablespoons organic raisins
• 1″ section fresh ginger root, sliced with the skin left on
• about 3 tablespoons fresh organic blueberries
• 1 Medjool date, chopped
• a section of organic apple, chopped (including the skin).

The video says to let it go for 24 hours at room temperature, then add 1 teaspoon organic cane sugar, go another 24 hours at room and add another 1 teaspoon sugar. Once the liquid in the jar is fizzy and working, cap the jar and put it into the fridge. Then each week, add 1 teaspoon of sugar and let it sit at room temperature a day before returning it to the refrigerator.

To ferment vegetables, use 1/4 cup of starter per 1 quart of vegetables, then add enough spring water to cover as describe in my fermentation post. The video suggests adding 1 tablespoon salt per quart as well.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 8:02 pm

Fermented raw potatoes are pretty good

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I described the idea and process in a post a couple of days ago, and I’ve now updated that with the results. Look there for details, but I’ll say that they are good and I will definitely repeat (along the lines described in the post at the link).

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2022 at 5:25 pm

How Fermented Foods May Alter Your Microbiome and Improve Your Health

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Anahad O’Connor has an interesting article (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times on the health benefits of fermented foods. The entire article is worth reading. Here’s a snippet:

After the 10-week period, neither group had significant changes in measures of overall immune health. But the fermented-food group showed marked reductions in 19 inflammatory compounds. Among the compounds that showed declines was interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that tends to be elevated in diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The high-fiber group, in contrast, did not show an overall decrease in the same inflammatory compounds.

For people in the fermented foods group, the reductions in inflammatory markers coincided with changes in their guts. They began to harbor a wider and more diverse array of microbes, which is similar to what other recent studies of people who eat a variety of fermented foods have shown. The new research found that the more fermented foods people ate, the greater the number of microbial species that bloomed in their guts. Yet, surprisingly, just 5 percent of the new microbes that were detected in their guts appeared to come directly from the fermented foods that they ate.

As readers know, I ferment various mixes of vegetables. I prefer to ferment vegetables at home rather than buy them from the store because (a) it’s much cheaper to ferment my own and (b) I can ferment combinations that I cannot buy — for example, the ferment I’m currently enjoying, Beets & Leeks. But there’s also the first ferment I made: Cultured Carrot Cake in a Jar. (That second link goes to my general post on fermenting vegetables and includes some useful videos.)

Written by Leisureguy

20 July 2022 at 9:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Non-animal diet, Science

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