Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's been a while!

Happy Spring! We've had a busy and delicious fermenting season!
  • We've settled on using the plastic bag as an anaerobic barrier in place of the oil. A full water bottle on top acts as the weight, holding down floaters and keeping the bag in place. Inside the jar, the water line goes all the way to the top. As soon as the batch starts fermenting, the burping water creates positive pressure, helping keep the mold at bay. The trick is to not leave any airspace inside the jar- it's all veggies and brine. A little water inside the bag can help expand the bag to make this contact.
  • We're sticking with the spicier ketchup formulations, thumbs up all around. Substituting Power (jalapeno, serrano, garlic, and onion) Mix for the garlic and cayenne is even better, just chop it down to a paste or sauce consistency if you're the "smooth peanut butter" type. And you can't leave out the fish sauce! Mmmmm, Umami!
  • Three Crabs Brand Fish Sauce- great flavor profile, not too funky-fishy, and it's available at Kroger, as well as more esoteric spots.
  • Certain dried food products, like polenta, is now being packaged in sewn bags made of the same breathable polyester material the popular reusable shopping bags are made of. The stuff is prone to tearing but these polenta bags make great whey strainers.
  • The last batch of ketchup was close to three gallons and it's almost all gone. Some hungry critters up in here! We use it on its own or as a sauce base equally. Mix it with lemon or lime and some Worcestershire Sauce (can you spell that from memory?) for an old-school treat, balsamic vinegar and Power Mix for a surprise, as a sticky base to hold crepe or sandwich bits in place, ugh, I'm going to get some right now, before the other critters do! And just in case, Whole Paycheck carries a couple different Worcestershires that ain't made with corn syrup.
  • The latest batch of Power Mix was three gallons. Equal parts jalapenos, serranos, onions, and garlic. Uh, a little less than equal part of garlic, call it four or five pounds to the six of each other ingredients. And we're not de-seeding all the japs now, just half or so. The idea used to be that we ferment everything separately and then make mixes to order. We go through so much Power, though, it's worth it's own batch. Just to keep the metrics straight, that 24 pounds of produce took between 25 and 30 man-hours to process from bags to jars. Which is about what filling the three gallon crock takes.
  • Jardiniere, as per PB's request, was outstanding and didn't last long. We put cauliflower (< thumbnail sized), pepperoncinis (banana peppers), garlic, onion, red Anaheim peppers, carrots, and cute little purple and white cocktail onions all together for a party. We could've thrown olives and capers in there but nobody complained as we were eating it.
  • We have a purple cabbage, beet, and carrot mix that's getting mixed reviews. I've still not pinned down the temperature range and ferment time for better cabbage mixes, that's a tricky one.
  • New Items: Fingerling Radishes fermented as expected (by themselves, as a proper experimental batch); they stained the brine a bright orange-red, like someone threw a Jolly Rancher in there. They still smell very earthy, not appetizing in my nose but worth aging and mellowing for the rest of us. Nopales (Prickly Pear, Gringo) were edible after pickling but not appetizing- they developed a thick slime and some funky spots on the skin. Daikon radish, on the other hand, came out great- we successfully replicated the batch our mentor, Pat Greer made. Score!
  • We have sampled a few commercial Kvasses from Eastern Europe that we really liked. Each was a beet/carrot mix, can't wait to try some of our own.
It's already hot again but we sure enjoyed a nice Spring. If asked, I might opine that the ferment gods gave us AC, for to extend our pickling seasons... Thanks for reading, I hope you're smelling lactobacilli farts, too!

No comments: