Thursday, October 25, 2012

Our House-Warming Inaugural Pickle Party

House Lewis has finally fermented our first batch of pickles in our own kitchen! We can now host, not just instigate pickle parties, with a dedicated curing cabinet in a temperature controlled environment and a nice, big workspace. And just as cool, since it's our own space, we can do this whenever we want! Ahh, central A/C and culinary freedom!

Everyone's store of fermented goodies has been running low lately since May was the last time we were able to pickle. Since the Power Mix is the backbone of so many of the other things we like to make, fermented or not, that was the first objective. This inaugural batch was a deviation from previous ratios in that we backed off on the garlic and wanted to cut the hot peppers a bit and go heavy on the sweet bell peppers. We kinda missed that mark, however- we're still perfecting ratios and techniques. We didn't de-seed the jalapenos (or banana peppers added in by Ranger Roo and Tapon, many thanks!) and used too many serranos, so things turned out spicy! Here's what we did, in pounds:

- 5 red, yellow, and orange bell peppers
- almost 3 jalapenos, not seeded
- almost 4 serranos
- 6 garlic
- 7 onion

This yielded a little over three gallons, just a couple inches from the top of the crock. And it turned out HOT!

So, the next one would look like this, if we just made a straight batch (more on this in a later post):

- 5 sweet bells
- 2 japs, seeded
- 2 serr
- 6 gar
- 7 onion

Heh, my sweet lady has been bravely and assiduously spicing up her diet since hooking up with me but it's still a poignant thing to watch her make that "too spicy" face! So, our latest batches of guacamole are getting some fresh veggies along with the Power Mix, to temper the heat. And Power Mix hummous gets a little yogurt, which also cuts the heat whilst allying itself nicely with the creamy side of the sesame tahini.

In the neat way that things go full circle, we learned this last time how to use a plastic anaerobic barrier in the 3 gallon ceramic crock to seal the beautiful little buggies in for their ferment time. We've used this technique to seal glass mason jars before but we've lost (in the move, I'm sure) the special plate that goes with the crock (AND filled it a little overfull) and so had to improvise. Things turned out great, as mentioned above. Where we usually use the plate to hold the fermenting goodies under the surface of the brine, less brine and a layer of plastic formed the essential anaerobic barrier this time. This hybrid technique had the added bonus, in addition to cutting the addition of extra brine, of also cutting out the headspace above the liquid layer, leaving no room at all for opportunistic molds to enter the picture. The stuff is harmless and confined to the surface and headspace, with everything we care about taking place below the waterline but it's still nice to not have to skim the stuff off after fermentation!

Happy fermenting!

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