Monday, October 20, 2014

Fermentation Station

I have a little area of our counter I call my fermentation station.  In addition to dehydrating, I appreciate lacto fermentation for how quick and easy it is to process and preserve the harvest.  Salt + water + vegetables.  That's it!  Right now at the station I have some sauerkraut, habanero hot sauce, and salad turnips.  They are all bubbling and smelling good.  Full disclosure...ferments can sometimes smell Quite Funky, but still taste delicious!

Turnips, habanero hot sauce, and kraut.
For the turnips I used a brine of 4 c filtered water: 3 T pickling salt (pure salt/no additives).  For the hot sauce, the habaneros got chopped in the food processor with some garlic then sprinkled with salt (2 lb peppers to 2 T salt) and then packed in the jar with a splash of kraut brine to give it a jump start.  The kraut was made with cabbage sliced thinly on a mandolin and then layered in a bowl with sprinklings of salt.  I then knead, squeeze the cabbage and then let it sit for about 15 minutes.  By then it has released juice from the salt and I pack it in the jar with some juniper berries and caraway, punching it down as I add each 4" layer or so.  Then, on top of the ferments, I put a plastic baggie, which I fill with brine.  That serves as a weight to keep all the vegetable matter under the brine and out of contact with the air, which is what causes funkies to grow.  They all then get covered with a towel to keep off the dust.  Sometimes scum will form on top of your brine.  It is not a problem, just remove with a wooden spoon.

Fermentation time is flexible and varies with temperature.  The kraut has been going for a month and I'll let it go a bit longer.  The radishes have only been going a few days and they are already pickling up pretty nicely.  When the hot sauce seems done, I'll strain and press out the seeds and pulp and bottle it.  All our fermented pickles and sauces go in a fridge in the basement, but a cold room would work for storage as well.

Fermenting crock and radishes
The other way I like to ferment is with this harsch fermenting crock.  It has ceramic weights included to take the place of the baggies of brine, and an airlock built in.  The "moat" that the lid sits in gets filled with water.  Small holes allow carbon dioxide to escape, so sometimes you hear your crock burp and gurgle.

Misato Rose radish
I harvested a few of the Misato Rose watermelon radish to put in the pickled radishes.  They are so beautiful and varied, and the flesh is very fine compared to other radishes.  I really enjoyed cutting them, since it was always a surprise what would be inside.

Misato Rose fall radish

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