-- William Shakespeare
Several years ago after reading about...and being intrigued by...a somewhat mysterious food-alchemy called "fermentation" I invested twelve dollars for the now classic cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.
Note: Of course, sadly, as per inflation, the book in now almost sixteen dollars via Amazon...still quite a bargain (in my opinion) considering the treasure trove of information contained therein...but I digress.
One weekend, I brought the book with me to my Dad's house. I wanted to mine-his-memory, and knowledge, about some of the unfamiliar techniques I was reading about.
Why you ask? My father...being the son of a Swedish/American mother and a long~time foodie himself...is quite versed in multitudes of unusual eats (Lutfisk anyone???). Little did I realize that doing so was to shift the paradigm of my long held belief that it was my grandmother who was responsible for all of the usual...and unusual...food preparation during his boyhood. When I asked how his mother went about making her sauerkraut, he informed me that it wasn't his mother, but his father who created and nurtured those huge crocks of deliciousness.
That weekend he walked me through his memories of watching his father prepare the cabbage by slivering, pounding and salting it. He informed me of the vital importance of making sure the cabbage was completely covered with brine at all times to avoid spoilage. It quickly became apparent, however, that his fondest memory was of sneaking down to the basement of his childhood home for the sole purpose of lifting the brick-weighted china plate from atop the large crocks of fermenting cabbage to sample its tantalizing tartness...by the handful. It was, he said, a tasty treat rarely encountered today. Having my own taste for sauerkraut...and tart flavors in general...I understood perfectly. Soon after I began my first fermentation project.
Today, I try to always keep a jar of homemade sauerkraut in the refrigerator for whenever I get the craving. As well...inspired by wonders found on the internet HERE...HERE and most recently HERE ...I've ventured more deeply into this miraculous way to transform and preserve ordinary foods.
The floating things inside are the SCOBY's.
I leave them to ferment in the sunshine for a few weeks or more
(I taste them every week or so to determine the degree of tartness I like).
The huge success of the sauerkraut inspired the faith needed to try my hand at creating Kumbucha. For those not familiar, Kumbucha is a fermented drink that uses a mother SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to ferment two basic ingredients...tea and sugar! It was first introduced to the family by our daughter Katie several years ago and we were treating ourselves to a commercial brand called GT's Kumbucha which is quite delicious and comes in a variety of flavors (my favorite being gingerade). It is, however, very expensive ranging from $3.49 to $3.79 per 16 oz. bottle. One time, Mike found a rare sale where its cost was two dollars per bottle. Needless to say he bought a few cases and I kept the bottles. I now refill them regularly with my own home brew.
Another fairly recent staple in our kitchen is lacto fermented carrots. I found the recipe here and was absolutely floored at the deliciousness of these. I omitted the dill as we had none, and they are still amazingly delicious. The first batch I made was left for nearly three weeks and the carrots practically dissolved, so I recommend only a week or so। Even still, I simply pureed the first (soggy) batch and used it to make salad dressings that called for garlic (in lieu of vinegar...I do the same with extra tart Kumbucha as well). My next fermenting endeavor will be to try Clarice's fermented green bean and raspberries recipe.
Happily, our kitchen now boasts, on a regular basis, several batches of fermented drinks and vegetables in various stages of their alchemical transformations! The tastes are treats that only time and nature can offer...as well their health enhancing potential is legendary as is the economical and time-saving benefits of developing the habit.
Are you practicing the art of fermentation? If not I urge you to take a leap of faith and do your own research on this ancient method of food alchemy and preservation.
Sending love and good thoughts to all.
Tracey and Family x0x
P.S. I forgot to mention the fermented lemonade that I made (and consequently drank the entire jar in one day!). (I found the recipe HERE.)
(leaving about three inches at the top for the gasses to collect)
for about three days to make this delicious fermented lemonade.