This has been the year that illness has turned our household upside down! Now that we have had the opportunity to open the windows and hopefully flush out those bugs that have been hanging around for far too long, my culinary mindset has shifted to all things fermented to help heal our bellies from holiday indulgences, and illness. I taught a basic fermentation class several weeks ago where each participant took home a starter vegetable ferment. We have kept the ferment alive, and it has served us well, pickling little bits of veggies along the way to try new tastes. They work well on sandwiches to add a little zest, I have chopped them up into Ben’s tuna salad he takes for lunch, and their complex sour flavors work wonders to balance out braised fatty cuts of meat that we all love to eat in the colder months.
I purchased a yogurt maker several years ago, as yogurt and granola is a staple breakfast for us. I thought I would wise up and stop spending so much on little containers of the stuff riddled with sugar. As most things go, this mama got lazy and went back to the way of buying quarts and singles… I recently found a glass jar that fits my maker, instead of the plastic one it comes with (it is BPA free) And fired it up again…The kiddos have enjoyed both making and eating it as it works as both a science experiment and good food. I will sometimes top their familiar bowl with a little jam or applesauce to sweeten it up, and I like the more intense tang that homemade yogurt provides.
New to our repertoire, we just started Nancy Silverton’s iconic sourdough starter this week. After watching her story on Chef’s Table it was hard not to. Although, after reading her very involved directions, my anxiety ramped up a bit and I thought ‘I have two children already, how in the world can I sustain another life?!?!’, but it is now part of our kitchen counter for all to see and watch over hopefully.
Below, find a link for an intriguing counter-top fermenting crock that I have not tried, but I am hoping for come Birthday time (hint, hint Jason), and recipes for the vegetable ferment, as well as Nancy Silverton’s Starter.
Now if they only could make probiotic Girl Scout Cookies…
- 2 pounds vegetables
- 2 cloves spring garlic, sliced thin (optional)
- 1 dill flower, or 5 sprigs fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dill seed (optional)
- ½ teaspoon coriander seed(optional)
- ½ jalapeño, seeded and slivered (optional)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- Pack vegetables into one or two clean quart jars. Tuck in garlic, dill, coriander and jalapeño, if using.
- Add salt to two cups boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Add two cups of ice (made with filtered water if yours is chlorinated). Stir well until the ice has melted and the brine is cool. Pour brine into jars, covering vegetables.
- Loosely cap jars and place in a bowl or pan because the jars may leak during fermentation.
- Leave pickles on the counter to ferment. The brine will bubble lazily and become cloudy. Taste after 3 days, leaving on the counter another day or two if you want your pickles more sour, or refrigerating if they’re ready. They keep a month in the refrigerator.