Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sour Girl

   Some of you long-time readers may remember that the blogger, who shall remain nameless, over at Rurality has been a friend of mine for some time and you may also know that she is a big instigator.  Haha!  But in a good way.  In fact, she is the one who talked me into starting this blog so long ago and then abandoned us all a couple of years ago...ahem...but anyways...heehee.  Well, she also talked me into going to this fermenting workshop a few weeks ago that was held at a little intentional community not far from here.  I've made several posts here about some fermenting I had done using the crock method, and I thought it came out well, but this workshop was going to be using a more modern method (I guess you'd say) so I thought it would be interesting and a fun thing to do.  And I tend to be a little reclusive so it was a good thing to get out and meet some new people.
  So, basically the workshop provided information on the health benefits of raw fermented foods, such as kimchi, saurkraut, kefir etc. and how to make them.  And by raw, I mean not pasteurized, because the heat required in the pasteurization process kills all of the beneficial flora (bacteria) that you are creating by fermenting the food in the first place.  I am especially interested in eating more fermented foods because I've read that it is very good to help reduce inflammation in the body and that's seems to be what I've been having trouble with lately, for the most part.  Plus, if you make your own it is substantially cheaper than buying it already prepared.  I had tried some raw kimchi and liked it, but the only place within an acceptable driving distance that carried it was the Whole Foods in Birmingham and, as you can probably guess, it was quite expensive.  At least to me.  And, if you grow your own veggies for the mix it can be made for just pennies.

This is a Pickl-It jar in the 1 1/2 liter size.

  The new jar they use is the one big initial cost but after using it I think that it is well worth it, IF you think that fermenting is something you will do regularly.  Rurality was kind enough to let me use an extra of hers for my initial batch and so I could try it out before actually buying it!  HERE is a link to one type of jar now used for fermenting instead of the crocks.  The type shown in the link is not the same brand as what we used but it is the same basically.  I could not ever get the link to our jar brand to open so that's why I'm using this other.  Anyway, research it yourself if you are interested.  You can find a lot of different brands and such but the one thing that the lady teaching the workshop stressed is that the jar and lid should be entirely glass.  If you look around you will find some with a glass jar but a plastic lid and she was adamant that those will not airlock like the glass lids and your food can spoil.  Now, the little airlock gadget that sticks up out of the lid is plastic but it doesn't touch the food.  Some jars even come with a glass weigh or specially shaped bowl to push the foods under the liquid and that is nice.  We just crammed whole cabbage leaves on top to where they were pushed down by the lid and that held the fermenting food under the liquid.  You simply discard (or compost) the cabbage leaves when the product is ready and that worked fine.
  So, basically we shredded up a bunch of cabbage, green onions, ginger, radishes, carrots, garlic, peppers and then mixed that with the appropriate amount of sea salt and whatever spices you wanted.  I keep mine simple and only put in dill and parsley.  Using a wooden or ceramic stomper you pack the jar tightly and wait about an hour.  If the mixture is mostly cabbage it will release a fair amount of water which will form a natural brine but if it doesn't you can mix a little brine yourself and pour over the veggies until they are just covered.  Any little bit of research online or at your library will turn up tons of recipes and the exact amount of salt etc. that you need to use, so I'm not going to go into a great deal of depth on that.  But believe me, it is very easy to make.  Deciding what you want to go in it is the hard part.  Then you just wait a minimum of 2 weeks and the taste test it to see if it has aged to your liking.  If it has then you transfer it to a clean jar or jars to keep in your refrigerator and eat at your leisure.  The cold stops the fermentation process so it will last for about 6 months stored that way.  I can go through a pint of kimchi in about a week so mine doesn't last that long.
  After using the glass jar method I have to say it is really great and I will buy one now.  The crock method is very easy also but you have to check it every day and skim off any mold growing around the top.  No big deal but this way is just so simple.  The airlock top keeps any of that from forming and you just check it every day or two to make sure there is water in the little plastic hicky.  This initial batch of kimchi I made was good but I think next time I will cut back on the ginger and radishes.  I've never been a big fan of radishes.  And, I think I might make the next batch a little more spicy.  We used some pepper but they were the sweet type and I think a little heat would be a good addition.  As far as spices go, well, I just like the fermented taste.  Garlic is always a good addition and I might try a little mustard seed next time.
I hope this inspires some of you to try it and if you have any questions feel free to ask away!


myamuhnative said...

Would love to find a class like that near me.
I had a Korean landlady that used to make KimChi on her counter.It was fabulous but stinky.
What size jar are you using?
I'm thinking about trying a 1.5liter...

Gin said...

Ever since I was a newlywed mumble-dee-mumble years ago I've been fermenting dill pickles, kraut and kimchi in a clay crock with plate on top and a weight on top of that. Two years ago I switched to holding the veggies down with a plastic bag full of brined water. Works perfectly and I don't have to deal with checking daily and skimming. If you don't get your airlock jar, you might want to try that instead.

Anonymous said...

Wow, yours looks so much better than mine!


edifice rex said...

Hey Mya! Yeah, the smell is a little stout!
This jar is the 1.5 liter. I think it's a good size.

Hey Gin! Yeah, I always used a plate and weight but the baggy with brine is a great idea! I'll remember that.

Hey Karen! Really? yours didn't look good?

Pablo said...

But where's Rurality?

Ed said...

I love kimchi but can't find any in these parts. I mostly pick it up when I visit an urban center with a large asian population. Someday I need to make my own but I guess I'm a bit lazy too now. I enjoy it as the occasional treat.

Sissy said...

I've known but forgotten about this healthy food. I must make some. I'm a bit concerned about using a plastic bag to weight it down though - have much fear of plastics and aluminum foil.

Gin said...

Sissy.... Just use a food grade plastic bag. A gallon Ziplock freezer bag will work.

edifice rex said...

Hey Pablo! She is amongst us in spirit!! lol!

Hey Ed! well, this was definitely an Americanized version of kimchi, no fish sauce or raw anchovies etc. but I imagine the real stuff would not be much more difficult that our version.

Hey Sissy! yeah, a food grade bag or just use a glass bowl and weight or similar.