Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wild & Easy Ferments

In the past couple of years, I've been learning more & more about fermented foods & drinks.

I've been making kombucha for almost the last 2 years.  It's sweet tea that has been fermented and turns it into a lightly carbonated tasty drink with loads of yeast and bacteria along with the organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and polyphenols produced by these microbes in the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeasts).   Kombucha originated in Northeast China or Manchuria and later spread to Russia and from there to the rest of the world.  There are loads of references all over the internet if you'd like to learn more about it and find sources for a SCOBY.

Here is a quick glance at how I make my kombucha every 4 or 5 days..  Everyone makes it differently and thats ok so long as your SCOBY continues to grow between batches & stays healthy..  

 Making Sweet Tea for a new brew of Kombucha 

Looking at the SCOBY at the end of the ferment cycle. I'll remove this and about 1 cup of kombucha to use for the next batch Im making.

Draining the fermented kombucha into quart jars.. 

 I add ice to my hot brewed tea to cool down the tea fast so I dont have my SCOBY out of the jar for long. 

 Once my tea is cooled to at least room temperature, I add back in the cup or two of kombucha from the last batch, stir it with the new sweet tea, and add my SCOBY back to the jar..  
Then, I add a clean kitchen cloth to the top and secure it with a rubber band and place it out of the way for another 4 or 5 days. 

I dont always do this last step, but sometimes I will add a little bit of some sort of fresh real juice to each of the quart jars.  I only add a teaspoon or so to them.  Some people let these juice added jars sit out with a tight lid for another day so that it will continue to ferment & build up more carbonation.   I usually dont.  I tend to just place them in my frig at this point.  I've found that it still creates plenty of carbonation for my tastes.  

Many people dont use canning jars, but thats what I have on hand.  Some day I plan to purchase  some Swing Top Bottles  but I've not found them to be completely necessary.  If I were looking for more carbonation, I think they would be pretty important.  The carbonation is great, but I like it lightly done so the canning jars work for me.

         Today, I also spent a few minutes making some Fermented Kohlrabi Pickles that I shared last week..   

                              And then I decided to finally try my hand at making sauerkraut.

I've been reading Wild Fermentation , The Art of Fermentation  and watching many videos on You Tube by Sandor Ellix Katz who is "The Fermentation Guru" of this generation.
What I love about him & others who've shown me methods to ferment all sorts of veggies, is that they make it very simple and almost fool-proof.
Im willing to try just about anything once..  twice if I like it..  more than that if I love it..  :D  I love Wild Fermentation!

Here Im shredding my cabbage fine with my food processor..  I used right at 3/4's of the 4# cabbage I had..

Then adding a little bit of Pink Himalayan Salt..

Then mixing the salt through the entire bowl and then kneading it for a while until it makes it own brine. 
Then I added it all to an old pickle jar, added a couple whole cabbage leaves to keep the cabbage below the brine, then I added the lid, washed the juices off the outside, loosened the lid, then set it in an old baking pan to catch any drippings once it starts fermenting. 

I also sliced up some pickling cucumbers I had in the frig, added lots of garlic & a few sprigs of dill weed & dill seed heads.. added salt, and filtered water.  The lid is sitting loosely on the jar so that nothing can get in but gasses can get out during the fermentation process. 

The Kohlrabi pickles will taste best to me in 4 or 5 days as will the Kombucha. 
I've never made the sauerkraut but I plan to taste it at around day 5 and may let it go another couple. I'll decide for sure when I taste it.
I have a feeling the cucumber pickles may need to go a few more days than that.. but Im looking forward to it. 

There are plenty ins & outs of fermentation and I've barely mentioned a few..Im merely showing you what Im doing...  But if it should interest you,  seek out others who are familiar with fermentation & learn to safely ferment your own foods!


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