fruitkakechevy: (joshSMASH)
I bought a marvelous book about live-culture foods called "Wild Fermentation", and was inspired to bubble and brew all kinds of things. Check it out, it's wonderful and empowering. My favourite part of the book is when Sandor Katz states that one's own tastebuds are the best judge if something is bad for you or not - if it tastes bad, don't eat it. Botulism is avoided through fermentation - only very specific things can live in a ferment and have the fermented item still taste good. He's got chapters on bread, alcohol, vegetables, beans, dairy, and vinegar. All seem doable, though perhaps I'll give the Andean Chewed Corn Beer (uses saliva to break down the corn and start the process) a miss.

My first experiment was lacto-fermented pickles, which I have not yet decided what to do with. I didn't pack them quite tightly enough for everything to stay below the liquid level. Consequently, the tips of my pickles are covered in a multicoloured gently fuzzy mold. According to all the non-alarmist non-FoodSafe non-bleach-everything-six-times-before-you-eat-it sources that I've read, the stuff below the waterline should be fine as long as I cut the moldy parts off, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet. If anyone wants to come over and try some with me, you're welcome.. perhaps together we'll be able to screw up our courage!

My second experiment is sauerkraut. I love, love, love sauerkraut, but I rarely eat it because I mostly love it on reuben sandwiches and smokies, neither of which I've been able to bring myself to eat for years (due to both processed meat=ew and the ethics of meat). I have a lonely jar of sauerkraut languishing in the back of my fridge that is slowly drying out - I'm hesitant to eat it because it's so old, but I can't bring myself to buy more because I eat it so rarely. After reading the book, though, which waxes rhapsodic about the joys of sauerkraut, I resolved to make myself some REAL sauerkraut and eat it with gusto and frequency. I've cut up some cabbage, apples, and carrots, and salted them, and am currently waiting for my rock to boil so I can use it to fit in the top of my Traditional Kimchi Pot (purchased today at Large Korean Grocery, to the delight of the staff) and squish down the veggies in the self-created salty brine. I borrowed a grubby rubbermaid tub from my parents so that I can sequester the resulting brew far, far away from the house (I learned in "100 Mile Diet" that fermenting sauerkraut produces a reek like none other), and I have high hopes that deliciousness will result in a few weeks.

I hope to try my brother's Caribbean-style fermented ginger beer - another recipe from the same book. He's currently waiting for his "ginger-bug" (water, sugar, grated ginger) to actively ferment. After that, you add it to a larger amount of water/ginger/sugar, add some stuff (lemon juice), and bottle it in those rubber-gasket beer bottles that some companies use. After it ferments for a few weeks, it'll be carbonated but not alcoholic.

Have you ever done a crazy food experiment? How did it turn out?


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January 2011

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