Friday, July 25, 2014

I'm still here...

Just checking in to say I'm still here but not here. We've been out of town a few times, including right now, and there has just not been time to post on this blog but I'll be back next week, Lord willing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fermenting the Harvest ... Corn Relish, Pickles and Curtido

There are a variety of ways you can preserve your harvest ... canning, freezing, dehydrating and, a more traditional but not as used method today: fermenting. A handy dandy guide that I appreciate a lot is a book called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods" by Wardeh Harmon.

While I do not follow her recipes and methods exactly, I do use this book as a reference tool. It is an excellent place to start if you do not know much (or anything) about fermenting foods.

With that said, here is what I did today and yesterday.

Today I made corn relish, cucumber pickles, and an experiment of pickled green beans. These were just the green beans that were ready to pick RIGHT NOW in our 'city garden'. I'm not sure what's going on at the country garden (where our main green bean crop is) but our city garden only has a few pole bean plants and only a handful were ready today so I threw them in a pint jar with a garlic clove and a slice of onion, covered them with brine and they are good to go.

The corn relish I have never done before but it smells wonderful so far! Fresh corn picked yesterday, cilantro and jalapenos picked today, and onion and tomato ... from the store ... my tomatoes are not ready yet.

And the cucumbers ... yum. I picked those today along with fresh dill in the garden. The garlic and onions came from the store.

These are not the best pictures, but here they are ... also, these were both taken right after I put the food into the jars. This time tomorrow I suspect it will look a little different. Maybe I'll update with photos?

Fermented Corn Relish

Fermented Green Beans and Cucumbers
Curtido is such a tasty dish!! I have never made it fermented but it smelled SO GOOD yesterday while I was getting it all ready. Cabbage from a friend's garden, organic carrots from our bulk food order, cayenne peppers and oregano from our garden and onion from the store. The ratio of salt to produce is 3T/5lbs. In order to keep things simple, first shred and chop everything except the cabbage. Put it all in a bowl and weigh it ... subtract that from 5 pounds and weigh out the missing amount of cabbage. I used nearly 3 heads of cabbage, but it really just depends on how large/small and lose/tight the heads of cabbage are. The last thing to be shredded is the cabbage. I usually use a chef's knife to shred cabbage, however since I just got my kitchenaid I tried out the shredder attachment. I am pleased enough with the results to do it from here on out.

After all the vegetables are chopped or shredded and ready to go, sprinkle on the salt and mix well. I allow mine to sit for an hour or so to give the salt time to draw out the juices in the vegetables. This also gives me time to go help my old lady friend ;) In order to protect the vegetables from offending flies while I'm away, I put a rack over the bowl and cover all with a bread towel. You might have a lid that fits your bowl ... which would be convenient.

Come back later, stir well and pack tight into a glass gallon jar or other vessel good for fermenting. Weigh it down with a piece of plastic and a glass jar filled with water (or a heavy plate and rock if your vessel lacks a neck). Put the lid on, write the date on the jar with a sharpie (it will rub off), and allow to ferment on the counter till it is to your liking, but let it sit at least three days. Our ferments usually sit for a week or two or three, depending on the temperature in the house and what we are fermenting. It's really warm in our house right now so the whole process will be a bit quicker.

When done, store in a cool place (preferably a cellar) or in the fridge if no such place exists in your home.

Here are step-by-step photos of that process. Some were taken with flash and some without. My kitchen has terrible lighting it's hard to get nice photos!

The ingredients

Mince the oregano and cayenne; finely slice the onion

Shred the cabbage and carrots (not pictured!); add 3T salt

Mix well and top with a rack or other device to hold the towel

Cover and allow to sit an hour or two

Pack into a gallon glass jar or other vessel

Have ready a piece of plastic that will fit snug into the jar; I cut this lid to size

Layer the plastic lid (pack down tight), jar of water and anything else needed to fill up the space - I had to top off the lidded-jar with a mason jar ring for extra height. I like it to reach the gallon jar lid so it packs down. To prevent spoilage, be sure everything is well under the liquid!!!

Top all with jar lid and add the date
There you have it! Simple. I did this yesterday and it is already nice and bubbly ... about 24 hours later here is what it looks like (I used a flash yesterday; this is without the flash so it looks a little different but the colour is the same in reality):

~24 hours later - lots of bubbles forming
I'm anxious to try it!! We'll make pupusas again as soon as this is ready.

I made this recipe up based on how I like curtido to taste (it's not hard to do) however today when I was browsing through the book mentioned above I saw she had a recipe as well. It was somewhat different from mine, but I'm going off my personal tastes ... though I've never used cayenne in it before. We all like cayenne around here and we are so thankful our 4 cayenne plants are thriving. I'm not sure if 3 was enough?? I left the seeds in. I'm also wondering if I should have used more oregano? We'll see what happens and I'll try to remember to update this post with the results and any changes I might make in the future.

Do you ferment foods? If so, what are some of your favourites? Do you have a recipe to share?