As I mentioned in an earlier post, fermenting is sort of a hobby that I have. I have tried all kinds of things, finding some totally not to our liking and others very good. Because we make gallons of kefir we always have excess whey so I use lots of whey and not a lot of salt. This allows each family member to adjust their salt usage to their individual tastes and needs. Whey fermentation seems to speed up the process a bit so soft foods like cucumbers do better with a bit less whey and a little more water. All the more dense veggies do well with a lot of whey.
When a family is eating fermented foods regularly, there is always something “cooking” on the countertop. It makes for a messy looking kitchen and my Mum likes to comment on that fact regularly…but I try to ignore the negative remarks and enjoy with relish all the good things that we are eating.
One of the things that is recommended in the GAPS book is to fill a crock with an assortment of veggies and put them in the fridge. Well, we don’t own an expensive crock and I do all of my fermenting in glass jars. But the assorted veggie idea works just as well in jars. I have found this a fun way of putting together a variety of fermented things. The success of this is to use only dense veggies with dense veggies and less firm veggies with other less firm.
Cucumbers, onions, peppers, and tomatoes go well together. Cucumbers seem to be very time sensitive. In other words if you are making “pickles” make only small batches at a time or they will get overly soft on you quick. I have done the pearl onions and loved them but was a bit skeptical about throwing in chunks of sweet onions to my fermenting stews but after the first try I was hooked. The crunch and zizzle has so much mouth appeal. But like the cucumbers, they need to be eaten sooner than later or they will get mushy.
Any coarsely chopped dense vegetable combination will work well. Cabbage, broccoli, carrots, celery, etc.. I lay the veggies in the jars then cover it with about half whey and half water, let it sit out on the cabinet for 24 hours and transfer to the fridge.
The exception to the rule is with tomatoes. I recently did a combination of cabbage with tomatoes. I was making fermented salsa and didn’t have enough tomatoes so I added in some sliced cabbage. WOW this one was good. The combination of the tomatoes and the cabbage went very well together. While the tomatoes were soft the cabbage had a crunch to it. It came out of the jar like a salad.
Anything fermented with tomatoes leaves a wonderful “juice” that can be drank or mixed into soup and other foods. My Dad who is not too keen on the “fermented stuff” recently enjoyed the juice from my last batch of salsa and said it was good.
You can also ferment freshly squeezed juices. This might be very helpful for those trying to get the health benefits of fermented foods into picky eaters. It is also good for those trying to break a soft drink habit because half of that battle is wanting something cold sweet and fizzy over ice.
Another cool thing to consider when fermenting is using various spices and herbs. Cinnamon and cloves are good. Ginger and garlic go well together. Again it is finding combinations that you like. If you try someone elses recipe and you don’t like it consider changing the spices/herbs or try making it without any to determine what you think might be an asset to the flavor. Fermenting like all recipes is open to your personal interpretation.
Well, that is probably enough of my ramblings for the day. I just want to encourage you to not let your fermenting jars (or crock) run empty and to keep being adventurous in developing your own favorite combinations.