Fermented vegetables: interim report, plus request for guidance

arley_gwFebruary 13, 2013

I have just started a fermented vegetable kick. This is an interim report and a call for tried & tested recipes. I'm using Sandor Katz's 'The Art of Fermentation' as a guide, as well as his web site and a couple of other web sites.

First item I made was sauerkraut: 3 heads of cabbage, a few carrots and a head of garlic, plus salt. Result: tasty, crisp, tastes fresher than commercial kraut. Very good stuff.

Second, tried some daikon radish. Result: pretty good.

Third, tried some Chinese Yam. (Supposed to be good for the guts.) Taste is fine, but the consistency is very mucilaginous, like okra. I find if I mix it half and half with kraut, it's pretty palatable.

Fourth, tried some Chinese Bitter Melon along with some garlic and cabbage. Result: the most godawful stuff I've ever put in my mouth. Hoo, it was nasty. I sort of like bitter melon in stir fry and soup, but this mix was abominable.

I see that you can buy all sorts of fermenting vessels and crocks. I'm sure they work well, but here's what I did for a lot less money. Get some 2 qt Ball canning jars. They're available online, but the shipping is brutal; the most economical way to get them is to order them online from either Ace Hardware or True Value. Both of them have a 'ship to store' option where you don't have to pay shipping, just sales tax. They're about $13 for six. Next, order some 'airlock grommets' --I found a deal on eBay, 20 of them for around $6 including shipping. Next, get some airlocks from a homebrew supply store or online; I found an eBay deal for six of them for around $10 including shipping.

Into the center of the metal lid that comes with the canning jar, drill a one-half inch hole. Fit a grommet to the hole, and stick an airlock in the grommet. Fill the airlock with water or vodka, and you're good to go. So for a total of around $30 I have six 2-qt fermenting vessels, enough to try all sorts of things.

Any recommendations for other fermentations? I'm gonna try pickling some carrots next go round. I have a couple of jars of cauliflower with Indian seasonings percolating right now.

This post was edited by arley on Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 10:10

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Have you found the Pickl-It web site yet (link below)? I use their jars and have them in a number of sizes.

My favorite resources:

"Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.

'"Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Katz

I generally do lacto-fermentation and use the whey from my homemade kefir (yet one more fermented food you may be interested in). I wait for fresh-from-the-garden produce and leave the imported "stuff" at the store - especially this time of the year.

I did some fermented bean paste not long ago (pg. 103 "Nourishing Traditions"). Makes a great dip.

If you like chutney, there is a great selection of fermented fruit/vegetable chutneys in "Nourishing Traditions".

My sister sent me oranges (she picked them herself in Texas) and I made some of them into lacto-fermented Orange Marmalade (pg. 109 "Nourishing Traditions"). A simple three day process.

I also take my dehydrated apples (dried this past fall) and make lacto-fermented apple butter (pg. 110 "Nourishing Traditions").


Here is a link that might be useful: Pickl-It

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Fermented foods are an interest of mine, both in the eating and the making. Some things I've made are:

Dill Pickles - This was long ago. I grew a lot of pickling cukes and made a large crock (about 5 gal.) of fermented pickles with lots of garlic. I had beginner's luck. They were excellent. I took the crock to an office picnic and people ate them like candy all day long. Later I made another batch which did not turn out so well. They spoiled.

Sauerkraut - This was very successful. Like you, I find the home made stuff crunchy and good flavored straight from the crock. Better than any store bought.

Cheese - I've tried this a few times without much success. Probably should have started with something easier than cheddar. This can be sort of expensive unless you have a cheap source of milk because the whey is removed, reducing the volume significantly.

Beer - I've done a fair amount of home brewing wit. It's a lot of work but the results are satisfying.

Tsukemono - There are many varieties of these Japanese fermented pickles. I recently purchases a couple of pounds of nuka (rice bran) to make the kind which are made by burying various vegetables in the bran. Instructions can be found in Joy of Pickling and in several other books on the topic.

Kimchee - I've made this a few times with good results. I've made both cabbage and daikon types. The process is like making sauerkraut. Here is a recipe from Rachelellen:


2 pounds Napa (Chinese) cabbage, quartered and sliced into 2 inch pieces
4 or 5 green onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
2"x2" chunk of ginger root, peeled and minced
2 T Korean chili powder*
4 whole, dried red chilies (opt.)
2 T fish sauce
2 t sugar

Dissolve 3 T salt in 6 1/4 cups water in large container. Add cabbage, cover with a plate or plastic lid that fits inside the container and weigh down with a jar full o f water (or other clean, nonreactive weight) so that the cabbage is all held under the salted water. Leave for 12 hours.

Drain the cabbage, reserving the salted water. Mix the cabbage with the rest of the ingredients (if using the dried, whole chilies, divide them among the jars) and pack into sterilized, screw top jars, filling the jars with the reserved liquid to completely cover the cabbage. Put the jars into a glass baking dish or other container that will hold liquid. As the kimchee ferments, it generally bubbles up and spills over a bit. Place the lids on the jars, but only very lightly screwed down just enough to fix the lid, not seal the jar.

Leave the kimchee to ferment before covering and storing in the fridge. Timing depends on temperature and taste. The longer it ferments, the more sour it will taste. The aroma (some might say stink) when ready should smell pleasantly sour, with no raw cabbage scent and the flavor shouldn't be salty, just sour. It might be ready in a few days in warm weather, or take a week or more if cooler. I think kimchee (like sauerkraut) tastes best when made in relatively cool seasons, as the fermentation is slower and develops richer flavor.

Notes: Korean chili powder is available in Asian food stores. There are different grinds. You want the one that looks like small flakes rather than powder. Korean chili powder has a rich chili flavor without a lot of heat. I have seen cookbooks suggest half cayenne and half paprika, but I think that would be quite a bit hotter, and cannot vouch for it as a sub since I've never tried it.

This kimchee will keep in the fridge for well over a year, though as time passes, it will lose some texture.


This post was edited by jimster on Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 21:00

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Thanks Jim! I do miss rachellen and hope she stops back in one day.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Posted by teresa_mn "---Thanks Jim! I do miss rachellen and hope she stops back in one day. "

I think she lives not far from Jim.

I can't imagine fermented bitter melon! LOL.

I once in a while make stir fried beef and fermented cabbage.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Not sure if this is considered fermented or not but

I've made pickled ginger, very easy and good. I don't remember the exact recipe but basically

Peeled fresh young ginger thinly sliced -I used a mandolin
Rice wine vinegar

Salt the ginger and let stand one hour. Dry the ginger on paper towels and place in canning jar.
Heat to boiling rice wine vinegar and sugar. Pour over ginger slices. Cool and refrigerate.
I made a pint jar and it lasted a long time.

Oh and the ginger turns a pretty pink color.


This post was edited by diinohio on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 7:05

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:00AM
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OT Arley - go check out a swap box, I think you'll get a kick out of an item in it, link below!

Here is a link that might be useful: John's box to AnnT

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:30AM
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Thanks to all for the guidance and suggestions. I have Nourishing Traditions, and I'll explore some of those recipes.

Jim, I have done some home brewing in the past; had to give it up because the waistline expanded too rapidly. That kimchee recipe looks good.

I've gotten some seeds for Persian cucumbers from Renee's garden seeds; will try pickling some of those this summer.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Pickled ginger isn't fermented but it is a pickle so your suggestion is welcomed. I had not thought of making that. Now I will. I have to wait until the store has some good ginger. The stuff they have now is far from young and fresh.

A non-fermented pickle I like is pickled okra. It's made with vinegar and spices like the ginger. I also want to make dilly beans, another pickle of that type made from snap beans.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 2:44PM
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I have made sauerkraut with apples which started very slowly due to my chilly house. It was based on Sandor's recipe and came out well.

I also made several kimchis with cabbage, radish, cucumber and kohlrabi. I did use the paprika/cayenne recipe which required some fiddling to get spicy but not blow you out of the water. My favorite kimchi was cucumbers stuffed with scallions and spices. They definitely had a short shelf life though.

The ginger and carrot fermentation I tried didn't work and I haven't tried again. My mother rediscovered making half sour dill pickles. I wanted to try that but didn't get enough cucumbers.

I didn't used the picklit valves but I did get some glass weights that kept the veggies in the brine fairly well.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:40PM
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