Fermented foods. When I mentioned this to my children last year after I had attended a soda fermenting class, they were like–‘oh no, mom’s going to be high on alcohol soon’. I tried to explain that there is a difference between fermented and the alcohol ferment. They weren’t convinced–or perhaps more likely–just wanted to have a laugh at another of mom’s crazy ideas! And there have been a few times (ok, maybe more than a few) when things didn’t turn out exactly as planned.
Like the year I tried to make brandied pears. My daughter’s tree had produced abundantly that year. And I hate to see anything go to waste. I dried lots of them. Then hit on the idea to use up my alcohol on hand (leftover from a sampling spree I went on went on some time back) to preserve the pears. As always, I wanted to do it as simply as possible. I searched websites and concocted my own recipe. I cored and sliced the fruit then poured brandy over them, put the lid on and set them under the sink. After all the brandy was gone, I still had pears. So, if I remember correctly, I also made whisky and then tequila pears.
Later that fall my daughter-in-law was there and we got onto the subject and I remembered the pears. Of course, I hadn’t really forgotten about them, I just wasn’t brave enough to sample them. So we tried them. VERY strong! But we did agree the syrup would be good over ice cream. A few months later I strained off the liquid–which I saved–and threw the pears into the compost pile, since the pears themselves were completely tasteless. All the flavor was now in the liquor. I’ve used it in recipes since then. I still have a tiny bit left that I’m saving for some special occasion.
Another fermenting was years ago when we had wood heat. One fall I decided to make vinegar from the skins, peels and pits leftover after canning apples. I had a large crock which I covered with a towel. I kept it behind the wood stove. I don’t remember how long it took, but I believe it had it there for several months. And I had vinegar! It usually needed diluted a bit when using in salads and recipes calling for vinegar. I remember when we got near the bottom and I showed my kids the ‘mother’ which they thought that was gross. I can’t remember now what I did with it.
Also during those years I kept sourdough starters. I had at least two ongoing ones, a sweet one and the regular one for bread. I remember one time I kept it for over two years–freezing it when I was going to be gone for several days.
I’ve also made cheese, which is a culture kind of ferment. Some of my earlier posts have been on my varrying degrees of success with that.
But now, I’m trying something different. Fermenting fruits and veggies. When I was growing up mom, and every family I knew with a garden, always made kraut. But mom always canned hers. I remember being at a friend’s house where they just packed the cabbage and salt in jars and put them I a dark cool place. I realize now, that was probably fermenting. I remember I always liked their kraut better than ours.
A recent success is kimchi. Last year on one of my trips I stayed overnight where at breakfast was this strange stuff near a cooker of rice. Being inquisitive I at first ask other diners what it was–no one seemed to know, except someone said it is what Koreans eat for breakfast. So I tried and liked it. Encouraged, a few of the other tried it. Some liked it while others didn’t. After I got home I researched it and found it was kimchi. So….
I have eaten nearly a quart of my homemade kimchi the last couple of weeks! As I was dishing some out just now I realized I need to make some more. Well really I should have started more a couple of weeks ago, if I want a steady supply–and I think I do, because I really like it. I’ve found websites that have up to 21 ways to use kimchi. But so far I’ve had it mostly plain. One day I did mix some with some instant brown rice I had on hand.
I tried fermented soda last year, but it didn’t turn out like the one I had received from the class. After reading more about the process I believe the reason was because I used city water. The chlorine seem to inhibit the bacteria needed to ferment.
So I’m going to try the soda again. I have a ginger bug going at present. Even though it is cooler in the apartment than it was during the summer, the bug seems to be doing well. It is a bit cloudy, bubbles–especially when I add the sugar–and has a zingy smell. I’m going to start some fruit juice sodas next week.
I also want to try honey fermented cranberries, fermented bananas, kraut and maybe a few others. I joined a Facebook group–Wild Fermentation–where I’m learning a lot. I will try to keep my success/failures posted, along with the websites I have used to gather recipes and info from.
Wish me fermenting success!