Lately I’ve been dabbling in

5 Dec

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!

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