Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fermenting adventures: Kimchi and Kraut - Easy recipes!

James and I attended a fermentation class at the Florida Earthskills Gathering.   It was our last class of the week but one of the best.   We sat on the floor under the "dining tent" and passed around jar after jar of tasty goodness while learning that sanitation is not always advantageous, rotten fish mixed with sugar is good for the garden, and kraut is actually really easy to make and tastes amazing compared to store bought.   We came away inspired, and sense then our kitchen has been a regular science lab with new things brewing, bubbling, fermenting and sprouting on every surface, even the tiki bar.    People walk into our house for a visit and we shove forkfuls of new kraut in their mouth and pour samples of water kefir and kombucha for them to sample.    I bring jars and bottles to friends houses, violin practice and easter egg hunts eager to share our latest creations.    Jars are hoarded and beer is purchased with flip-tops so they can be used again.    The kid runs out of the room when a bottle is about to be opened because of the ONE time I sprayed the entire kitchen with an overly fizzy explosion of kifer.     Its a lot of fun, and no one has been poisoned yet by our creations - they just ask for recipes because they are so good!     Here I share a couple of my favorites, quick, easy and tasty!

First, is a kraut recipe.    Naked Kraut was one of the first jars passed around in our class, consisting of just 2 ingredients - cabbage and salt.    One bite of that stuff and we decided we would never need to buy store kraut again, there was such a big difference in flavor....and so much flavor for something so simple!  

Sense making basic kraut I've experimented with several other variations - its easy enough to mess with and change based on whatever you have on hand, the technique is the same either way.

- Cabbage
- Salt*

-Clean jars
- smooth rocks (I use river rocks bought at the dollar store, boiled in water to sanitize)

*use sea salt, pink salt, kosher salt  - pretty much anything that is not standard table salt.
  1.  Remove some of the big outer leaves of the cabbage and save them. 
  2. Cut up the cabbage - I slice it up thin, you want it into little pieces but the shape is up to you.  
  3. Put it into a big bowl and sprinkle with salt.   Smush the cabbage with your hands squeezing and turning it.    Taste a piece, if it tastes good, its got enough salt.  If you can't taste the salt add a bit more.   
  4. Smash and squeeze and turn the cabbage until you get bored.    Then leave it alone for 20-60min and do it again.    You may need to do this just once if you have a juicy cabbage, or multiple times.   You are looking for a little puddle of water at the bottom of the bowl. 
  5. At this point, if you want to add other things to the mixture, do that now.    Shredded carrot, shredded apple, cranberries, ginger, onion chopped small, cilantro, mustard seeds, any veggies you have chopped up leftover, etc.    Toss it on in.   
  6.  Pack the cabbage into jars.   Put a handful into a jar, then smash it down with something (your fist, a wood spoon, the end of a rolling pin...).    Add another handful and repeat until you have around 3 of space to the top of the jar.    Fill up remaining jars the same way.  
  7. Pour any additional liquid you have over the cabbage - basically everything should be under the brine you've created.      
  8. Take one of the cabbage leaves you saved and tear it into a circle the size of the jar opening.   Pack it over the cabbage and press it under the brine.   Top it with the rocks to hold everything down.   Its very important that all of the "bits" are under the liquid.   
  9. Put the lid on the jar and leave it on the counter.   Every day open the lid a tiny bit to "burp" it.  In around 4 days you can eat it, but its even better if you leave it 2-3 weeks or longer.   Just taste it and see how you like it best!   
  10. Put it in the fridge once you start using it - at that point you can remove the rocks and big cabbage leaf and even pour off the brine if you want.   

Kimchi - vegan and not too spicy! 

- Cabbage
- additional veggies, if you want them (carrot and daikon are our favorites) 

- 2 TBS soy sauce
- 2TBS sugar (whatever kind you like)
- chunk of pineapple (maybe 1/3 cup size)
- thumb size chunk of ginger (peel it)
-  4-5 cloves of garlic (peel)
- 1/2 onion
- 1/4 cup red chili flakes (the kind you put on pizza)

  1. Chop up the cabbage and any other veggies you choose. 
  2. Take the rest of the ingredients and dump them into a blender or food processor.   Chop them a bit first if you need to.     Blend them up into a paste, if it seems super thick you can throw in a little water.   
  3. Dump the sauce onto the kraut and toss it up - if you have sensitive skin you may want gloves, my hands burned for days.   DO NOT touch your eyeball (you can guess how I figured that one out).    
  4. Press into jars, and using the same technique as for kraut.   
  5. Leave on the counter for a while, its good after about a week but can sit longer too!   Start tasting it and decide what you like.   

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