"The Art of Fermentation"

I listened to a very cool interview on Fresh Air yesterday about The Art of Fermentation.

It made me want to try my hand at making my own sauerkraut, because he made it sound so easy. Does anyone have recipes/processes for sauerkraut, Kim-chee, pickles, or other fermented veggies?

I listened to that. Sounds intriquing.

But when the guy was listing things that are fermented, the host said, ‘I’m not familiar with those things.’ So the guy is like ‘Oh, you know. Chuggumuggalathi juice. All the hip people are drinking it.’ :rolleyes: I don’t even remember the name of what he said, so I can’t even look it up! He just seemed to be a bit precious.

Kombucha. It’s a very hipster thing along with fixed gear bikes, chunky glasses and those stupid checkered scarves.

God, I hate hipsters.

It smells disgusting.

I always wanted to try sauerkraut but never got around to it though I’ve pickled lots of other things. The Joy of Pickling is the book I use most of the time for recipes and methods. It’s got a section on fermentation that looks pretty thorough.

Really? Christ, this is going to be a hipster thing for me to say, but I first had Kombucha in the late 90s/early 00s. I thought it was way past its wave of popularity.

Making sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, etc., is easy-peasy. There are a couple thing to watch out for (for example, you should be careful to sanitize everything if you want perfectly reproducible results), but the basics are easy. Personally, I found this book a great introduction to all sorts of wild fermented foodstuffs.

This book is an earlier one by the same author, Sandor Katz.

Ah! I did not realize that. I’m going to have to pick the new one up, as the earlier one was really good (although perhaps a bit “hippy-dippy.”)

I pickled a batch of kale back in Fall 2010. I used the basic sauerkraut method described here: http://www.wildfermentation.com/making-sauerkraut-2/ (same guy whose books are mentioned upthread). Just subbed kale for cabbage since I had a ton in the garden, plus about two bulbs of garlic sliced into disks. For a crock I used a glass jar like this from Target, and happened to have a glass plate the right size to use as a weight. It was very easy. Washing, chopping and pounding all that kale was a bit of a pain, but my boyfriend and I made an evening of it and it went by fast. I think I let it ferment for about 5 days? I don’t really remember but I checked it every few days until it seemed zesty enough and then packed it in mason jars and stuck it in the fridge.

It came out pretty well. A bit intense for me, I could only eat a bit at a time or mixed with things, but my dad and sister went nuts over the jar I brought them as a gift. I was afraid they’d come to blows when the jar was 3/4 empty within 4 days. They were eating it by the bowl! The stuff I kept lasted in the fridge getting eaten bit by bit until the following summer with no noticeable drop in quality.

We had a hot fall last year and my kale crop wasn’t as abundant, so I didn’t make it again, but I hope to try again this year. The hot fall is significant because I don’t have a/c and there really isn’t a cool spot in the house to ferment when it’s hot outdoors. I really want to do cucumber pickles - I tried those in 2010 as well and ended up with disgusting slimy messes, perhaps due to heat or the cukes being overripe? If I end up with a big harvest of them this year I’ll try that.

Alton Brown has done sauerkraut and fermented dill pickles on Good Eats, you can probably find clips on Youtube (and can definitely find recipes on the Food Network site).

I made the best kimchi of my life recently. Here’s the report: http://www.leslieirishevans.com/511/kimchi/

This kimchi recipe is great, too. One of the points I would make is to find Korean powdered chiles. They’re a little bit different than other red chiles. They’re not quite as powdered as cayennes or anchos or whatnot, but they’re not as flaky as dried chile flakes. They also have a slight smokiness (or something) to them. There’s actually a good picture of it on this website.

Sounds like stuff I used to accidentally make as a teen/young adult in the late-'70s/early-'80s… i lived in the desert, so sun tea was abundant in our house. I took to sweetening it in the gallon jug. Sometimes it would get thick-ish. Kind of slimy-tasting. Occasionally I’d see stuff floating in it. Pour it out and start again.

This was solved after a diving trip. I didn’t want to risk sweetened tea and hot sunlight, so I took my gallon of sun tea with me unsweetened. After all of that salt water, I found that unsweetened tea is very refreshing. I never went back. (At least, not of my own volition. SO makes sweetened tea, and I’ll have the occasional glass. But I prefer the bitter edge of unsweetened.)