If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you probably already know that I am currently on a pickling/fermentation streak. That means that all of those gorgeous Italian swing-top jars I’ve been buying compulsively are finally finding their life’s purpose these days. Yet another reason to pat myself on a shoulder — we are trying to only keep the items that are actually being used, so there you go.
I didn’t invent anything new in the world of pickling. I am just following a tried and true formula for salt-to-water ratio and add some spices at will. I use fresh room temperature artesian well water, I never boil or super-sanitize anything, and I add raw milk whey as fermentation agent. Most of the vegetables take 3-4 days to pickle (some, like lettuce, even shorter), after which they can be moved into cold storage. I am making reasonably small batches of various vegetables, just to see if we like this or that and to figure out what works for my family of diverse-palated folks.
The new things I tried this year are beet kvass, rye bread kvass (a summer drink of choice back in my country), and making lacto-fermented condiments from scratch, which was fun.
While the fermentation experiment is still very much on-going, I figured, I’d share a few photos of things I’ve made so far, employing the wonder and magic of fermentation.
Fermentation is no science, precision is needed only if decide to can your vegetables, in which case you’d have to sacrifice the live-enzyme action. Other than that, it’s wide open in terms of what and how much you can pickle/ferment. Using very basic principles, you can find what tastes best to you.
Above are the three condiments we’ve made at home so far. Ketchup is extremely easy and inexpensive to make. We whipped it up in 5 minutes, my five-year-old helping me whisk it all together.
Mayonnaise is a tiny bit more time consuming (we are talking 10 minutes, not 5), but again, nothing complicated.
Horseradish sauce requires swimming goggles along with a grater, or a heavy-artillery of a blender with lid, so that you don’t cry in a process of making it, as horseradish root is very pungent and spicy. Also, takes 5 minutes all in all to put together if you have a blender.
Pickling is an awesome way to get rid of your gardening success evidence — those over-producing vegetables that you are sick and tired of already. The photo below is a great example of us hiding the summer squash evidence. It pickles just like cucumbers — quickly and deliciously.
Have a few vegetables that are slightly wilted, a bit dehydrated or past their prime? Pickle them! They will taste great and will finish wilting in a process. Below are two heads of lettuces that we haven’t used up. I removed the obviously bad leaves and pickled the rest. It also works beautifully with oldish bell peppers (you can roast them before pickling), dehydrated cherry tomatoes, celery, etc…
Another overage in my garden — cucumbers. One day I just had way too many of them, and in the jar they go. Four days later I simply removed the dill clump from the top of the jar, and put the jar in the fridge. Wildly popular in my house.
Guess what else can basic fermentation/pickling do for you? You can make healthful soda and proudly hand it to your kids without fear. You basically ferment any kind of juicy fruit for a few days with some milk whey to give it some good bacteria boost. Once it gets bubbly, strain, bottle, hold for 24-48 hours at room temp to induce carbonation and refrigerate. Not only is it tasty and free of chemicals, but rest assured, it will deliver a very hefty dose of nutrients, readily available for absorption, thanks to fermentation process.