Archive for the ‘Fermenting’ Category

Adventures in Canning: How to Cure Olives

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Ever since we brought in our line of fermenting crocks, we’ve been absolutely obsessing over curing our own olives.  Why? Because olives are delicious and versatile. They’re great on cheese plates, amazing in cocktails, and SO good on their own as a snack.  Plus, they’re high in antioxidants and vitamin E. Can’t hurt, right? So when olives finally came into season here, we bought ourselves a ton of raw, uncured olives and got to experimenting.

Here’s a little thing about olives: when they’re uncured, they don’t taste good at all. In fact, they taste downright nasty. I think that cured olives had to be born out of desperation, since no one in their right mind would bite into and uncured olive and go, “Oh hey, let’s eat this.”  They’re bitter.  Another thing about olives: green and black olives can come from the same plant.  The green olives are unripe and the black olives are ripe. As you can see, we used green olives in our experiment, and we took a slightly unorthodox approach – we cured the olives like we’ve cured cabbage for sauerkraut in the past.  Put it in a crock packed with salt and seasoning and let it lacto-ferment. It seemed like a logical choice – less labor intensive than brine curing and less potential for chemical burns than lye curing. Ready for the details? Let’s learn how to cure olives.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • A fermenting crock or large, covered food-safe container
  • Sharp knife

Ingredients (this recipe can be multiplied as needed):

  • 5 lbs olives
  • 1 lb salt
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • zest of one orange
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • filtered water, as needed
Curing Olives in Brine

Items Shown: Fermenting Crock

Instructions

  1. Prep your olives. Pit them or cut a slit in the side of each to help them absorb the brine. Some recipes even suggest hitting them with a hammer. However you break them up, make sure you drop them right in a container of water or the spot that’s cut will oxidize, as some of ours did in the photo. This isn’t a bad thing flavorwise, but it’s not pretty.
  2. Prep your seasoning. Crush the peppercorns and garlic with a mortar and pestle or the back of a frying pan (put them in a bag first to keep them from scattering all over your kitchen.) Zest your orange in large strips using a peeler. If you’re not into the garlic/orange/rosemary thing, use whatever spices you like. Pickling spices work beautifully. So does lemon zest, thyme, and pink peppercorns. Really any mixture of hearty herbs (read: not basil or mint) works well here.)
  3. Toss your seasonings in with your salt. Get your hands in there and really rub everything together. You’ll have a crazy aromatic salt mixture, and you’ll find yourself very aware of any little cuts, nicks or scrapes on your hands. They’ll seriously burn.
  4. Add some of the salt mixture to the bottom of your crock and begin packing in the olives as tightly as possible. Once you’ve packed in about 1/4 of the olives, sprinkle about 1/4 of the remaining salt mixture. Repeat until all the olives and salt are in the crock.
  5. Pop the stones on top of your olives. Fill the water well seal and leave them alone, in a cool place, for a day. After 24 hours, check to see how much brine they’ve made (by naturally releasing juice.)  If the brine is covering the olives, leave them alone. If not, and it probably won’t be quite there, add filtered water until it covers the olives and the stones by at least a couple inches.
  6. Leave your crock in a cool dark place where it can sit for a couple of months. That’s right, you’re in it for the long haul.  Check the brine level every week to make sure they’re still covered. After about 3 weeks, open the crock, taste the olives (chances are they’ll still be bitter.)  If they’re not to your liking yet, simply check the water level on your olives to keep the fruit and the stones covered, and leave them alone. Check every week or so. Ours have been in the crock about 8 weeks and they’re FINALLY getting good!

  7. Once you’re happy with the way the olives taste, it’s time to transfer them into canning jars. You could store them for up to a year in their brine in a cool dark place. You can also can them in jars with fresh brine (1/4 cup salt to every quart of water.)  If you’re doing that, make sure to leave about an inch of head room in the jars for any gas that may try to escape.  My favorite way to store fresh cured olives is to pack them into large jars and submerge them in hot, fresh olive oil. I use lower quality olive oil for this, heat it, and pour it straight on top of the olives, leaving about an inch of headroom. The olives, which wrinkle slightly during the curing process seem to plump back up, and at the end of the day I also have this amazingly flavored olive oil to use. It’s great in a salad dressing or as a dip for bread. I also love it in my pesto.  Once these olives have cooled, I either store them in a cool, dark place for up to a month or my fridge. Or I give them as gifts.
How to Make Olives

A Jar of Cured Olives!

Well, there you have it. You’ve learned how to cure olives. Like so many things, it’s more time consuming than it is difficult. But the finished product is SO worth it!  Plus, you can actually say you made them yourself. Who makes their own olives, seriously?

Simple Sauerkraut Recipe – Just in Time for Oktoberfest!

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

So, you know we’ve got these fermenting crocks, and you know we think they’re awesome. You can see them in action in our kimchi and our pickles post. Of course, what good is a truckload of fermentation crocks without a killer sauerkraut recipe. Bonus: If you start your kraut now, you’ll have a fresh batch of sauerkraut for Oktoberfest. Because what’s beer and brats without sauerkraut?

Before we start, let’s break it down: What is sauerkraut and how do you make sauerkraut that tastes awesome? Simply put, sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Now, I know you’re thinking “eeew, fermented food is gross,” but you would be wrong. Other fermented foods that you probably know are: Kimchi, Pickles, Sourdough, Cheese, Coffee, Chocolate, Yogurt, Beer, Wine, Vinegar, and Miso. I’ve yet to meet a single person who doesn’t like at least one of those things. So get ready to be a home-fermenting convert.

Supplies You’ll need:

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 2 heads of cabbage – Ideally organic – sometimes pesticides impede bacterial growth. Great for farmers, terrible for fermenting.
  • 3 tablespoons seas salt

Seriously. That’s it. All that punchy, funky flavor comes from the fermenting process. Here’s how to make sauerkraut in just a few simple steps. It really is a basic sauerkraut recipe.

  1. Shred or finely slice your cabbage. You can see in our photos that we did a coarser shred, but the finer the shred, the quicker to ferment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl (or the crock itself)  toss the salt with the cabbage, kneading the salt into cabbage. Note: If you have cuts on your hands, this will sting. I learned the hard way.
  3. Once the cabbage has been thoroughly massaged and starts releasing liquid, pack it tightly into a crock. Use a plate, the stones, or a kraut pounder to pack it down.
  4. Once all of your cabbage is packed into the crock, pour any liquid remaining in the bowl into the crock.  The crock should have released a more liquid during the packing process and be submerged or close to submerged in liquid.
  5. Put weights on the cabbage.  The stone weights should be submerged in liquid by about an inch. If they’re not, mix a cup of water with a tablespoon of sea salt and pour enough to cover the weights.
  6. Once your weights are submerged and your massaged, salt-scrubbed cabbage (it’s like a veggie spa day) is packed in place and weighted, pop a lid on that crock.
  7. If you’re using a Crock with a water well seal (recommended), fill the water well. If you’re using a pickle pot or storage canister style crock, just pop the lid on. If you’re using an open crock, cover the opening in a couple layers of cheesecloth.***At this point, the hard part is done. Promise***

  8. Move the crock to a cool shady place and leave it alone.
  9. At this point, your only job is checking every few days to make sure the kraut is still submerged. If not, repeat step 5. as needed.
  10. It can take between a month and 6 months for your kraut to ferment. I can’t imagine what 6-month fermented sauerkraut tastes like. Our Sauerkraut recipe was pretty perfect after 1 month.
  11. Once you hit about 4 weeks, start tasting your sauerkraut every 3 or 4 days. I like mine crisper, so 4 weeks was perfect, but the longer you keep going the softer and more pungent your kraut will become.

A few notes:  Sometimes you’ll see a little scum floating on your brine. Simply skim it off with a slotted spoon. Once your sauerkraut is done, there are a few ways to preserve it. Either pack it into kilner jars and keep in the fridge for up to a year or you can go about actually canning sauerkraut. We added 4 cloves of crushed garlic, a teaspoon of ground pepper and a teaspoon of sugar to one of our cans to experiment with flavoring–truly delightful! Try it out if you want some added flavoring.

To can your sauerkraut, simply pack your kraut with brine into clean, sanitized Kilner jars. Leave 1/2 inch at the top of each jar, making sure brine covers the cabbage completely. Measure your head space from the top of the brine.  Once your jars are packed, put the covers on. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and process the jars of sauerkraut for 25 minutes in boiling water (start marking time when the water comes BACK to a boil after adding the jars.)  Remove from heat, allow jars to cool, check seals, and boom! Shelf stable sauerkraut.

See? That simple.

Homemade Kimchi Recipe – How to Use a Fermenting Crock!

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

So a few weeks ago we were experimenting with recipes for Father’s Day. Because really, nothing says “I love you” like a home-cooked meal. Except maybe cake. Cake’s pretty good at saying I love you.  Anyway, we were deep into some recipe development and came across a Korean Barbecue marinade that we quickly became obsessed with (check back next week and we’ll share!)  What goes with Korean Barbecue? Kimchi. What is Kimchi? An awesome fermented cabbage/radish condiment.  What do we sell? Fermenting crocks. BOOM! An idea was born, and suddenly we’re testing out kimchi recipes and a DIY kimchi set to go with it!

Learn how to make homemade kimchi

Our Fermenting crocks are full at the moment (sauerkraut and kombucha) so we pulled out a pickle pot and got to work.  And you know what? For this recipe, a pickle pot is pretty much perfect. The lid is heavy enough that not much of the kimchi’s uniquely funky odor can escape, and the pickle pot is just the right size for this batch.  So get ready – you won’t need a lot of supplies, aside from the ingredients to make truly great kimchi. I promise. If you want to make it super easy, check out our DIY kimchi kit. It has all everything you need – except the ingredients!

Making Kimchi in a clay fermenting crock

Special Equipment

See? Just four things.  Of course, the ingredient list is a hair more involved.  You can find all these ingredients in an Asian market, or most of them in a well-stocked grocery store. If you can’t find that Korean red pepper, consider grinding some moderately hot dried red peppers yourself, or use a little less cayenne pepper. The other weird ingredient on the list is the optional dried shrimp. We find them in the Latin section of our regular grocery store, as well as in our local Asian market.  When you open that dried shrimp, keep in mind. It’s kinda pungent.  We weren’t the hugest fan, but Marlow the cat LOVED it. In fact, we caught her trying to go through our bags for more!

Feed me, minions Cats love dried shrimp. Do you?

Ingredients

  • 1 (2-pound) napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • About 12 cups cold water, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces, use whole thing
  • 1/3 cup Korean red pepper powder
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried salted shrimp, minced (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar

As you see, there are quite a few ingredients in Kimchi.  You can actually quadruple the amount of daikon, eliminate the cabbage and make a really awesome all radish kimchi, which has an awesomely crisp texture to pair with the spicy-pungent flavor.  So let’s get into the instructions – they’re shockingly easy, so don’t be intimidated.

Making Kimchi from Scratch

Instructions:

  1. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end.
  2. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Salting cabbage for kimchi sauerkraut recipe
  3. Add enough cold water to just cover making sure the cabbage is submerged.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap or a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  5. Place a colander in the sink, drain the cabbage, and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.
  6. Combine all remaining ingredients in large bowl.making kimchi wooden bowl
  7.  Add Cabbage and toss with your hands until everything is combined.
  8. Transfer mixture into pickle pot or fermenting crock with lid, packing tightly.
  9. Let sit in cool dark place, for at least 48 hours, opening occasionally to release gases.
  10. Let ferment for at least 5 days before using.
  11. Refrigerate and eat within a month or pack tightly into Kilner jars and process in boiling water for 25 minutes. Use within 6 months.

Homemade Kimchi in Kilner Jars

I didn’t end up canning my Kimchi this time around. I know I can eat it all in less than a month, so I figured, why waste time. But if you’re looking for a fun, super-flavorful condiment to punch up your pantry, considering making and canning your kimchi. Your tastebuds won’t forget it.

Kimchi Serving Suggestions:

Traditionally, Kimchi is served as part of a collection of banchan or tiny plates served alongside a Korean meal, especially at a Korean Restaurant.  Of course eating your Kimchi with some rice and Korean Barbecue (or other Korean food)  is SO not your only option. Check out some other ideas below. For even MORE ideas, check out this Chowhound discussion!

  • Kimchi Fried rice. Great way to use up leftovers, flavor rice, and make yourself one really rib sticking meal. To gild the lily, put an egg on it!
  • Kimchi Omelet.  Kimchi is awesome with scrambled eggs. A kimchi omelet or kimchi scramble make for a really good breakfast when you’re feeling. . . um. . . like you were out too late last night.
  • Add Kimchi to salad for a flavorful punch.  I particularly like it mixed into a salad with cabbage, green onions, steamed peas, and cucumbers.
  • Toss into a basic chicken broth or even ramen.  It’s an easy way to pimp your cup of noodles.
  • It’s Fermented cabbage – treat it like sauerkraut and put it on a hot dog.

Make your Own Kimchi and how to use it

How to Make Pickles: A Tutorial on How To Pickle Like a Pro!

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

make your own fermented pickles


Cucumbers are growing like weeds around here, and our local markets are selling them cheap.  We stocked up on cucumbers just so we could teach you how to pickle them and how to make homemade pickles! We’re nice like that.  This recipe for pickles is an old-fashioned fermented pickle recipe. These delicious pickles take about 10 days to 3 weeks to ferment.  If you start now you’ll be enjoying tangy, crunchy pickles before May! Since they’re the perfect side for burgers at summer barbecues, we suggest making a bunch and canning them so you and your guests can enjoy homemade pickles all summer long. We’ve even put together an awesome DIY Pickle Starter Kit if you want to have everything you need in one place!

Ready? Let’s ferment! It’s more appetizing than it sounds and is the simplest way to learn how to make pickles.

How to can pickles tutorial

Ingredients. – As you’ll see above, it doesn’t take many ingredients to make great pickles. I keep mine pretty simple.  This recipe doubles, triples, or even quadruples nicely.

  • 1 lb of pickling cucumbers, washed
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp pickling spice (optional)
  • 1 head dill (optional)

Equipment

Making Pickles from scratch

Once you’ve gathered your equipment, begin by prepping the cucumbers. To do this, make sure they’re still crisp with no soft spots. Scrub them well, then slice off the blossom end of each cucumber, like you see me doing above. If you’re not sure, it’s the end opposite the stem. You can leave the stem, just snip off a tiny bit of that blossom end. It helps the pickles stay crisp.

how I make pickles

Next, throw some of your salt, any spices you’re using, and about half of the garlic in a clean pickle pot or fermenting crock. You’ll notice I’m using one of our storage crocks in this picture – I wanted to see if it was as good for pickling as it is for storage. And, if you’re wondering, it totally worked!

what is in pickling spice? I don't know.

Once that’s taken care of, add in your cucumbers. Literally, cram as many as you can fit  right on in there. You’ll still have room for the brine and stuff. While you’re at it, add the rest of the garlic as well. Also, if you’re adding dill (that’s how to make dill pickles, folks,) add it now. Once you’ve got all of that in there, it’s time to add the components of the brine: White vinegar and water (or, if you’ve got it, leftover pickle brine and water.) Either works.

How to make pickles, step by stepOnce you’ve added all that brine (I told you there was room,) make sure the cucumbers are covered completely (add more water if they aren’t) and pop a lid on the crock. If you’re using one of our open crocks, cover with a piece of cheesecloth or a muslin square, then top off with a plate to keep it airtight. You’re done for now. Seriously, that easy. Put the whole thing in a place where the temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees and leave it alone.  Every day or two, give it a peek. Skim any mold off the top of the brine (it’ll happen and it’s no big deal) and check that the pickles don’t feel mushy or slimy.  After about 10 days, start checking them for done-ness (they should look translucent all the way through. Cut one open. Taste it. Your homemade pickles are done when you’re happy with them.

Pickles in a Kilner jarOnce your pickles taste to your liking,  keep whatever you want to eat right away in your fridge. If you made a big batch, or if you want to save them for later in the season/give them as gifts, it’s the perfect time to can them.  Just pack the pickles into Kilner jars (our 1 liter jars fit pickles beautifully.)  Top them off with the brine. Pop the seals on the jars, then tighten down the rings until almost tight. Bring a big pot of water to a boil and process the jars in boiling water for 20 minutes. Let ’em cool, check the seals, and BOOM, you’ve got perfectly canned pickles that’ll keep at room temperature for 6 months. Not that they’ll last that long.

Pickling tutorialBoom! Now you know how to make pickles.


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