Tag Archives | fermentation

Cookbooks: Fiery Ferments

When it comes to cultured pickles and preserved, Fermented Vegetables by Kristen and Christopher Shockey is one of my most-referenced cookbooks. I take a peek at it any time I want guidance on how to put together a new-to-me a batch of fermented veg, and my beloved fermented dilly bean recipe is simply a scaled down version of theirs.

Their second book, called Fiery Ferments, was released a couple weeks ago and it is just as good and useful as their first volume. It opens with an introduction to basic vegetable fermentation and includes a really useful discussion of the many airlocks and fermentation accessories that are out there (as well as advice on how to ferment without investing in any gear beyond a jar and a ziptop bag).

From there, the book shifts to explaining the skills necessary to make the recipes in the book. You get step-by-step guide to building a basic pepper mash, brine-based sauces and pickles, pastes and mustards, and kimchis, relishes, and salads. For those of you looking to build your confidence in these techniques, this part of the book is worth the price of admission alone.

Then, because Fiery Ferments is focused on building pickles, sauces, and condiments that walk on the spicy side, you’ll find an in-depth section on the ingredients that bring the heat. Ginger, galangal, and turmeric get equal billing with peppercorns and chiles.

Then we get to the recipes. They are small batch (smaller than the recipes in Fermented Vegetables, which I appreciate), varied in flavor and construction, and are illustrated with glorious, appealing pictures. Best of all, in addition to lots of ferments, they also included a handful of recipes designed to help you make good use of the things you’ve made (those fermented jalapeno poppers above look darn tasty).

Thanks to the folks at Storey, I have a copy of this book to give away. Follow the instructions below to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your fermented food to eat, drink, or share.
  2. Comments will close at 12 noon eastern time on Sunday, June 19, 2017. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog later that day.
  3. Giveaway open to US residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Storey sent me sent me a review copy of this book and is providing the giveaway unit, both at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Giveaway: The Art of Aperitivo Set from reCAP Mason Jars

Celebrate the goodness of cocktails, ferments, and life with The Art of Aperitivo Gift Set from reCAP Mason Jars!

art-of-aperitivo-box

I first discovered reCAP Mason Jars back in late 2011, when they were running the Kickstarter for their original easy open, spouted lid. In the years since they introduced that original reCAP lid, they’ve continually expanded their line of lids and adaptors so that jars of all shapes and sizes can become even more useful in and around your home. I’m always excited to see what they’ll do next!

interior-of-art-of-aperitivo

The latest item in their line of jar-centric goodies is The Art of Aperitivo: Italian Happy Hour Gift Set. This highly giftable box comes filled with jars, lids, a waterless airlock, and other goodies to help you treat your friends and family to homemade cocktails and fermented nibbles. It’s the perfect way to lift spirits and brighten the dark nights of winter.

jars-from-art-of-aperitivo

The three jars that come with the set are from Italian glass maker Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni line. You’ll get a wide mouth 51 ounce jar, a regular mouth 17 ounce jar, and a regular mouth 10 ounce jar. They come with two original reCAP lids and the newer reCAP FLIP lid so that you can easily access whatever you choose to stash in the jars.

flip-tops-from-art-of-aperitivo

You’l also find a waterless airlock that fits perfectly into the open spout of the reCAP lid. This allows you to transform any jar into a fermentation crock. Use it to make a batch of Jar-diniera, a recipe that’s featured into the handy booklet that comes with the kit.

other-art-of-aperitivo-materials

The Art of Aperitivo set would make a great gift for anyone who likes to make cocktails, serve up fermented foods, and have their friends over to enjoy them both! I have one of these handy sets to give away this week. Use the widget below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: reCAP Mason Jar provided the unit you see above at no cost to me and are also providing the giveaway unit. No other payment was provided and all opinions expressed here are entirely mine.

Comments { 150 }

Giveaway: Kefirko and Rocky Mountain Water Kefir Grains from Masontops

Looking to get started making your own fizzy, probiotic beverages at home? Try starting with water kefir, using the Kefirko and grains from Rocky Mountain Kefir. They make it super easy!

rocky-mountain-kefir-grains

I was first introduced to water kefir three or four years ago, at one of our Philly Food Swaps. One of my fellow swappers included several sets of grains in their collection of swappable goods. She told me they were easy to use and produced a fizzy, pro-biotic beverage that she liked better than kombucha. At the end of the night, one of those jars of water kefir grains went home with me.

top-of-kefirko

I’d like to tell you that I still have grains from that food swap, but sadly, that would be false. I did end up making my own water kefir for a period of months after that initial introduction and liked it very much. Sadly, they ended up getting shoved to the back of the fridge and then thrown out during a no-holds-barred cleaning spree.

side-of-kefirko

Happily, thanks to my friends at Masontops, I’m back making my own water kefir and am delighted with it once again. Several weeks ago, they sent me a set of their Rocky Mountain Water Kefir grains. Using my trusty Kefirko (Masontops sells this useful devise, though I bought mine during the Kefirko Kickstarter nearly two years ago), it is incredibly easy to hydrate dried water kefir grains and then keep them happy and productive.

supplies-for-starting-water-kefir-in-kefirko

In order to start making water kefir, you need a set of grains, four cups of filtered water, 1/4 cup of sugar, and a vessel like a Kefirko in which to combine them all (if you don’t have a Kefirko, a quart-sized mason jar will also work).

dry-rocky-mountain-kefir-grains

First, you dissolve the sugar into the water. You can do this by heating it and then bringing it back down to room temperature. Or a couple hours before you want to start your kefir, add the sugar to the water and stir it vigorously. Come back and give it a good stir every half hour or so. The sugar will eventually dissolve into the water.

soaking-rocky-mountain-kefir-grains

Put the dried water kefir grains into the bottom of your vessel and add the sugar water. If you’re using a Kefirko, screw the lid down loosely, so that there’s still a bit of air flow. If you’re using a mason jar, put a small kitchen towel, paper towel, or coffee filter on top of the jar and use a rubber band to keep it in place.

Let the grains spend three or four days rehydrating before you try to use them.

rocky-mountain-kefir-grains-in-kefirko

Once the grains are nice and plump, they are ready to use. Drain off the initial liquid (this is super easy using a Kefirko. If you don’t have one, make sure to use a nylon mesh strainer rather than a metal one, as the grains aren’t fans of metal). Then mix up another batch of sugar water and add it to the grains.

draining-rocky-mountain-kefir-grains

I typically let my batches of water kefir ferment for two days (though I let it go for a little less during really hot weather) before straining the grains and starting another batch. Sometimes I drink it plain and chilled for a light, fizzy pro-biotic drink (and despite what you might think, it’s not super sweet. The sugar serves as a food source for the grains that is transformed into the bright, tangy element in the water).

Other times, I do a second ferment, in which I combine the water kefir with chopped fruit, or even a bit of plain fruit juice. Either way, it’s refreshing and good for the gut!

plump-drained-grains

This week, thanks to my friends at Masontops, I’m giving away a Kefirko Home Kefir Making Kit along with a set of Rocky Mountain Kefir Water Kefir Grains. Use the widget below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Comments { 114 }

The Agricola Cookbook and a Kimchi Recipe

finished kimchi - Food in Jars

I am a relative newcomer to kimchi. It wasn’t part of my family’s pickle culture (we leaned Jewish and Japanese) when I was growing up and I don’t think I had even so much as a taste of it until college. After that first bite, spent about a decade feeling kimchi-neutral. I’d eat a bite or two at Korean restaurants, but it wasn’t something I sought out.

Agricola - Food in Jars

Then something shifted. I became someone who always had a jar of kimchi (whether homemade or store bought) in the fridge. These days, I eat it with eggs, layered into quesadillas, on top of avocado toast, or even just out of the jar when nothing else appeals. It is one of my favorite ways to add flavor and texture to just about everything.

kimchi recipe - Food in Jars

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different recipes for kimchi, and oddly, the proportions for my favorite version don’t come from a specialized fermentation book or one devoted to Korean cuisine. Instead, the foundational recipe comes from the Agricola Cookbook, a book born from a farm and restaurant in the Princeton, NJ area.

napa cabbage - Food in Jars

The essentials of basic kimchi (and what I mean by basic is that this is the kimchi most commonly found in the US) are the same. They are napa cabbage, daikon, green onion, garlic, ginger, salt, and chile powder. Some recipes have you add rice flour (for thickening the spice paste), shrimp paste or fish sauce (to increase the funky umami), apple or asian pear (for sweetness), or carrot (for more crunch and color).

salted napa cabbage - Food in Jars

For my uses, I find that the simpler approach is best. The most exotic ingredient you’ll find in my batch is the Korean chili powder called gochugaru that gives kimchi its trademark color and spice. You can get it at most large Asian grocery stores, though I typically buy it a pound at a time from Amazon.

kimchi close - Food in Jars

The process takes about a week. I start by salting the cabbage and letting it rest overnight. The next day, I rinse and drain it, add the julienned daikon (made using one of these peelers), and lengths of green onion. I make a spice paste with garlic, ginger, and sugar, add the gochugaru and then rub it into the vegetables. Then I pack it into a jar or crock where it can ferment for five or six days. When it’s done, I transfer it into a jar for the fridge and start eating down the batch. Easy and delicious.

I’ll be taking some of this kimchi with me to the next Philly Food Swap. It’s on Monday, November 9 and there are still spots available, if you want to join us!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 22 }

Pickle Pipe Waterless Fermentation System Launches Today!

pickle pipe

Remember on Monday when I hinted that the folks at Masontop were about to launch a really awesome new fermentation product? Well, today’s the day. May I introduce you to the Pickle Pipe.

This little device is a waterless silicone airlock designed to fit onto a wide mouth mason jar. All you do is fill up your jar, set the Pickle Pipe on top and fix it in place with a regular old band. The valve has a small slit in it that allows the CO2 to escape from the jar, without allowing any oxygen back in.

pickle pipe side

I’ve used the Pickle Pipe on several recent ferments and I’ve been really impressed with its performance. I also really appreciate the fact that it’s just one piece (I’m always misplacing pieces of multi-part airlocks).

To learn more about the Pickle Pipe and to reserve a few for yourself, check out their Kickstarter.

Disclosure: Masontops is a Food in Jars sponsor and gave me one of their Pickle Pipes a few months ago so that I could play with it. However, I do mean every word of what I said here. 

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Kickstarter campaigns, there are two really awesome cookbook projects currently being crowdfunded that you might be interested in. Hank Shaw’s Buck, Buck, Moose and Kathy Strahs The 8×8 Cookbook.

Comments { 15 }

Tiny White Turnips, Fermented

baby white turnips

The Saturday before last, I didn’t manage to get over to the farmers market until 20 minutes before closing. By that point, the pickings were very slim. I had been hoping for some kale, or a head of frost-sweetened cabbage, but the only produce on offer was a few crates of apples, fresh mushrooms hauled in from Kennett Square (the self-proclaimed mushroom capital of the world), and a single pint of tiny, white turnips without their greens.

I had stocked up on apples the previous week and still had plenty left. While I love mushrooms, Scott is entirely turned off by their texture, and so I buy them rarely. But the turnips, they gave me plenty of ideas and so I traded a couple crinkled singles for that lonely pint. I’d forgotten to bring any small produce bags, and so the vendor decanted them into the only bag she had, an enormous plastic shopper, best suited for carrying two pillows or a down comforter.

In the past, I have happily made quick vinegar pickles from little turnips such as these (in fact, there a recipe for exactly that in Preserving by the Pint). However, I’ve been feeling increasingly excited about fermented lately (and by lately, I mean the last six or so months), and so wanted to treat these little guys to a salt brine process.

fermenting white turnips

I spent a meditative 15 minutes at the sink, rinsing off the dirt and trimming away the skinny roots and the remains of the leaves. It was quick, satisfying work and reminded me of why I like little batches so much. You can work slowly and carefully, and still have the bottom of the colander appear in no time flat. If I’d bought any more turnips, I might have started to resent them before I came to the end of the prep. And nothing spoils my enjoyment of a preserve faster than resentment.

The washed, trimmed, and quartered turnips went into a squeaky clean pint and a half jar. I covered them with salt brine (made earlier in the day by dissolving 1 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt in two cups of boiling water and then letting it cool to room temperature). Then I sat a quarter pint jar in on top of the veg and filled it up with brine, so that it could serve as a weight and keep the turnips fully submerged.

I’ll confess right now that these pickles aren’t quite done yet. The turnips spent a few days in the fridge between the time I brought them home and the moment I was able to get them into the brine. But I know that in another day or two, they will be crunchy, tangy, and perfect eaten on avocado toast, or alongside roasted root vegetables (it’s always nice to have a crisp, punchy counterpoint to sweet, soft, warm foods).

What are you bringing home from the farmers market these days?

Continue Reading →

Comments { 8 }