So, What are You Fermenting???

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by pete, Sep 15, 2014.

  1. genemachine

    genemachine

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    Ain't giving a rat's arse for health  - I am in it for the taste:)
     
  2. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Oh, Pete no!!!! I'm devastated.... oy, gevalt. 

    In my family, it was my grandfather who was in charge of putting up the pickles, according to my mom (who taught me the recipe). Pickling cukes whole or cut to fit the jar; kosher salt; pickling spice with the chilis fished out (no heat for my little Russian baubie!), several garlic cloves and plenty of stalks and tops of fresh dill,  cold water, another hit of kosher salt and one pea-sized chunk of alum at the end. Top off with cold water to cover the contents and close the jar.  We'd set them cap side down next to the basement drain, just in case they leaked or burst, but I don't ever recall that happening. Every couple of days one of us would go down and gently swish the jars back and forth a few times to mix the brine. After a couple of  weeks we'd put them in the fridge. The brine would get cloudy. We liked them fully sour, no half-dills for our family. We also used green tomatoes, being sure there was not a hint of blush on them.

    I made pickles several times myself but not for a long time. You're all making me hungry! Really, though, the middle eastern style pickles I get at the grocery store are really, really good too, and I love the pickled turnips a lot as well. 
     
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  3. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Mezz, I am so sorry to disappoint you!!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif

    I started "hedging" my bets, with the vinegar, a few years ago.  I had been making fermented pickles just fine before then, but then I ran into a stretch where they kept getting infected with something and spoiling.  I wasn't doing anything different so not sure why it was happening.  I added a bit of vinegar to the brine and never had the problem again.  Probably should drop it, but I like the way my pickles taste so why change a good thing.

    Wyandotte-lots of people out there have never had true fermented pickles and for them they don't taste quite right.  It's all in how you were brought up.  I love my fermented sour pickles but I'm also a huge fan of bread and butter pickles which requires both vinegar and sugar.  I don't see one method of pickling as better than another.  I enjoy them both!!
     
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  4. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    Yes, food should always taste good.  But on the topic of fermentation, it's not either/or.  The product can taste good and be healthful, too. 
     
  5. genemachine

    genemachine

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    Sure thing - I do not doubt the health benefits - it's just not my primary interest. But if you can get good taste *and* good health out of it - even better :)
     
  6. teamfat

    teamfat

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    I've heard vinegar is good for you.

    mjb.
     
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  7. wyandotte

    wyandotte

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    Yes, the right type of vinegar is a good medicine if not taken in too large a qty.  I am not so sure about the cheap, regular commercial vinegar, though.  You would have to get the opinion of those who may know about these things, i.e., practitioners of nondrug medicine, etc. 

    In  the book Chinese System of Food Cures, they discuss vinegar at some length and its various uses (how the vinegar is combined with other substances) in regaining health.  One story:

    Once, a Chinese food factory reported an epidemic of influenza.  All workers in the factory were stricken except the workers in the vinegar division; none of them became ill.  And other similar stories.

    I think that vinegar of one sort or another has a longish history of medical use in various cultures.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/

    More than you wanted to know!  All you said was "I've heard vinegar is good for you." LOL
     
  8. maryb

    maryb

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    Unfiltered apple cider vinegar that still has the "mother" in it is very healthy. The lacto bacteria culture is still alive and is supposed to be like taking probiotics.
     
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  9. teamfat

    teamfat

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    Speaking of apples and fermentation, I may have told this tale before, but that never stops me.

    Many years ago we lived in South Bend, Indiana, but the grandparent's farm was in Dowagiac, Michigan.  We'd frequently make weekend trips up there. When it was apple season my dad would stop at this one orchard and get several jugs of unfiltered, fresh pressed cider. Good stuff. One jug was kept in the kitchen, the rest went down to the basement fridge.  Dad might bring up a second jug if the first went quickly. But more likely they stayed down there. He'd go down and check on them once in a while, never figured out what the deal was, until some years later. He was making hard cider!

    Wonder how it compared to, say, Strongbow?

    mjb.
     
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  10. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    When I read about making sauerkraut, the directions note that by the time the cabbage is layered in the crock with salt, a fair amount of liquid will have accumulated by weeping out of the cabbage and says more brine can be added if needed. 

         I never get much liquid and always have to top it off. Adding more brine is no big deal and the sauerkraut always comes out fine. I just don't understand why I'm not getting much liquid in the beginning. 
     
  11. chef gilbert

    chef gilbert

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    I don't remember adding any liquid. Do you press down with a weight so that all is covered? I believe that where the trick is...
     
  12. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Yes. I shred the cabbage, layer it with salt, mashing each layer down, then add the crock weights. There is never enough liquid to cover the cabbage. I'm sure I add enough salt but always need to add more brine so the cabbage is covered. 
     
  13. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Chefwriter, you may be adding too much cabbage before you start mashing.  I usually do my "mashing" in a large bowl, mashing about 1-2 pounds of shredded cabbage,, with salt, at a time until it starts to go limp.  I then tightly pack it into my crock and do the next batch, continuing on until I am done.  I also always make sauerkraut from locally grown cabbage as I find that, often, store bought cabbage has been sitting around awhile and usually is lacking in that extra moisture.  Doing it this way, by the time I am done there is usually enough brine to cover the cabbage by quite a bit, and usually with 1-2 hours after plenty of brine has developed.  Occasionally, I have had to add extra brine, and I do so if I am going on vacation while my cabbage is fermenting, just as an extra precaution, but the vast majority of time I don't need it.  The key is in making sure that you have beaten the crap out of your cabbage!!!!
     
  14. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Thanks, Pete. It's always the simplest things that throw a recipe off. I will now amend my previous statement to say that I lightly pounded my cabbage down.  Bashing the hell out of will commence in the morning. I am using fresh, local cabbage this year. I may have to go back to the farm market to pick up a few more heads as I still have plenty of room in the fermenting pot. 
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014
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  15. teamfat

    teamfat

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    I can't believe I have not done this before. For years, it has been just quick pickles.  Thanks to this thread, I tried something new to me.


    No vinegar, just salt, water, dill, garlic and black peppercorns. Started about a week ago, into the fridge last night, first taste tonight.

    That is THE BEST pickle I have ever eaten.
     
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  16. eastshores

    eastshores

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  17. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @teamfat  you inspired me to try pickles I have never made them. Looks great.
     
  18. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    While I definitely steered this discussion towards fermenting vegetables as a way to "pickle" them, I'm surprised the title of the thread didn't open the door to anyone making beer or wine, or other fermented, adult beverages.  Anyone making anything fun?
     
  19. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    @teamfat, give them another few days to 1 week in the fridge.  Although chilling has slowed the fermentation to a crawl, I find that over the course of the first week being chilled the flavors really mature and meld.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014
  20. teamfat

    teamfat

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    I was a homebrewer for over 20 years. When I first started back in 1984, I think it was, the selection of readily available beers was pretty bleak. If you wanted a good IPA, or red ale or whatever you had to make it yourself. At one point we were putting out something like 40 - 50 gallons a month. A lot of the fun was from the social aspect of brew nights.

    Often I think about starting up the brewery again, we'll see if it ever happens.

    And the most difficult part of fermenting pickles is the waiting!

    mjb.