Over the last few days something of a bubbling, exhilarating and wonderful revolution has taken place in our kitchen. Unfamiliar smells, sounds and tactile experiences can now be found in every nook and cranny.
This year our garden has really produced a vast array of fruits and vegetables. We are incredibly grateful for all the cabbage, apples, berries, chard, beans, plums; the list can go on and on…
A lot of things are ready for harvesting at the moment and we are using our dehydrator almost nonstop.
For years we had been thinking about fermentation in all its different forms, but for one reason or another we have never got around to trying it out, apart from baking sourdough bread. This year though, with an absolute abundance of fruits and vegetables, the time had definitely come to dabble into the ancient art of transforming foods with the help of live cultures.
We thought it would be fun to make some apple cider from our own apples and collected two colanders of mixed varieties. Since we do not own an apple press we just cored them and whizzed them up in the liquidiser, with just enough water to make it workable. The next step included squeezing them through a cheese cloth to end up with a cloudy, natural apple juice, perfect as a starting point for our cider. It is now bubbling away happily next to our second fermentation experiment, the fruit mead.
Knitted cosies to keep the brews at an even temperature!
We wanted to make some mead in honour of our Viking ancestry and thought a few raspberries from the garden would be a nice addition. For the water and honey base we used a lovely organic wild forest honey variety from Zambia.
It is absolutely fascinating to see how the cider and the fruit mead have become alive, we added an envelope of wine yeast to each brew and it took only a couple of hours for the process to start. We can now hardly contain our excitement!
The cabbage and kale was next on the list of candidates for fermenting and we started some lovely mixed sauerkraut with a bit of garlic thrown in for good measure and added nutrition. Another variant was soon to follow with a mix of red cabbage and runner-beans, finely sliced.
It is good to use your hands for squeezing and macerating the vegetables and all the collected juice is later used as brine for the fermentation process.
Today we have continued our endeavours and started on a batch of kimchi, a Korean fermented dish based traditionally on Chinese cabbage, oriental radishes, onions, ginger and chillies. There are many different versions of kimchi and we decided to add some chard, kale and pak-choi to ours as we could not find any Chinese cabbage to buy. It also seems a bit wasteful not to use what we already had on hand from the garden. We are soaking the vegetables in brine overnight and tomorrow we will mix them up with the minced onion, garlic, ginger, fish sauce and chillies to hopefully create some mind blowing kimchi in the next week or so.
We have also decided to start fermenting some rice and lentils to make dosas, traditional South Indian fried breads or pancakes and started a ginger bug, the starter made from ginger, water and sugar that will hopefully result in some delicious ginger beer in a couple of weeks.
If all of the above was not enough we have gone and ordered a kombucha SCOBY; a “Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.”
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea, water and sugar. The SCOBY transforms the sugar into acids and the resulting drink is full of health benefits.
If you feel inspired by all this we recommend you get some books on the subject and dive into the deep end. We must admit that we have fallen fast and deep in love with the whole process as you can probably decipher from the above ramblings. Our favorite author on the subject is the wonderful and inspiring Sandor Katz.
A whole world of future fermentation project awaits us and we do feel very happy to have started on this journey.