Hanging out with Mark and Xeni has led to the development of a 'fermenting shelf' in my pantry.
It all started for me with Xeni recommending a Picklemeister jar for fermenting things in. A few totally failed experiments later, and then some good sauerkraut and I was hooked. A week or so ago, Mark instagrammed a photo of some kraut he'd just put up and I was left staring at huge pile of vegetables from my CSA. I decided to start fermenting.
I've got some plain — just the cabbage — sauerkraut going, intending to try to make a sauerkraut soup with it, and I've started some other more flavorful jars. I still use Xeni's Picklemeister but for smaller, widely varied batches I've just been using wide-mouth Ball Jars. The one I'm most excited about is full of jalapeño, cilantro, carrot kraut.
- 1 medium green cabbage
- 4 medium jalapeño peppers
- A couple carrots
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 1 Tbs Kosher or Sea Salt, not iodized
- Maybe some water and some more salt
- 1 wide-mouth quart Ball Jar
Wash your hands.
Rinse the cabbage. Remove the other 2-3 leaves from the cabbage whole, set aside. Shred the cabbage. I'm from southern California and no one needs to tell me how to shred, but if you need help, Boing Boing never seeks to disappoint. Set the shredded cabbage into a large bowl.
Slice the jalapeños into rounds. You can cut them into strips, instead of rounds, facilitating the removal of seeds and membranes if you lack the chutzpah to just put them in the bowl. Similarly cut the carrots, and put them in the bowl. I feel there is something wrong with cutting the peppers into strips, and the carrots into rounds, however. Stay consistent with shape! Do not mess with my OCD!
Sprinkle slightly less than 1 Tbs of coarse salt over the mix. Toss the mix and salt around a bit.
Rinse, or wash your hands.
Smash the cut veggies together with your hands repeatedly. Treat the assortment of plant matter as if it were someone you wanted to teach a lesson to, but not permanently disfigure or damage. Smash! Smash! Smash! After 7-10 minutes of free therapy, you should have a soggy pile of leaves 'n stuff, with a good amount of salty plant juice at the bottom of your bowl. Get your Ball Jar.
I wash mine on the hot/sterilize cycle in my dishwasher, and then use them. You want the jars to be clean. Freshly washing them out with hot, soapy water and rinsing will likely be just fine. I do not worry about any sort of fermentation lock, but there are some great options for Ball jars. Pack the vegetable matter into the jar. When you reach the bottom of the shoulder of the jar, stop and smash it all down one more time so you've got 1/2 cm of space or so below the shoulder of the jar. You should have left over veggie mix. I find that making a little extra ensures I've got enough brine to cover. Pour the brine over the cabbage leaves, and tap the jar a few times to get all the air bubbles out/voids filled with brine.
Trim one of the reserved cabbage leaves, and use it to cover the smashed vegetable mix, pushing it down into the brine. The idea is to use the cabbage leaf to hold the mix all under the brine. Once thats in place, I take a paper towel and screw the outside of the Ball jar lid down over it. The paper towel keeps dust and bugs out, while letting the fermenting mass off gas.
Should you not have enough brine just mix 1 tsp of salt with 1 cup of water. It'll be MORE than plenty. Idea, however, is not to add water without keeping the salinity up. The saline water helps keep bad bacterias and yeasts from taking over the fermentation.
Wait 7-10 days and taste it. If you obsessively check your fermenting kraut, like I do, you can mash it down to make sure all the vegetable matter is submerged in brine, stuff that pokes out can encourage bad bacterial growth. Likely, it'll all be fine. When fermenting always go with the old "Relax, have a home-brew" approach.
I love fermented carrots, and I think adding the jalapeños and cilantro will give them a heck of a punch.