I don’t know what it is with all the food allergies and other food-related issues lately, but I sure do see a lot of it–especially in young people. It seems like every time I am in the Granary Food Coop lately, we have a new customer seeking out special diet foods for themselves or their children.
I’m no doctor or dietician, but I have to wonder about the cumulative effects of all the additives, preservatives, chemicals, and toxins in our food and in our environment.
I have a strong belief that the constant barrage of crap we’ve put into our food supply and into the environment we are a part of is backing up on us–and especially our kids–and that has a lot to do with why we’re suddenly such a allergy-ridden, freaked-out, and generally sickly population.
But this post isn’t to argue about that. This post is to talk about a way to make something tasty, wholesome, and health-supporting.
In almost all cultures, there is a tradition of fermenting whole, fresh foods to increase their storage life and digestibility. Heck, fermentation IS culture–the culture of friendly bacteria and enzymes. Wild, huh? They say that small servings of live fermented foods (as opposed to fermented, then cooked/pasteurized) support immunity, too. Did I mention they taste good?
And fermentation is really easy. As the label on my Lismore Colony sauerkraut says, all it takes is “cabbage, water, salt, and patience.”
Today, I didn’t have cabbage, but I did have a few turnips, a bunch of carrots, and a few sunchokes. I also had garlic, green onions, dried hot peppers, and a nub of fresh ginger. And I had a strong desire to make a batch of kimchi after H and I slammed through the last of this deliciousness I picked up a few weeks ago at the Bluff Country Coop in Winona:
I also have Sandor Ellix Katz’s book, Wild Fermentation, on my shelf. And that was pretty much all I needed except for some salt. And some patience.
I sliced the turnips, carrots, and sunchokes thinly and put them in a brine of 4 cups water and 4TB salt, then weighted them down under the brine for a couple of hours while I worked on other things. After the veggies were softened, I drained off the brine and rinsed the veggies with cold water (they were REALLY salty).
Then I mixed the brined veggies with a paste of smashed and chopped garlic (4 cloves), grated ginger (a couple of tablespoons), a small bundle of chopped green onions, and some mortar-and-pestled dried chili peppers.
The whole mess of it is now pressed into a wide mouth quart jar–pushed down so the liquid left in the veggies rose over the top (and you can add a little of the reserved brine back if needed) and weighted with another jar.
After snapping this last image, I covered the preparation with a towel to keep out dust and floating animal fur. I keep wishing I’d started this ferment a week ago, so I could be eating it instead of just looking at it.
Now–what was that last ingredient I needed?