I’d like to post occasionally on food and drink that I think is good stuff. It may be anywhere from down-home to gourmet, and it may be local, regional, or just plain good no matter where it comes from. Obviously, I lean toward local food, but for right now, most local food I’m eating came from my own gardens or from the one steer or one pig (or walleye or venison) that friends shared, so I don’t want to be entirely shameless and/or smugly self-sufficient about my plugs.
I want to tip my hat to Bubbies’ of San Francisco. Everything I’ve gotten under their brand name is great-tasting, uses all-natural ingredients and is free of preservatives–today I picked up their bread-and-butter pickles as I had a complete cuke crop failure last year and have no pickles of my own making. I had to restrain myself from eating half the (big) jar after the first bite.
I’ve also had their horseradish–not super hot, but good flavor–and their saurkraut, which is phenomenal. In case you’re not hip to the fermentation process, it basically includes nothing but vegetable and salt, a fairly cool place, and maybe a little water in the canning process. Saurkraut should never contain vinegar–if it does, they’re cheating by pickling, not fermenting. Bubbies’ is not cheating.
I did a batch of saur ruben (fermented white turnip) a couple years ago when I massively over-planted turnips. My CSA members breathed a sigh of relief after six weeks of turnip deliveries, and I had a great product that I was a little worried about eating at first. Not that I didn’t do it right, but jamming a bunch of raw produce and salt down in a big jar or crock, leaving it in the basement, and skimming off scum for a couple weeks seems antithetical to the clean canning process for the fermented foods novice.
I have also noticed that a lot of the horseradish sold in local supermarkets has artificial flavor added. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would think something so basic would need artificial anything needed. I mean, even if you look at it purely in terms of financial cheapness (a perspective I generally abhor when it comes to food), all you need is horseradish, vinegar, and salt. You don’t need soybean oil, fake colors, fake flavors–nothing that would cost even a penny more. Horseradish is a rampant grower, and salt and vinegar are about the cheapest condiments on the market. How can it get any easier? But so many companies feel they have to add something to make it–what? Nothing you add to horseradish besides the two things listed above could make it better than it is–unless you are making cocktail sauce, and that is a different story.
Anyway, I don’t need to buy horseradish in the store anymore, as I have plenty, and I grate it fresh from the roots in the crisper as needed. But if you need to buy it, I suggest reading the label for weird, unnecessary additives. Bubbies’ and (last I knew) Helluva Good both make a good, clean product.