fermentation

Myanmar-Style Shan Soup Recipe

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This soup also is a preview of a simple legume ferment from our upcoming book on fermented legumes and grains. We are super excited to announce that is what we have been working on all year (much of why you haven’t heard much from us.) Just this week it is out there in the big world with a beautiful cover and ready for pre-order. In it we have taken the mystery out of some of the world’s most delicious and unique ferments—including koji, miso, natto, and tempeh—making them easy with step-by-step instructions.

We hope you enjoy the recipe and the soup warms you up.

Cheers,

Kirsten and Christopher


Myanmar-Style Shan Soup

Yield: 4 good-sized bowls of porridge

Fermentation: 12 hours for the first ferment and 3 hours for the second

Gluten-free, vegan

During our trip to Myanmar, we had planned to visit the region in the northern part of the country where tea leaves are fermented, which is home to many different ethnic groups, several with their own standing armies. We had to change our plans at the last minute because fighting broke out between Myanmar’s government army and one of those regional armies, cutting off our access to the tea villages. We found tea plantations and the fermentation we were seeking, including this tofu, in other parts of the country.

In Burmese, this soup is called hto-hpu new, which either means warm tofu or hot tofu. We got various translations and, depending upon where we were eating it and which hot chile had been added, it did range from warm to very hot. This is a great base for some interesting soup bowls.

8   cups water

2   cups chickpea/garbanzo flour

1   tablespoon peanut oil

1   teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon powdered turmeric

Hot sauce (optional), for topping.

Chopped cilantro, cooked rice noodles, chopped roasted peanuts, blanched greens, or finely sliced shallots (optional), for topping

1.  Pour the water into a large bowl. Add the chickpea flour and whisk until well combined. Cover the bowl with a plate or lid and let ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

2.  Stretch a piece of cheesecloth across another large bowl and secure with a rubber band. Pour the chickpea batter through the cheesecloth into the bowl. This may take a little time and patience. It helps to have a rubber spatula handy to periodically scrape the the cheesecloth to remove the chickpea sediment. Compost the chickpea sediment. Cover the bowl of broth and let ferment for 3 hours at room temperature.

3.  Pour the oil into a heavy pot and rub it around to coat the bottom and sides. Stir the chickpea broth and pour all of it into the pot. Stir in the salt and turmeric.

4.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a slow boil until thickened and slightly reduced, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir continuously with a spatula to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

5.  Remove the pot from the heat and serve the soup immediately, topped with a drizzle of hot sauce, if you like, and your favorite fresh toppings.




Make Fermented Garlic Paste

Garlic Trials at Ferment Works

Fermented garlic is the ultimate in probiotic convenience food. No, really, if you spend a little time fermenting something you want it to be garlic. Full disclosure: fermenting garlic takes a bit of time—there is all the peeling! Please don’t stop reading though a) its so worth it and b) you’ve got this!

Think about those big jars of minced garlic that are steeped in citric acid that have a flat fresh flavor, not so with fermented garlic paste. This stuff is just as easy in that you can use garlic to your hearts desire at a moments notice. However, there is no comparison on flavor and the added bonus is its live and probiotic. I know, sounding a bit like a used car salesman, but I want you to try lacto fermenting garlic. We are totally addicted to the stuff. One more small advantage to fermented garlic is that somehow the way it is broken down takes away some of the part of garlic that lingers in your mouth and on your breath. You can get away with eating raw garlic without turning everyone away! (Garlic lovers—how cool is that?)

This post is to encourage you and to share a recipe for fermented garlic paste, but it is more fun than that. Last fall my farmer friend (and instigator) Mary, brought over 9 types of garlic. She grows seed garlic at Whistling Duck Farm. We did some trials to see how garlic changed with the different varieties. You can see some detailed results on a post I did for Mother Earth News . We used a pound of each variety to ferment in brine as whole clove pickle. And used another pound for fermented garlic paste. We did it all in one day to keep all the factors as even as possible, and for those of you doing the math—that was 18 pounds of garlic peeling!

One of the most fascinating parts of the experiment was seeing the distinguishing characteristics of a fresh variety of garlic might come out totally different when fermented. Fermenting brings out entirely new flavors—even within the same variety the whole clove ferment vs. the fermented paste can be very diverse. The first variance was that the jars all fermented at their own rate. A week in we had an array of colors among the pastes from unchanged to light pink and yellow yet after the fermentation period they all settled on a coppery orange color.  Some of the spiciest varieties mellowed out and some of the sweetest varieties took on some heat. The take away, though, is ferment your garlic—all varieties are good! (And for those of you reading this and sad that it is springtime and all the fresh cloves are past you can also ferment the scapes (the flower stem of garlic that is clipped in order to send more energy to the bulb.)

Garlic Paste

Yield: about 1 pint

6–8 heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and minced in a food processor

2 teaspoons salt

Process the garlic and the salt to a paste consistency in a food processor. This paste has a sticky, thick gooey consistency. You won’t see a release of brine, in fact you won’t really see a change. Don’t worry—it will work.

Top the ferment with a quart-sized ziplock bag. Press the plastic down onto the top of the ferment, and then fill it with water and seal. This will act as both follower and weight. Set aside out of direct sunlight in a cool spot (55 to 75°F), for 14 to 21 days.

While you monitor this ferment watch for air pockets. While there isn’t much lift action by the CO2 there is some, you will want to press down as needed. We have found that sometimes you can get a bitter, or even chemical flavor which seems to be a result of the trapped CO2 pockets. If you find this has happened stir the paste, press down, and allow it to ferment a few more days. It will right itself. If it still tastes bitter. Again stir the paste, this time place in fridge for a week and the undesirable flavor will dissipate.

Test the ferment on day 14. It's ready when the garlic is milder than when it’s raw, and has a mild acidity.

Tighten the lid and store in the fridge. This ferment will keep refrigerated for a year, though you will use it up much sooner than that.

 

 

 

Meet Darra Goldstein, Editor-in-chief of CURED*

Kyoto Pickles pictured in the first issue of  Cured  photo Akihito Yoshida

Kyoto Pickles pictured in the first issue of Cured photo Akihito Yoshida

There is a new magazine coming out—a visually evocative, sensually stimulating magazine. It is called CURED, and at its heart is food preservation—you know, the stuff we geek out about all the time. Its focus is  how humans have kept their food nutrient-rich, available and (hopefully) flavorful through the lean times, whether  for surviving the next season or for a long journey. Fermentation is a big player in this new publication’s look at these ancient techniques through science, art, culture and travel.

I want you to think about this for a moment because this is a milestone. We’ve hit a point where we have got a lush magazine (as in heavy paper and jaw dropping visuals) being launched by an established media company, Zero Point Zero Productions (who has given us Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and Mind of a Chef) with a strong editor at the helm—Darra Goldstein. Darra is an award-winning cookbook author, world-renowned food scholar, and founding editor of Gastronomica.

Darra Goldstein photo by Stefan Wettainen

Darra Goldstein photo by Stefan Wettainen

Recently, Christopher and I had the opportunity to talk with Darra in a delightful conversation that meandered through time periods. Darra effortlessly guided us from a late 19th century banished Russian nobleman who observed that “sour” foods kept the peasants healthy to the modern allure of the bright packaging of industrialized food juxtaposed with the rediscovery of these ancient techniques having a certain luxury associated with them.

After the New York Times article (about CURED's debut) was published, Darra’s inbox lit up with email from folks all over the country who told her about their regional fermentation groups. She said, “there is an interesting subculture that is no longer marginal; it is really out there. Preservation has become much more mainstream but there is still a lot more to discover, particularly about other traditions of fermentation throughout the world.”

From our conversation we got a sense that it is this discovery that moves Darra. She is excited by the opportunity with CURED to take the DIY movement to a deeper level by bringing to the table the stories behind our preserved foods. CURED will seek to choose foods that we may or may not still eat and ask, what is the culture that surrounds it? What is the lore? What are the exigencies? How were these things created?

So what do we have to look forward to? Darra shared a sampling of some of the voices that will be heard. "There will be a wonderful article by Moises Valasquez-Manoff looking at the gut microbiome and probiotics. He went through many studies to try to determine if there is quantifiable scientific evidence and," Darra said, "everything points to something pretty intriguing."

There will be articles exploring Asian fermentation such as Japanese Zukemono, and a profile piece on Los Angeles chef Kwang Uh, whose kitchen uses a strong dose of fermentation, and there will be a piece on persimmon vinegar (can't wait to see that myself) by Edward Lee.

We had to ask, will there be recipes? While CURED is not a recipe-driven publication it will have recipes. "Recipes," said Darra, "are an important part of the story. A recipe tells the story in a different format and is like a continuation of the narrative that precedes it." All of the recipes are tested in CURED’s test kitchen in NYC but that doesn’t mean they will all be the centerpiece of your next dinner party. In part because some may not conform to the modern palate and in part because as we all know, fermentation doesn’t always conform to a consistent recipe.

She shared a wonderful example of a recipe by food historian Charles Perry for a medieval Persian cheese. In ancient Bagdad, yogurt and salt were added to milk that was then left on the roof to cure in the summertime. It works perfectly in Los Angeles, where the humidity is low. On a rooftop in NYC the summer humidity causes this to behave quite differently. And at Darra’s home in rural Massachusetts where the humidity is lower it is different yet again—but that is the wonder and beauty of it of it all now isn’t it?

Head over to CURED and put your name on the list to find out when it can be ordered. We sure did!

*the first periodical to explore how age-old methods like charcuterie making, pickling, and fermenting inform the way we think about and consume food today

 

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Coming out World Series Game 6


Dear Fermentista,

I've got two questions for you, one technical and one more of a social kind of thing. First the easy one. Lucille and I have been together for a long time now and she has gotten me through a lot—lost jobs, car accident recovery and two wives. Lucille is a kegerator that I built during my college days from an old refrigerator left out on the curb. She has been with me through thick and thin. The past few years there's been a lot more of the thick. So, it was like February, when my girlfriend made me try real kraut. Man was it good! I just dove in. Now I have a couple of crocks going all the time, and I bring jars of the stuff to my buddies on the site. I love trying new things, especially anything hot or with smoked salts. Anyways, I make so much of the stuff that I need a place to keep it so I moved my keg out and started using Lucille. That was about the time the season started. What I need to know is what temperature should I keep Lucille at? Are krauts more like a Stout or a Pale Ale?

Second question: Do you have any advice for how I am going to talk about this to the guys when they come over for game 6 at my place? Most of them don't rib me anymore about eating because now that they are hooked on the stuff too but they don't know about Lucille's makeover.  I know the first time somebody tries to pull one and gets nothing and then opens that door they are going to give me some s***.

Go Mets!
Michael

______________________

Dear Michael,

As you know, a big part of pouring that perfect glass is managing the temperature of the beer because of the relationship between temperature and CO2. I suspect that is why you asked if it’s more like a pale ale than a stout because different beers absorb and hold CO2 at different temps. For your krauts and pickles you should think of them as at least a Lager but best as a Brown Ale, ie. 45° F to 40° F. Stouts at 50° F is getting too close to a temperature that allows the bacteria to wake up and start working, which means your ferments will continue to get sour and build up CO2 in your jars. 

Your second question is easy—there will be no game 6. Sorry. I should explain I was born in KC, George Brett was my hero growing up. I wore that stupid plastic batting helmet through those muggy hot summer days until my brother shattered it one day with a bat while it was still on my head. I firmly believe you will not have this problem as the Royals will take the next two games. Sorry.

Hopefully Kirsten won't see this post as she grew up in New York State and always roots for the underdog...

~Christopher

Fermenting Scorzonera

scorzonera ready for fermentation .JPG

Looking to ferment something new? Try Scorzonera hispanica, also called black salsify, is a member of the sunflower family, has quite a few folk names; two of the more colorful are viper’s grass and goat’s beard. Having sons, we saw viper’s grass as an opportunity to entice them with a fermented creation. Snaky words usually appeal to the boy-child set: hence, our Viper Kraut.

Although native to southern Europe, black salsify is eaten predominantly in Germany and the Netherlands. Scorzonera is a perennial, and as long ago as the 1600’s it became more popular than white salsify, an annual. (White salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius, is also known as oyster plant, because of its flavor and texture.) Unlike white salsify, black salsify stays firm when you handle or cook it. Raw, it’s crunchy, with a texture almost like that of coconut with a flavor slightly reminiscent of asparagus. That same crunch and texture makes it an excellent candidate for fermentation.

Okay, here is where we admit it is rare—as in hard to find at the market. So much so that this delicious little carrot shaped root was cut from our book. That said, it is none-the-less out there. We often see it at farmers’ markets—look for the farmer that has the unique and unusual veggies—there is always one that is pushing outside the heirloom tomato box. Of course, you can grow your own.

The roots of scorzonera, or black salsify, are black, sticky, usually dirty, and a bit gnarled, so as a food, in a word, ugly. As a bonus (for the kids, maybe not for the cook), as you clean and peel, your hands will turn sticky and icky colored (orange or brownish black) as well, though that comes off easily when you wash.

Have fun with this ugly duckling: it turns into a swan in the crock.

As soon as you peel the roots, drop them in cool water with lemon juice; this will keep them from turning gray.

You can make a tasty, pure scorzonera ferment, but because of the size of the roots (not big), it’s a lot of work for a small return. Instead, shred the root or make ribbon-like strips with a peeler to dress up a plain sauerkraut. These universal kraut instructions are for just that.

Use the roots peeled and whole in brine pickles as part of a vegetable medley or solo with your favorite pickling spices.

Here is a refresher on how to set up a jar to ferment your veggies.

Fermented Fennel Cranberry Chutney :: Recipe from Farm to Fermentation Festival

Fermented Fennel Cranberry Chutney

The Farm to Fermentation Festival in Santa Rosa, CA is near and dear to my heart as it is the first fermentation festival I had a chance to go to. In 2011 it was called the Freestone Fermentation Festival, which I wrote about extensively on this blog—the symposium, the feast, and the fest. The event has changed but is at its core still a wonderful way for people to explore the wonderful world of fermented foods and libations. 

It was delightful connecting with old and new friends in the fermentation community, including Kate Payne and Nora Chovanec who will be hosting me at the Austin Fermentation Festival in October. As many of you know I am working on a new book. I met Lisa whose story will be included in the book as she makes a mean fermented Sriracha sauce. It was also delightful to meet Nicole of FARMcurious and Karen who designed the Kraut Source fermenting lid.

The best part—always—is meeting and teaching you, the people, how to ferment vegetables.  I taught a class where we made fermented Fennel Cranberry Chutney. This recipe is in Fermented Vegetables but I made a pint size version for the class that I want to share here. 

This ferment is mild, sweet, and delicious and a friendly flavor for those who are less sure about fermented vegetables in their diet. This is particularly good with poultry—as an addition to a chicken salad or along side grilled chicken.

Fermented Fennel Chutney
Makes 1 pint

This version uses optional pure cranberry juice. The juice adds a little more flavor complexity, pink color and brine. The recipe works either way.

1 bulb fennel, sliced finely, tough parts of core removed
1 small to medium sweet onion, slice finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon salt
optional:
2 tablespoons pure cranberry juice (the kind with nothing added)

Remove the fennel stalks (save for adding to soup stock) and any tough parts of the core. Slice the fennel and onions as thinly as possible; mince the garlic and place in bowl. Sprinkle in the salt and massage it in to release the juices. Add the cranberries and raisins. At this point you should have a moist mixture. Press into your favorite fermentation vessel. Follow the instructions that come with that method. Otherwise choose a jar that is just the right size.


Press the vegetables into the jar; there will be only a small amount of brine. Don’t worry if it “disappears” between pressings. As long as the relish is damp, you have enough. At this point you can add the optional cranberry juice—it will give you more brine and a nice pink color.
When you have pressed the chutney into the jar releasing air pockets, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface, again without trapping any air. Screw a lid tightly on the jar.


Put this in a corner of the kitchen to cure. Watch for air pockets forming in the paste. If you see them, open the lid and press the paste back down. If the lid starts to bubble up, simply open the lid for a moment to “burp” the ferment. 


Allow to ferment for 7 days. You will know it is ready when the color of the ferment has become dull and there is a slight pickle-y flavor.


During storage, the less airspace above a ferment the longer it will last, so fill the jars to the rim and transfer the ferment to smaller jars as you use it. Keep a small round of plastic wrap or wax paper directly on top of the paste to prevent evaporation and contamination. Tighten the lids and store in fridge. This ferment will keep refrigerated for 6 months.