A Ferment a Day:  Enliven your meals & your life with fermented vegetables

Presentation Notes MENF Seven Springs, PA 2015 Real Food Stage | Saturday, 2:30-3:30 PM

A New Ingredient
You’ve made or bought some ferments. You know these fermented vegetables are good for you. You know they taste good on your fork straight out of a jar, but that only goes so far. What else can you do with these ‘sauer’ vegetables? Ferments should be seen as an ingredient like any other and that you use this “new” ingredient, tossing it in to a dish as readily as any familiar ingredient.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions::

Kirsten K. Shockey, author of Fermented Vegetables, by Storey Publishing

web :: fermentista.kitchen
twitter :: @KirstenKShockey
email :: kirsten@fermentista.us

What about the probiotic benefits?
The full probiotic benefits of lacto-fermented vegetables come when they are consumed raw. But we also believe that eating home-preserved local vegetables is a priority. While the probiotics may be lost in the process of cooking, the essential nourishment is not. “Sauered” cabbage came into being as a way to keep people fed through the lean months of winter. These traditional meals were cooked for hours not only to nourish, but also to warm the souls on those cold nights.
We believe in flavor and good food and not limiting your consumption of ferments as the remarkable flavor is worth the cooking. A way to get the best of both worlds—warm food and live probiotics is to add the ferment at the end of the cooking time—this will lightly warm the ferment, while keeping the temperature of the ferment under 110°F will preserve the integrity of the probiotic enzymes.

Keep in mind
In general, when cooking significant quantities of fermented vegetables or fermented brine, use non- reactive cookware because acidity can leach from the reactive metals causing off-flavors and colors. Examples of what not to use are: aluminum, copper, or cast iron cookware. Good quality stainless steel, enameled, or glass cookware is fine. For meals using just a splash of brine, which is no different from cooking with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice, this is not an issue.

Flavor and Ease
There is more to fermented vegetables than probiotics, nutrition density, and food preservation. These three attribute’s are piquing people’s interest, but to be honest, that’s not enough. Just because you know something is good for you doesn’t mean you are going to eat it. Taste, availability, and ease of preparation are critical to actually incorporating fermented foods into your diet. You have to want to eat fermented vegetables, to crave them, and the reason you are going to do this is flavor. You will eat fermented vegetables because you want to, not because you should. We believe it is all about taste. With fermenting you will be unlocking new unimagined complex deep flavors. You will experience the uniquely captured flavor of time and place with each delicious batch. We also know that no matter how delicious something is, if it is not easy at the end of a busy day, it likely will not make it to the dinner table. Fermented vegetables are the ultimate nutrient-dense convenience food. You can make delicious fermented vegetables whenever you have the time. Later, when there are no fresh veggies in the crisper drawer, or there is no time, you will have instant side dishes, salads, or flavorful foods from which to build a meal.

Cranberry Ginger Relish 

Makes about a quart 

This relish has a warm ginger flavor. If you want a strong spicy gingery-heat use the full amount of the fresh and the optional candied ginger after fermentation. The juice-sweetened dried cranberries balance the tartness of fresh ones. If the finished relish is not sweet enough for your taste simply splash in a bit of maple syrup or honey before serving. Note: Though it’s always better to use fresh ingredients, you can make this relish with frozen cranberries. It’ll have a softer consistency, but is otherwise just as delightful.

2 (8-ounce) packages fresh cranberries
1 cup fruit juice–sweetened dried cranberries
½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1–1 ½ tablespoons ginger, finely grated

Optional: add 1 more tablespoon chopped candied ginger after the fermentation

Wash the fresh cranberries and put them in a food processor; pulse until lightly chopped. Transfer to a bowl and massage in the salt for a minute to develop the brine. Then mix in dried cranberries and fresh grated ginger. Press the mixture into a quart jar or small crock, making sure there are no air pockets. 

Top the ferment with a quart-sized ziplock bag. Press the plastic down onto the top of the ferment, then fill it with water and seal; this will act as both follower and weight. Set aside to ferment, somewhere nearby and out of direct sunlight, in a cool spot for 5 to 7 days. Check daily to make sure the fruit stays submerged. 

As the ferment develops it will become the same deep crimson color of cooked relish. Around 5 days you can check it. When it is ready the flavors will have mingled into a spicy sweet tart flavor. It will have two sour notes: one from the cranberries one from fermentation. This is where you will add the optional candied ginger.

To store ladle the finished ferment into smaller jars, leaving as little headroom as possible, and tamp down under the brine. Pour in any remaining brine to cover. Tighten the lids, then store in the fridge. This ferment will keep, refrigerated for 6 months

Cranberry Orange Bread 

This bread has a rich citrus flavor punctuated by the tart spiced fermented berries. In this recipe the fermented cranberries are coarsely chopped to distribute them through the bread. However, if you love the surprise of a strong whole berry when it bursts in your mouth just mix in the pickled cranberries whole. 

Makes 2 mini loaves

2 ½ cups unbleached white flour, or your favorite GF mix
¾ cup unrefined sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large orange, zest and juice about ½ cup
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups fermented cranberry pickles, drained and coarsely chopped 

Optional: ½ cup walnuts, chopped 

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line two 5 ¾ “ by 3 ¼ “ mini loaf pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift or stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Zest and juice the orange. Put 1 teaspoon of zest and ½ cup of the juice in a small bowl. Add to this eggs and butter and whisk or fork beat until well mixed.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture; with a wooden spoon, stir until batter is just mixed. It will be a stiff batter. Fold in the coarsely chopped cranberries and optional nuts. 

Spoon equal amounts of batter into each of the prepared loaf pans. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from pan and continue to cool on the wire rack.


Beyond the Ordinary: Bringing Artistry and Flavor to Vegetable Fermentation

Presentation Notes MENF Seven Springs, PA 2015 Real Food Stage | Friday, 1:00-2:00 PM

Exploring the flavor possibilities and understanding the breadth of vegetable fermentation art through condiments is infinite.

Color and Flavor and Heath…Oh My!
    Essentially everything I talk about are all fermented or “sauered” vegetables. The condiments—relish, chutney, pickles, pastes, salsas, or fermented salads often don’t contain cabbage, and the vegetables are not shredded or grated; rather they are sliced, chopped, diced, or pulsed in a food processor, depending on the texture desired. For example, a salsa would call for the combination of vegetables to be roughly chopped or pulsed in a food processor, producing a chunky sauce-like condiment, like Sweet Pepper Salsa. Chutneys and relishes are similarly diced or sliced, and the distinction lies more in the type of spices used. Pickles are different than all of the above as they larger chunks of veggie that are bathed in an added salt brine.
    This handout is only a reference to what we talked about. Please feel free to contact us if you want a handout with fermenting basics, or if you have any questions. For an in-depth look at vegetable fermentation see our book Fermented Vegetables, by Storey Publishing.

Kirsten K. Shockey
web :: fermentista.kitchen
twitter :: @KirstenKShockey
email :: info@fermentista.us

The Fermentista’s Mantra :: Submerging in Brine—Conquers Evil Every Time!
    This simple chant is all you need to remember to keep your vegetable ferments safe to eat. The rules for sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles applies to pastes, relishes, and other fermented condiments. To avoid a “krautastrophe” keep those veggies under the brine. Some of these condiments, like herbal ferments have much less brine, but there is still enough. Others condiments like salsas or pepper pastes have so much brine that is hard to keep the veggies from floating to the surface. In either case it is just a matter of managing the brine.

Keeping track of the brine
    Most condiments are small-batch ferments, which require certain considerations. Let’s start with the large crock of vegetables tucked away to ferment for three weeks—there is mass. This mass of the cabbage bulk helps keeps the weighted ferment under the brine. The missing mass means two things. One is that you have less brine—remember this is your krauts anaerobic armor. And to keep this brine in the ferment where it belongs will require a bit more babysitting while your ferment is curing. Often you will find yourself needing to press gently on your weight everyday. This will release the carbon dioxide bubbles that build up and bring the brine back into the ferment. Whole leaf and thick paste like ferments are dry.
    Fermented Salads are made exactly like sauerkraut. The distinction is that they are often thinly sliced veggies that are not cabbage. 
    Think of whole-leaf ferments as an alternative to drying aromatic leafy herbs from the garden. Some herbs, like basil, lose their flavorful volatile oils to the drying process. Fermentation instead captures and intensifies these flavors.
    Whole-leaf ferments are made by salting the whole leaves, which shrink considerably—a bushel of leaves a will shrink to a height of 2 inches in a 2-gallon crock.
    Pastes often function as a seasoning base on which to build a meal. These ferments are convenience foods that are useful to have on hand in the refrigerator. The ingredients, which are generally the aromatics, are put into a food processor and chopped to a paste. Salt is added, just a bit, just until you can taste it. And it is treated in the same manner as sauerkraut. (Submerging in brine conquers evil every time.)
    On the other extreme there are relishes and chutneys, which are very juicy ferments. On these ferments the challenge again is in weighting down the veggies. A very soft ferment like a pepper paste doesn’t have the structure to support much weight and the trick is keeping all the small vegetable bits under the weight. In this case we have found cutting food grade stiff plastic mesh (like the ones used in cheese making or dehydrator trays) or the thin plastic cutting boards into circles the size of the crock or jar to provide some structure and keep the stray bits under. Follow and weight as normal. Enjoy this example.

Fennel Chutney
yield: about 1⁄2 gallon
(fermentation vessel: 2-quart or larger) 

Fennel stalks finish a bit woody, but you could slice some very thin and add to the mix, if you like. This chutney goes well on turkey sandwiches, in cream cheese wraps, or as a condiment in a brunch spread.

10 fennel bulbs
2 sweet onions (but any type is fine), diced 1 cup dried cranberries
1⁄2 cup raisins
5–6 cloves garlic, minced
1–2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt

Cut the bulbs and cores into thin slices with a knife or mandolin. (For a finer texture, chop the slices.) Put the fennel in a large bowl and add the onions. Mix well. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of the salt, working it in with your hands, then taste. It should taste slightly salt without being overwhelming. Add more salt if needed. You may need to pound this mixture a bit to get the brine; if it’s stubborn, let sit, covered, for 30 to
45 minutes. Add cranberries, raisins, and garlic. Toss and massage again for a few minutes to get everything mixed. You should see brine building at the bottom. Pack the mixture, a few handfuls at a time, into a jar or crock, pressing to remove air pockets as you go. More brine will release and you should see brine above the veggies.

Top the ferment with a quart-sized ziplock bag. Press the plastic down onto the surface of the ferment, fill it with water, and seal; this will act as both follower and weight. Set aside on a baking sheet, somewhere nearby and out of direct sunlight, in a cool spot for 7 to 14 days. Check daily that the vegetables are submerged; press if needed to bring brine back into ferment. You can start to test the ferment on day 7. It’s ready when the flavors of the dried fruits have mingled with the slight sour of the ferment.

This ferment will keep, refrigerated, for 8 months. 

Kimchi Latkes

Serves 2 as a main course; 4 as a side dish
Gluten-free, Vegetarian

Thanks to the slight acidity brought to these potato pancakes by the kimchi, the have a lighter flavor then their all-potato counterpart. This is a versatile fusion dish that can be a side as well as carry the meal with the addition of sauces—it is just as comfortable with sour cream as with an Asian-style peanut sauce. 

1 cup drained and packed kimchi
1 cup peeled and shredded potatoes
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or your favorite gluten-free blend
Pinch of salt to taste (the kimchi adds salt, so generally we don’t add any)
½ cup peanut or coconut oil for frying

Extract as much of the brine from the kimchi as possible; cheesecloth works well. (Save the brine—a brine shot for the cook, Kimchi Mary, or flavoring for broth..) 

Put the grated potatoes in a strainer or colander and push out any extra moisture.

In a medium bowl stir together the potatoes, kimchi, and flour. The goal is to have a nice coating of flour on the potatoes and vegetables. Mix in the eggs and optional salt.

Heat the oil until hot over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form patties ¼ to ½ inch thick. Brown the latkes on one side, then turn and brown the other side.
Serve hot with sour cream or peanut sauce. 


“The fermented kitchen is really taking off in new and uncharted ways. I didn’t realise how full of potential it is…We are just scratching the surface.” 
—Rene Redzepi, Noma