I’ve meant to do this experiment for a few years and I’m glad I finally got around to making this hot sauce with fermented dried peppers. Any dried peppers would do but I specifically chose Morita peppers because they are smoke-dried. Known as the poor-mans chipotle, Morita’s are simply smoke-dried red jalapeno. If you don’t have access to them, don’t fret – any dried pepper will work in the fantastically easy recipe.
Fermented carrots? We’ve made a vinegar-based carrot pickle for years (it’s extremely spicy) that remains one of the more popular items in our pantry. This fermented version has no spice and contrasts the natural sweetness of the carrot with the sour of fermentation. The carrots also have great texture (much the same as a deli pickle retains it’s crunch). We will eat these as a snack, garnish, salad dressing or as part of a side dish for dinner.
People sometimes ask us when we have time to preserve; my answer sometimes surprises them. Making Sauerkraut can take less than 5 minutes (and some patience as it ferments) and is one of the easiest things you can possibly preserve. Sometimes I preserve because we don’t have a lot of time! Preserving does not need to be a lot of work or take a lot of effort.
When I scanned the fridge last night I realized that we had a third of a cabbage that was turning the corner from peak freshness to something less than usable. I considered making a soup or a stir fry but didn’t want to embark on a significant project. Transforming cabbage into kraut takes very little effort (although it takes time to ferment).
I was excited to see how these would turn out with a week or so of fermenting:
Beets are relatively easy to ferment:
- Add salt, apply pressure.
- Leave on counter; the salt should pull enough fluid to cover the beets within 6-12 hours
- Top up with salt brine if needed.
- Leave covered, taste often
While the flavor of these ended well, they ended up very slimy. The texture just wasn’t my thing.
There’s a few possibilities (and I’m open to your ideas/ expertise as well):
- The small pieces somehow created the texture.
- There wasn’t enough salt and things fermented faster than I thought.
- Was bad luck.
- Caused by the type of beets.
- My water didn’t end up de-chlorinating and fermentation was stopped.
I once-in-a-while get a slippery batch but it’s not enough to hold me back. Clearly it’s time to do some more reading!
Looking back at the year that was, it’s clear to me that I’ve learned a lot about fermenting. While much of that learning had to do with a wild obsession with hot peppers and hot sauces, there are recipes and articles written about fermenting in 2012 that weren’t restricted to my love of heat.
Fermenting is incredibly exciting to me. It’s easy, doesn’t take much space, can be done quickly and is relatively foolproof.
We’ll be continuing our experiments with fermenting this year (and ensure we diversify our posts as well). In the meantime, here’s a quick reference guide to the 28 articles we wrote this year related to fermenting.
- Different Types of Fermentation: The Differences Between Wild Fermentation and Lactofermentation March, 2012
- How to Make an Airlock fit a Wide-Mouthed Mason Jar September, 2012
- Another Hot Sauce Trick: Refermenting Hot Sauce September 12, 2012
- A Quick Tip To Speed Fermenting on Cold Days November, 2012
- A Trick for Keeping Flies out of Mason Jars November, 2012
- Our Newest Fermenting Crock (20 Gallons) November, 2012
Recipes for Fermenting
- Fermented (Cranberries and Ginger) January, 2012
- How to Make Carrot and Cabbage Kimchi March, 2012
- Possibly the Best Lactofermented Hot Sauce with Whey April, 2012
- How to Make Fermented Mustard April, 2012
- Lactofermented Apple Slices April, 2012
- Fermented Honey-Garlic Pickles August, 2012
- Whey Fermented Jalapeno (and Other Hot Pepper) Slices August, 2012
- More Fermented Hot Sauce (and A Few Tricks) September, 2012
- Fermented Hot Sauce (The 2012 Version) September, 2012
- Fermented Mirepoix November, 2012
- Fermented Turnip/ Rutabaga Kraut November, 2012
- Update on Refermented Hot Sauce December, 2012
Salt Cures (Close to ferments but arguably not)
- Chili Salt October, 2012
- Pickled Hot Peppers Too Hot? Make Chili Salt November, 2012
- Salt Cured Mustard Seed Caviar November, 2012
Recipes for Cooking with Fermented Foods
- Poached Eggs with Kimchi and Potato Cakes
- A Very Canadian Chigae (or Jigae) – Kimchi Soup or Stew April, 2012
- Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits with Fermented Jalapenos December, 2012
- Sugar Cookies with Bourbon and Fermented Jalapenos December, 2012
Dehydrating Fermented Foods
In September we were fermenting like wild – especially hot peppers and hot sauces. In late September we shared that we were taking a few of our hot pepper concoctions, tossing an airlock on the top and letting them continuing to ferment. Two of the three jars were left as-is and we added whole garlic cloves to another (effectively making a pickle within a pickle).
Our apartment has been cool these days – so cool that fermentation has been slow. This wouldn’t be a problem except we’re fermenting ginger beer and mustard for two different upcoming social events so needed to give them a boost.
Here’s a quick trick to temporarily speed up fermentation of small batches of fermenting:
One of the most enjoyable aspects of fermenting food (as compared to other techniques, such as waterbath or pressure canning), is the freedom to be ultimately creative and to experiment in the kitchen.
My early experiments in fermenting were almost always either overly salty or under-fermented. I’ve learned that using 15-30 grams (approximately 0.5-1 ounce) of salt per 1 liter (1 quart) mason jar, is the right amount of salt for me and that regular tasting ensures success in fermenting. A ferment can quickly migrate from under-fermented to perfect and then to over-fermented in less than a day (depending on the temperature and what you’re fermenting).
I also love to cook with mirepoix – the classic French combination of onion, carrot and celery. It’s fantastic as a base for stir fry, sauces, soups and more. We found ourselves with an awesome bunch of onions, heirloom carrots and soup celery (its late harvest celery that’s very tough to eat but has an abundance of leaves that can be used like celery hearts). I couldn’t resist fermenting them together:
Many of our wild fermentations (a style of fermenting that uses naturally occurring yeast in the air) require the same step – cover the vessel with cheesecloth to allow wild yeasts to enter the jar but keep the flies at bay (if you’re struggling with the terminology surrounding different types of fermentation, check this out). We use mason jars to do a lot of our fermentation and were looking for an alternative to cheesecloth to cover the ferments in the early stages.
While cheesecloth (or other cloths) work, I find it frustrating. It ‘feels’ flimsy, ends up as garbage, I often use several pieces before a ferment finishes, a fan can blow it off and I find it looks ugly. I know these are minor issues but they are things I think about.
Or thought about. Because my woes are well behind me now: