I’ve signed up to do the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge! You can learn more about it here. February’s challenge was preserving with salt, which is one of my favourite things. I hope to make a few recipes before the month is through! Today, however, I decided to try out an experiment, by fermenting a kraut made from sunchokes, the tuber also known as Jerusalem artichokes.
My inspiration came from the simple fact that these showed up in my veggie box from Saanich Organics this week! And they didn’t make it into last night’s dinner.
While a quick search turned up a couple blogs and websites with recipes for brined sunchoke pickles, I saw nothing about turning it into a simple salt-and-shredded-tuber kraut. So, I have no idea how this will turn out. Fun!
I decided to go with a 3% salinity, for the ease of math and because my house is so cold at this time of year that I don’t worry about mold growing. If it were summer, I’d likely bump that up to 5% or so, just to reduce the chances of gross stuff growing.
It didn’t look too appealing once I’d packed it into the jar, frankly… The brine that developed was an unpleasant colour. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes.
300 g sunchokes, shredded (2 cups)
10 g coarse pickling salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)
Mix sunchokes with salt and pack firmly into a fermentation vessel; I used a mason jar with an airlock lid. Let sit at room temperature for at least a week… Maybe more? Stay tuned!
Unintentional perry! On Monday I ran a batch of overripe pears through my steam juicer, then left the full jars of juice on the counter until I had time to do something with them. I guess this one jar wasn’t as clean as was intended, because I just opened it to a delightful popping sound, and discovered I had a litre of a delicious, fizzy, lightly boozy beverage! I’d intended to throw all the juice into a small carboy with a bit of champagne yeast anyway, so it’s nice to have a preview 😉
I love our weekly delivery of local fruits and vegetables from Saanich Organics, through their box program. As a consumer, I love that it’s an easy way to access healthy food… And I appreciate being able to support regional agriculture and contribute to the both the environmental and economic health of my community. I’m also a former employee of a couple of the farms involved, so I know from first hand experience that I’m buying high quality produce.
What don’t I like about receiving the box? Well, the way it works, I get what I get (and I don’t get upset). And frankly, I just am not a huge fan of some veg. I’ll eat them anyway, because most things can taste okay when roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt, and garlic (or scape salt!)… But would likely never go out of my way to buy endive or escarole.
Or, for that matter, fennel.
So sometimes, there are bits that linger in the fridge for a week or three. And if more of that vegetable shows up in the next box, it joins its friends, and eventually I have four wilting fennel bulbs.
What to do? Fermentation experimentation, of course! I liked the look of the first recipe that I found when searching online for what others have done with fermenting fennel, from MoonBrine Pickles in Portland, Oregon… So that’s what I’ve played with here. I didn’t have any celery or “nice” onions, but this pickle still tasted great when I was mixing it up… I can’t wait to see how it is in several weeks.
Fermented Fennel and Lemon Pickle
yields ~ 1.5 litres
473 g fennel bulbs (I had 2 small, 2 tiny)
273 g onion (1 medium)
1 lemon (medium, organic)
5 small garlic cloves
230 g carrots (3 medium)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
50 g coarse pickling salt*
approx. 2 cups water
Thinly slice the fennel, onion, lemon, and garlic. For the carrot, I decided to try out the wavy blade on a kitchen tool my parents brought me back from Vietnam; you could just thinly slice that too.
Add the salt and stir to combine. You’ll see that the salt dissolves a bit, and pulls juices out of the vegetables… Neat!
Pack loosely into a large jar or crock. I’m using a 1.9 L wide mouth canning jar.
Add water just to cover, put a solid lid on jar, and shake to distribute water and help the remaining salt to dissolve to make the brine. Turn upright and tap jar gently on a surface so that the vegetables settle.
Replace solid lid with airlock lid, or follow your preferred fermentation set-up.
I ended up needing 2 cups of water; you may need more or less, to ensure your vegetables are submerged. This isn’t as crucial if you’re using an airlock lid or fermenting in a Fido-style container, as the jar is sealed from outside bacteria/yeasts/air. However, if you’re doing a open ferment (ie. not sealed), it’s crucial you have enough brine so that when you add a weight, the vegetables are submerged below the surface.
Let ferment at room temperature for a few weeks. It’s pretty cold in my house most the time right now, so I’ll probably taste this in 3 weeks.
* I weighed all the vegetables and it came to around 1000 g. As I’ve problems with lemons turning mouldy in the past, I decided I’d like a stronger salt brine than I usually use, and went with 5%. Multiplying 1000 g by 0.05 gives me 50g of salt… And when I used a teaspoon to measure this out onto the scale, it turned out to be 8 teaspoons, which is exactly what the original MoonBrine recipe called for! Go figure.
I noticed a strange slimy film sort of growth on the surface of the carrots… And opened it today to check it out:
So, lesson learned: Carrots plus lemon plus salt isn’t the yummy idea I thought it’d be… Or if it is, I did it wrong! Glad I only tried this out with a micro-batch; the compost will do well with this donation of some extra active bacteria.