Recently, I've been getting into fermenting stuff - maybe because of my own recent episodes with antibiotics, maybe due to that biological clock thing. Who knows? All's I knows is that I'm feeling the need to nurture something that might possibly nurture me back someday. Anyway, here're some of the Somerville Test Kitchen's subjects of the moment:
I guess that this is coming back into style, as I've now seen stuff from both Martha Stewart Living and Lifehacker. Made a couple batches for the Frenchie, and his feedback has been good.
Distilled or Filtered Water
Caraway Seeds or Juniper Fruits if you're into that sort of thing
Shred your cabbage thin.
In a crock, large mason jar, pickle jar, whatever you've got - put down a layer of cabbage, then tamp it with a wooden spoon as much as you can. You're going to want to both release juices and get rid of air bubbles. Sprinkle this layer with some kosher salt (about a tablespoon or so; the more the better, as this is what helps keep the cabbage crisp) as well as with a bit of spice, if you want it. Repeat the cabbage/salt layer thing until you get to about an inch from the top of your vessel of choice, ending with salt. Cover with water.
Cover loosely, and let sit in a cool, dark place, checking daily to see that everything's still covered with water. (If it isn't, add more.) Should be ready to eat in about a week, but you can keep it fermenting for longer.
To prepare for eating - just rinse and eat raw, or rinse and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Is great with a pork chop, a sausage...a potato or an apple, maybe.
Am following this recipe to the word. At this point, all I can say is that my balloon's started to inflate. Will keep folks posted.
Eventually, I'd like to get a yogurt maker, as the temperature regulation is so much easier than without one. Until I do finally go out and find one I like (one with one large pot as opposed to seven or eight little ones), this recipe works very nicely. Have to say, though, that, since we keep the house kind of chilly, it takes a fair bit more time (like 2-3x) than what's noted in the recipe for the yogurt to set. Even then (and this doesn't bother me at all), it's more like kefir or a very thick buttermilk.
Okay, technically this isn't anything fermented; it's a decoction. Still, really wanted to share, as it's just such a lovely thing.
During the Summer, had my first taste of Salers, a sort of sweet aperitif liquor with gentian root at its base. Wondered if I could make something similar to it myself, only without the sugar. Here's what I came up with:
750 ml neutral spirits (I used a mid priced vodka, like Smirnoff.)
1/2 oz dried gentian root
the peel of one orange, grated
Put ingredients in a 1 qt container, like a mason jar, for example. Shake up, then set aside in a cool dry place for a minimum of one week, shaking daily. Mine's been sitting now for just under three weeks, and it smells absolutely wonderful. Might try a thimbleful one of these days.