For those of you who follow this blog or have met Andrew or I, you'll know we're pretty avid fermenters. I'm a self-professed bacteria nerd and Andrew has created a 'Fermentation Station' in our kitchen full of bubbling experiments. So, you can imagine our excitement when we discovered an incredible new cookbook dedicated to ferments. With fermented pastes, foraged ferments and a recipe section that uses sauerkraut in chocolate cake (I kid you not!), 'Fermented Vegetables' by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey is a new favourite. I was so excited by this book, I had to write to Kirsten and Christopher to thank them and am thrilled that they've offered to share two of their recipes! One is a fermented Turmeric Paste which is incredible for reducing inflammation, supporting healthy digestion, boosting immune health and tastes incredible on roasted veggies. The second is fermented Rhubarb Relish. This one makes me daydream of Spring and shoots coming out of the ground and as soon as they do, I'm all over this recipe! The sour flavour of rhubarb fermented with herbs could top anything from a sandwich to coconut ice cream.
Recipes – New Ferments
Makes about 1 cup
Fermentation vessel: I used a wide mouth 250ml glass mason jar
This paste has a very strong presence. A little goes a long way in adding flavour to sauces and steamed or sautéed vegetables. Make this paste when fresh turmeric is available. For those of you in Toronto, the Big Carrot, Whole Foods and many markets in Chinatown carry the fresh root. Because this is a seasoning that won’t be eaten straight, you may increase the salt content by about one-third to enhance flavouring qualities, though it’s not necessary for the fermentation process.
½ pound fresh turmeric, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼—½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1. Put the chopped turmeric in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to a paste consistency. Remove the blade and sprinkle in the pepper and salt. The root will become moist immediately.
2. Press into your glass jar. More brine will release at this stage, and you should see a small amount of brine above the paste. Press a piece of parchment paper onto the ferment and top with a weight. I used a smaller glass jar filled with water and covered the whole thing with a clean towel. The weighted jar will keep your ferment submerged in the brine.
3. Set aside on a baking sheet or shallow bowl (to catch overflow) and allow to ferment, somewhere nearby, out of direct sunlight, and cool, for 5 to 10 days. Check daily to make sure the turmeric is submerged. You may see scum on top; it’s generally harmless, you can leave it or spoon it off.
4. You can start to test the ferment on day 5. It’s ready when the acidity has developed. It will be more salty than sour.
5. When ready to store, tamp down to make sure the paste is submerged in its brine, and place a fresh piece of parchment paper on top. Screw on the lid, then store in the fridge. This ferment will keep, refrigerated, for 12 months.
Makes about 2 cups
Fermentation vessel: A wide-mouthed 500ml glass mason jar
Rhubarb is complicated. The leaf will kill you, the root is a powerful medicinal, and the stalk lies in the realm of the culinary. Most people don’t know it can be eaten raw. The flavor of pickled rhubarb is unexpected, with a less sour bite than cooked rhubarb. Rhubarb is a cool-season perennial that sends up shoots in the spring; as summer temperatures climb, this plant slows its growth, sometimes to the point of dormancy. Look for long, fleshy, firm stalks in the spring and early summer.
5–6 rhubarb stalks
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 –1 ¼ teaspoons unrefined sea salt
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup dried golden berries
1. Rinse the rhubarb in cold water. Cut thick rhubarb stems lengthwise once or twice (twice if they’re very thick), then slice the sections crosswise. You want 2 cups of thin slices. Put the pieces in a bowl and stir in the rosemary. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of the salt, then vigorously massage it into the rhubarb to release the water. It will still be too dry; let the bowl sit, covered, for 10 minutes, then massage again. Mix in the cranberries and golden berries. Taste for salt and sprinkle in more if needed to achieve a slightly salty flavor that is not overwhelming.
2. Transfer the rhubarb mixture into a clean glass jar, pressing down with your fist or a tamper as you go to to remove air pockets. More brine will release at this stage, and you should see brine above the mixture. Press a piece of parchment paper onto the ferment and top with a weight. I use a smaller glass jar filled with water. This weighted jar will keep your ferment submerged in the brine. Cover the whole thing with a clean dish towel or napkin.
3. Set aside on a baking sheet or shallow bowl to ferment, somewhere nearby, out of direct sunlight, and cool, for 5 to 7 days. Check daily to make sure the mixture is submerged, pressing down as needed to bring the brine to the surface. You may see scum on top; it’s generally harmless, you can leave it or spoon it off.
4. You can start to test the ferment on day 5. You’ll be surprised to find the puckering sourness of the rhubarb has mellowed; it will be pleasantly acidic, as though a splash of lemon juice was added.
5. Spoon the ferment into a smaller jar and tamp down to make sure the rhubarb is submerged in its brine; screw on the lid, then store in the fridge. This will keep, refrigerated, for 2 months.
A big thank you to Kirsten and Christopher for sharing these recipes. I can't recommend this book enough, you can find it here or if you're keen you can order through them here and get a signed copy (be a fermenter groupie!). Check out their website, The Fermentista's Kitchen, and find them on Facebook. Make sure you give them a virtual high-5, us bacteria nerds gotta stick together!