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Fermented food

Fermented foods are all the rage these days and for a good reason. They are healthy, nutritious and tasty. In bygone days fermenting was a vital skill to have. It allowed families to preserve their harvest so their family would be feed for the coming winter. Fermenting makes nutrients more easily available. It can aid digestion, but go easy at first because you can overdo a good thing. Fermenting also has the unique ability to transform a food into something totally different then what its original form was. A feat in alchemy.

Recipes for fermented foods abound in many cultures. Korea has a myriad of kimchee recipes from different regions and from different families.  India and chutney, Yum yum yum! Hot sauces and hot pastes from many different countries will open up your imagination. There are numerous recipes for sauerkraut and sourdough online so I won't give you any here. These are good starting points for a dabble in food preservation. ALWAYS make sure all your utensils are clean and the clean again. A little bit of unwanted dirt, mold or who knows what will spoil your efforts.                                                                                                                 

Let's look at other ferments that you can easily do and that will give you great results. You might have had fermented salsa with tomatoes and spicy peppers but did you know you can easily add fruit such as watermelon, peaches or apricots to the recipes.

Here is a basic recipe to give you the technique and some ratio ideas. Usually our end product will be dependent on what we available that is fresh. Remember to wash you herbs really well and take the stems off.
Fermented salsa
1 onion  (yellow is the usual choice, white is milder and red adds a zing and also a beautiful pink color. I like red onion with peach and jalapenos in this recipe. That's it, no tomatoes)
6 to 12 hot peppers (jalapenos, habanero even cayenne) Remember habaneros are very very hot. Cayenne adds a red color!  Use any another kind of hot pepper if you want.
4-8 cloves of garlic
1.5 teaspoon of salt (not iodized)
1 to 2 bunches of cilantro (Use a lot, it is tasty, especially with peach salsa)
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of limes, so use organic
AND 1.5 teaspoons of salt. This is the "fermenter and the preserver"!
A food processor makes easy work of chopping the ingredients. If you chop and dice by hand remember hot pepper fumes hurt. When chopped and juiced mix your ingredients.
They are ready to pack in a jar. Tamp them down making sure you have no air pockets. If you have glass weights. Lucky you. Put them on top of the mash. You can also use a clean zip lock plastic bag. Put the bag on top of the mash and slowly add water. Make sure you are pressing down on the top of the mash totally. I like to cut a circular piece of parchment paper to fit the top of the mash and put this on top before I put the bag on. Cover you ferment with a piece of cheesecloth. Keep it in an area where you can check it. There is no need to poke around but make sure you don't have air pockets pushing your ingredients up. Ferment this for 7 to 14 days depending on the weather. When it is done take out the plastic bag or glass weight and enjoy. Store in the refrigerator.
This is a basic ferment for salsa. You can mix and match all kinds of thing. Remember CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN. Salt is the thing that preserves and ferments.
Kristen and Christopher Shockey have written some fantastic books about fermenting with outstanding recipes.
Karen Solomon has a great book about Asian pickles and chutneys.

 

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