All week I’d been throwing things into a small stock pot: onion and leek scraps, parsley stems, skin from roasted pumpkin, carrot scrapings and beetroot skins.

I simmered them and made a stock for a nice lentil soup (which included some #pumpkinrescue pumpkin).  Beet is a wonderful ingredient in stocks, but sometimes it’s the only time the gorgeous colour feels wrong, because it announces itself rather than coming in with stealth. Unannounced, beet is a great suggester of the richness of meat– there’s something of blood and iron in the flavour.  It’s great grated into vegetarian “Spag Bol” variations for this reason, though again, the colour needs to be accepted in this instance, not fought.

We’ve been busy, and the extra “stock” was sitting out on the stove stop, unstrained, unrefrigerated.  Yesterday I sieved out the vegetable bits to put the liquid in the fridge.  Tasting it, it was sour, and I thought, off.  And was about to chuck it.  Me!  Ms Ferment, Ms Anti-Waste, throwing out food!.

But I thought again, and tasted a bigger sip.

And it was good.

Nice as a beverage, only mildly sour yet earthy, and would be nice in a soup, doesn’t need to be jettisoned, needs to be consumed!

‘Twas not unlike Beet Kvass, even though cooked not raw, and had redolence of squash and onion and everything that had gone into the pot.   An accidental ferment, or a reminder that fermentation happens with and without human control.  I’m drinking it a little today, with squeezes of lemon juice, to try to recover my balance a little from having eaten crappy Halloween candy from my childrens’ hard-won booty, and nibbling on leftover, white-wheaty Soul Cakes.

How could it NOT be that the trials and errors of culinary experience in human history have brought forth many such happy accidents, that then get reproduced and become part of intentional culture.  I love the way the fantastic Mr Katz plays linguistically with the word “culture” in his writings, and in this short film:

I also love the way Sandor Katz writes about fermentation as the cusp, the border, the intermediary between food good and food bad.  Sometimes, when I’ve worked hard to create an intentional ferment, I can only acknowledge the good.  In this case of the accidental fermentation of my soup stock, I think I know just what he means.