Archives for category: Lacto-Fermentation

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Through all these years fermenting vegetables, I have often wondered why there is so little a tradition of this kind of food preservation in Britain.  Perhaps the prevalence of beer meant the availability of malt vinegar for vinegar pickling? Perhaps the relatively mild winters meant there was less of a hunger gap than in the colder climes eastward? Maybe the early entrance of rural workers into a wage economy meant the earlier loss of food traditions? Might there be foodways left to be discovered? I’d like to believe this but I don’t have an answer.

I scour old cookbooks and find not much– perhaps an occasional mention of making fizzy drinks with “yeast” (which of course could so easily be wild rather than derived from baking and wine making)  — elderflower champagne, for example, or bottled drinks of burdock and dandelion, or nettle.  But these are sugar ferments, and different from preserving in brine with bioactive bacteria– i.e. sauerkraut, kimchi, cucumber pickles. Somewhere in Hannah Glasse I once read a reference to wedges of cabbage in salt brine– but that didn’t feel like a common cultural practice.

It was a thrill when I learned about Beetroot Stout, a delicious, nourishing, medicinal vegetable-based cocktail.  When I queried Glyn Hughes of the incredible site The Foods of England Project, he responded  that the only thing  that came to mind for him was  Potato Cheese (to England– only hypothetically– via Germany):

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http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/potatocheese.htm/ Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 19 July 1855

The immediate association was with Kishk, a Middle Eastern cultured milk and bulgur wheat ferment, which I’d read about in Sandor Katz’s books Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation. Two summers ago I tried to make Kishik (the names vary through different regions and translations, also “Kashk”) following the method in The Gaza Kitchen.  My disks turned mouldy. I reckon the relatively chilly, damp air of a Welsh summer just wasn’t dry enough to let the ferment dessicate quickly enough to beat the rot. From this experience I believe having the artificial heat from a kitchen radiator in the winter helped the experiment this time to succeed.

POTATO CHEESE a la The Foods of England Project

I boiled and mashed a potato, and added several tablespoons of milk kefir.

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Here’s a close-up of the early days:

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I woke up on Day 3 to find the surface of the ferment blooming in this beautiful, vermiculated Geotrichum Candidum, tentatively identified by my Instagram friend Claudia of Urban Cheese Craft. Because this fungus is common in cheese making, I thought of it as a good thing.  Hmmmmm.

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…Though when I peeled it back, and realised it was just a surface feature, I worried a bit that it would slow the evaporation underneath in a project in which drying-out was the ultimate goal (unlike with cheese making proper)…. because I was emulating Kishk … but I realise in retrospect had we eaten this “cultured potato” at this point, it would have been more of a cheese-like substitute…17106008_10212313072201723_1065488006_o.jpg

So with a bit of trepidation, unsure of myself, I stirred it all together (rather than remove the surface) and left the bowl near the radiator, and under a tea towel.:

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On Day 11 the potato mixture felt dry enough to form patties, or disks, and I wrapped them gently in absorbent cloth, but let them air a bit too.

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And nothing untoward was happening….

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And by day 14 they felt fully hardened and I felt the Potato Cheese experiment to be successful….  A ferment on a carbohydrate with the goal to extend a milky cheesy perfume into the time of year with less milk and cheese…17092799_10212313009800163_117850163_o-1.jpg

So now I have my savoury fermented potato “Potato Cheese,” — smells cheesy in a good way — and I feel ready to experiment. I can only think of it as a substitute for Parmesan– maybe grate it over a dish where I might use a hard Italian cheese, or perhaps throw it into a soup such as Minestrone for that little extra thickening or umami sensation. I’m thinking, because it smells reminiscent of Nutritional Yeast, to search through vegan recipes to understand how that ingredient is really used. How would YOU use it? Am most interested in reader suggestion…. And truly interested in anyone’s comments or observations about any part of the process…

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Not the prettiest pictures; actually they are so unappealing to look at, I take a certain contrarian pleasure posting them on a food blog where there’s the expectation that food needs to be beautiful.  (The reality is ferments often lose a lot of their initial vivid colour.)

Even if visually not so lovely, fermented Snippled Beans are an easy and delicious side dish. Read the rest of this entry »

Welsh Fermentation Festival

We are excited to anounce our first ever Welsh Fermentation Festival, a day to explore all things fermented.  Come along for a fun day of tasting, drinking, workshops, music and more.   Stallholders and workshops to be anounced soon!

Festival will be held at Welsh Mountain Cider, Prospect Orchard, Llanidloes SY186JY

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A fun perk of blogging is requesting books I know I’m going to love, like Kimchi: Essential Recipes of the Korean Kitchen.  Authors Im Kee Sun, Im Boo Mee Ja, Lim Byung-Soon and Lim Byung-Hi are a family of Korean women living in Stockholm where they run a much loved restaurant called Arirang.  Short of dining there -though looking at photos in their book, how you’ll wish to! – you can buy this fantastic guide and create your own tantalising Kimchi, to eat as umami accompaniments or integrated into seasonal dishes including soups, pancakes, dumplings, cocktails (!) and more.

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On the growing popularity of fermenting in Britain, seasonal eating, working with gluts and waste, and a new approach to Piccalilli using a technique learned from making kimchi… Read the rest of this entry »

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Fortunate am I to receive occasional parcels of unsold bread from a friend who runs a really top quality bakery here in mid-Wales, Andy’s Bread. A few months back he gave me several loaves of pumpernickel, a dark, dense and sweet rye bread.  His version includes whole rye grain, rye chops, rye, sourdough, molasses,  and old pumpernickel. The loaf is coated in rye chops (and baked in a hot oven which is then turned off overnight); a “lid” is placed on top of the tins to “steam” the loaves and prevent their drying out.  Andy’s pumpernickel is something special– and not so dissimilar from his Borodinski breads which contain coriander seeds and powder, malt extract and molasses.  These are true artisan breads in that they come from long and varied traditions and are expertly crafted in particular, local conditions.

Andy’s pumpernickel makes great croutons for leek and potato, and split pea soup; I will be using some from another batch tomorrow for chocolate Christmas bark as per Claire Ptak’s wonderful recipe here.

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Being gifted with food that is “surplus” or “waste” anyway is really freeing, and allowed me to feel I could experiment.  I’d long been curious to try Bread Kvass, so in the absence of any planned trips to Russia or Russian communities elsewhere, I knew I’d have to try to make it. I also wanted to reproduce an effort from a while earlier in which I made a sourdough cake from recycled bread.  And I sadly found out that the friend who taught me her resourceful and roughshod approach to bread had died– so I was of a rare mind to bake bread. Read the rest of this entry »

I am re-blogging this “Kraut-funder” to support and share information about an exciting partnership between fermenters and food rescuers.

OCTOPUS ALCHEMY

Octopus Alchemy are crowdfunding ‘kraut-funding’.

OA Workshop - 15.11.15-35 Fermented ‘Night-Shade Free’ Salsa.

We launched on November 15th and are running the campaign right through until December 13th. The drive is to support an exciting new collaborative project between Octopus Alchemy, Silo and The Real Junk Food Project, Brighton – as well as to boost our workshop experiences with some new kitchen bling and to fund the development of a new online portal for awareness raising and resources.  We want to raise around 4K.

The project is to ‘Transform the City’s Food Waste into Superfood’ for sale. We’re basically going to hoover up surplus veg in the city and engage the community through our current workshops on food / health politics and fermentation in turning it into a lovely fermented product for sale. The proceeds of which will help nourish our mutual projects to continue making an impact on the local food and health…

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Beautiful in its knobby hairy tentacled-rootletted glory, the celeriac is an autumn root with the flavour of a spring leaf.  Ish.

Perhaps you find yourself in its company (a veg box, a farmer’s market) and are unsure what direction to take the conversation? It’s wonderful roasted, in soups and gratins, and alone or mixed with potatoes or other roots in mash.  Or, if you’ve read about the collapse of ocean eco-systems, you might want to bookmark the delicious vegetarian kedgeree Anna Jones calls Vegeree.

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And of course there’s the famous French salad Celeri Remoulade, which has been inspiring me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Well, maybe you feel a little longing when you look at photos of lots of your friends in a city where you used to live. You see their beautiful children, and the making an event of a day pressing apples, fruit that they’ve grown in orchards they’ve planted with love.  Everybody’s pitching in and working toge ther and it’s a productive food-preparation idyll there in suburban Oxford.

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Here’s a beautiful short film in which Sandor Katz talks about processes of fermentation. He is funny and compelling– and I will always be grateful to him for Wild Fermentation which has been such an influential, important book in my life.  Using Wild Fermentation I taught myself basic skills that now serve me constantly in the kitchen, but the book also presents a wonderful vision in which personal, political and microbial transformation serve as metaphors for each other.  Wild Fermentation is a guide to practical alchemy (and for this reason, if you have to make a choice, buy it before the also wonderful The Art of Fermentation).

This film captures some of the magic. Read the rest of this entry »

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