Archives for posts with tag: fermenting

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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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My son is lying in bed home from school with severe intermittent cramping, and of course my first thought as always is to try to get some fermented food into him. (Pretty sure it’s not his appendix.) I know that fighting bacteria with bacteria is effective, and that probiotic, bacterial-rich ferments, even small spoonfuls of “pickle juice” (brine), support a rebalance.  So I’m relieved when he requests “one of [my] homemade fizzy drinks”  — some version of water kefir.

There is continuously new research emerging about the microorganisms in our digestive systems and relationship to disease, including dementia, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes.  Yesterday I read about research concerning Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in this regard, and an interesting summation of positive and negative aspects of antibiotics.  And there have been absolutely fantastic episodes on BBC Radio 4 on the Food Programme, if you are lucky enough to have access to these links:  That Gut Feeling Part One and That Gut Feeling Part Two.  Since listening to these radio docs, I have been thinking of my own microbiome as an organ I can easily make healthier by daily dietary choices, such as increasing fibre, variety and of course including raw and unpasteurised and fermented foods, as well as reducing processed foods. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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Kimchi-Love here, maybe addictive passion, but I am not alone. Variations are fun and endless and you will be rewarded for experimenting with what you have. Read the rest of this entry »

 

A friend just posted this marvellous how-to video on Facebook.  Such a pleasure to watch and listen: the ancient, fiery oven, the kneading, the young people, the old people, the singing, even if your Spanish is as bad or worse than mine.  What really thrilled me though was learning the word for “sourdough” in Spanish.  Levadura Madre.  Yeast Mother / Mother of Yeast.  Or perhaps a better translation would be Leavening Mother, referring more to quality of help to raising the dough. But the madre is madre whatever the case, and I like the way our teacher in the film refers to it as “Masa Madre” –fermented flour Mother– and sometimes just “Mother” by itself being the colloquial. Maybe in English we only remember this concept of generation and regeneration in terms of Kombucha, and vinegar. Can you think of anything else?  Or any comparable phrases in English that refer to bread?

 

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The Festival of Holi —  a Hindu celebration of the beginning of spring, of love, and of colour, riotous colour, people throwing colour with spices, pigments, coloured waters, all over each other in frolicsome revelry.  I’ve only read about this, but it’s a source of fantasy, one day before I die to be somewhere in India during this time, to witness, no, to be part of it all.  The experience of colour is one of my greatest joys.  And vintage cookbooks!

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Hello to you!  Am in busy desperate preserving mode– so much to do, race against time and the forces of overripening, but wanted to share a few random things.

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I’ve made a really nice blackberry jam and threw in actually quite a number of very very soft pears.  (I mushed them through a strainer first, and retained the skins/seeds etc for a scrap vinegar.) Then added a cinnamon stick too.  Decided to strain through a sieve so the jam wouldn’t have that bramble grit of the teeny seeds.  The jam is wonderful, glad to have done this. I put the seeds from the sieve  in water with water kefir grains and have a really lovely bubbly drink happening– didn’t even bother with the whole first and second ferment thing.  Blackberry Pear Soda Pop, pictured above……

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I have started an occasional project to film peoples’ hands when they talk about food and cooking.  I’ve only posted one so far, but there are more to come.

Today I was chatting with a friend and suddenly noticed her hands– three fingers on each one and knobs of bones and some tales of failures by surgeons. She is 75, beautiful, a free spirit, a collector of wool who crochets mad Log Cabin patterns, a guitar player, a cook, a fermenter.

Her mother had had one finger on each hand. Her grandmother had had a job in the 1920’s in a watch factory, hand-painting numbers on watch faces with night-luminous Radium paint; to get a sharp nib, she’d form the paintbrush into a point in her mouth between dabs. Read the rest of this entry »

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