In the Living Kitchen

Musings, memories, meals in the making.


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It’s the little things…

photo-16This post is really about tempeh. I promise.

Our household is in that place where when we feel like spending a little extra beyond our monthly bills, we do a 3-4 month budget projection. Inevitably, it turns out there isn’t any extra, and that is clear when the mortgage is due 3 months into the future.

I don’t want to paint the wrong picture. I am not suffering in any real way. Chinese takeout once or twice a month, yoga class once a week, a beer or two every so often. Plus, we are paying our mortgage! It’s fine. But how I covet things. Don’t let the fact that I only have 5 pairs of shoes* (3 of which are 8 years old) fool you. I covet shoes. And other apparel. Kitchen towels. Appliances. Organic sheets. Things.

When I was little, my family didn’t have much. I think it must have been pretty hard on my folks having three young kids always asking for stuff, but never really being able to provide. Instead of saying no, they got in the habit of saying, “someday.” We’d plan on these half promises so much that our parents would actually take us to the store to look at and pick out the things that they would buy us someday. I have very fond memories of a three story Victorian doll house, the polished miniature dining set, intricate curtains, iron bed, rotary telephone, and patterned rugs that I adored, examined, obsessed over, and never owned. I went to Hobby Lobby every week one summer just to look at the doll house that I would own someday.

photo-15So, yes, I will admit it, I get depressed when there isn’t any extra, because I like to think that someday I’ll be able to buy stuff. This cycle is in my blood. True to my upbringing, the best cure I have found for this gloom is Home Goods, the discount home goods store. Everything at Home Goods is either a factory second or an over stock. I always enjoy myself the most at Home Goods when I go in resolved not to buy anything. That’s always when  I find a gem, like I did on Sunday evening. I was walking around, scrutinizing every slightly rejected item on the shelf, as usual. I was in the kitchen section, where I always begin, when I spied a three tiered cooling rack.

For about 3-4 months, I have been making tempeh. The problem is, the incubator, an old mini-fridge outfitted with a light bulb and a thermostat, only has two tiny shelves, and therefore I can only fit 2 batches of tempeh in at a time. The bottom shelf is plexiglass, and there is no circulation. To remedy this, Sam placed our turkey roasting rack, which we no longer have a need for roasting turkey, on top of the plexiglass shelf to help with air flow, but it makes the tempeh wonky, and sometimes the tempeh incubated on these shelves has patches that haven’t “tempehed.”

This post really is about tempeh!

So, there I am in Home Goods, looking at what normally I would think is a worthless piece of crap, that I spied for no reason at all on the bottom shelf, and all I can think of is how this three tiered cooling rack might solve my tempeh problems. I show it to Sam, thinking he is going to tell me its way too big, since I have terrible judgement when it comes to that sort of thing, and he nods his head pensively. There is hope.

I shell out the $9.99, which might take its toll in March, and the entire ride home all I can think of is that this rack is going to be way too big, and we are going to have a three tiered cooling rack that I am going to have to store it in the basement.

When we get home, I grab the rack, open it, pull the incubating tempeh off the shelves, and slide the rack in. It fits perfectly. This thing has made me so happy.photo-14

*OKAY. Yes. 5 pairs of shoes is a ridiculously silly way of proving my point. I know. But I still want new ones.


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Ouch…Again

Holy smokes, my life it out of wack!  I keep saying out loud “everything that can go wrong is going wrong.”  Seriously.  And I think I just might even be jinxing myself even further by stating this new saying over and over again.  I won’t go into all the gritty details (hint: its mostly farm related) but I will say that I have injured my knee, my left thumb and and left wrist.  Then yesterday I stabbed a toe on my right foot, through my shoes, with a pitch fork.  Seriously, I think there is something wrong with me, I am not quite sure if it is emotional, karmic, dietary or what.  Someone said to me today, “This is a sign that you need to slow down…but you can’t right now.”  Nope, certainly not, but this new found clumsiness just might do me in if I don’t reign it in fast.

Which reminds me, I am beginning to wonder if I just might start my own health care co-op.  Probably not, but it sure would be nice.  A group plan run collectively by like minded individuals.  What the heart of health care should be…I would really like my very own specialist, you know, liberal-hippie-farmer-style–someone who can use their expertise in healing herbs, remedies and food to guide me a bit when I am feeling out of wack.  And if there were ever something really wrong, well, they could help guide me through that too.  So, who is this specialist and when I am forced to purchase a health care plan, will they be on the list?  Just some considerations I have been having quite a bit.

In good news, spring is here.  When I look out at the gorgeous views around here my heart fills with warmth and gladness.  I am making a spring greens ferment–a sort of wild kimchi–and I will certainly report when it’s done.   This year I discovered garlic mustard, a petite wild brassica that has garlic notes to start followed by a strong, bitter flavor.  It will be the main ingredient.

The fermenting season has definitely begun.  It’s time for kombucha drinking, which means mad kombucha brewing (beware the teeny fruit fly infestations…).  I am starting to make yogurt again, and with the warm weather comes the desire to use the outdoor oven at the farm, which means I have got to keep my sourdough starter fresh and fed every week.  With all this weekly fermenting,  am actually going to make a fermenting schedule.  I have decided that fermented foods are important enough to my well-being that they deserve top priority.  Last summer, I often put off my fermenting projects at the end of the day, only to regret it later. Perhaps for all the readers out there who might not understand this love of mine for fermented foods, I will make an effort to expound upon the benefits of these foods when I get around to writing about them.

On the writing topic, I started another blog a couple of months ago for the CSA.  It’s funny, having the new blog has made me feel more open in this one.  Come June, the CSA blog will start filling up with recipes and interesting farm news.


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All About the Kombucha

The Masked Fermenter

This is for all the kombucha lovers out there.  The recipe is at the end of the post.

The scenery out the window is a solid white block.  After months of a relatively mild, sunny winter, February is bringing in the snow.  I might be in the minority here (big surprise) but I am thankful to have snow.  I feel in my gut that something is awry when it doesn’t snow in the winter, or when it is rains all summer log and never gets above 80 degrees.  Even though I feel trapped in my own home today due to the snow, am scared to drive due to the snow, and will likely take a nap and eat too much homemade bread with homemade jam due to the snow, I feel at ease.

What better task to give myself on a snow day than making kombucha?  Actually, making kombucha is not a time consuming project, however, it is the most interesting thing I will do today.  Kombucha is, for some, an acquired taste.  As for me, I have always liked it.  I did drink vinegar as a child, so I suppose it is no surprise.  (I have always enjoyed acidic foods, much to the chagrin of my tongue.)  I finally received a kombucha mother last month after the one I had was forgotten in the refrigerator.  Instead of buying ridiculously expensive kombucha from the store, I can now make my own at a fraction of the cost.

Kombucha is a fermented food.  Sugars are digested by a yeast and bacterial colony known as the kombucha mother.  When I first got my hands on a mother, I wanted to make the delicious fruity drinks that I bought at the store, so my kombucha was always quite experimental.  I would make lightly sweetened fruit beverages and put the mother in them.  I have heard that flavors can inhibit the mother and they actually prefer a much more consistent environment.  This time around, I am actually making kombucha “by the book” by adding all flavoring after the kombucha has finished the fermentation process.

Internet searches bring up the controversy surrounding the consumption of kombucha.  The one issue I take seriously is the lead poisoning issue caused by making kombucha in old earthen ware crocks.  Many old crocks contain lead in the glaze and acidic kombucha corrodes the glaze, allowing the lead to leach into the drink.  As for the health benefits, well, I have no idea what are true as far as cancer, weight loss and so forth.  Kombucha contains B vitamins, live yeast and bacteria and other acids that supposedly boost the immune system and help out the digestive system.  Many people drink kombucha as an energy drink because it is full of vitamins and minerals, and caffeine from the tea.  I drink more kombucha in the summer, when it ferments faster.  This is also the time when I eat lots of raw, fresh vegetables, am constantly working outside, do yoga three times a week and am pretty darn happy.  Therefore, I am thinner, more alert, have lots of energy, and so forth.  I am a bit hesitant to attribute all the benefits I feel in the summer to kombucha alone.  But I do love it on a hot summer day during my lunch break.

I make kombucha from sugar and tea.  For a while I was making it from honey, because I can purchase responsibly and locally produced honey.  However, having read that the kombucha mother needs consistency in order to thrive, and actually thrives better in a sugar sweetened tea over a honey sweetened tea, I will attempt to ween one of my mothers on honey slowly, by using an ever-increasing ratio on honey to sugar, and see how tastes along the way.

I make the strong tea in a one quart ball jar, add the sugar to the hot tea and dilute it with 3 quarts of water. The tea is then the perfect temperature for the kombucha mother.

Since the kombucha will produce a new, fresh colony with each fermentation, kombucha brewers are usually pretty generous with their extra mothers.  Every kombucha mother I have acquired has been given to me by an acquaintance.

The "old mother" on the left, the bright, "new mother" on the right. I compost the old mother and use the new mother, if I have no one to give one to.

Kombucha

This method makes one quart of strong sweet tea diluted with 3 quarts of cold water.  This ensures that the temperature of the tea is cool enough for the kombucha mother.  Do not place the kombucha mother into hot water.  The ideal temperature for kombucha is 75-80 degrees.  Excessive heat will kill the colony.

Makes about 1 gallon.

You will need:

1-2 gallon capacity glass container with a large opening or lead free crock (do not use metal)

1 strainer

bottles with air-tight lids (for the finished kombucha)

2 TBS loose tea, I use 1 TBS Assam black tea, 1 TBS Sencha green tea

1 cup (fair-trade, organic, vegan) sugar

1 kombucha mother plus 1/2 cup finished kombucha

Optional: juice, I enjoy juiced ginger

Directions:

Brew loose tea in one quart of boiling hot water for 5-10 minutes.  Strain.  Add sugar and stir into the hot tea until dissolved.  Place sweet tea into the brew container and add 3-4 quarts of water.  Place the kombucha mother in the sweet tea and cover tightly with several layers of cheesecloth or a towel.  Let it ferment for several days before tasting it.  The ideal fermenting temperature is 75-80 degrees.  In this temperature range, the kombucha will take 10-14 days to ferment the sugars in the tea.  In the winter, since it is cooler, the kombucha takes much longer, about 3 weeks.  Taste the kombucha.  if it is still very sweet, it is not done.  When the kombucha is at the end of the process, it will taste acidic and slightly sweet.  If you enjoy carbonated kombucha, you may strain the kombucha and place it in a jars fitted with air-tight lids, along with juice, if using.  Leave the jars at room temperature for a few more days and then place them in the refrigerator until ready to drink.  Once the jar is opened, the kombucha will start to lose its carbonation.

To keep the mother: The kombucha mother needs to have access to unfermented sugars at all times.  Either store it in some of the slightly sweet kombucha in the refrigerator until the next batch, or start the next batch immediately.


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SOBArley Pale Ale

Erin has mentioned a few times that she has a burgeoning interest in beer.  I (Sam) have to say that most of this interest is a direct result of my talking her ear off about the various aspects of beer making that I am taken with on a near daily basis.  She told me that I could write a post about beer making, and today, since she is off in Albany at a USDA education program for beginning women farmers and I am home making beer, I thought I ought to give it a try.

SOBArley Pale Ale.

This beer is very exciting for two reasons, (a) it is the first beer that I am making from a recipe of my own creation and (b) it is the first time that I am making something using ingredients that I have never tasted before in beer.  It is also the riskiest beer I have ever brewed.  It could end up being terrible!

In case you were not able to decode the pun in the name of this beer, it is an IPA style beer that is brewed with a heavy dose of kasha, aka soba, aka toasted buckwheat groats.  Kasha has a delicious nutty, smokey flavor that I have thought would do well in beer since the first time I brewed anything.  To make the recipe I looked through my beer recipe books and then looked in my box of beer ingredients and then improvised.  Here is the recipe:

Combine 3# of pale malted barley, 2# of Soba and .25# Crystal malt.

bring 2 gallons of water up to 150 degrees.  Add grains and maintain temperature for 90 minutes.

Strain grains through a mesh strainer, collecting the fluid (now called Wort) in a large vessel.

Add another 2 gallons of 150 degree water to the grains and let sit for 15 minutes.  Then strain again, allowing time for as much of the wort to drip out as out have the patience for.

Add 4 1/2#’s of extra light malt extract to the wort that you have collected.  (This should be about 3 gallons since much of the liquid was absorbed by the grain.)  Bring to a boil carefully.  It is difficult to get the malt extract to dissolve fully, as it has a tendency to clump.  Watch the pot closely, perhaps even use a thermometer, because when it comes to a boil it will foam up powerfully, spilling all over your stove and making a sticky mess.  It may foam up several times before it settles into a comfortable boil.

Add your bittering hops.  I used 1/2 oz  Spalt and 1/2 oz Amarillo hops but you could probably do better with a full ounce of something like Cascade.  Boil for 45-50 minutes then add flavor hops.  I used 1/4 oz Spalt and 3/4 oz Cascade.  Boil for another 10 minutes then add aroma hops.  I used 1/4 oz Spalt, 1/2 oz Amarillo and 1/4 oz Cascade.  (I used these hops because I had them in my fridge and needed to use them.  The Spalt hops are really not the best for this beer because they are not that bitter, that flavorful or that aromatic.)

Combine the hot wort with enough cold water to raise the total volume to 5 gallons.  Allow the wort to cool until it is about 80 degrees.  If you have some fancy wort cooling device, use it.  I don’t, so I either set it outside in the cold, set it outside in the pond (this is fun because it floats) or bury it in snow.  no matter how you shake it, however, if you want this to go quickly you need a fancy wort cooler.

Add the yeast, here an American ale yeast.  Seal the fermenting vessel with an airlock and let it sit at a constant indoor temperature for about 5-7 days.  It should start to bubble pretty aggressively within 24 hours, then gradually slow down.  Siphon into a secondary fermentation vessel after fermentation has slowed.  Let it all settle for another week to 10 days before bottling with 1 1/4 cup malt extract.

I have to wait another 6 weeks until I get to taste this stuff.  I hope that it will have a not too subtle toasty, nutty flavor, medium bitterness, full hop flavor and a nice big aroma.  The big question for me is how well the toasty Soba will go with the IPA style, and will it do anything weird to the overall flavor?

A few notes about what is happening during the process of brewing for those readers who may be uninitiated.  These bits of information should help you to appreciate any beer you drink.  I know these bits have made Erin willing to drink beer from time to time.

1.  Beer is made from grains that have been sprouted – in beer parlance, malted.  Malting changes the biochemical makeup of the grains.  A wide variety of enzymes are produced in the malting process.  These enzymes, when heated to various temperatures (all hovering around 150 degrees), convert the complex carbohydrates in the grain into various sugars and proteins.  Some of these sugars ferment into Alcohol, some do not.  The sugars that do not convert help to give beer a thicker, fuller feel in the mouth.  Those that do, help give the beer a higher alcohol content.  They also leave some residual sweetness to the beer.  The protein is necessary in order for the yeast to stay healthy while they do the work of converting the fermentable sugars into alcohol.

2.  The process of heating the malted grains so that the various enzymes can convert the starches in the grains is called “mashing.”  In the beginning of the SOBArley Pale Ale recipe, malted grains are mashed with unmalted Soba.  In most malted grain there is more enzyme than is necessary to convert the starches in the malted grain.  This extra enzyme can be harnessed to convert the carbohydrates in unmalted grains.  This is what I was hoping to achieve.  In this recipe there is not enough enzyme to convert all the carbohydrates so there will be some extra carbohydrates that should make the beer thicker.

3.  Hops will do different things to beer depending on how long they are allowed to boil in the wort.  The longer the hops are allowed to boil in the wort, the greater the amount of bitterness they will lend to the final product.  The less time the hops spend in the boiling wort the greater the amount of aroma they will lend to the final product.  Bitterness is totally in the mouth, aroma totally in the nose, flavor is somewhere in between.  When thinking about hops and how they affect the taste of beer, it is helpful for me to imagine a line that runs from the back of the tongue where we experience bitterness, through the tip of the tongue, all the way to the nose.  In this metaphor the amount of time the hops spend in the boil is analagous to the line and it is the variable that is manipulated to achieve more or less of the different characteristics of hops.  There are some beers on the market that exploit the full range of this spectrum, most notably Dogfish Head Brewery’s 60, 90 and 120 minute IPA’s.  These beers have hops added to them continuously throughout the boiling process.  I sometimes like to imitate this process in miniature during the last ten minutes of so of the boil, adding my flavor and aroma hops in small doses every minute or so.

4.  Like all the other fermented foods that Erin has discussed here, homebrewed beer is a living food.  Most store bought beer is pasteurized before bottling.  This allows for more shelf stability and less flavor variability over time.  Homebrewed beer is not pasterurized.  There are living yeasts, albeit mostly dormant, in the bottle that continue to ferment any sugars that are available.  The yeast, and the CO2 they produce while metabolizing, are what cause homebrewed beer to carbonate.  They are also a big part of the reason why homebrewed beer is sensitive to temperature and light in storage.  Homebrewed beer, because it is unfiltered, is also rich in B complex vitamins.  These help our bodies metabollize alcohol and stay hydrated while drinking.


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Beer and Me

I have given in! Fully, totally, wholeheartedly given in to beer.  No more, “Oh, I don’t really like beer” stories here.  Sam has been brewing beer at home for about a year now.  He currently has a beer brewing itch that he is scratching furiously almost every weekend.  What am I supposed to do?  Let him take over the kitchen?

I have never liked beer.  Not in high school, not in college, and not for the past two years.  Perhaps it was my rigid christian upbringing?  The fact that beer is my father’s beverage of choice?  The desire to be different from Oklahoma’s beer drinking masses?  Well, I’ve got news for  myself.  Beer is in, and brewing beer even more so. There is a reason for this, as I am just now discovering.

The pumpkin used in our Spiced Pumkin Ale.

Knowing of my natural prowess in the kitchen and garden, Sam has been asking for my “help” for the past year.  To be honest, I have not been interested.  I mean, just what could I contribute as a non-beer drinker? My interest was sparked, however when I discovered  Dogfish Head, which really blew my concept of beer out of the water, as I am sure it has down for many.   I then began tasting small amounts of the beers Sam brews, as well as some of the ones he wants to emulate. Then one day, after weeks of begging, Sam convinced me to help him brew a ginger-honey beer.  All I did was mince the ginger and keep the wart from boiling over.  Weeks later, we bottled it, and weeks after that we tasted it.  I am hooked.  The subtle ginger flavor, the nutty aftertaste, the carbonation without the sweetness of soda.  I even served our ginger-honey beer at a small dinner party with tempeh curry and samosas.  It was delightful, and voila!  A new niche has formed: Pairing beer with healthy farm-grown meals.

The flavors: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, hops.

Sam and I would like to start brewing beers in our own way, sourcing local ingredients, growing ingredients, sprouting our own grains, and everything else.  The folks at the beer store will have a fit! The process of preparing our own ingredients will be difficult, but we are dedicated.   We recently made a pumpkin ale with one of our pumpkins.  A small step, but it feels good knowing one of the ingredients is ours.  It smells delicious, and I am currently working on a meal pairing for it.  We also made a hard cider from apples from Billiam’s Liberty View Farm, that we pressed ourselves.  The cider is currently slowly carbonating in our closet.  Knowing that we can control the quality of our own ingredients is very exciting.  It is exactly what we strive for in every inch of our lives.   We trust ourselves and our small community to deliver the standard we believe in.

Boiling the wart.

My beer making journey is now in the beginning phase, or as I am thinking of it, “The Tasting Phase.”  In any new endeavor, I like to immerse myself with knowledge of the subject.  With brewing that means tasting high quality, complex beers and learning about the processes that lead to their wonderful flavors.   Sam and I purchased several beers that fall into the category of quality, complex beers, across the beer flavor spectrum.   We would like to make a lambic, which is an open fermented beer, as opposed to other beers which use cultivated strains of yeast to ferment.  Since we ferment all kinds of things using wild yeast and bacteria, this is an obvious choice.  Brewing a lambic would allow use to use mostly local ingredients, and a culture captured from the air, instead of a factory.  The problem is, neither of us has ever tasted a lambic before.  We also read about oak-barrel aged beers recently and were both intrigued by the descriptions.  So we went to the beer store and purchased some lambics and oak-barrel aged beers as well as other intriguing brews.

In the following weeks I will dedicate posts to the individual beers we selected and the meals I have created to pair with them.  I never imagined beer could be so much fun.


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Fermented Daikon with Ginger

Every food has a story right?  On Sunday Sam and I had the luck to hear about a fellow farmer’s misfortune turned local delight.  Her produce truck broke down so she couldn’t bring all her delicious vegetables to NYC, so she opened her home up to sell them to all who came.  We are living off our kale right now, which is awesome, believe me, but we could not imagine passing up the opportunity of having salad everyday this week (although we consumed a pound of pea shoots in the first 24-hours). We bought over two pounds of fresh baby greens and some Japanese radishes.

Unfortunately, we did not grow enough Japanese radishes this year to have any for ourselves over the winter, so we were really happy to see large, beautiful daikons for sale.  (The daikon we bought is in the post below, next to Scout.)

We have seen lacto-fermented daikons with ginger in the produce section of our local health food store and thought that they would be a good addition to our lacto-fermented foods.  We bought the biggest daikon we could find and sliced it up with a lot of ginger and added a sea salt water brine.  (I used 2 TBS of salt water per quart of water for these.)

Daikon with ginger! The small jar has daikon, ginger, garlic cloves and two Thai chilies.

For more detailed instructions, see the “Lacto-Fermented Carrots” post.  The carrots, by the way, are amazing and almost gone.  I let them ferment for a full month before refrigerating them.  One more gorgeous picture of the fermenting daikons:

They remind me of preserved lemons in the light of the afternoon sun.


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Fermenting Carrots

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Root crops are amazing.  Not only are they delicious, nutritious and fun,  they remind me that sustainable living is possible all year-round.  Think of it, they are large packets of energy, and, if left in the ground, they can survive the harshest winter only to have enough energy to grow a new set of foliage and eventually flower and seed.  Long story short, you don’t need much energy to keep root vegetables over the winter, especially not two thousand miles of driving to and from warmer climates, wasting fossil fuels and the health of our planet!

Apart from simply leaving root crops in the ground (which you can certainly do!) there are several more methods to storing these wonderful vegetables.  My favorite is keeping them dirty and placing them in a cool dark place, where you can also water them down from time to time.  For example, we packed 40 pounds of beets in styrofoam boxes (that were salvaged from a dumpster, never ever purchased) in sand.  We will keep them in our basement, and water them, just like you would a houseplant, because, after all, the beet roots are still alive and if allowed to dry out they will shrivel and die.   In order to store roots this way, each root has to be perfect: not too small, greens trimmed to 1/2 inch, and absolutely no blemishes or cracks.  If the roots are not perfect, they will rot.  And who wants forty pounds of rotten beets? The best part is that stored this way they are kept alive, with all of their nutritional content, sweetness and crispness in tact.

If you are a stocker-upper, you may, of course, can or freeze any vegetable, including root crops.  We use these two methods a lot actually, for tomatoes, greens, broth, applesauce, pumpkin and jam, but the nutritional content of the food is compromised with both these methods.   A “local” winter diet needs of balance of these “processed” foods along with highly nutritional, fresh items, such as stored root crops and lacto-fermented vegetables.

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Two weeks ago I helped pack a ton of carrots in sand, situated snuggly in apple boxes.  But as I pointed out previously, carrots with cracks or blemishes cannot be stored this way.  Out of a ton of carrots, there is always a significant amount of imperfections.  So, as my bonus, I took home a 5-gallon bucket of imperfect carrots.  They have been sitting in said bucket ever since.  Happily, since carrots are so amazing they were still in tact this morning, two weeks later.  Granted, they lasted two weeks, but they won’t last all winter in this state.  So I set about to lacto-ferment the carrots, which will last as long as I can keep them in the house.  Fermented vegetables maintain all the original nutrients, plus the added bonus of beneficial bacilli.

Here’s the method.  This method works for any amount.

Rinse (if dirty) firm carrots.  Peel and rinse again.  Chop off the tops and any rotten spots.  Slice into thin, even slices.  I used my awesome 14-cup capacity food processor, but you may prefer thicker slices, which can be cut by hand.  The thicker the slices, the longer the fermentation process will take.

Pack sliced carrots into jars, or a ceramic crock.

You may make plain carrots, or add seasonings.  If you prefer, alternate the seasonings between layers of carrots, or just put them in at any point of the packing process.  My two preferred seasonings are chopped ginger root,  and garlic and dill.  Luckily, I had some dill plants that went to seed and are sprouting right now, so I have access to fresh dill.  You can also try peppercorns, chili, or any other herb.

I used a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped, in one-1/2 gallon ball jar.

I used 5 cloves of garlic and 3 sprigs of dill in one 1/2-gallon ball jar.

After you have packed the carrots, make a salt water brine.  I use 1-1/2 TBS of SEA SALT per QUART of water.  Mix until the water is clear and pour over the carrots until they are covered.  You may need more or less than a quart of brine depending on how may carrots you have and how big the slices are.

Place a weight on top of the carrots so the brine covers them completely.  Mold will most likely form on the top.  If the brine covers the surface of the carrots, the mold will not grow on the carrots.  Place the jars or the crock of carrots in the corner of your kitchen in the winter, or in a cool place, such as a cellar, in the summer.

Check the carrots every few days.  Scrape off any mold that has formed on the surface and taste them.  I usually let vegetables ferment for 5-10 days or so.  They will develop a pleasant, sour-pickle flavor, but should also maintain some crispness.  When they taste delicious, cap them off, if in jars, or ladle them into jars if using a crock and move them into the refrigerator.  They will continue to ferment at a slower rate, so don’t be alarmed if they soften after a month or so.  Enjoy in moderation.

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