Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fermenting for Life

Fermentation is the gift that keeps on giving. This sounds fatuous, but I promise you it's not. Making fermented food is about creating the conditions for new life to exist. It's about nurturing microbes. You make friends with the microbes, and they provide you with food and drink that is teeming with life and delicious to boot. It's a symbiotic relationship. The microbes also live in your intestines and protect you from harmful bacteria. You scratch their back, they scratch yours.

Making fermented foods is so cheap it's almost free! There are limited startup costs for equipment, which you can scale according to how fancy you want to get. There's no reason you can't start making sauerkraut right now with a head of cabbage, salt, and a jar. No need to get any more sophisticated than that. It's very forgiving of beginners and perfect for those who like to experiment.

Why aren't you doing it already?!

Progress Reports:

-Wild Yeast All-Maple Mead (went in on 6/16) is still bubbling up nicely. It has been tasted several times by Matt and I, with impressions all favorable so far. The fermentation is probably less vigorous than it would have been with refined yeast, but there is undeniably something going on in there. Also forming is a big clump of dead yeast on the bottom, which is why the meadmaker is advised to rack the mead to a new container (to get the mead off the spent yeast, which may be imparting yeasty flavors). I'm thinking about leaving it for a while. The big problem is going to be keeping myself from drinking the whole thing before it's ready. Age can only improve the product.

-Fresh batch of kraut is in the jar right now, with radishes, beets, red and white cabbage, and a moderate quantity of garlic. It smells great after 5 days, and may be ready for tasting soon. I favor frequent tasting, especially in the early stages when the flavor is still relatively mild. You get a sense of the evolution over time. This one is being kept in the basement because the air conditioning is off upstairs and the basement is the only consistently cool place in the house.

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