The Kraut Collar

I prefer to make cabbage kraut in jars: wide mouth quart and 2-quart size.  (if I make larger batches, I use a ceramic crock.)  A challenge is keeping the cabbage submerged, especially when the mouth of the jar is smaller then the jar’s body.  I make something I call a kraut collar. (It reminds me of a collar worn by choristers over their robes.) I make mine from food grade plastic tub lids.

I cut the collar the same size as the inside of the body of the jar. Then cut to the center and take out a small hole (Looks like a doughnut now.)  This collar can be pushed into the mouth of the jar by overlapping the two radial edges. Once inside, it expands back to its original form to fit the inside of the jar.

Then, I place a shot glass atop the collar and put on the lid.  The lid pushes the collar down below the brine.  (I stack shot glasses depending on the level of the kraut.)

For a larger jar, you’ll need to find a larger plastic lid, but it should work the same.

Bill Mollison’s Ferment and Human Nutrition

We are thrilled to be able to offer for sale copies of Permaculture founder Bill Mollison’s 1993 book on fermentation, which was out of print for many years. Published in Australia, the books cost $50 (a lot less than what it was going for online after a few years out of print, over $800). To purchase a copy, click here. This was the book that began Sandorkraut’s fermentation education, now expanded and revised. Topics covered include:

  • Storing, Preserving and Cooking foods
  • Fungi, Yeast, Mushrooms and Lichens
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Roots, Bulbs, Rhizomes
  • Condiments, Spices and Sauces
  • Agricultural Composts, Silages and Liquid Manures
  • Fruits, Flowers, Nuts, Oils and Olives
  • Leaf, Stem and Aguamiels
  • Marine and Freshwater Products, Fish, Molluscs and Algae
  • Meats, Birds and Insects
  • Dairy Products
  • Beers, Wines and Beverages
  • Nutrition and Environmental Health

In Mollison’s own words: “All the recipes given herein are traditional; they belong to humanity, even though they have been collected or tried by various authors, they have all been used for centuries by thousands of human beings. Only a few recipes are my own inventions (you may guess at these) but even these derive from my family or friends in their main ingredients or procedures.”

To purchase the book, click here.

Miso-fermented Egg Yolk

The end result of this ferment is a creamy, rich and delicious ball of goodness.  And with a texture and flavor much more reminiscent of a soft stinky cheese than of egg yolk.  I first read of this process in The Book of Miso, by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi.

 

It’s fairly straight forward: bury egg yolks in miso, wait, recover yolk, and enjoy.

 

I ferment a dozen or two at a time, and my method was inspired by the playing with fire & water food blog [http://www.playingwithfireandwater.com/foodplay/].

 

Materials: fermenting vessel, miso paste, soft boiled or raw egg yolks, and cheese cloth.  These are layered in a crock in a sandwich-like fashion. I start with a 1-2” layer of miso, and then place a single layer of cheese cloth on top.  I use a handle of a wooden spoon (it has a very bulbous end) and push divots into the miso the size of the yolks, pressing the cheese cloth into the miso as I go.  Next, I carefully set the yolks into the divots, and cover with another layer of cheese cloth. I then cover it all with another layer of miso paste. I repeat this process until I run out of yolks, or room in the crock.

An important detail is to keep the corners of the cheese cloth visible on top of the layer of what is on top of it , so that you can lift out what is on top of it, either a layer of miso, or of yolks, easily and cleanly. The whole purpose of the cheese cloth is to be able to recover the yolks as whole discrete balls, and not as mushy smashed blobs full of miso bits. And it works really slick, too.  Here are some photographs.

 

Putting divots into the miso on top of a layer of cheese cloth.

 

Adding a raw yolk.

 

Five soft boiled yolks wrapped in cheese cloth and ready to be covered in miso. I’ve pulled in the corners of the cheese cloth so they will be revealed after I remove the layer of miso that will sit on top of them.

 

Adding a top layer of cheese cloth and miso.

 

These yolks are ready to harvest.  I’ve removed the top layer of miso (bowl on left) and exposed the  yolks beneath.

 

Here is the layer of yolks removed inside their own cheese cloth, and a solo yolk about to be tied for drying.

 

These yolks have been tied in cheese cloth and draped over a beer bottle. They’ll stand in the fridge for a couple weeks and dry out to a crumbly or even a grate-able texture.

 

These yolks went into the smoker still inside their cheese cloth.  They are amazingly delicious!

 

My first batch of yolks I let ferment 6 months.  One week seemed way too short to me.  Having done both, the one-week yolks achieve a very sour taste, but lack the complex flavors of the miso from a longer ferment.  Both are very good. When I ferment a dozen or more, I use a crock and pack the top with a plate and weight, just as though I were making miso.  I’ve made one-week yolks only in a small jar, and it sits on the counter in the kitchen until ready.  I think either could go in the fridge for the ferment, though it might take longer.  Which ever method you use, remember to leave head space in the top of the vessel for some CO2 expansion, and liquid/tamari collection.

My favorite way to enjoy the yolks is as a spread on good bread or crackers.  They are also great blended in salad dressing, spread on top of poached eggs (with a little tekka miso sprinkled over), or tossed with fresh noodles or pasta.  They are also a fun food for a potluck, as they seem to push the limits of the culinary frontier, and the flavor of this ferment nearly always wins over a hesitant doubter.

 

Fermented Hot Pepper Sauce

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In mid-September peppers were in full swing at the local farmers market.  I purchased a dozen ghost peppers, and two large red bells. Time to make fresh hot pepper sauce with four easy steps:  Chop. Salt. Pack.  Wait.

(Chop & Salt) I removed the stems and whirled in a Cuisinart until thoroughly blended, and then added a pinch of salt toward the end.

(Pack) I poured the slurry into a quart jar and covered with fly-deterrent cloth (not shown).  As soon as the ferment gets going, the solids float and get pushed up by the CO2 production.

Stir twice a day to submerge the solids and to prevent mold from forming on the surface of the ferment.  If it does (see below), stir it in and stir more frequently.  The mold is harmless, but can impart a flavor I find distasteful. So, keep stirring.

(Wait) After two weeks, I transferred the sauce to a jar with an airlock.  No more oxygen means no more mold forming on top. (And no more stirring.) The sauce keeps fermenting with the airlock and it’s pH lowering. It’s normal for there to be continued separation of solids, top and bottom, and clear liquid in the middle.  

After 6 weeks from step one, I filtered the sauce through cheesecloth to remove the seeds and then added vinegar to stabilize (meaning, the pH drops even more from the acetic acid and the sauce won’t mold on top if left out of the refrigerator).

My yield was 14 ounces of ferment, and i added 6 oz. of vinegar for a total of 20 oz. of fermented hot pepper sauce.