Cucumber & Nasturtium Kimchee

Both cucumbers and nasturtiums can be found in full production side by side in the garden, and they combine very well for a light tasty kimchee.  Cucumber kimchee is ready to eat immediately and has a very short shelf life.  It’s a quick and simple kimchee that is very refreshing and easy on the palate.















1 or 2 thin-skinned cucumbers, sliced.

1 small clove fresh garlic, crushed.

1 dozen or so green nasturtium seeds, crushed.

1 dozen or so nasturtium blossoms, whole.

1 T. plus 1 pinch of sea salt.

1 dash fish sauce.

1 pinch red pepper flakes.

1 dash kimchee juice, as starter.






Salt sliced cucumber with 1 T salt. Let sit for an hour or 2.  Discard salty brine, rinse salt away using fresh water and drain of excess water.  Add crushed garlic and nasturtium seeds, pinch of salt, dash of fish sauce, blossoms, red pepper flakes and kimchee juice and mix well. Pack in a sturdy jar and let ferment a few hours to overnight.  Enjoy immediately or refrigerate to slow the fermenting process.




Tekka – a miso condiment

Once a year I clean out my fridge of old jars of miso paste. I gather up the remnants from a variety of containers, scrap off any mold, and add this to a combination of ground root vegetables. After cooking for several hours, the end result is a wonderful savory condiment, Tekka.

Tekka- miso condiment.

Tekka- miso condiment.




Finding a recipe online is an easy task, and most that come up on a web search are nearly identical in ingredients and method. I use burdock and lotus roots, carrot, ginger and sesame seeds. These are ground fine, sautéd in sesame oil, then the miso is added and the mixture is cooked and stirred all day on very, very low heat.

Tekka on delicata squash.

Tekka on delicata squash.








The end result is a rich tasting, deep brown granular sprinkle, and great on eggs, salads, mashed potatoes, and much more.




Tekka on fried eggs.

Tekka on fried eggs.

Raw Black-eyed Pea Miso Paste

raw miso harvest

This miso paste ferment is an experiment using all raw ingredients.

2# 6oz. raw black-eyed peas (soaked and chopped)

2# 8oz. raw barley koji

7.2 oz. salt

Lima bean miso starter (blended in water and strained)


First the koji.  I soaked pearled barley over night, and it puffs up all swollen and soft.  I sifted spores from a previous batch of barley koji into a hotel pan, and tossed the raw soaked barley around in the spores coating them thoroughly.  Then I incubated them at 85° F for 48 hours. (There are many already-published incubation methods for koji, and I won’t go into them here.)


Next the Black-eyed peas (BEP).  I soaked them for 24 hours.  They swell up big, too, and get fairly soft compared to many beans.  I pulsed them slightly with the S-blade in a Cuisinart™ until they were chopped medium.

I put 2 tablespoons of live lima bean miso (not raw) into a cup of water and blended thoroughly.  I let it sit for 20 minutes as the solids (cooked) settled to the bottom of the cup, and then poured off the liquid, which was full of bacteria from its own lacto-ferment.

I then blended the raw barley koji with the starter water, added half the salt, and then mixed this into the chopped BEP.  I packed it into a crock and put a plate and weight on top.  That was 14 months ago. ( I never added more than half the salt as it was salty enough without it to my taste preference.)

blended raw misoHere’s the BEP paste blended in the crock with an immersion blender. (Blending brings out lots of flavor.)

This fermented miso paste tastes much brighter than other BEP miso pastes I’ve made.  It is less complex on the palette, and the flavor of the BEP comes through very strong.  It is very delicious as a broth, and I have not yet experimented with it in any other dishes.


On making a cup of miso broth.


heat the cup

Boil good water. Fill a beautiful cup or mug with the boiling water to heat the vessel.  Once hot, pour the water back into the kettle.  (This cools the water in the kettle.)











Add miso paste and a little cold water, and stir to mix well.add the paste

stir in cold water
















Add hot water to bring temperature up to suite your palette, without killing the w hot water










Adzuki Bean Spritzer

adzuki bean spritzer002“Rhubarb heaven.”

“Fruit punch, with hints of pomegranate.”

“An exciting alternative to champagne.”

“Very fruity with the perfect sweet/sour balance.”

“Pairs well with chocolate.”

I served this drink to friends tonight, and that’s what they had to say about it. (Then I told them what it was.)

This odd ferment is the liquid reserved from boiling adzuki beans.  I often cook beans to make either miso paste or tempeh.  And I usually drain the beans and discard the liquid. Lately I decided to ferment this liquid (juice, water, not sure what to call it) as it seems to contain lots of flavor and solids from cooking the beans.  I let the liquid cool, then inoculate it with  a couple tablespoons of juice from a batch of kimchee.  I put it in a growler and top it with an airlock.

This batch is 3 months old.  Lots of solids settle to the bottom, and a fair amount of coagulate floats to the surface.  And in between is clear delicious fruity drink.

There is nothing about this beverage that even hints of beans. It is amazingly light, fruity and delicious, which is surprising considering what it’s made of. (Serve with dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt.)

Takuan – the transformation of a radish.

sliced takuanTakuan is fermented daikon radish. Packed whole in rice bran and salt and left to transform into one of the most delicate and luscious foods I’ve tasted.  I know that’s a strong statement, but in my experience, radishes are anything but delicate.  Delicious, but often with a strong bite and a bitter aftertaste. I expected a bit more crunch, but what I got was a softer texture, more akin to rare tenderloin beef stake. And then, a lingering sweetness, with just a hint of alcohol on the palette.

The process is all explained in Sandor’s latest book, The Art of Fermentation.

in the sun to dry[A side note: I visited Sandor a year and a half ago, and while in his studio, I noticed a crock on the shelf with Takuan written on it. I inquired, and he opened it up and retrieved a pickle from within.  After that first taste, I knew I’d be making a batch of my own.]

It’s a pretty simple process, and no chopping.

I purchased 80 lbs of whole tops-on radishes from a local food co-op.  I washed them to remove sand, and then put them on boards in the direct sun for about 1 week.  At that time I could bend the largest ones in a circle easily, and with no breaking.

packing the crock





I purchased and used pre-made pickling mix from a nearby Asian food market and followed the directions in Sandor’s book.  I drank saké while I packed the crock, and occasionally splashed a shot or two in the layer of radishes








filled to the brimI filled the crock then added the dry radish tops. Placed a plate and weight (which was a exceedingly large concrete cinder block).












To my amazement, the layers of radish and bran dropped nearly 6 inches under the weight of the block, and filled with brine. (I regret never tasting the brine, as it would likely by delicious.) Over the course of the year, the brine evaporated leaving a dark, somewhat sticky layer on the plate.



When I lifted the weight and plate, the tops of the radishes were still very much intact.  I had expected a brown layer of sludge at best. But the old radish tops were there, very much looking like radish tops, and with the aroma of fresh humus, mowed alfalfa hay, and alcohol.  They taste pretty good, too.

whole takuan


But the radish is really the gem in the crock: Very aromatic, golden nutty color, so wonderful on the palette, and so unlike the radish that I started with.

In addition to the great tasting pickle, in my research I learned that the Journal of Nutrition reports that Takuan has 7 times more vitamin B than fresh raw daikon.



Here’s the brand of pickling mix I used.

rice bran mix

Tomato Salsa with Garlic, Scallion and Chervil


bowl of salsaI had an excess of very ripe tomatoes last week. I diced about 3 pints (chop), and salted lightly, about 2 large pinches (salt), and then allowed it to ferment in a ceramic vessel (pack) for 2 days (wait). (Remember the four steps in a basic lacto-ferment? chop, salt, pack, wait.)

I stirred 2 or 3 times daily so the common mold that easily forms on fermenting tomatoes couldn’t get organized sufficient to colonize the top of the ferment.  After 2 days I drained off the liquid.  (I put the liquid in a bottle with a swing top lid and capped it. Though first I topped the bottle with some extra kimchee juice i had in the fridge. I’ll let this juice ferment in the bottle a couple weeks, then enjoy it as shots, or in a Bloody Mary cocktail.)

Fermenting the salsa longer than this would have reduced the chunkiness of the salsa, moving it more toward sauce, and I wanted chunky salsa.

salsa with chipI crushed a couple cloves of garlic, sliced a few scallions, and chopped a handful of fresh chervil, and stirred these ingredients into the salsa, in addition to some fermented hot sauce for heat. I then let it sit in the fridge a day before I enjoyed it.  It’s bubbly, zingy on the tongue, and very delicious.

EZ Amazaké

plain rice

Last night I had short grain brown rice for dinner. I purposefully cooked too much so I could make a quick and delicious breakfast this morning. I first read about this process in  Sandor’s latest book, though as I write this, I can’t find the page number.








added misoI added two tablespoons of sweet garbanzo miso paste to the left over rice (just over 1 cup), and stirred thoroughly.  I set the pan on the fridge for added warmth, and left it undisturbed until morning. (Higher heat speeds the process, and the koji enzymes can tolerate temperatures up to 140° F.)

Sweet miso paste has a high proportion of koji. During the night, the enzymes in the koji chopped up the starches in the rice and converted them into sugars.  This morning the rice is noticeably sweet, and ready to eat as a breakfast porridge. (This also works with millet, oatmeal, buckwheat, or any starchy grain.)



in the morningThis morning the rice has a noticeable texture change, and is lightly sweet and soft. The grains are more mushy than sticky, and there is liquid in the bottom of the pan.











served w peachesI warmed the sweetened rice with some hemp seed milk and added a sliced fresh peach.


Aronia berry Kombucha

Fresh fruit is an easily available and delicious ingredient for kombucha during summer months.  The aronia berries are at peak ripeness right now, and tonight I made 2 gallons of kombucha and added 1 gallon of fresh berries.

aronia berries washed


Aronia berries are uncommon in the PNW.   The berries are not too sweet when ripe, are astringent, and are reported to be one of the most powerful antioxidant berries in the world. (They are rather similar to salal berries.)



My usual recipe for kombucha is 4 bags of green or white tea, and 1 cup of sugar for a gallon size vessel.


ferment and motherFor this kombucha I use a 5-gallon glass jar, and, as you can see, the mother is bright red (and weighs about 10 lbs.).









Here is the batch ready to start fermenting.  I put the berries in first, and sweet tea and place the mother over top, but these berries are floaters.  After a few days they’ll begin to sink, and I’ll scoot them under the mother.

ready to bubble


Using fresh fruit in kombucha speeds up the ferment, reducing the time by as much as one-third. (And it colors the mother depending on which fruit you use.)


Other fresh fruits that make tasty kombucha include raspberries, tamarind, blueberries, blackberries, rhubarb.

Cobbler time – Sweet Garbanzo Miso

This miso paste is young, only 2 months, and is so delicious in a very different kind of way.  It is sweet and mild, full and very satisfying on the palette.  This is how I made this batch:

A spoonful of miso.

A spoonful of miso.

8# cooked garbanzo beans

7 # 6oz rice koji

4% sea salt (10 oz)

Garbanzo bean miso starter miso

(This filled 2 1-gallon crocks)









The tamairi is incredible but scant.  Sweet almost like honey, not too salty and so luxurious.












One of my favorite uses for sweet miso is pies and cobbler.  My daughter and I went u-picking blueberries yesterday.  Then I foraged in my garden for the ripest blackberries, and added three ripe apricots from the farmers market.

mixing the fruit


Other ingredients include:



Vanilla extract

And, of course, sweet garbanzo miso paste, which is the source of salt and a lot of yumminess (umami).

(Stir together and pour into a baking dish.)






The crust is simply almond meal, vanilla, safflower oil, and some sweet garbanzo miso.



(Mix together and crumble on top of the fruit.)










Bake @ 350 °F until fruit is bubbly and the crust is browned.

cobbler time




Naturally it’s gonna go well with some ice cream.



Raw Tomato Preserves

This summer I got my hands on a case of fresh roma tomatoes and ventured into this ferment.  I’d wanted to try it for a good while, and when Sandor’s latest book came out, I decided to get to it.  I followed the recipe as is on page 117 of The Art of Fermentation. . I did this in July and with warm temperatures, the ferment went quick.

First I halved the tomatoes, added salt and stirred with my hands.  I did not attempt to get anything submerged at this stage. After 1 day, I could stir it down to where all the halves were submerged.  (I have fermented tomatoes before for the juice [to make bloody marys], and I knew that if I let this go even a day too long the bacteria would strip and  all the pulp from the skins, leaving me only the skins and a thin slurry of what was the pulp at the bottom of the vessel- and this time I wanted the pulp.)

tomato halves readyI stirred two or three times a day.  Each morning a black spidery-looking mold would have formed atop the floating tomato halves.  I would quickly stir this into the mix, and get everything coated in the bubbling liquid. After a couple days, the Kahm yeast would try to get organized in pools of juice around the floating halves, but again, a quick stir would dispel them. Once the rapid bubbling was over, and while there was still pulp on the skins, I strained off what juice there was (about 2 gallons), and processed what remained of the halves, separating the skins/seeds from the pulp. Here are the tomato halves ready to strain.

processed pulpAnd here are the tomatoes being processed in a slick little device I borrowed from the neighbor. Tomatoes in the hopper upper right, paste into the hotel pan on the left. and skins/seeds into the container lower right.




draining juice from the pulpI then put the pulp in a cotton bag and let it hang over night, twisting it to get as much juice out as I could.  At no time did a thick layer of mold appear on the cloth, only a very thin slight white bloom, likely yeast, and I saw no need to attempt to remove it by scraping it with a spoon.


kahm yeast on tomato juice


I put the juice in a vessel, and within a couple hours a lovely rich layer of Kahm yeast had formed.   Since I know this can influence the flavor, I poured the juice into glass jugs with airlocks to keep out the oxygen. I ended up with 2.5 gallons of juice that are now fermenting for next year’s cocktails.



ready to pressNext, I took the ball of paste that had dripped overnight and placed it into a clean cotton cloth and tied the corners. I set this to press inside a stainless steel hotel pan with a concrete block on top, further squeezing out more liquid. I put dry towels beneath and on top of the wrapped ball of paste, and changed these a couple times a day as they wicked out juice from the paste.

salt added


After 3 days I removed the paste and marveled at the color. Gorgeous!  I added salt, 25% by weight, and kneaded it into the paste.  But this proved way too much salt for my palette.  If I use the paste now in a quantity where I obtain the tomato flavor I desire, it is inedible because of the high salt content.  But is it ever beautiful?  Beauty has its limits though, so, frustrated, I formed some of the paste into 1-inch balls and cubes and dehydrated them.  I now use these to grate the dried tomato paste over foods I want to salt, and beauty comes right along with it.  The red color looks spectacular on poached eggs, roasted chicken or steamed cabbage. So, I use it as I would salt, with a little elegance.  The final yield was 1 pint of paste.

completeNext time I’ll use half the salt. (Or I’ll add a batch of unsalted paste to what I’ve already made and see how that goes.)