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Fermenting

Probiotic Salad

A probiotic salad of sauerkraut, dill pickles, and a yogurt dressing.

The recipes I share here on Food With Legs vary along a spectrum that runs from Old Favourites straight to What the Hell Experiments. This one happens to fall much closer to the latter end than the former. I was having friends over for dinner, had plans for rich and meaty pasta and main courses and wanted to start with a salad. I figured I could lay down an acid base and get everyone salivating for what was up next. And that’s how the “probiotic salad” that combines both my wild-fermented dill pickles and spicy Sichuan sauerkraut was conceived.

I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek by using that word “probiotic” in the title. Yogurt companies have adopted it–along with belly-dancing models and stomach-shapes lines–to make a back-handed claim about their products’ health benefits. The connection between live bacteria in food and the digestive health of those who eat hasn’t been definitely established, but I’m willing place a tentative bet that it will pan out–especially when the probiotic food is cultured with more than just a yogurt companies patented strains of lactobacilli. (more…)

Fermentation Workshop at Uniiverse

I’m happy to share the good news that this week I’ll be putting on another fermentation workshop. This time I’ve teamed up with my good friend, Joel Solish of Death Row Meals and with a new site called Uniiverse. We’ve added a charitable, Movember-themed component that is explained on the event page:

MOTOFO: This event is part of MOvember TOronto FOod week – a week of unique food experiences brought to you by DeathRowMeals and Uniiverse, to raise funds for Movemeber. Check out other MOTOFO events on my profile. All proceeds will be donated to Movember.

Also from the event page here’s the description of what I’ll cover during the ninety-minute session:

David (of foodwithlegs dot com) will give a hands-on demonstration of the process that converts raw ingredients into some of the world’s most delicious foods. Kimchi, traditional kosher dill pickles, and classic sourdough bread all depend on wild fermentation. As well as the separate processes David will take a look at the easy-to-find ingredients and simple equipment (what’s good, better, and best?) that you need for fermenting on a small scale, at home. (more…)

Spicy Sichuan Sauerkraut

Fuschia Dunlop’s memoir, Sharks Fin And Sichuan Pepper has been an off-and-on part of my reading rotation for quite a while now so a mild obsession with the Sichuanese combination of flavours has seeped into my subconscious, I think. I’m always thinking about fermentation experiments and at this time of year that really means sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is traditionally full of acidic twang and cabbage crunch but unless you add one of the traditional spices like caraway or juniper berries it ends there. I wondered if I could make a batch of sauerkraut and then add stuff to it to turn it into Spicy Sichuan Sauerkraut.  (more…)

Dill Pickle Gear

This is my fifth year in a row making the wild-fermented, dill pickles that are also known as kosher sours. The unusual process (at least for our refrigerator-happy era) depends on leaving food at room temperature for a couple weeks so [there are some unusual challenges that have to be met.] This year I fine-tuned the equipment setup and I’d like to share my changes in the hope that you may find them useful.

The detail here is pretty intense and falls into the “nice-to-know-but-not-necessary” category. If you’re new to wild-fermented pickling have a look at my recipe for Wild Dill Pickles, or at the recipes for year-round favourites Pickled Turnips, and Small-batch Spicy Sauerkraut. If you’re looking to refine your dill pickling technique head over to pickle troubleshooting post(more…)

Wild Pickled Turnips

The purple-hued pickles are at about the halfway point when this was taken.

The purple-hued pickles are at about the halfway point when this was taken.

I’m fascinated by the idea of preserving food by wild fermentation so I decided to give pickled turnips a shot.  Most natural pickling calendars start in early August when the cucumbers come in and then really pick up steam through September when the rush is on to make kimchi and sauerkraut from the year’s cabbage and radish crop.

(The quick review: vegetables–whole or cut–are submerged in a salty brine and kept at room temperature. Over the course of days to a few weeks the lactobacilli from the air, water in the brine, or the vegetables themselves consume the sugar in the vegetables and convert it to lactic acid. The salt in the brine and the this acid both protect the vegetables from spoiling and make them much more delicious.) (more…)