Getting Fermented

Annie Levy led a fabulous Fermentation session on Thursday evening. This healthy, super easy approach to preserving food requires (nearly) NO SALT, NO SUGAR, NO PRESERVATIVES just helpful bacteria who look after your food and your gut.

Fermented Piccalilli Recipe

The initial brainwave this time was to borrow the paste technique from kimchi making, in which the strong herbs and spices, and in this case the onions, are pureed first, then massaged into the pre-salted vegetables, almost like a marinade.  My first attempt was so much more boldly piccalilli-like than in years before– and I even added a little sugar (as one can in both both Piccalilli and Kimchi…. This I called Piccalillichi, following the wonderful moniker Sandor Katz gave to various kimchi-sauerkraut love-children, “Krautchi.”  The cauliflower, however, fermented nicely and was delicious but didn’t stay crunchy for much longer than two weeks, and though tasty, became mushy before we finished the batch.

Often the advice is to begin each vegetable ferment anew, so that the bacterial stages follow a course of development that yields consistent results.  But I decided with the mushy cauliflower ferment to try to recycle this again as its own paste, on shredded cabbage.  Hence was born Piccallili-krautchi, a fabulously flavourful go-with for ham and cheeses and savoury pies and of course, living in Britain, hummus.  And all that turmeric is of course so anti-inflammatory. Maybe that’s what Trump needs to eat.

The Veg

  • 1 cauliflower, 1 courgette, 1 onion, 1 carrot, all chopped small bitesize
  • 1 tablespoon seasalt

The Spice Paste

  • 4 oz sugar
  • 2oz mustard powder
  • 1 oz turmeric
  • black pepper
  • fennel seeds
  • chillis/ chilli flakes
  • onion seeds
  • coriander seeds

Finely mix the spices, and massage the paste over the salted vegetable.  Push the ferment down it in an appropriate size jar.  (I now use jars with rubber gaskets which I burp and which seem to prevent the Kahm Yeast I was dogged with.)  If brine develops, keep all the solid veg under that layer of liquid.  Wait a week or two as savoury sour flavours develop. Delicious!

Variations: Of course you could puree onion into the paste.  You could choose to not use any sugar, or a little honey (to offset the bitter mustard and turmeric flavours. You could also add lots of ginger, lemon zest, garlic, chilis, even soya or fish sauce.  Play is always the name of the game.

You can read more on Annie’s Blog Kitchen Counter Culture

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