Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hot Carrots

I’m a newbie to the world of fermented vegetables, but I’m finding it addicting!  Joel MacCharles of Well Preserved describes strawberry jam as the “gateway drug” to the world of canning, and I now feel the same about kimchi (or KW-chi).  Kimchi made me realize how easy it is to ferment vegetables and soon after making it I decided to make some spicy fermented carrots. 
You can get all the fresh ingredients needed from Bailey’s!

"You can see one garlic clove and the cabbage leaf in the midst of the carrots, after fermenting for 2 weeks."

Minimum ingredients needed:
·        Carrot(s), peeled and sliced
·        Salt Water Brine –2 cups warm water with 1.5 tsp. salt
·        1 cabbage leaf (optional)
·        1 glass jar with lid (like a mason jar, or old honey jar)
·        Seasoning, like garlic, spicy peppers, or classic pickle spices

No real recipe needed here, just chop up carrots into lengths that will fit somewhat uniformly into a jar.  You want them to be roughly an inch less in length than the height of the jar. 
Then decide on your seasoning.  I used two whole cloves of garlic, lightly smushed with a knife and one sliced habanero pepper (still using those I got from Mark Brubacher).  You could use any of your favorite pickling spices, it’s very much up to you! 
Drop the seasonings in the bottom of the jar and pack the carrots in, standing up right on top of them.  You want them fairly tightly packed.  Then take the cabbage leaf and pack it around the tops of the carrots, covering them.  The role of the cabbage leaf is to help provide extra beneficial lactic acid-producing microbes!  Since you’ve peeled the carrots you’ve likely lessened the amount of microbes that are available to help ferment your carrots, but some recipes don’t use it. 
Pour the brine in around the carrots until everything is submerged.  Then find a weight—I use a small mason jar that fits inside the mouth of a larger jar, filled with a bit of water to help weigh it down.  The goal is for all the veggies to stay submerged under the water.  Cover the jar(s) with a cloth to keep dust and bugs (not a problem right now) out.  Monitor the progress by sight and smell every day.  After 2-3 days there should be some bubbles and the smell should get that nice fermented smell, slightly acidic. 
I let mine ferment about 1-2 weeks.  At two weeks the carrots are a little bit softened but still have that nice carrot crunch to them.  When you decide they have fermented enough transfer them to the fridge where they ought to keep for several months, unless you eat them before that!  And I should add that with the one habanero they are very spicy, but it is mellowed a bit by the fermentation.  I would like to try a more kid-friendly (as in less-spicy) fermented carrot next, any suggestions for best spices to add? 

Jon Spee is an enthusiastic and committed member of Bailey’s Local Foods who blogs about his adventures in localism at The Local Kitchener.  Every few weeks he likes to giveaway something homemade to local KW residents!

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