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More fermentation…

Sometimes the choices we make are decidedly not post apocalyptically-directed. Recently, for example, we opted to have our fireplace renovated by having a direct-vent gas insert placed into the firebox rather than spending an equivalent amount of money on having the chimney re-lined (as the terra cotta tile flue was falling apart and would not support a fire). This was due to our knowing that we will not be in this house for very many more years and that its next occupants may not appreciate a “back to the land” house in the middle of the city — though they will hopefully appreciate our raised garden beds and chicken coop.

As penance for this decision (which is aesthetically very pleasing, clean and efficient), I have been branching out with my fermentation experiments into the stinky foods — Kim Chi and Sauerkraut. I was nominally inspired by the recent Napa cabbage shortage in South Korea, but also I just knew the day would come once cabbages were in season. It was inevitable.

I’d long heard friends tell of the distinctive scent of curing kim chi, but after about a week and change of it “living” in my laboratory cabinet, and upon returning home and wondering why the house smelled of feet mixed with stale toilet water, I decided to check on the kim chi. It was done. Ha!

I didn’t take pictures apparently (I thought I did because it was very beautiful) but the carrots, daikon, cabbage, jalapeno and chili pepper spices were lovely in the clear glass jars, after I canned them for storage. Of the six 10oz jars I put up, I have only two left. Of course I eat it like pickles, but I also made a nice domburi over rice, and a lovely kim chi tofu soup. Mixed with our standard vegetable broth and a few tablespoons of butter, the stock from the tofu soup was some of the best we’ve had, bar none.

This week, as I’d finally acquired a proper red cabbage, I set out to make sauerkraut, which is less labor intensive (fewer steps) but takes longer to ferment (the kim chi only took about a week) as it won’t be ready until December. Still, this being day 3, that smell of feet and toilet water was back, and so I’ve moved my crock into a back bathroom where we keep the chicken feed. I think there’s a reason why folks don’t practice this homey tradition much any more. Still, I can hardly wait for my first tempeh Reuben!

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