Do what you can with what you have: fermenting well

On my list of things I’d like to do this year I included learning how to ferment (preferably without creating a new range of chemical weapons).  To my surprise, I seem to have done exactly that.

As I looked around my kitchen last week I saw:

  • the latest jars of sauerkraut (a batch made with white cabbage)
  • the jug of sourdough starter I’ve kept going for over 5 years, sitting out ready for me to start a new batch of bread later that day
  • a jar of labneh balls in rapeseed oil I made last year with some surplus yoghurt and ate at lunchtimes last week (and am still eating this week – delicious)

In the fridge are the remains of the jar of red cabbage sauerkraut I made at the start of February, and the rest of a large jar of preserved lemons I made some time last year when we inadvertently acquired twice as many lemons as we needed (this is what happens when two people share the shopping and don’t coordinate well enough!).

I seem to have moved from thinking I couldn’t do it right to doing it regularly and confidently (and deliciously).

Everyday loaves

What kicked off the transformation was listening to an episode of the excellent R4 Food Programme featuring the inspirational Ellis Sandor Katz basically saying just give it a go, and explaining how to do so in the most low tech of ways.  I did as he said, gave it a go, and I’ve been eating it ever since.

Straining yoghurt to make labneh

I didn’t need to buy anything other than the raw food ingredients.  I already had enough of the clip-top Le Parfait jars that seem to me to be perfect for fermenting vegetables.  I also had Ellis Sandor Katz’s very clear and beautifully illustrated book (a requested Christmas present over a year ago).  I have hands to massage and press down the vegetables and salt.   I didn’t have any weights to put on top of the fermenting cabbage, but I had a glass milk-save.r that I bought years ago for yoghurt-making that was just the right size.  Nothing more was needed

I also have a very large made-for-the-purpose fermenting crock I acquired on Freegle, but I think this is too large for my purposes, at least for now.  So last week I bought two large  clip-top jars to start ferments in.  When it’s ready to eat, I decant it into smaller more convenient jars.  I look around charity shops for these, and often find them far cheaper than buying new.  It’s easy to get hold of new rubber seals, and after a good wash they’re ready to go.

So many good things still to try!

Unlike oldest son, I haven’t yet tried my hand at wine making.  Maybe that will come later this year, in the autumn?

Oldest son’s experimental blackberry wine, with full notes for future reference

Do what you can with what you have.

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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4 Responses to Do what you can with what you have: fermenting well

  1. Sam says:

    David regularly makes sourdough loaves but I’ve been meaning to try fermenting (sauerkraut, etc) for ages and always dithered. I should just get on and do it! Thank you for the inspiration.


    • Oh definitely do it Sam! listen to the R4 Food Programme from 6.11.17 first, it really made me feel like I could definitely do it (and I already had the wonderful book by Sandor Ellis Katz to refer to afterwards). Go for a smallish quantity to start with – 1lb shredded cabbage felt just about right. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, thanks for the reminder to make ‘kraut – and pickled gherkins (even if it is the wrong time of the year)!


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