Ferments, New Canning Books and Musings

cannondJanuary 10, 2013

This second week of January, I cracked open ferments from the cellar. The salsa is as fresh as the day I stowed it, the dilly beans are superb and the sauerkraut is, I expect, all it should be. It is tangy, aromatic and seems to be mildly addictive. I am in awe of a preserve that requires no cooking or refrigeration, no water bath, just time and patience.

I'm already reading new preserving books. I just got Salt Sugar Smoke by, Diana Henry, which seems to want to be a latter day Fancy Pantry. Though it has a couple of recipes I might try, if falls short. I suspect this is because it appears to be written for a British readership, and has been edited for American measurements. At the end of each canning recipe, for example, one is instructed to water bath for 10 minute and then seal.

The scope is much the same as Fancy Pantry, but many recipes, which we water bath process here, are refrigerated instead, with a significantly reduced life, and no shelf-life at all.

I suppose if one is unable to find Fancy Pantry, this would be the next best thing.

Are any of you reading new canning books? Would you care to offer reviews?


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I'm finally sitting down and planning this year's garden. My favorite time of year - looking through seed catalogs and canning books for new recipes to try, along with new vegetables and fruits.

I'm still marking "to try" recipes in Canadian Living's "The Complete Preserving Book". I did make a couple last year and they were excellent.

Hopefully this summer will be a bountiful one - the last two have been so-so. 2011 was cut short by 39" of rain in August and 2012 was so hot and dry we had to stop watering for a while. Then we had too much rain. I know - I sound like Goldilocks! "It's too dry...it's too wet. Maybe this year will be just right!"

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Cannond,do you water bath can all of your fermented foods?

I've been fermenting a little over three years now but I've never processed any of it because I don't want to 'kill' it (it IS living food you know), I refrigerate it or add sugar to it which ups the lactic acid level and allows storage at room temp. I store gallons of beet kvass this way.

But next year I'm gonna bite the bullet and 'kill' all those healthful little bugs and can some of that wonderful fermented tomato sauce and relish and salsa. I'm on the very last bit of 3 gal relish/salsa from the garden in September, wish I'd had the foresight to make more and can some of it.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Also, what variety bean do you use for your dilly beans? And at what stage do you pick and ferment them?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 9:31PM
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Sidhartha: I don't water bath any fermented foods. They keep well for me in cellar, though I have never tried fermented tomato sauce.

Last summer I fermented two varieties of beans, both heirlooms.One was French. I don't recall the names of either. I pick them at the same stage as I would for cooking, still fairly young and tender.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 12:30PM
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You must have a deep cool cellar. I have a cellar of sorts, cool in the winter but not so much in the summer. Other than kvass, I haven't tried to store my ferments out of the fridge. The kvass keeps well at room temp but forms a snow white mold accross the top of it which is simple to remove when it's time to use it.

I think I'm going to ferment some Fortex beans this summer, they're a long French bean which looks like would be a good candidate for 'dilly beans'.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Finally, on topic, I learned lacto fermentation from Sally Fallon's book 'Nourishing Traditions', and fermented foods are now an invaluable part of our diets.

Growing up I was well acquainted with 'salt pickles', 'pickled corn', and 'sour kraut', and remember them generally as being 'overly salty'. Sally's basic 1 Tbsp salt, 4 Tbsp whey per quart remedies the 'overly salty' problem for me. In fact even less salt can be used if done correctly.

Anyway, I love the idea of taking garden fresh vegetables and using a process that not only preserves them perfectly in that fresh state - enzymes, vitamins, minerals and all, but actually adds to the overall nutritional value of it, teeming with live beneficial flora for our bodies. My body knows it and misses it whenever there's a lapse for whatever reason in eating the fermented foods.

So, there I am, on topic with the OP. :-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 7:36AM
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I'm a little slow in responding as I'm out of town and working with a remote access. I don't always have a signal.

I do have a good cellar built into the side of a hill. The temp hovers just above freezing in the coldest part of winter. None of my ferments have ever lasted longer than May, so I can't say how well the cellar would do in summer.

This coming season I hope to produce enough to last the year through, then we'll see.

Where did you get your tomato sauce ferment recipe? I don't know that I've ever seen one.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 3:33PM
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That's OK Deb, I'm a little slow myself, this will still be here tomorrow or next week or next month.

It's odd, I've no doubt my cellar would be fine for winter storage of ferments, I just haven't done it yet. Probably the main reason for that is that fermentation has become as much or more a culinary technique to me as it is a preservation method. Example; I prefer two or three day old 'half sour' cukes over the 'full sours' (and keep using the same brine over and over, it just keeps getting better). It's become routine for me to rehydrate 2-3 Tbsp minced onion, add a little whey and let it ferment 2-3 days, and then add it to a crock pot of soup beans which provides a wonderful deep onion flavor to the beans. The main reason I would want to BWB canned tomato sauce or salsa or relish is to 'capture it' at the stage of it's prime flavor. I haven't tried that yet but intend to (though I DON"T like the idea of 'killing it'). Also, I've no doubt that 2-3 days fermentation to tomatoes would eliminate the need for the addition of any citric acid prior to processing, ph would be lowered from the lactic acid content.

Any way, you've inspired me, I've now a new goal: ferment lots of season's end veggies from the 2013 garden and store them in the cellar (which is actually an offshoot room from the basement but should do well for winter storage of fermented foods).

Recipe; it's more about method than recipe. I don't follow exact recipes much anymore, each batch of anything I make is always a little different, a character of it's own. The basic 'sauce' recipe is derived from a tomato pepper relish found in Sally Fallon's book, 'Nourishing Traditions', which incidentally if you don't have I very highly recommend it, it's chocked full of the latest nutritional findings that contradicts much of what is being espoused these days, sound traditional food wisdom from around the world, and lacto fermentation comprises a significant portion of it. This is her relish recipe at this link:
http://adventuresinsidewaysliving.blogspot.com/2008/12/lacto-fermented-tomato-relish.html .
Thus far the only fermented sauce I've used is what I've ladled from the top of relishes and salsas:

The link at the bottom provides a fermented sauce 'method' that I like and will probably roughly follow this year. I really like the idea of using narrow necked bottles and capping the sauce off with a dab of olive oil, it should work very well. Simply put, make your relish or salsa or whatever you like or want to try, let it ferment completely, then run it through a sauce maker to remove skins and seeds, and then bottle it. Viola! Sauce! Live sauce, not dead. If you wanted a thicker sauce simply let it sit until the separation occurs and then draw off the liquid.

Brace yourself, I just took this pic, you're looking at the ferments on the top shelf of my fridge; tomato pepper relish, kraut, corn relish, and whey. I always have whey on hand, it keeps for 6 mos, (actually longer). In the fridge door there are cukes, minced onion, garlic, and chili sauce:

The tomato relish on the right (all store bought veggies) is made using Serrano peppers ( c. annum), the relish on the left (store bought Romas only) has Burpee hot lemon peppers (c. baccatum, from my garden) which, true as advertised by Burpee in their catalog, combines wonderfully with tomatoes for an outstanding flavor.

I try to incorporate some sort of fermented food with every meal. This is often simply a shot of lacto fermented beverage such as beet kvass, kraut juice, or sauce ladled from a relish or a salsa, which greatly aids digestion of a heavy meal with meat and helps to lower blood glycemic response when eating carbs. This is some cabbage left over from a head I cut up to make some turkey noodle soup Saturday:

I added about a half cup honey (which converts to lactic acid) in order to produce an ample amount of 'kraut kvass' as a beverage.

There's plenty more I'd like to share and talk about but I've got to go right now, duty calls. Talk to you later, hopefully.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fermented Tomato Sauce

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Thank you for the tomato sauce link. I found the recipe fascinating.

In any event, since I use tomato sauces in cooked foods (i.e. spaghetti sauce, lasagna, etc.) I would be destroying any benefits of fermentation (as far as I can see). So, wouldn't it just be less fussy to water bath can it to begin with? What possible advantage can there be to fermenting it if one is going to cook it later?

Your ferments look lovely, by the way.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 3:06PM
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I re-read your post and see you want to can the sauce at its prime flavor. I'll have to try this just to see how the flavor developes.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 3:11PM
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"What possible advantage can there be to fermenting it if one is going to cook it later?"

I fermented a [mixed] variety of tomatoes, mostly beefsteak types, at season's end last year that produced the most incredible/unforgettable flavors I've ever known from the garden. Try it, you won't forget it, you'll be hooked.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 6:57AM
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Cool! Here's an even better article written by a Kentucky boy turned chef from the next town over from me:

Here is a link that might be useful: The Skinny on Fermentation: Un-canning Tomatoes

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 10:02AM
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