1. {Name}
    Welcome to the KKF!
    Please take a moment to register and stop by the New Member Check-In and say hello. We sincerely hope you enjoy your stay and the discussion of all things sharp.
    Feel free to jump right in on the conversation or make your own. We have an edge on life!
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Take a look at our new AUCTION SYSTEM

    This service is available to all KKFora members to both Bid on and Auction off (Sell)items.
    Dismiss Notice

Let's Discuss Fermented Foods

Discussion in 'Food and Drink' started by mr drinky, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Ok, I know that that is a broad food category, especially since chocolate, wine, beer, cheese, sourdough bread, sour kraut, pickles, and a host of other foods are fermented, but ultimately I am interested in a general discussion -- especially about vegetable ferments.

    What's your personal enthusiasm on the subject? Do you think it is just a trend in the food industry (even though it has been around for ages)? What are your own fermented specialties or recipes? Discuss anything really.

    The reason I am asking is that I am considering going into the fermented food business and looking for inspiration -- or (dis)inspiration. As luck would have it, I now have three extra days per week free w/o kids and I need to start something new in life. I have been interested in fermented foods for a few years, but now I am about to go all in. Start-up costs are low, the work schedule can be very family friendly, and I get to use my knives to chop a boatload of veggies.

    I'm not looking to make a million bucks, just a respectable earning doing something I would love to do. I was going to start a retail business, but the thought of managing online orders, product buying, packaging, and all sorts of other online crap (read: SEO, Google adwords, etc) turned me off. I am willing to do those things, and have done it before, but why not go all-in for something that I would really love to do?

    Anyhow, with that said, here is my take on it.

    I think it is more than an trend as the applications are so diverse, and even if there is a specific trend -- kombucha for instance -- the skill of fermenting to make foods more flavorful is going to be around for a while. I am not fanatical about the health aspects -- though I fully appreciate those arguments (nutrient density, digestion, immunity etc.), but flavor rules IMO.

    And just today I was reading one (of ten) fermenting books I recently bought and they were talking about fermented crackers and selling ferment brine in shot glasses at bars. That never occurred to me, but it is exciting to feel the the world of food and drink expand before your eyes.

    My plan right now is to start with flavor tests at home, work up to farmers markets and maybe coop retail, then try enter the wine bar side. It is a natural ferment base as they already offer (fermented) wine, cheese plates, and charcuterie. After that I'll have to see…

    So what say you: food, knifey (and somewhat shaven) people? Good idea? Bad idea? Interesting?

  2. Wagner the Wehrwolf

    Wagner the Wehrwolf Founding Member

    I vote for interesting. That's all I know about the subject. :)
  3. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    I really like most kimchee I've tried, but have a strong aversion to baalut.
  4. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    I've eaten some weird stuff in my life, but that balut looks like it deserves some strong aversion. I'd never heard of that before.

  5. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

    My favorite fermented food is Cauliflower, I have had some terrific results and some spectacular failures.
    I have trouble sourcing really fresh produce at a reasonable cost.
  6. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    Most everyone who has gone through the chief petty officer initiation has had more than their share of baalut.
    Those not wanting to look them up, they are duck eggs almost ready to hatch that are then fermented to truely foul (fowl hehe) state. Don't know the real history, but was told that they burry them in the sand to let them ferment. The dude cannot abide!
  7. Wagner the Wehrwolf

    Wagner the Wehrwolf Founding Member

    Well since you are in Minnesota right? You'll need to do rakfisk and surströmming. :)
  8. Wagner the Wehrwolf

    Wagner the Wehrwolf Founding Member

    And I was just today reading about hákarl.
  9. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    I don't think I have had rakfisk in 10+ years -- and that was when I was last in Oslo.

  10. Mrmnms

    Mrmnms Founding Member Gold Contributor

    There are folks here that make and sell pickles at farmers markets and street fairs. They have phone numbers , e mail addresses etc on the labels for repeat purchases. Some really good, some ok. Need yo find your niche. It's gotta be a labor of love. Like working behind the line, there are easier ways to make a living.
  11. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Well, I did my first batch of kraut. I had a head of green and red cabbage in the fridge and some jalapeños. So I cut it up, added salt, and pounded and massaged it to bring out the brine. One of the cabbages had been in the fridge for a while longer, so my ferment didn't have enough brine for coverage in my vessel. I grated some turnips and added some fresh squeezed orange juice. It would have been enough brine without it, but I used a cambro brining bucket for my crock and the top surface area demanded quite a bit of brine to fully submerge the ferment.

    What I did for my container was to put another bucket on top, filled it full of lake rocks, and nested it inside and on top of the ferment followers (cabbage leaves). It actually worked quite well. There was just enough space around the edge when nesting to let the CO2 out, and every morning I would just push on the top container to compress the kraut and work out the bubbles. I think it only took about 2 weeks start to finish -- maybe a day or two less. Eventually I could tell the bubbles had decreased, and I tested the ph level. Anything under 4.5 is fine, and mine was at 3.

    Now with that said, I did put too much jalapeño in the kraut. I would probably cut it down by half in the future, but it is still tasty, the heat just catches up after you're done eating. To cut the heat a little I just drizzled a little agave nectar on it and crumbled some gorgonzola cheese for a finish. It's a very tasty little salad, and one that I ate three times yesterday. Out of two mason jars, I only have one left. And now I'm kicking myself for not fermenting years before.

    Here are a couple of pictures of my bucket setup and the remaining jar of jalapeño kraut. Good pink stuff. Everything turns pink with red cabbage.


    Attached Files:

  12. bieniek

    bieniek Founding Member

    K, you sure you can make decent living, if working - with food - three days a week?

    Rakfisk is not ferment.
    Rakfisk is not food.
    Rakfisk is evil.

    Cabbage, cucumbers, yoghurts? Home made yoghurts? With home made granolas and dried fruit?
    Perfect lunch to be sold at higher end gym?
    Or ?
  13. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    I'm lucky in that I don't need to make that much of a living as my wife has a good job.

    Three days is just for starters until I get established. Once the kids are in school things get freed up even more, but for now a 3-4 day week is fine for experimenting and getting the plan together.

    That gym idea is pretty good though. The gyms really get crowded in the winter months and would fit in well to fill in opposite the warmer farmer market season. Takk!

  14. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    So my current ferments I have bubbling are: spicy daikon radish spears, hot smokey sprouts, and a Guatemalan curtido. I have a couple more that I want to make in the next day or so too. Some asparagus and another with beets.

  15. I dont know anything about fermenting but I am enjoying the posts and learning.
  16. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    I'm definitely learning too, but I must say that in my life, there have only been a few truly revelatory moments in my cooking life. I'm sure pro chefs have dozens of moments, but I'm just a curious home cook. Fermentation though, this is the real deal. It is changing how I taste food, treat food, buy food, and prepare it. Up to this point in my cooking life, only knives have achieved that food 'epiphany' level for me. Maybe making butter and fresh pasta has come close. And I would imagine that smoking meats is going to be my next move, but for now fermenting has fully intrigued me.

    Don't get me wrong, I've learned a lot of different techniques, used different tools, and cooked a lot of food from different cultures, but while many have taught me something about food and cooking -- and quite possibly changed my cooking style/knowledge to some degree, most have substitutes. I can cook dishes using sous vide with different techniques; pressure cookers largely just cook faster and have a substitute (read: time); the iSi whips are a bit more unique but less practical for everyday; some of the chemistry cooking gets interesting but again it has limited household applications; pasta making (like I said) came the closest to being a revelation but since I have two young kids I find that I don't make fresh pasta as much and there are still substitutes.

    Anyhow, I think fermentation also has the benefit of just being really easy and having a track record. For hundreds of years this was the primary method of preserving/eating food. And today with the global cooking environment, easy access to products, and the internet proliferation of information, fermentation is literally at the rocket booster stage IMO. What may have been largely mundane preservation until just 10-20 years ago is now getting a flavor boost with experimentation, exotic spices, new veggies, and acceptance in restaurants where cooks are taking it to the next level . Things are changing -- and I like it.

  17. Andre

    Andre Founding Member

    You made kraut, now there is only one thing you can do... Choucroute with duck legs!

    Another winner is to grill cabbage, chop it, and mix it with the kraut and some crumbly cheese. The Gorgonzola you were using would work great. Maybe some grapefruit supremes since the citrus is just coming in.
  18. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    That is what I am talking about!! Grilled cabbage and cheese -- ok, but grilled cabbage, kraut and cheese makes my mouth water. Thanks for the idea. Having kraut, kimchi, or any fermented item to work with is the difference between playing nickel slots and dollar slots.

  19. looks and sounds delicious , looking forward to reading more of your adventure
  20. Andre

    Andre Founding Member

    Karring , I just thought about a really basic one. Have you made yogurt? That's the one that kills store bought every time. So much better.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

Share This Page