If last year was a year of canning, this has been a year of fermenting. It sounds a lot more intimidating than it really is. It’s actually quite easy and really just facilitating a natural process. almost anything can be fermented, but I’m just doing dairy and vegetables now. I think ill save the meat for the folks in Scandinavia and the Sudan. If you think you wouldn’t like fermented food, then I hate to tell you but beer, cheese, wine, coffee, chocolate, crème fresh, yogurt and sauerkraut are all fermented foods. Fermented foods are an amazingly rich and alive source of probiotics. They are so healthy for you and make your belly happy. I try to eat some every day, especially with a very protein-rich meal. They are especially important because they are amazingly cheap to make and I can easily and quickly preserve a lot of our CSA veggies for the winter, which is what this whole thing is all about anyway. Lacto-fermentation is about the most basic and primitive form of food preservation. Fermented foods saved entire cultures that did not have constant access to food year round. We have come to fear bacteria in this day and age, and making friends with and living symbiotically with bacteria is a strangely profound experience.
Anyway, here are some of my projects from the last couple of weeks in getting ready for the Slim Winter. I made a bunch of ghee from some Kerrygold butter. I love it, so I’m sure I’ll need to make more soon. I made a couple of quarts of sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented salsa. I have a bunch of turnips that I’m going to shred and ferment, and I’m sure I’ll be getting more beets from our CSA before the year is over, too. I have about five hundred huge squashes someone gave us that I roasted and pureed put up in the freezer. I made ricotta that was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted, but unfortunately after doing the math, It’s really not very cost-effective unless you also need a bunch of whey (which I do, but already have about three quarts frozen) so I don’t think I’ll be doing that one again. We also have the meat of almost an entire school of Atlantic cod, hake and haddock in the freezer from last years Community Supported Fishery which we unfortunately signed up for the months I fell pregnant with Elias and COULD NOT
TOLERATE the smell of fish, let alone the idea of eating it. Into the freezer it went. We bartered for some tasty pastured meat with some farmer/hunter friends, too so we have a bit of wild venison (and I’m looking for recipes!), bacon, sausage, medallions, roast beef and a pork shoulder.
Sometimes I feel like I’m preparing for nuclear winter. I know a lot of bloggers do the food prep thing for fun, or for health, or for experimentation. I used to do it for shits and giggles, too. The “urban homesteading” movement took off some five years ago or so, but I have found that many of the people doing it are just playing house. One can read through the comments sections of some homesteading blogs and see all kinds of gushing about paying $14 a pound for “organic, heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market” and then having a lovely afternoon just canning some purée, taking some pretty pictures on their fancy SLR and blogging about it before heading out to their graphic design job in Brooklyn or San Francisco. I enjoy reading these blogs like I enjoy watching House Hunters International- they are fun and luxurious and totally out of my world. If I didn’t have to be doing all of this, I probably wouldn’t. Because kimchi stinks.