I love being creative – it’s my joie de vivre, my lifeblood. But as much as I love being creative, I love science. It literally makes me giddy. I get it from my parents and it is 100% why I became a nurse. In nursing you need to know and understand the science of the human body but also be creative enough to cater treatments to each individual human. One size does not fit all in medicine, if you will. That’s where the doctors and I come in. I guess you could say that nursing is the ultimate excersize in right and left brain use.
I digress. What I’m trying to say is that you’re going to find me writing about my lifestyle here, which includes my creative ventures, some cooking, gardening, some science and some thoughts. What a mess. I keep trying to find a way to box up these things in a category to find a target audience, but more and more I am finding that this probably won’t happen, so I’m gonna roll with it. I hope you’ll join me.
So on to some science.
Being a gardener, you will often find me hunting for ways to save all of my produce — like most home gardeners, I grow way more than my family can eat fresh. Organic vegetables and fruits DO NOT LAST. So I can them, freeze them, pawn them off on friends, dry them, and alas, sometimes throw them back in the garden as compost because I couldn’t save them. I am always always on the search for ways to save them and this fall I came across a fermenting crock (thank you amazon suggestions). I did some googling. Cool. People have been using fermenting pots for centuries. I asked for one for Christmas.
My brother kindly gave one to me for the holiday (along with a worm farm! more on that later) and my dad gave me a book – my saving grace: Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. The perfect beginner’s guide to fermenting and the answers to every questions you can and will have. Also, Kirsten is very responsive on IG and I owe her many thanks for answering my questions!
It is Winter and it is the perfect time to start learning how to ferment. I’ll hopefully be way more confident by Summer when I have my own produce to play with. I also started with the gateway drug of fermenting – sauerkraut.
How fermenting works: You add salt to vegetables to draw out their natural moisture, creating a brine (sometimes you add brine, but that lesson is for another day). Forming the brine requires massaging the vegetables to aid the salt in breaking down the structural cell walls of the vegetables. Once there is enough brine to cover the vegetables, you keep the vegetables under that brine, creating an anaerobic (zero oxygen) environment where only anaerobic-thriving bacteria can grow. These bacteria are the probiotics that aid your digestive system and your immune system. They help make more nutrients in your food available to your body. They rock.
Sauerkraut is easy to make, but also not easy to make.
The concept is simple: you…
- chop cabbage super super thin
- add salt to taste
- massage until wilted and a brine forms
- add to fermenting pot and squish down firmly until all cabbage is covered by brine
- add layer of plastic wrap
- add weighs
- cover for 1 week(ish) and leave on the counter, checking daily to make sure that the brine is still covering your veggies
- there will be lots of bubbles- push your weights down on your daily check
- after 1 week taste for desired sourness
- put in the fridge
Sounds simple, right? It is. But when you are throwing your weight into that cabbage and praying to the heavens that it will MAKE SOME GDAMN BRINE, you might catch yourself finding the author on IG and looking for some good vibes. Which I did. And she was very kind and supportive and sent me all the good vibes I needed and it worked. I now have a ton of sauerkraut and it’s delicious.
I used 2 heads of cabbage and pink himalayan salt. I’m not going to put the nitty gritty of making sauerkraut on here, because I think if you want to start fermenting you should get the Fermenting Vegetables book. They include a hundred tips and answer many questions about food safety and the like.
But I am hooked and I will share future recipes that I drum up here. I hope you catch the fermenting bug too! Also, I started brewing kombucha tea! More on that in future posts too.