Fall Ferments

Fermenting vegetables seems daunting, but it’s far simpler than making cheese, baking bread, or even canning vinegar-pickled produce. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.

Fermentation is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, but it’s a technique that has become unfamiliar for modern home cooks. We still consume a lot of fermented foods, including dairy and grains, and we may even be brave enough to try those at home. But somehow fermenting vegetables seems daunting, raising doubts about whether we’re preserving or spoiling food.

Essentially, fermenting is souring via microbes. Microorganisms break down the sugars and carbohydrates in food, causing a chemical change that increases acidity and ultimately preserves the food. The process leaves no room for microbes that spoil food to move in. Properly fermented food looks, smells, and tastes bright, crisp, and tangy. A fermentation that has problems will be discolored, soft, and rotten smelling; you’ll turn up your nose before it even gets near your tongue.

Most people think of pickled cucumbers or brined cabbage when they think of fermented vegetables. But many other vegetables, and even some fruits, can be fermented. In most cases, the only ingredients needed are fresh produce, salt, and water.
Read more about fermenting vegetables

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Cabbage

I’ve been writing about enjoying and preserving green tomatoes this month, but they aren’t the only vegetables pulled from the garden as the season winds down. From the hoop house, I’m harvesting the last of the peppers. From the main garden, I’m snagging sweet carrots, a late seeding of cilantro, and the last cabbage.

After years of losing brassica crops to moths, I recently started growing cabbage again. The key is a small hoop frame straddling the bed, with ultrafine mesh netting clipped in place over the hoops and enclosed ends. Light and water can get in, but the plants stay cool and free of cabbage worms. It also means I’ve returned to making cabbage salad. The recipe I remember needed upgrades, primarily because it relied on instant noodles for crunch. I can’t recall what my mom served with the salad, but these days I’m hooked on a shrimp pairing.
Learn to make Asian Cabbage Salad and Wasabi-Marinated Shrimp

Dig It, Store It

November has been gorgeous in Montana, but the ground will soon be frozen solid. So we spent the weekend putting the garden to bed: digging the final potatoes, carrots, and beets; pulling the last green tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse; and stuffing overlooked garlic cloves deeply into the soil. If it weren’t for the 50 pounds of tomatoes ripening on the living room floor, we’d be boxing up the canning equipment too.

We are packing food away, though: much of this last garden haul can be stored in boxes, hung in mesh bags or baskets, or otherwise kept whole for months. No canner, dehydrator, or freezer space is required. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve grown your own, have fall CSA crops, or are simply buying what’s in season over the next few weeks: Box it up to eat well all winter long. Read more about storing vegetables and fruit for winter