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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Under Pressure

I have vivid memories of a giant silver kettle rattling away on the stovetop, letting off steam like a rocket about to head to the moon. But I was likely too young to be involved in actually running this pressure canner. And by the time I was old enough, my mom had acquired a vacuum sealer and exchanged the steamy heat-of-summer process for extra chances to open the freezer door.

When I inherited my mom’s canning equipment more than a decade ago (with the caveat that I fill both our shelves with its results), I also inherited “the beast”: the heavy pressure canner capable of holding 7 quarts. I promptly broke it before I could even get its old seal tested. It now makes a lovely open kettle for cooking down applesauce and other large batches. I’ve never replaced it, and I’ve never missed it. And here’s why. Read more about (not) pressure canning