Fer­ment

Gourmet (South Africa) - - HOW TO COOK -

Fer­ment­ing pro­duces some of the best flavour thanks to mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy. It’s the process that turns cab­bage into sauer­kraut and cucumbers into sour pick­les. Veg­eta­bles are brined in a so­lu­tion that at­tracts the bac­te­ria that pro­duce lac­tic acid, which is what helps to de­velop that won­der­ful funk.

WHAT CAN I FER­MENT?

Cab­bage is pop­u­lar be­cause of its nat­u­rally high wa­ter con­tent — so high, in fact, that it cre­ates its own brine. Sim­ply mas­sage a head of cab­bage with a mea­sured amount of salt, and it will re­lease enough liq­uid to sub­merge it­self. Al­most any veg­etable is fer­mentable in a brine so­lu­tion; we like cu­cum­ber, beet­root, radish, green beans and fresh chill­ies.

When Is It ready?

When your veg­eta­bles start to fer­ment, you may no­tice … shall we say … an odour. This is nat­u­ral, and is that bub­bling you see. Fer­men­ta­tion speed de­pends on the pro­duce used, your kitchen’s tem­per­a­ture and pre-ex­ist­ing bac­te­ria. Sam­ple af­ter 3 days. The longer you let your fer­ment sit, the more com­plex it gets. Putting it in the fridge will slow down fur­ther fer­men­ta­tion.

White kim­chi

Makes about 4 cups Spe­cial equip­ment Cheese­cloth

1/2 Asian pear

5cm piece of gin­ger

4 gar­lic cloves

2T kosher salt

900g cab­bage, sliced cross­wise

into 2.5cm strips

1/2 daikon, peeled, thinly sliced 4 spring onions, thinly sliced

1. Peel and chop the pear, gin­ger and gar­lic. Place in a food pro­ces­sor, add salt and process to a fine paste. Trans­fer to a bowl and add the cab­bage, daikon and spring onions. 2. Mas­sage the mix­ture with your hands un­til the cab­bage starts re­leas­ing its liq­uid. Con­tinue mas­sag­ing un­til there is enough liq­uid to com­pletely sub­merge the cab­bage.

3. Trans­fer the cab­bage and liq­uid to a large crock or jar. Place a plate on top of the cab­bage and weigh down with a jar filled with wa­ter so the cab­bage stays sub­merged. Seal crock or cover jar with cheese­cloth and se­cure with a rub­ber band. Let it sit at room tem­per­a­ture for 5 to 7 days (or longer for a stronger flavour), then de­cant into a jar and chill. Do ahead Kim­chi can be made 6 months ahead. Keep chilled.

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