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Sunday, January 17, 2016

'Cause I Ain't Got Nothin' but Time: Pickles & Fermented Carrots

For Christmas this year, Rob got me a fermenting kit. It's a lot simpler than I expected something like this to be: it's just a few lids with airlocks and stoppers that fit directly on Mason jars that we already own. 

I guess he figured that since I'm basically spending my life sitting and waiting, we might as well get some pickles out of it.

Two weekends ago we decided to get started with some experimentation. First, basic pickles: dill and garlic on the bottom, slices of cucumber (as many as could fit standing up) topped off with salted water. No vinegar! We wanted to add grape leaves to help keep the cukes crispy, but we couldn't find any. I guess I'll have to wait until my friend's grapevine is ripe again.

Second project was the sparkly carrots recipe that came with the kit: pieces of ginger, carrots standing upright (again, as many as could fit), completely covered in the salty water solution. Then we put it in the closet that has since become our dark, cool fermenting spot for Rob's beer and our kombucha (which is very exciting and will require a post of its own!)

Friday night we decided to have a night in instead of our usual drive to Moscow for dinner. After a home-cooked pasta with cauliflower and olives, we kept pouring the wine (we were watching the fascinating documentary Somm, after all), and made a charcuterie board with our newest salami-of-the-month shipment from Olympic Provisions (Saucisson D'Arles, the salami made of just pork and salt, its simplicity just absolute porky perfection), a few cheeses that were sent us via mail for Christmas (I guess we only eat postmarked treats these days), and our newest home-fermented goods. 

The carrots were still amazingly crispy, with not so much a ginger taste but a fermented ginger tang. They were a nice addition to our salty board.

As for the pickles, the second week truly transformed these suckers into actual sour pickles. The first week we tried them in hopes they'd be ready early, but they just tasted like salty cucumbers that weren't even permeated with the brine. Now, they have the fermented taste and texture of any good pickle you'd find in restaurants (though, probably much better than restaurants around here). 

For round two, we got some green beans going. We also bought some colored carrots at Trader Joe's today for another, perhaps more exciting stab at "sparkly carrots". They're squeezed in next to my bottles of kombucha and all Rob's beer stuff. I keep track of what's fermenting and for how long on our whiteboard. It's like having small victories to look forward to, little milestones that make sense to me. Instead of at least another year and a half in Pullman? It's two more weeks until I get pickled beets and three until I have strawberry kombucha. 

These are the things that'll keep us going through a cold and lonely winter. Because again, what else can I say? I ain't got nothin' but time, and I might as well have fermentables to get us through. 

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