The first frost was on its way and I called a farmer friend Rebekah Rice from 9Mile Farm to check if she could use my help with cooking in exchange for some greens. I told her I will work for food! I spent a few hours there and brought home bags of bok choi, napa cabbage, and mustard leaves and bonus: peppers. At Rebekah’s farm, those leaves were going to feed her chickens, so I appreciate very much her sharing with us and I can’t wait for her to taste some of these ferments. With what I had at hand, I could make kimchi, or simple sea salt vegetable ferment.
At first look, why mess with those outer leaves? Food waste is something that is always on my mind, probably because of the gleaning I did with my family, watching my parents save everything, trying to make ends meet. It was the way of life. And it is what I want for myself and my family now. We are blessed with safe and plentiful food our our table, but it is always on my mind that “40% of good food is thrown away in America while millions are food insecure.” The state of Massachusetts has a commercial food waste ban in place that started last month – “no food waste hits the landfill”, and that is exciting news. Maybe we will see something happening in the residential waste level soon. I am for using the extra food we produce and that is safe to eat. When I see foods destined to be discarded, I see the potential of transformation into something delicious and nutritious. Not all of us will have the time to process cull, some of us may not know how, but there are things we all can do at home, sometimes as simple as eating our leftovers or labeling our leftovers, freezing them and eating later.
I am more than happy to work the entire weekend sorting, cutting and picking snails off organic leaves. The reward? My mouth waters just thinking about those jars of kimchi in my fridge now. So I will pause here to go eat a bowl, but first I stared proudly of what has become of those precious greens.
The next best thing to eating them, is to share them. I posted this photo of my jars on facebook asking if anyone would want to trade food with me. I am trading kimchi with friends for jam, hot peppers, eggs, dried apples and pancake mix! I also got requests for the recipe, so here it is.
My kimchi inspired ferment recipe is a combination of information from books (wild fermentation), online recipes ( fermentation on wheels) , friends recipes, practice and lots of tasting. This recipe is fish free and uses few hot peppers, but you could add both. I love to be able to incorporate the fermented veggies to recipes or serve as a side dish for my family.
I started a batch at Rebekah’s kitchen a few weeks back, working with her and her father, Michael, good fun to cook together.
here at home:
Kimchi- my base
makes about 2 QT Jars, about 8 cups
5-6 pounds of combo of veggies:
mix spice paste:
1 head of garlic, 6 tablespoons ginger, onions or leeks, scallions, seaweed, lemongrass, hot peppers, a couple of tablespoons paprika, or Korean red pepper powder for heat and color if desired. (You will use this paste after the overnight soak)
Brine: 4 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of salt, double if necessary to cover veggies overnight or 6hrs or so.
I use a plate to weight it down and keep the veggies covered with light fabric. By the morning there will be plenty of liquid.
Strain veggies and taste, if too salty, rinse, if not enough salt, add more. Save the brine in the fridge if you need to keep the veggies under liquid.
Mix paste with strained veggies, using gloves if working with hot peppers
Weight it down. I use covered glass jars filled with water, or a stone. Date the jars.
Ferment 7 to 10 days, watching if the brine starts to dry, press it down and add more brine. Cover with light fabric to keep out dust and flies. Set on a tray. Keep fermenting for a month if desired.
When it taste good to you, take the weight off, remove the top leaf, cover and refrigerate for 6 month to 1 year.