Thursday, October 28, 2010
I think I've said here before that my food passion lies in fermentation. Oh, the wonders that microbes perform on ordinary food!
At any one time in my kitchen you can usually find various fermented vegetables, sourdough, many permutations of cultured milk (we're currently addicted to "greek style" goat milk yogurt), kombucha, water/juice kefir, cheese, and homebrew.
I had to buy some cabbages this year because mine did poorly in the garden. We had piles of green beans, so I lacto-pickled lots of those (literally gallons), and while those are my favorite pickle, we just couldn't do without some kraut. (Ooops, my German roots are showing... not that we ate it growing up or anything, but it must be in my blood-- kraut and beer!)
So I bought a half-dozen cabbages from a near-by farmer. Who, incidentally, I will probably not patronize again. I asked her if she sprayed her cabbages (like I didn't already know the answer...). "Yup" she answered, "everybody does." I knew that. I asked what she used. "Same stuff the organic people use." she said, curtly. "The government's always changing the organic standards. There are all kinds of sprays on organics." Grrr. She wasn't really being mean, exactly, but she was totally talking down to me. Okay, lady, I get that you have issues with organic labling, and heck, so do I. But you're not going to solve any problems by being condescending about it. I think she pretty much assumes that I was just an uninformed city-slicker who had bought into the organic hype. As it happens, I have a particular interest in agriculture (not that I know much, but I think I know a few things...). I honestly don't care if something is "organic" according to government-imposed standards, I just don't want chemicals and GMOs in my food. I'd honestly rather buy from conscientious local producers who do the best they can than from government-regulated organic producers.
Um... I probably had better arrest this rabbit-trail before I get into a tirade...
Anyway, I bought the cabbages, because it's next to impossible to get unsprayed stuff around here, and the kraut was calling to me. But I kinda wish I had engaged her on the subject (but we were in a hurry) and I probably won't go back.
Point is, I have lots of fermenty things going on right now.
Yesterday, Nathan and Jonah went to an Amish neighbor's cider pressing. They had a trailer-load of apples and to press in their giant press, so my guys went to procure some cider for us. For 30 bucks we got 15 gallons of fresh, raw cider, and a big box of apples. I spent the afternoon starting hard cider and vinegar.
I don't have enough airlocks for all my bottles, so I use balloons. This gives the added entertainment of watching the balloons inflate by the sheer power of yeastie beasties. As I type this, the balloons are huge, even after being vented a couple of times today. I think, though, that I'd like to get my hands on some better equipment eventually (though you can't beat this for economy! Those jugs were all free, so I've spent next to nothing on equipment.). I'm thinking I really should go over to a bucket-fermenter system, and it'd be nice to measure alcohol content as well.
I figure that in a few weeks I'll be bottling 26-28 pints of hard cider for a total cost about about $12. Maybe even $10. That is WAY cheaper than beer. And my husband is very happy with the prospect of cheap, high-quality booze.
I've got some cider in the freezer, and more in the spare fridge to deal with yet. I think I'm going to do some cider kefir and I'd like to experiment with cyser-- apple mead made by adding honey and yeast to raw cider and fermenting. Sounds yummy to me!
Needless to say, I do have fun.
Evan, however, got a little bored with all my fermenting yesterday, and konked out on the floor.