Catching the fermenting bug

Recently, I’ve been enamoured with the idea of fermenting, namely for its incredible health benefits and also the practical solution it offers for garden gluts and waste minimisation (another current obsession of mine, but more on that later) . So I bought the seminal book on the subject: “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Katz, a guy often referred to as the Godfather of fermenting and a self-described “fermentation revivalist”. I’m only two chapters in, but what a tome of delicious information!

Singularly impatient to my core, while waiting for the book to arrive in the post, I planted out an entire garden bed of cabbage seedlings in anticipation of the oodles of sauerkraut I was going to make, and then bought two practice cabbages from the shops (purple and green). In the meantime, I finally got along on Sunday morning to my local Hills Food Share run by Mundaring in Transition where I got talking to an avid fermentationalist (did I just coin a new word?) who offered to drop a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) around to my house later that day so I could try making Kombucha (fermented tea). So Sunday was Fermentation Day, like it or not. Actually reading the book would have to wait.

Sweet sauerkraut

I knew my son, Hugo, would be delighted to help with the sauerkraut when I told him he could “bash the cabbage”. So we set up on the outside table (good call) and proceeded to bash, pound and squeeze the living daylights out of three large bowls of salted cabbage, which Hugo was fascinated and a little perplexed to discover quickly shrunk to one large jarful. On a whim a fortnight before, I’d bought a Kilner fermentation set from my favourite local store, Wasteless Pantry, so I was ready to go. The resulting mix is quite pretty and looks fabulous sitting up on the bookshelf near my kitchen where I can keep a close eye on it.

SCOBY Dooby Doo makes kombucha

True to his word, Danny, my new local fermenting friend, dropped by mid-afternoon with a cream-coloured disc floating in brown vinegary liquid, which enthralled Hugo when I told him it was ALIVE. He is now calling it SCOBY Dooby Doo and is acting like it’s his new pet, saying goodnight to it and talking to it when he gets home from school…that kid, he’s awesome! He also helped me make our first batch of Kombucha with English Breakfast tea, rapadura sugar and SCOBY Dooby Doo. Let the magic begin!

Preserved lemons

I was on a roll, so why stop there? There’s nothing like inspiration for doing something fun to motivate myself to quit procrastinating on that work project. I needed to finish it today before I could spend a guilt-free afternoon playing in my kitchen. Check.

I found a Jamie Oliver recipe for Lime Pickle that I wanted to try. I’m currently drowning under a deluge of fruit from my ridiculously abundant Tahitian Lime tree, so I’ve been looking for any and all recipes in which to use them. The recipe called for preserved lemons in addition to limes, which I did not have. However, I had gladly swapped a basketful of limes for a handful of lemons at the Food Swap on Sunday (my lemon tree is located on our rental property and suffered from a lack of water this summer, hence I am suffering from a dearth of lemons.) So first I had to make preserved lemons! I found a recipe on the SBS website of all places and it looks great.

What I didn’t think through was the obvious fact that preserved lemons need to sit and sog for about a month…er, no Lime Pickle anytime soon then? Not to be thwarted, I found a recipe for Chocolate Chip and Lime Biscuits and so made them instead. A double batch only used a measly two limes (of zest) but damn, they tasted delicious!

I see Key Lime Pie in our future…