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Thinking of playing with fermentation

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MontezumaBoy

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Hi All,

Was given The Noma Guide to Fermentation / have played around with fermentation on-off again for years but since I moved up to a more appropriate area (PNW) was wondering if there are certain directions that may be more easiliy approachable / user friendly. Not interested in beer/wine more along the cooking/food lines ...

Likely to start with Vinegars as that is something I enjoy / use quite a bit of ...

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Regards,

BMB
 

JAKsQandBrew

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I just started this year. I've really only gotten into hot sauce so far. I have a buddy who grows tons of super hot 🌶 who was always giving me some. I'd made enough spicy tequila, so I tried my had at fermented hot sauce. Really simple and fun. Important to follow the directions and keep everything clean. I bought a fermenting set from Amazon for pretty cheap. Came with 2 glass mason jars and air locks.

Give it a shot. Certainly a much more affordable hobby.
 

ian

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I've done both of the above. Pretty easy way to start. Second the mason jars (or alternative) with air locks. I have yet to try kimchi. Maybe that's next.
 

Crobert

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I have found the Noma Guide to Fermentation to be an excellent resource. I started out with lacto-ferments, including sauerkraut and kimchi, and moved on to kombucha, koji, and miso. If vinegar is of particular interest, you can use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as a starter culture for making your own, if you want to expedite things a bit.
 

MontezumaBoy

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I have found the Noma Guide to Fermentation to be an excellent resource. I started out with lacto-ferments, including sauerkraut and kimchi, and moved on to kombucha, koji, and miso. If vinegar is of particular interest, you can use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as a starter culture for making your own, if you want to expedite things a bit.
Thx Crobert - appreciate the feedback / going to just jump in and see what gets up off the table and walks away on its own! ; -)
 

SeattleBen

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Thx Crobert - appreciate the feedback / going to just jump in and see what gets up off the table and walks away on its own! ; -)
I left a restaurant for a twelve day span where I left a five gallon cambro under the hood making sauerkraut while it was shut down. While I wasn't there when everyone came backI heard about how awful it smelled for month. The good was left in, dried enough of the brine through evaporation, and the cabbage really got out of the cambro and made a giant mess.
 

4wa1l

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I've done a bit of lacto vegetable fermentation and also use mason or weck jars with airlock. I think the Noma book calls for vac bags for much of their ferments but I've never used them.

One thing that I think is important for lacto veg ferments is to make sure your produce is under the brine. Exposure to air is when you get issues with mould. I use glass weights in the jars but a vac bag gets past this as you can remove most of the air as you seal it. Not applicable for vinegar where oxygen is your friend.

My favourite fermentation was a japanese style called nukazuke . ( Like this Nukazuke Rice Bran Pickles Recipe) You have a damp salted rice bran in a pot that eventually picks up a mixture of the lactobacillus and yeast from vegetables that you cover in the bran. It takes a bit to start and is high maintenance in summer as you need to turn it at least once each day or it can get pretty full on. But when it's good it can turn around veg in ~12-24 hours. You end up with a mixture of tartness, sweetness and crunch with just about any veggie if you time it right. Things like broccoli stems become exceptionally tasty and far better than a cooked floret (imo).

The Noma book is great but I love Sandor Katz's "The Art of Fermentation" too. Would highly recommend it if you can get your hands on a copy.

Edit: Got a bit carried away but should've read the question a bit closer. Lacto veggie ferments are super easy and you can ferment just about anything. Def start there again for quick and easy results. I'd love to try vinegar one day too.
 
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Rangen

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There are super simple short-fermentation Japanese, Chinese, and even Italian pickle recipes out there.

Short-fermented dried chili peppers are a staple for me, because I can't find them commercially (except that one time from Amazon), and a whole lot of Hunan recipes call for them. Also Yu Xiang pork, one of my absolute favorite dishes in the world. You can make it with hot bean sauce, but the magic is cut way down if you do that. It's also a great dish for using your good knives, since you need really thin slivers of pork
 

Matt Zilliox

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Oh. Interested! I've played w ferments and wine making but am now trying to learn Koji. I have the Koji spores, I just haven't a clue where to start next...
 

LostHighway

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Rules For Making Fermented Foods:

1. Do not become dead. 🤣
Well short of death, food poisoning is not an enjoyable experience. I've had several episodes over the years traveling in Asia and sometimes wished I was dead. I don't own the Sandor Katz book and maybe my recollections are faulty but a quick glance through a borrowed copy left me with the impression that he was a little too cavalier in his attitude toward safety. The Noma guys seem to have a more rigorous attitude. I suppose you'd ideally have both books. I remain curious about the book in the Japanese Culinary Academy series and the Koji Alchemy book, possibly Nancy Singleton Hachisu's Preserving the Japanese Way as well.
 

Matt Zilliox

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Well short of death, food poisoning is not an enjoyable experience. I've had several episodes over the years traveling in Asia and sometimes wished I was dead. I don't own the Sandor Katz book and maybe my recollections are faulty but a quick glance through a borrowed copy left me with the impression that he was a little too cavalier in his attitude toward safety. The Noma guys seem to have a more rigorous attitude. I suppose you'd ideally have both books. I remain curious about the book in the Japanese Culinary Academy series and the Koji Alchemy book, possibly Nancy Singleton Hachisu's Preserving the Japanese Way as well.
I have Koji alchemy. Good book, but not super clear
 

sododgy

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Well short of death, food poisoning is not an enjoyable experience. I've had several episodes over the years traveling in Asia and sometimes wished I was dead. I don't own the Sandor Katz book and maybe my recollections are faulty but a quick glance through a borrowed copy left me with the impression that he was a little too cavalier in his attitude toward safety. The Noma guys seem to have a more rigorous attitude. I suppose you'd ideally have both books. I remain curious about the book in the Japanese Culinary Academy series and the Koji Alchemy book, possibly Nancy Singleton Hachisu's Preserving the Japanese Way as well.
I get what you're saying, but Sandor is unquestionably the preeminent source on fermentation, with Noma being the hip tech chef vanguard. This isn't a slam on Noma in anyway, just pointing out the opposing approaches.

Safety is important of course, especially with riskier ingredients, but I'd say it's way more so for a two star culinary darling restaurant who have health boards and law suits to worry about. I appreciate the fact that Sandor reminds everyone that fermentation is a technique that's been used in various ways since literal prehistory. I'd love to meet the grandma who's passing down her kimchi/kraut/kombucha/koji recipes using a scale and refractometer with a temperature and humidity controlled fermentation chamber.

I feel like because fermentation has blown up as such an almost mysticaly ancient and culturally foreign technique (to many in the western world at least) in such a modern time amongst a new younger crowd that safety concerns get blown way out of proportion.
 

DavidPF

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culturally foreign technique
This is funny because it seems it didn't used to be so foreign, but you're right it certainly is now. (But being able to put a wide variety of food in an electric freezer, and be quite sure it will still be good when you come back for it, is honestly still a far bigger benefit overall than fermented food, and must be a factor in fermentation's previous loss of popularity.)
 

aboynamedsuita

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Here’s some sauerkraut from a couple months ago, I do large batches in 2x 5gal fermenting crocks in Autumn. There’s also kombucha on the shelf which keeps going all year. I’d like to get into koji propagating too so I don’t have to keep buying the rice, I really enjoy koji aged/cured pork.
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