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Fermenting Seasonally: Fall Fennel-Celery Salad Topper Recipe

I like to have a nice green salad for lunch each day, but often don’t because of the time it takes to prep the various toppings. My aim with this recipe was to make preparing salad not only a breeze but to add nutrition and flavor by the fermentation process. This salad topper can be enjoyed on its own or tossed with lettuce, a bit of cheese, and a few chopped nuts.

The two main ingredients in this recipe, fennel and celery, both enjoy cool weather, so you will begin to see fennel at the markets in early fall. That’s when you know it’s time to make a few quarts of this salad topper to ensure effortless salads throughout the winter.

When purchasing fennel, look for small, heavy, white bulbs that are firm and have tightly packed layers that are free of cracks or browning. The stalks should be crisp, with feathery, bright-green fronds.

Learning to preserve produce by fermenting seasonally allows you to:

  1. Create flavor packed recipes. Recipe development is inspired by what I find each week at my farmer’s market. Seeing market stands bursting with fennel, celery, corn, and red onions one Saturday created this perfect combination for winter salads.
  2. Maximize nutrition. Fresh-picked produce has more nutrients than buying that same produce, shipped from across the globe. In addition, during fermentation the digestive action of the bacteria not only increases the levels of existing nutrients, but in many cases generates additional nutrients as by-products of their metabolism.
  3. Ensure fermentation success. When you ferment with fresh-picked produce, you stack the deck in your favor for success. From the moment produce is picked, bacteria begin to break it down. Not only is fresh produce less likely to mold, but the hard-working bacteria are able to generate a higher nutrient profile and a greater depth of flavor.

jar of fermented salad topper

Fermented Fennel-Celery Salad Topper

Makes 1 quart (liter)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (480 ml) fresh fennel bulb, quarter and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups (480 ml) fresh celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) red onion, quarter and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (240) ml slice off fresh corn, or frozen
  • 1–3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice of
  • 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) fennel leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 teaspoons (15 ml) iodine-free salt

prepared salad topper ingredients 
Chopped salad topper ingredients. Photo courtesy Holly Howe.

Instructions

  1. Prepare the fennel (see Recipe Notes below), celery, onion, corn, jalapeño peppers, and lemon (zest and juice) and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Mix thoroughly until salt is well dispersed.
  2. Taste. If the mixture tastes like a salty potato chip, you have the right amount of salt. If it tastes overly salty—like that gulp of sea water you accidently swallowed at the ocean—add a bit more sliced fennel or celery. If there is just a hint of salt, add the last teaspoon of salt.
  3. Pack into a 1-quart (liter) jar leaving 1-2 inches of headspace. Clean up any loose bits from around the rim and press the mixture down into your jar to remove any air pockets.
  4. Seal the jar using a fermentation weight and airlock lid of your choosing. If you don’t have a specialty weight, find a slightly smaller jar that will fit inside the neck of the jar you packed your ferment into. Fill it with water, cap it, and place it inside the jar. It will keep your ferment below the brine and safe from airborne molds and yeasts.
  5. Label your jar with the recipe name and the day you started fermenting. Place your jar in a small bowl to catch any brine that may overflow. Ferment away from direct sunlight for 4-7 days.
  6. Monitor daily, pressing down any bits that rise to the surface. Start tasting on day 4, looking for a bit of crunch with a hint of licorice.
  7. When fermented to your liking, clean up the jar, removing the fermentation weight and airlock lid. Add how long you fermented your Fennel-Celery Salad Topper to your label. Seal your jar with a regular lid and transfer to the fridge where your ferment will keep for 6-12 months.

Recipe Notes 

1. Prepare fennel by first cutting off the stalks. Cut the bulb in half and then cut the halves into quarters. Peel off any wilted or browned outer layers. Slice into thin layers avoiding the core. I use a mandolin for this.

cut fennel bulbs
Prepared fennel. Photo courtesy Holly Howe.

2. Feel free to changes up the texture of this recipe by dicing the ingredients instead of slicing. When fermenting, the basic rule is to keep ingredients close to the same size so they ferment at the same rate.

3. If you’re unable to purchase fresh corn, frozen corn can be substituted.

4. With hot peppers, the heat is in the seeds and the inner membrane. Vary the heat by how many jalapeños you use, how many seeds you leave in, and whether you remove the inner membrane. Wash your hands well after handling hot peppers.

5. Himalayan pink salt or Redmond Real Salt© are my favorite salts to use for fermentation.

6. If you are comfortable with weighing your ingredients and calculating salt by weight, this recipe uses 2% salt. To determine how many grams of salt to add, the weight of your ingredients would multiplied by 0.02. For example, an 800 gram batch of ingredients would call for 16 grams of salt.

Fermented Peanut Butter and Jelly Recipe

Ahhh, the end of the summer has come. It’s been a long summer, it’s been a hot summer, it’s been a good summer. But all good things must come to an end and with that, school begins.

Sniff...Sniff….Wait, is that…. RELIEF that we’re smelling? “We’re fairly certain it is,” say the parents with school-aged children, disheveled and exhausted. It is faint, but it is there. It smells like relief with top notes of freedom. It is also a bit of a false positive because with school comes much responsibility. We are inundated with the school supply shopping lists, clothes shopping, meeting with the teachers, hair cuts, getting the kiddos back on a schedule and trying to squeeze out the last bit of fun before the first day. Then the back to school blues hit, the grumpiness sets in, the fights over who gets which backpack ensue….Oh, can we please have a bit more summertime?

We love to see our children grow and expand their minds. We love to see the drawings from art class and the extremely hard math homework that they aced. We also know that they need nourishment for these situations to happen and kids can be EXTREMELY picky about what they get in their lunch bags. Sending a hormonal pre-teen to school with kimchi and kombucha for lunch won’t always win you brownie points, so defaulting to an easy peanut butter and jelly is always a good choice. We’re not talking about your mass-produced tan spread and purple, gelatinous sugar gunk smeared on bleached slices of tasteless sponge, however. We want your little, perfect protégés to get some gut-healthy nut-rition (see what we did there?) and we’ve found a great way to do so!

World, make way for fermented peanut butter and jam!

We’ve made these sandwiches countless times on all sorts of bread (even going so far to do a pita roll-up), with rave reviews from both teens and tikes. The best part about these ferments is that they are quick, easy, and healthy. Put that in your lunch bag and pack it!

peanut butter and jelly on white plate and cutting board
Photo by Freddy G on Unsplash

Fermented Peanut Butter

Ingredients:
• 4 cups of natural (chunky or creamy) peanut butter
• 1/4 cup of cheese whey or the liquid strained off of the top of homemade yogurt

1. Mix the peanut butter and whey, then cover and let sit out for 12 to 18 hours. Pop in the fridge and you’re all done! Pro-tip: if you use unsalted peanut butter, you would want to mix in a teaspoon of salt for the fermentation to work well.

Fermented Blueberry Jam

Ingredients:
• Generous 2 lbs. of blueberries
• 3/4 cup honey or Sucanat
• 2 tsp. sea salt
• 1/3 cup whey from yogurt or kefir

1. Combine blueberries, sweetener, and salt in a small saucepan. Cook for five minutes at a simmer, smashing the blueberries as they cook to allow juices to release.

2. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Once blueberry mixture has cooled, mix in the whey (water kefir can be used as a direct substitution for whey). Transfer to very clean jam jars and seal tightly. Allow to ferment at room temperature for about 2 days. Burp jars if you notice excess gases building up.

4. Move the jar to cold storage where it should keep for a couple of months.

Blueberry Jam Recipe from Cultures for Health

Pickle Relish Kimchi Recipe

The season’s first appearance of small pickling cucumbers at our local farmer’s market is a red-letter day in my fermentation world for I know I will soon be enjoying crunchy pickle spears and Pickle Relish Kimchi.

pickle relish kimchi

Learning to preserve produce by fermenting seasonally allows you to:

  1. Capture vegetables at their peak of freshness. Cucumbers that were picked within a few days of when you prepare them for fermentation are teeming with the bacteria responsible for successful fermentation. These bacteria not only ensure success, but impart better flavors and reduce the chance of mold growing.
  2. Save money. Fresh-picked produce grown locally, or harvested from your garden, can be preserved for far less money than buying that same produce, shipped from across the globe, in the middle of winter.
  3. Meet and support your local farmers. If you are not harvesting produce from your own garden, the next best place to get fresh produce is at your local farmer’s market. Here, you can have a conversation with the families that grow your food, learn how it is grown, and connect a face to where you spend food dollars.

kimchi ingredients

Makes 1 quart (liter)

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds (680 grams) pickling cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch (cm)-sized cubes
  • 6-8 green onions, crosscut into 1/4-inch (1 cm) pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml)sugar
  • 3 teaspoons (15 ml) iodine-free salt

pickle relish kimchi in jar

Instructions

1. Prepare the cucumbers, carrots, green onions, garlic, and ginger and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru), fish sauce, sugar, and 2 teaspoons of the salt and mix well.

2. Taste. If the relish mixture taste like a salty potato chip, you have the right amount of salt. If it tastes overly salty—like that gulp of sea water you accidentally swallowed—toss in a few more cubed cucumbers. If there is just a hint of salt, add the last teaspoon of salt.

3. Pack into a 1-quart (liter) jar. Clean up any loose bits from around the rim and press the mixture down into your jar to remove any air pockets.

4. Seal the jar using a fermentation weight and airlock lid of your choosing. If you don’t have a specialty weight, find a slightly smaller jar that will fit inside the neck of the jar you packed your relish into. Fill it with water, cap it, and place it inside the jar. It will keep your relish below the brine and safe from airborne molds and yeasts.

5. Label your jar with the recipe name and the day you started fermenting. Place your jar in a small bowl to catch any brine that may overflow. Ferment away from direct sunlight for 4-7 days.

6. Monitor daily, pressing down any bits that rise to the surface. Start tasting on day 4, looking for flavor-infused cucumber cubes with a bit of crunch.

7. When fermented to your liking, clean up the jar, removing the fermentation weight and airlock lid. Add how long you fermented your Pickle Relish Kimchi to your label. Seal your jar with a regular lid and transfer to the fridge where your relish will keep for 6-12 months.

Recipe Notes

  1. Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru) can be found online or in Asian markets. The package label should list just red pepper powder, with sun-dried red pepper powder being the highest quality. You can substitute red pepper flakes, but they are much hotter. Use just 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.
  2. Red Boat is my preferred brand of fish sauce. When shopping for fish sauce, carefully read the label. The best quality of fish sauce will be made with just anchovies and salt.
  3. Himalayan pink salt or Redmond Real Salt© are my favorite salts to use for fermentation.
  4. If you are comfortable with weighing your ingredients and calculating salt by weight, this recipe uses 2% salt. To determine how many grams of salt to add, the weight of your ingredients would multiplied by 0.02. For example, an 800 gram batch of relish ingredients would call for 16 grams of salt.

Fermented Hot Sauce for Summer!

Ahh, the time of long days and heat is upon us and we couldn’t be happier. It’s been a cool year so far and when we say “cool”, we don’t mean like Rihanna cool. We mean Princess Elsa cool. We mean Ice Ice Baby cool. Who are we kidding? It’s just been COLD. We can typically put away our thermals, furry boots and layered looks in May, but not this year. We’ve been bundled up in warm blankets and sweaters for far too long, munching warm bread and stews and dreaming of the days where we can wear shorts and tank tops, pick veggies straight out of our garden, swim in the lakes and rivers... We’ve been waiting too long for the summer experience! 

For all of your Nor’westers (and PNW’ers), today we’re bringing some heat to you to shake the perpetual winter chill out of your bones for GOOD. Peppers of all types are relatively easy to grow and are covered in natural bacteria as they’re grown close to the ground. This recipe we’ve adapted from “It’s Alive with Brad” on the Bon Appétit YouTube channel does need organic peppers because conventionally grown peppers can be covered in wax for preservation which doesn’t lend well to fermenting. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market or your favorite farmer friend if you’re not keen on gardening, they’ll most likely have peppers coming out of their ears soon enough! 

This sauce can be used for multiple applications; whether you just like a dab on your grilled goodies or dumped on your chip of choice, we guarantee that your core temperature will increase significantly! You can sneak some into ramen, toss some on your tacos, dress your boring scrambled eggs or fancy up a Bloody Mary with this beautiful hot sauce. It even makes great gifts for your spice lords and ladies around the holidays! Whatever your choice of usage, we guarantee that you and anyone you choose to share this sauce with will enjoy the heat year ‘round. So, let’s get to fermenting!

multi-colored pepper assortment
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

You will need:

• Wide-mouth gallon jar (can also use a half-gallon jar)
• Latex gloves
• Cutting board
• Kitchen knife
• Funnel
• Small bottles with lids and/or a large mason jar for storage

Ingredients:

• Around 20 organic Fresno peppers, topped and seeded
• 2-3 organic Habanero peppers, topped and seeded
• 2 dried hibiscus flowers
• Mixed peppercorns (approx. 5)
• 2 Cardamom pods
• 1 Pinch Marash pepper flakes
• 2 cloves crushed garlic
• 3 Tbsp sea salt
• 3 Tbsp sugar
• 1.5 Quarts water

Preparation:

1) Using gloves, remove tops and seeds from peppers.

2) Add salt, sugar, spices, and garlic to fermentation jar.

3) Add enough water to cover spices, close jar, and shake to dissolve.

4) Place peppers into the jar and add the remaining quart of water.

5) Close the jar with your GoFerment lid, fill your airlock and let ferment for one and a half weeks.

6) After one and a half weeks, check mixture and massage peppers (please use gloves).

7) Ferment for another week (or longer if you can wait!).

8) Strain pepper solids and retain the brine.

9) Transfer peppers and around 3/4 cup of the brine to a blender and blend mixture at varying speeds until consistent being careful not to overheat. If you have an immersion blender, those are great to use as they won’t create heat when blending!

10) Remove mixture from the blender, store in a mason jar or small bottles in the refrigerator and enjoy!

When Life Hands You Garlic Mustard, Ferment It!

 Garlic Mustard BHughey

Calling all wildcrafters and foragers — pick all you can! The usual advice is to forage lightly and with respect. Leave plants to reproduce. However, in the case of a few invasive species, it is okay to pluck with wild abandon, not allowing the plants to reproduce. One of these is garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), and its unopened flowers are very similar to rapini (aka broccoli rabe) in taste and texture.

It was introduced to the U.S. as a food and medicine brought by European settlers and is first recorded on Long Island in 1868. This plant is a problem across the northeast U.S., much of the Midwest, and in scattered pockets throughout the South, West, and Alaska.

Invasive species can play havoc on ecosystems by out competing native species. Often these silent invaders thrive in foreign ecosystems, because none of their competitors came along to balance them. For example, in its native habitat, garlic mustard has 69 insects that feed upon it, in North America — none.

In the case of garlic mustard, it also has sheer numbers on its side: It can produce 62,000 seeds per square meter, and these little guys remain viable for 5 years.

When you find this plant heading up in mid to late April and May, go ahead and pull it out by the root, which you can cut off, keeping the tender upper stems, leaves, and unopened florets to eat. Eat some fresh — it can be steamed or braised — and ferment some for later.

Garlic Mustard Kimchi Recipe

Makes a little more than a pint

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Garlic Mustard, cut into 1–inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded radish
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. dried pepper flakes (this will be a mild-medium heat, use more to taste)
  • 2 quarts kimchi pickling brine for soaking (2 quarts water mixed with 1/2 cup salt)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon anchovy paste

Directions:

1. Soak the cut garlic mustard (unopened buds and all) for about 2 hours in the soaking brine. After soaking, drain in a colander, saving some of the brine to add as needed.

2. Place soaked mustard in a bowl and mix in all of the remaining ingredients (including optional anchovy paste), massaging as you go. Taste to check salt and pepper level. The pepper quantity will vary with how piquant you want your ferment (remember heat is brought down just a touch during fermentation). The salt level is part of a successful ferment. You want to taste the salt in a pleasing way — like a chip — but you don’t want it to be overly briny. If it needs more salt, simply add a bit of the soaking brine until it tastes right.

3. Press into jar or crock, following basic instructions for your fermentation vessel.

This small quantity will ferment in about 4-5 days. This is strong flavored and best served as a condiment. It goes nicely over a white meat or fish. It will keep refrigerated for 3-4 months.


Kirsten K. Shockey is a post-modern homesteader who lives in the mountains of Southern Oregon. She writes about sauerkraut and life — but not necessarily in that order. She’s written a complete book of Fermented Vegetables and maintains the website Fermentista’s Kitchen.







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