Archive for October, 2008

In a ferment…

October 23, 2008

Useful things, jars. Sadly it’s a bit too easy to come by them at the moment, and thus to take them for granted and send them off for recycling, or even just throw them away. More than once I’ve had to run out at the last moment & buy preserving jars to make jam, because Him Indoors has happily decluttered my unruly hoard. For jam you need lots of small jars, but some of the other things I like to make need larger jars, and they are surprisingly difficult to track down as “there’s no call for them any more…” So whenever anyone has any, there’s a queue for them! I was delighted to find several very large glass jars, with lids, at the Tip a few weeks ago. One has gone to my neighbour to house a Kombucha SCOBY that I passed onto her so that she can make her own Kombucha tea. One’s been filled with home-made Kimchi, a Korean version of Sauerkraut, which is providing a delicious accompaniment to my lunch every day, though sadly I can’t persuade anyone else to try it. And one has just been filled up with onions which I hope will pickle gently in good time for Christmas. The Kimchi recipe has worked really well, much better than the last one I tried, and the result is not only tasty but crunchy too, so I thought I’d try making pickled onions by lacto-fermentation this time, rather than by vinegar pickling. And a couple of mid-sized jars and a kindhearted fellow-Freecycler have allowed me to restart my adventures & experiments with Kefir; there’s cheese a-making even as I type…

And then there’s bottles. I’m still hoping to acquire more swing-cap bottles, but they’re fiendishly expensive to buy new. I have enough for most of the Kombucha, but sadly my ginger beer is having to ripen in plastic bottles for now. Ah well, at least they are being re-used, and it only tends to stay in the bottles for long enough to become drinkable.

For some reason, this house is good at fermentation – perhaps because there’s always something more interesting to do than clean it! I noticed years ago that if I left a saucer of milk down overnight for the cats, in the morning I’d have a saucer of yogurt. No effort needed on my part at all, no scalding or sterilising, and it never seemed to be “off” milk, just nice thick creamy yogurt which the cats enjoyed hugely. When I tried making a sourdough starter, it started to bubble gently within a day. But it’s not popular with the family, so mostly I don’t bother, but it’s nice to know I can make bread with no hi-tech ingredients if I ever need to.

I remember one of my friends laughing gently at me at the school gates a few years back, and saying, “Oh come on! Life’s too short to make your own marmalade, when you can just go out & buy it!” Well, where’s the fun in that?