Not stinky. Aromatic.

Whatever it is, give it to me brewed, yeasted, cured, affinaged, pickled, brined, vinificated, fermented in rice bran, wrapped in banana leaves, and buried in mud for the winter.

Karl started brewing kombucha to feed his addiction. His first batch, made with green jasmine tea, was amazing. Here he is with his mother:
karl with his kombucha

Meanwhile, my sauerkraut attempts continue to fall flat. I just can’t get the right temperature and salinity. I think the size and shape of the cabbage pieces are working against me, too. And my fermentation rig may be a little too janky.

But after one attempt that didn’t cut it, I managed to made a delicious batch of mustard. Mellowed for a couple weeks on the counter, it came out really well. So my spirits were lifted by that success.

And by this colorful burst of inspiration:

Clockwise from left: kaboucha squash pickled in sake lees (kasu-zuke); sea vegetable kraut (cabbage, ginger, arame, dulse, hijiki); nukka radish (fermented in rice bran); celery with spring onion, cumin, and oregano; Tokyo turnips with spring onion, turmeric, and coriander. And in the center, beet and diakon kimchi.

All are from Cultured Pickle Shop, and all are wild fermented. The nukka radish is a totally new flavor for me. Pickled in rice bran for six months to a year, the flavor is transformed — it’s deep, crunchy, and cheesy, bursting with umami and totally addictive. The kaboucha squash, pickled in dregs from the local sake factory, has an amazing miso flavor. And the simple kraut is just so clean and delicious, I could easily eat a jar of it as a salad.

So I now have a baseline for how great pickles could taste if I learned how to make them properly at home.

And in addition to Wild Fermentation, I found an inspiring manual that may help along the way:
Lots of amazing Japanese techniques in here, but many of them, like the nukka, are very time consuming or require obscure ingredients. So this is one of those books I’ll need to stare at for a while before I actually make anything.

Which is probably good. I need to really nail the kraut before I attempt anything more exotic.


4 Responses to “Not stinky. Aromatic.”

  1. 1 wren October 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    i have just discovered that my lifelong distaste for all things pickled was completely unfounded and very very stupid. kombucha is probably to blame, since its changed my life! (and i’m possibly totally addicted…) any suggestions for acquiring a mother culture from a reliable source? (likely mail-order).

  2. 2 Carl October 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Look into Oregon Kombucha. They sell packets with a starter and some tea. Kombucha is super easy, fun to make, and a lot cheaper than buying it in the store. Just keep the flies out!

  3. 4 Stacey November 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    There is also a kombucha mother exchange online. I recently found your blog and love this post. My bf started brewing ‘booch in our kitchen. So much that I bought him a 3 gallon brewing jar for his birthday last year. Now we have octagon-shaped mothers– octa-mom.

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