It’s been all about fermentation at our place recently.
I had been pondering the idea of several fermenterrific things for a while — probably since I started watching River Cottage — but my partner’s impending low-FODMAP diet just sort of tipped me over the edge into home-fermentation land.
Fermentation the first: sourdough
Regular wheat isn’t allowed under a low-FODMAP diet, but spelt is; and it’s even more allowed if it’s in sourdough bread form. Which sounds fine, except that shop-bought sourdough spelt bread tends to be not only expensive but also a bit stale. Not my favourite combo.
Add that my friend N makes delicious home-made bread just about daily and she has TWO kids — a three-year-old AND a baby — and I thought it was just embarrassing if she can find the time to make her own bread and I can’t.
It turned out that finding the time was easy since it required small amounts of time, semi-frequently — perfect for someone who’s at home all day with a baby — but it was all kind of a pain in the ass.
The starter burbling away in the pantry…
Sourdough starters are more art than science and they use up heaps and heaps of flour. There’s no getting around it. And you end up with way more starter than you’re ever going to need. The internet is full of recipes for ways you can use it up (I made some yuck pancakes and some nice carrot cake), but it’s kind of annoying.
As for the recipes for actual sourdough bread, each one seems to ask for a slightly different sorts of starter (it’s all about the water/flour ratio) so you really do need to experiment. Then, it turns out, you need to experiment to get it the way YOU like it.
The first loaf, a white one, looked ok but turned out too sour (well, I thought it was. My partner thought it tasted fine and he doesn’t normally even like sour foods):
The dough rising and getting all bubbly
The internet told me that, counterintuitively, you add MORE of the (sour) starter to make the final bread less sour. And it was quite right. The second loaf, which I made wholemeal, was just nicely sour:
The dough rose beautifully with twice the starter…
But both loaves, as you can see, weren’t that high. Meh, we had thin, long sandwiches. I might try a tin next time, see if that helps make it higher.
Fermentation the second
Ginger beer. Oh, yeah.
I used the River Cottage recipe, with fresh ginger, and I was terrified that it was going to explode (mostly because I didn’t want to have to clean it up), so I stored the bottle inside my sealed (clean) nappy bucket, as you see above.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The first time I tried, my yeast was dead, so nothing happened. It still tasted delicious, it was just flat and non-alcoholic.
The second time I tried, with brand new yeast from a nearby homebrew shop, it worked beautifully. Yum. The third time, nothing happened again, even with the new yeast, but this time I just topped up the mixture with a bit more yeast and a bit more sugar, and left it for another few days… and it worked beautifully.
So, again, more art than science.
Fermentation the third and fourth (plus a pickle)
To get started, I should probably mention that I am a trifle in love with Garden Betty ATM. Just look at her. She’s so great…
Yes, I stole this pic from her website. Since it’s her “official” shot, I assume it’s ok to pinch under these circumstances (i.e. when raving about how great she is)
I found her through googling, about six months ago. I don’t remember what I was googling, as I was immediately distracted by her blog. She is wonderful.
Melbs is a bit obsessed with banh mi at the moment, so I started with
her do chua.
Washing off the salt. Look at those shiny, sexy sticks
Tasty, tasty home-made banh me…
Flushed with success, and full of delicious sandwiches, I felt emboldened enough to try her kimchi.
Ready to mix the red pepper/garlic mixture in with the veggies
All mixed! It kind of made my eyes water…
I really need to get some proper preserving jars :(
It was bloody amazing and is wonderful in noodle salads (in fact, Pip Lincolne re-posted a recipe for her kimchi noodle salad just the other day that looks sensational).
And I made her fermented salsa just the other week. It was muy tasty.
Mixing, mixing. Yum.
So, what’s next? Cheese of course!
Will let you know how it goes :)