Fermented foods for the holiday table
Intentionally or not, you'll probably include fermented foods in your Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. Wine, beer, bread, cheese, chocolate -- many of our favorite foods are fermented! But fermented vegetables can add unexpected, bright flavors to your holiday meals. And, as Jeff Callaway of Colorado State University's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition says: "Fermented options are generally healthier, less processed and might leave you feeling great rather than weighed down and exhausted at the end of the meal."
Giardiniera, an Italian condiment, is one of my favorite ferments, both for its flavor and versatility. The vegetables maintain great crunch through the fermentation, and turn into little flavor bombs, providing a hit of freshness, saltiness, sourness, and complexity to rich foods. In everyday cooking, I put fermented giardiniera in tacos, sandwiches, quesadillas, pastas and salads. Chopped coarsely, it can be rustic relish on holiday meats, or put on the table as a condiment for people to use however they like. It could be mixed into stuffing, grain salads or vegetable sides that would benefit from a bit of brine. It's a quick ferment, requiring only about a week in your Mudslide Stoneware fermentation crock. The recipe is below.
Visit my Etsy shop to purchase a crock for yourself, or as a Christmas gift. If you're in Santa Fe, you can save on shipping by stopping by the studio to peruse the goods. Call Colin to arrange a visit at 505-920-5415.
Ingredients: 1 Head Cauliflower, 1/2 Red Onion, 1 - 4 Jalapeno Peppers (depending on your taste for spice), 5 - 10 Cloves Garlic (depending on your taste for garlic), 2 Carrots, salt
1. Prep vegetables: Chop cauliflower into medium-sized florets, slice half of a red onion, de-stem jalapenos and cut in half; peel garlic cloves, cut carrots into sticks.
2. Prepare your brine. Dissolve 1 TB salt in 2 cups of room temperature water. Depending on the size of your crock, you may need to double or triple the amount of brine (I.E. 2 TB salt in 4 cups or water, or 3 TB salt in 6 cups water).
3. Toss vegetables into your crock. Cover with brine and place ceramic weights over your vegetable so they are completely submerged in brine. Completely submersion in brine will prevent undesirable mold growth. Fill your crock's moat with water and cover with lid.
4. Let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, depending on your taste preference. You may hear your crock burping -- that's CO2 bubbles escaping through a notch in the lid, and it's a good thing! It means your veggies are fermenting.
5. After 1 to 2 weeks, refrigerate in a mason jar or tupperware. Chop or serve whole. A note on the jalapenos: They will impart only a subtle spice to the other vegetables. When you want more spice, chop some of the jalapenos up with the other vegetables. When you want less, just pick out some cauliflower, onion and carrot to eat.