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I guess I get it.


I don’t know about this image. It was the header pic for a FaceBook group called “Chicken Keeping for Assholes” that I was invited to join. For some reason.

As you might expect, there are tons of chicken keeping groups on social media. What you may not know is how bloody and acrimonious they can be. The main divide is between those who see chickens as livestock and those who keep them as pets. It usually comes to a head over culling sick birds. I’m going to guess the “Assholes” group is in the pro-culling camp.

But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about fermenting food. Have you ever?

Sauerkraut? Pickles? Kimchi? Kefir? I’m talking ferment in brine, not pickle with vinegar.

From what I’ve read recently, the vinegar thing is a fairly modern imitation of food that has been fermented naturally — it tastes similarly sour, but is more controllable and consistent for commercial production. Even most of the stuff that has been fermented traditionally in brine is apparently zapped before packaging to kill the bacteria.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m still on my gut bacteria kick.

Don’t get me wrong — I love me a good ol’ kosher dill pickle. But I’m looking to brine stuff at home and eat friendly bugs. The produce season will soon be upon us!


Comment from p2
Time: February 15, 2018, 9:59 pm

have memories of myriad evenings in my grandfather’s cellar making sauerkraut. it’s a very simple process and there are only 3 ingredients. 4 if you count the amount of elbow grease it takes… be happy to share the process with ya.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: February 15, 2018, 10:31 pm

I have an interest in the old ways and that includes fermentation. But as P2 pointed out, elbow grease is an essential ingredient and that is in short supply around here.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: February 15, 2018, 10:33 pm

It isn’t pickling, but making yogurt is easy to do. Many buy live culture yogurt in the store to use to inoculate the milk, but I buy cultures online because you have more control over what kind of yogurt you produce.

My favorite strain is Bulgaricus, which I strongly suspect is what’s used to produce Greek yogurt (but of course Greeks would never give credit to another country for something they make). What make Greek yogurt different from others, though, is that it is strained after culturing, which removes whey and produces a thicker product.

Anyway, live yogurt cultures are good for gut bacteria.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 15, 2018, 10:46 pm

What’s up with your gut that you are so concern with your gut bacteria?

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 15, 2018, 10:59 pm

OTD 15th Feb 1547, King Henry VIII was interred in the Quire of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The King’s body had begun its last journey from Whitehall to Windsor in a procession of mourners that stretched over 4 miles. It took 16 strong men to carry his coffin.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: February 15, 2018, 11:11 pm


Surprisingly easy.

the only thing you’re going to have to get over is the idea that you’re going to be taste testing something that you packed in a jar and left at a temperature somewhere between 43 degrees and about 65 degrees for at least three weeks.

At least, that was MY hurdle. For some reason only 1 of the three sons was willing to try it, after I obviously hadn’t died. Two are/were in food services and let me tell you what they think of leaving cabbage around for 3 weeks submerged in water at room temperature before you start to eat it.

But it’s fun, mine was never quite sour enough for my liking.

Oh, all temperatures here are in what used to be normal sane measure where we mark the freezing of water at 32 degrees (which was clearly based on a totally random number from some scale drawn by hand by some yahoo on a glass tube filled with mercury).

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: February 15, 2018, 11:18 pm

Oh dear….

I just got the cartoon.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: February 15, 2018, 11:28 pm

Yes, except that looks like a hen to me.

Comment from RimrockR
Time: February 15, 2018, 11:35 pm

I’ve been culturing my own Skyr and boy it’s great for the digestive system. It cultures at 70 degrees so it’s easy and naturally thick and fat free. Strangely in the US skyr is marketed as yogurt so by law it contains the normal yogurt beasties in addition to the skyr culture. Since skyr is technically a cheese you need to use rennet. People at my local Walmart must fear skyr because the week after they began carrying it it appeared in the clearance bin.

Comment from Nina
Time: February 16, 2018, 12:04 am

I’ve made beer and mead, both of which ferment. But I’m not keen on things like sauerkraut, so I’d probably never make it.

I’ve made yogurt, too, and considering how much of it I eat, I should make some more. I’ve got an instapot, and it’s supposed to be easy in that.

Comment from ea in ga
Time: February 16, 2018, 12:17 am

I have a sourdough starter lurking in the refrigerator, some sauerkraut and fermented carrots. All are pretty cheap and easy to make and tasty if you like sour. I made crème fraiche with a cup of heavy cream and a tablespoon of cultured buttermilk. It was really good-but I have never tasted the real thing so I don’t know if it tasted right.

Comment from AliceH
Time: February 16, 2018, 12:38 am

Hey, Durned Yankee, the Fahrenheit scale is completely rational AND practical. The 18th century challenge was to be able to make and use a “standard” thermometer anywhere, in any climate, without benefit of precision crafted tubes or expensive and fine measuring instruments. Fill a tube with mercury, seal it, put marks for 100 (human body temp)and 200 (boiling water), then divide the space evenly, and freezing point turns out to be 32.

Yeah, they weren’t totally, precisely, accurate with the initial “anchor” temps, but it was still such a brilliant yet simple idea, I just love it. Self calibrating and human scale appeals to me.

Now get off my lawn.

Comment from bds
Time: February 16, 2018, 1:02 am

I got on a fermenting kick a few years ago. All it really takes is some Mason jars with an airlock (cheaper to buy the parts, easier to buy the kits). I only got one batch of dill pickles to come out non-soggy, but they were very tasty – not as vinegary, but also have a bit of fizz from the fermenting.

I had better luck with banana pepper rings (I had a couple plants that went absolutely nuts), and they were much better than the store-bought equivalent. Regular tomato salsa was so-so, but a green tomato version I put together at the end of the season was amazing (still eating off that one).

Sauerkraut turned out okay, but I had not really realized previously that most of the stuff you buy is cooked, so it takes adjusting to raw cabbage kraut and/or cooking it after it’s fermented (which kills the bugs). I was the only one that ate it, mostly on sandwiches, so haven’t bothered making more recently.

Comment from BJM
Time: February 16, 2018, 1:18 am

I’m a fermentin’ fool…wait that didn’t come out right.
Anyhoo, I’ve a well aged sourdough mother that makes the best waffles…ever…that got me started on natural fermentation. I’ve always made vinegar based pickles.

I do preserved lemons, red onion relish, chutneys, kimchi, all kinds of veggie pickles, carrots are a fav and the local asparagus is coming to market (mine is still asleep) so I put up a batch today.

Oh and this year I pickled Fuyu persimmon slices. Katy bar the door! We snacked those babies right up.

The only thing I don’t make is kombucha…erk. But I do naturally fermented fizzy lemonade.

It’s really easy once you get the hang of it and since I’m not making huge vats, just a few pint jars for the two of us to enjoy, it’s not that time consuming either.

Here’s a Kindle book that you may like…it’s less scary if you have actual recipes and step-by-step instructions. However there tons of blogs too. fermentedfoodlab dot com slash blog slash has good info too and a downloadable safety chart for when to toss it or eat it.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: February 16, 2018, 12:00 pm

It’s the one I use, when I bother checking temps.
Usually that’s a self defense mechanism for when that woman starts ranting she can’t feel her nose anymore and we need to turn on the danged heat.

And THANK YOU BJM! I just bought the book!

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 16, 2018, 3:53 pm

@Alice. A local meteorologist in San Antonio makes his own thermometers and gives them away.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: February 16, 2018, 4:53 pm

AND – see Mdm Sweasy – we learn things here!

Thank you again on anniversaries day +1!

Comment from drew458
Time: February 16, 2018, 9:02 pm

Sourdough and beer are my fermentation hobbies. We buy kimchee because it’s inexpensive and doesn’t stink up the house.

Comment from BJM
Time: February 17, 2018, 3:16 am

DurnedYankee…you’re welcome! Enjoy!

drew458- Unfortunately our part of the Central Valley has a dearth of Koreans…so make it I must. Did you “grow your own” wild sourdough culture?

Comment from oldowan
Time: February 18, 2018, 7:45 pm

I’ve been making and drinking a quart of kefir a day since I first tried it on a trip to Kazakhstan last summer. I bought the ‘grains’ on the internet and it takes 24 hours at room temperature (you have to calibrate the amount of grains that will complete the job for one quart in that time).

I love the stuff! There have been some health benefits that I didn’t expect as well!

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