I hadn't fermented any veggies in a while. Inspired by my roommie, Austin, who was fermenting something nearly every time he went to the farmers' market there for a while (!), I did a veggie ferment in brine. This kind of ferment is so easy, because you don't even have to do any chopping. Simply fill the jar with whole veggies, then top off with seasalted water. For the half-gallon jar I filled, I used between 2-3 tablespoons of seasalt. More for hot weather, less for cold. My mix was mainly tiny carrots, with whole cloves of garlic, grated as well as sliced ginger, and then a large handful of sea veggies (they were called "sea crunchies", but were no longer crunchy, so I added them in; I don't know their official name. I love seaweeds and they are soooo nutrient-dense. A bonus. I covered the jar with a cloth and secured it with a tie to keep out bugs. It sat in a cool room (which would be any room in our house this "summer"!) for over a month. A thick, smelly, furry layer of mold developed on top that would have deterred a novice. I, being a seasoned veggie fermenter at this point ;-), pulled this layer off with a spoon very easily. Underneath, the garlicky brine smelled appetizing. A layer of carrots at the top was off-color and mushy. Below that, the carrots were crisp and pleasantly flavorful. The overarching flavor of this ferment is garlic, with not even a hint of ginger! Oh, well.
"Garlicky Sea Carrots" in pint and quart jars, ready to eat
A ferment I have been looking forward to all year is fruit-scrap vinegar ~ the recipe for which I read in Wild Fermentation (one of my favorite books of all time). I discovered it last year when we were gifted FIVE WHOLE GALLONS of tasty cherries, and I didn't want to waste a single one! It's so easy, and it utilizes bruised fruits, and pits. So it's a delicious way to savor every morsel of the ripe, luscious summer fruit bounty! This year the only thing I did with our backyard plums is make vinegar with them. The last two years I tried to make jam, ended up using way too much sugar to balance their bitter tang, and ended up not eating it because we just don't eat sweet stuff. So = a waste. This season I gathered a large mixing bowl of fruit off the ground, after the squirrels and birds had had their fill, and made vinegar. We all win! : )
I also bought a huge bag of nectarine "seconds" at our favorite nectarine vendor ~ Kashiwase Farms (We are so spoiled by nectarines around here!!! They are sweeter than candy, before they even get soft. Incredible!). I sliced up all the fruits to eat out of hand, while piling a mixing bowl high with the bruised pieces and pits. Then I made vinegar. Have I mentioned I love how easy fermenting can be? Well, all you need to do to make phenomenally flavorful, gift-worthy "gourmet" vinegar is to dissolve 1/4 cup sugar (I use organic Sucanat/Rapadura, which is dehydrated cane juice) per quart of filtered water and cover the fruit ~ any organic fruit scraps will do. Cover it with a secured napkin to keep away the fruit flies that will be tempted and pesterful. Give it a nudge to stir it up occasionally. Let it sit for a week or more, until the liquid gets thick with color. Then strain out the solids and let it turn for a few weeks. First it will smell sweet, then like alcohol, then like vinegar. This is an aerobic process, so a wide-mouth vessel is best ~ for big batches I like to use pyrex mixing bowls, or wide-mouth canning jars for smaller ones. It's also important to use glass because of the acidity of the vinegar (as opposed to metal). Once it smells and tastes sufficiently vinegar-y, pour it into the attractive vessels of your choice and enjoy any way you would a tasty sweet vinegar.