Versatile Vegetable Ferments
We are very lucky to have several dedicated and talented fermenters in our area, exploring the wide world of fermented flavors—award-winning Midori Farms in Quilcene; Getting Cultured in Sequim; and Iggy’s from Bainbridge (who also supplies our bulk kombucha). They all seek out local ingredients, and in the case of Hanako and Marko at Midori, actually grow the veggies they use.
Ferments are great by themselves, but you can also mix them with other ingredients. In addition to being quite tasty, this has two additional benefits—it makes that jar go further and it helps introduce ferments to people who are not used to them.
No Lettuce? No Problem!
Ferments are handy in winter when no local lettuce is available for salads. Just mix and match a ferment with your favorite veggie, add a dash of lemon, lime, or vinegar, and—voila—you’ve got a winter salad. And you can add in as you are inspired, perhaps some avocado, or some apple. Here are a few ideas:
• Midori Curtido + shredded carrots + lemon juice—my go-to winter salad
• Getting Cultured Culture Shock + frozen corn + lime (optional)—the sweetness of the corn complements the spice of the ginger in the ferment
• Iggy’s Turmeric Kraut + shredded kohlrabi—raw kohlrabi is actually slightly sweet
• Any ferment + shredded cabbage or shredded kale—local cab and kale are available most of the year
Easy Miso Soup
Ingredients (use amounts to your taste):
1. Noodles—Udon or somen are lovely
2. Protein—Egg or cubed tofu or leftover meat
3. Ferment/Kraut—About a half cup per person
4. Broth—Miso mixed with vinegar, plus (optional) sesame oil and/or mirin OR veg, chicken, or pretty much any other broth
5. Chopped veggies, if on hand—cabbage, carrot, and sweet potato are all good additions
Cook noodles; don’t drain if you are using miso. While they cook, mix together miso (check out the chickpea miso, found on the back wall of the Co-op with the pickles and ferments) with dash of vinegar (rice is nice) and if you have it on hand, a sprinkle of dark sesame oil and some mirin.
When the noodles are done, toss in the protein and stir. (If you are using veg or chicken broth, add it now, but if you are using miso, wait until later in the process, so the miso isn’t subjected to high heat.) The egg will break up and thicken the soup a little. Return to simmer, then drop in veggies, if using. When veggies are warm, turn off the heat and add the ferment and the broth. Stir. And that is it—you’ve got soup.
• Top an open-face melted cheese sandwich with a bit of kraut.
• Roll up a ferment into your burrito.
• Make your own rice bowl at the Co-op deli (or at home) with rice and beans from the hot bar plus Midori kraut and perhaps a little Sunny Slather or a bit of salad from the deli case. The deli carries Midori krauts, so you can buy just the amount you need. You could also add a pesto or salad dressing from Serendipity Farms in Quilcene, which we carry in Produce.
• Add some drained kraut to frittatas or scrambled eggs.
• Top soup or stew with a ferment or add to a grain salad.
• Fry up a “refrigerator” hash—You can use up veggies and left-over cooked grains in a flavorful hash. Just chop the veggies and, if desired, cube sausage or veggie sausage (or most any leftover protein). Saute garlic and onion in a largish fry pan, then add the protein. Add smoked sweet paprika and some kind of spice heat—local Some Like It Hott spices are pretty wonderful—and then mix in the left-over grains. When they are heated through, add the veggies and cook until warm. Top with your favorite ferment (and maybe a dollop of yogurt) and serve.
• Mix a kraut with yogurt in a blender for a salad dressing or a dip.
• Take a slice of toast, top it with avocado and/or tomato and kimchi (or any ferment).
Okay, now it’s your turn. What fermented creations can you invent?
You can find Midori krauts in the Produce Department and in bulk at the deli counter. Getting Cultured and Iggy’s are both in the refrigerated wall at the back of the Co-op, on the far left.
If you are interested in making your own ferments, you might want to check out Kirsten and Christopher Shockey’s cookbooks Fermented Vegetables and Firery Ferments. They tell you how to ferment practically any vegetable except tomatoes, which apparently don’t really ferment.