Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Innuendo Pickle, or 11 Dec '12 Giardiniera/Escabeche

The Good Mr. Bertolino, ask him for a limerick!
Thanks to our beloved Ferment Fellows, we've enjoyed another great Pickle Party! We got together on Patrick's behalf, he's been itching for this specific batch for a while. We fine-tuned the recipe tonight, as well as our techniques.

We're still learning to use the mandolin, though the addition of a kevlar glove to the kit surely adds a warm and secure feeling!. The pepperoncini were not firm enough ("that's what she said!"), so next time we'll freeze them the night before. Likewise, pre-frozen, the julienne setting could be good for processing the sweet bell peppers.

Here's what we bought --> and then used (I was fine-tuning as I filled the crock in layers):
From the Kitchenaid Slicer

  • 3 lbs. --> 2 lbs. of cauliflower
  • 3 lbs. --> 2 lbs. of celery
  • 15 pods --> 12 pods of garlic
  • about 6 lbs. of carrots
  • 1.5 lbs. of cocktail onions
  • 1.5 lbs. of red onions, though next time I'll wager we want 1 lb. and 2 lbs, respectively
  • 1 lb. each of : sweet red bell, pepperoncini, and jalapeno (de-seeded) peppers
  • Somehow we forgot the Oregano!!
  • 3 cups of sea salt
  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • a bit less than 3 cups of water
The Kitchenaid Stand Mixer's Slicer Attachment rocked through the carrots, producing something like a thick potato chip. It might've done the same with the cocktail onions, had we had the foresight. We'll remember this the next time, surely saving many tears. This attachment will work for the celery, too.

The Pounder is a Mixer, Too!
The Gods Must Be Crazy! Pounding down all the cut veggies in the crock, with the salt and vinegar inoculant  worked as well as it's supposed to. This step mixes as it goes, but more importantly, it breaks down cell walls, allowing the salt and inoculant entry and allowing the water inside to mix into the brine outside. That makes for both a faster and a more complete ferment but it also leaves fewer places for the bad buggies to get a foothold. The new detail was the pounder, a glass Mexican Coke bottle. Though it was a bit too short, it's a great kraut-pounder. We usually omit this step, as most of the time we're either chopping everything down in the food processor or packing it into jars, which are usually too hard to pound in. We need to include this step more though!

Jug. Plate, Cardboard, Plastic Bags, Brine
Hybridized technique: The early Sally Fallon method of using olive oil as an anaerobic cap soon gave way to the weighted and water-filled sandwich baggie technique when we fermented in jars. This held down the floaters more and kept a better oxygen-barrier. In the crocks, we've worked with and without plates that fit the specific crocks well. With the plate, we don't have to worry about floaters. Without, we've had to be more creative (such as the last crock pickle, where we used gallon ziplock bags filled with water). Both of these techniques left a problem though- room for mildew/mold in lots of airspace left in the top of the crock, above the brine (so it didn't endanger the pickles) but below the towel (so it's messy). So last time we put in a few layers of cling-wrap. This worked well but still didn't seal as well as I'd like. This time, we used a double bag of the food-safe Sysco bags made for commercial food-service use. Above that, we put two layers of custom-cut cardboard to hold the goodies down, then [an under-sized but close plate] and most of a gallon of water. We burped as much air as possible and will fine-tune the weight to keep just enough positive-pressure so that enough fluid fills the space between the bags and crock walls to push out/prevent the moldy/mildewy faction.

Going forward:  I'm trying to procure more of the food service poly bags, I like this technique. It's food safe plastic, so I'm not as bothered by it as I am with clingwrap. It certainly makes a much better anaerobic seal while keeping room for mold/mildew to a minimum, so it's facilitating a cleaner and more thorough ferment.

Perhaps one of the lasting sticky parts of each and all of these Pickle Parties is the Schedule of Operations that everyone can consult without having me constantly quarterbacking every move; it always seems elementary to me, but then again, I'm one of the only of us trained in kitchens. So, here's what I need to chisel in writing in our permanent pickle room:

1.) Wash all produce, set to dry
2.) Peel all garlic. Preferred technique: 
  • Rough un-leaving and de-stemming
  • Cut stem-ends off and pound
  • Peel and sort/discard
3.) Peel Onions. Chop onions, Kitchenaid Slicer preferred! De-stem all other produce.
4.) Slice in Kitchenaid: Carrots, Onions, Japs, Celery
5.) Hand-Slice: Peppers
6.) Start cleaning the tools

Oh, and that interesting, almost potato chip texture the Kitchenaid slicer made of the carrots? That got us to thinking, what if we took some of those chips and marinated them (salt, pepper, and vinegar; lime and chile; lemon, pepper, and butter; and what, uh, mustard?) and then, with high heat, either bake or stir fry them. It seems like, if we could quickly remove all the moisture, we'd end up with a crunchy, savory, salty treat. To get the texture I'm thinking of, if we stir fried them, it'd have to be with very little oil. Sweet Potatoes, beets, and radishes might work well with this treatment, too.

In conclusion, this should be a dynamite batch. It's being kept at a constant 71-72 degree temperature in its own cabinet and has been off-gassing since the second day (hour 25+), so it's responding well to us giving it everything it needs. At this temp, we'll let it go for seven days. I think Patrick is going to throw some olives and capers in there once its done. I'm looking forward to chopping it into mixed olives for tapenade, as well as just eating it on its own. I'm a little leery, just a bit, of how the celery will turn out, but the good Mr. Katz assures me (through his books) that it will be alright.

Happy pickling, y'all, we'd wish you were here but that would leave less for us to enjoy, now, wouldn't it!

1 comment:

Pixie the dog said...

I think we should have Tiff there to document each batch. She got some hilarious pics on Monday. --ranger