Monday, November 7, 2016

Take a Leek

Sorry. I cannot resist potty humor.

So, you've got some leeks. Excellent! You are in for a sweet and subtle oniony treat.

Now what?

Leeks need trimming. Cut off the bottom of the leek, just above the root hairs. Cut off the top of the leek, just below the "V" shaped base of the dark green leaves. Slice the remaining white/pale green shaft of leek down the center, in preparation for the next step.

Wash the leek. Make sure the water flows in between the many layers of leek. Those nooks and crannies can hold a lot of sand.

And now you're good to go!

Check out these sites for tasty leek recipe ideas:

EatingWell has everything from apple and leek stuffed pork to leek, potato, and spinach stew.

Bon Appetit has sophisticated dishes like goat cheese, leek, and potato galettes.

Saveur has twists on classic leek dishes, like cream of fennel soup with leeks.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fermented Radishes

Sauerkraut is not the only fermented food you can make. Carrots, Rutabaga, Beets, and even Chard can be fermented just the same way cabbage can.

So can radishes.

You can use any kind of radish to ferment. The little salad radishes are great if that's what you've got.

We like to use winter radishes. Especially the
Purple Daikons.
Our Purple Daikon radishes are purple through and through, because they're packed with pretty (and healthy) anthocyanins. As a result, they make some of the most beautiful pickles ever. Like lovely little salty-sour amethysts. 

This batch had some carrots too. Yum :)
As you can see, we like to dice our radishes before fermenting them, but you can cut them however you like. Sliced, shredded, and diced are all fine. 

Once they've fermented, you can use them as you would sauerkraut. Fermented radishes are great cooked with sausage and other pork, apples, and potatoes. Or nibble them cold while sipping a dark beer.

But why ferment radishes instead of making kraut? For one thing, radishes are abundant. The warm and extremely wet late summer weather we had this year was hard on the late season cabbage. We don't know anyone that had a good crop this year. But winter radishes are pretty forgiving, and, even with the challenging weather, we've got our usual bountiful harvest of them this year. And, as fermentation expert Sandor Katz says, "When life gives you lots of big radishes, turn them into a resource you can use for awhile.

However, a lack of cabbage is not the only reason to ferment winter radishes. Cabbage is notoriously hungry for nitrogen in the soil. Whether you grow with organic or conventional methods, you've got to make sure to give cabbage an extra boost of food at planting time. The nitrogen favors leaf growth (don't forget cabbage is actually a leafy green) rather than root growth, so radishes grow better in soil that is a little lean on nitrogen. It's possible to get more food from less resources growing winter radishes than growing cabbages.

And, finally, fermented radishes taste good. They lose their spice as they ferment, but keep their sweetly pungent flavor. They also keep their crunch. They're delicious.

Seda thinks so too.

If you are already a kraut maker, you know that fermenting is amazingly simple. If you've never fermented before, check out this basic fermented radish recipe from SeriousEats. It's a good one for beginners because it makes a not-too-overwhelming quart and includes a good tip for keeping the radishes under the brine as they ferment.