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The Constant Ferment in progress aka Perpetual Pickles Crock

 
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Robert said, "A chinese pickle jar sits on the counter and is a constant ferment in progress. I have pickles ready all the time for a recipe potato salad, chicken salad whatever. Veggies go in during any meal prep excess vegetables get dropped in the jar.



https://permies.com/t/218870/radish#1877057

Let's talk about the Perpetual Pickles Crock.  Do you have one?
 
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This is one of our plans, this year, but I didn't get any pickling cukes planted, and have been struggling to find them - even at the farm stands, so far.
 
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I don't have a pao cai crock active right now, but I have for most of the last five(ish) years.

I suggest this video (which I now see the Robert you were quoting also referenced):



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Christopher Weeks
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Another kind of perpetual pickle crock is nukadoku/nukazuke -- pickling veggies in a fermenting medium of living wet toasted rice bran. You put stuff in, you take stuff out, things keep cycling through at various rates. My first nuka pot was based on Sandor Katz' explanation in Wild Fermentation, like fifteen years ago. It turns out that technique was a little non-traditional (mostly too wet) and I've since tried it three other ways. But honestly, I got the best results from the first batch. I also don't currently have a live pot of nukadoku.
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I almost always have a pot of sichuan pickles going, thanks (I think) to the first time that video was posted!!! That whole video series is an absolute delight.

I don't have a special crock, if you can keep your pickles under the brine you can use any container. I also keep it at room temp or refrigerate it depending on the weather and on the veg in question- here in the summer it's hot enough that overnight on the counter is generally enough and then it stays in the fridge. Now in the winter, the pickle can live on the countertop.

This post is where i got my general recipe from, it has a lot of good info
https://blog.themalamarket.com/sichuans-naturally-fermented-pickles-pao-cai/

As for the nuka pickles. I've tried it a bunch of times and frankly my results were similar-- gets too wet (or worse, moldy) and I have to throw it away, and komenuka is hard for me to get here. Instead I hoard old, nasty miso and use that for pickles...
 
Christopher Weeks
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One more and then I'll step back. :)

This one is a little different, but I think it's closely enough related to lodge here. I ferment hot sauce every year. I have this idea to create a Solera (sort of like balsamic in a barrel set) for the hot sauce ingredients to differentially ferment and age and mix. Maybe I'd have five or six descending barrels and put stuff in them based on what I have to harvest or purchase and then move the product forward every month, producing a new 'vintage' sauce. A process like this is done in Norway for traditional ale, so why not live hot sauce?

I'm still just toying with this as an idea and trying to figure out if I want to learn enough coopering to make my own little casks, or just pony up for some custom ones.
 
Carla Burke
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Wow, Christopher!! Fantastic video! What a great inspiration to broaden my fermentation horizons (not to mention an inspiration to renew my Mandarin lessons!). I've never seen that type of sugar, before. I wonder if there's a reasonable facsimile to be found, here. Considering most spices are imported anyway, I'll start looking for some of those - and the peppers Mr Ding accidentally brought home look to be very similar to some we can easily find. Oh, what a rabbit hole I'm about to push John into!! (He already does saur kraut & kim chi, so even if I trip him and/or shove him into it, he'll easily land on his feet, and happy!)
 
Christopher Weeks
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Carla, I use maltose syrup that you can get in Asian markets or online. I think I got the idea to do that from Mara -- Sandor's guide in that video, but I'm not certain.
 
Carla Burke
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Christopher Weeks wrote:Carla, I use maltose syrup that you can get in Asian markets or online. I think I got the idea to do that from Mara -- Sandor's guide in that video, but I'm not certain.



W00t! Thank you!!
 
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You only have so much counter space but I was thinking I'd start a jar with a salsa base; Jalepenos, onions, peppers, garlic, cilantro. Them when I wanted fresh salsa, dice up tomatoes a spoonful of the salsa starter...voila.
 
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Robert Ray wrote:You only have so much counter space but I was thinking I'd start a jar with a salsa base; Jalepenos, onions, peppers, garlic, cilantro. Them when I wanted fresh salsa, dice up tomatoes a spoonful of the salsa starter...voila.


I used to have a running batch of pico de gallo starter, same effect. Worked really well!
 
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The closest thing I have to a "perpetual" pickle crock is a 5L glass "crock" for making escabeche (aka taco bar veggies).

I've let batches ferment at least 70 days, and they're very stable, flavor-wise. So that's more or less perpetual.

Of course, occasional maintenance is helpful when you're going that long on a ferment.


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large glass "crock" fermenting escabeche
large glass "crock" fermenting escabeche
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5 L "crock" of escabeche
5 L "crock" of escabeche
 
Christopher Weeks
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Austin Durant wrote:The closest thing I have to a "perpetual" pickle crock is a 5L glass "crock" for making escabeche (aka taco bar veggies).



With that crock, do you continually draw veggies out and add more, letting them ferment a day or ten before eating the next ones, rather than just making full batches one after the next? I think that’s what the perpetual refers to. (I don’t see any reason you couldn’t be doing that, but I didn’t see that in the link.
 
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Not perpetual per se, but I do re-use my brine. For example, my garlic scapes brine, when used again adds delicious garlic flavour to the next batch.
 
Christopher Weeks
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I want to cross-link in a post from another thread about Korean perpetual pickles based on sunchokes (pig potatoes!).
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