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Dave Burton's Fermentation Journey  RSS feed

 
garden master
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So, after my rather shattering entry into fermentation, I am starting to notice a few changes in my observation piece. It's an observation piece, because I pretty much broke a whole lot of glass and the contents within it are potentially contaminated with glass shards and particulates. This is currently one day after it was prepared.

I have noticed that the jar is starting to leak out water, which may be a sign that fermentation has begun.
It smells a lot stronger of the organic dill, chives, and cilantro than it did yesterday.

The general recipe I will be following for my fermentations (mostly vegetable ferments) will be:
-2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt per 1 quart container
-stuff as much into the jar as you can before you reach 1 inch from the top of the jar
-add enough filtered water to the jar to cover all the way or close to the top of the jar
-wait three days at room temperature for fermentation then move to cold storage (but I might let the ferments go longer without cold storage and see what happens)
*this is the general formula that I've gotten from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

I will be posting more updates on my fermentation adventures in this thread. I will probably be expanding my horizons as I get more confidence at what I am doing.
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front of jar one day after it was made
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side of jar one day after it was made
 
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Add a weight to 'push down' the vegetables below the water level.
Leave more space at the top so that their is less leaking.
More space will also allow the gas/air about the liquid to compress vs bottle exploding.

Wear eye protection when handling it for the next month, until you have a system that works for you.
You have to keep those eye and face looking beautiful and functional.
 
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You have a great idea using that failure to experiment with.  Too bad you will not be able to taste the results.

The advice you have been given is great.

My only failure was when I did not use a weight.  The recipe said to use a cabbage leaf which for me was bad advice.
 
Dave Burton
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S Bengi wrote:Add a weight to 'push down' the vegetables below the water level.



What do you use for weights? (oh, idea came to mind! I could use rocks)
 
Dave Burton
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Yeah! So my friend and I went out to Alberston's this morning and got more sea salt and organic veggies. He and I spent some time together chatting while we worked on preparing new batches of ferments. We took your advice, S, Bengi, and we filled both of the new jars up to the 3 cup marks, then weighed them down with some rocks, filled with brine to the 4 cup mark, and then left a gap for air in the portion where you screw on the lids.

The two new batches we made were:
-one batch of just veggies:
--swiss chard, mustard greens, green onions, dill, dino kale, and cilantro
-second batch was veggies and fruit
--all the same veggies as the above batch but with an apple and banana thrown in

Now, I am going to let these ferment for three days and taste these two batches out on Thursday.
organic-veggies-from-Alberston-s.jpg
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these are the veggies we got from Albertson's
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we put the veggies into the jar
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we finished stuffing the jar, added some rocks, and left an air gap
made-a-batch-of-veggies-and-fruit.jpg
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second batch with fruit added to it
 
S Bengi
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A few other consideration.

I would use a starter, buy a tub of live yogurt and then strain in in cheese cloth. Use that whey liquid as the starter and you can call the top half strained greek yogurt. Another alternative is to use live water or milk kefir, or Kombucha or some starting from a previous good pickling/ferment.  

If not I would at least use vegetables from a local farmer. Not ones that have been sanitized and then repopulated by whatever is on random customers/workers hands/etc

And I would at least wait until you are fermenting alot and have alot of the good microbes just floating around the house, so that you increase you odds of having a good "wild fermentation"

Another tip would be to start with just cabbage, because those are knows for having a higher percentage of good bacteria on it's skin/leaves. and I feel like they are less contaminated by the food/shipping industry.

Side note:
I so need to ferment some whole tiny cucumber in water kefir soda. It is such an interesting experience biting into it.

 
Dave Burton
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Thank you! I think I can get some kombucha to inoculate them with.

i got some kombucha today and inoculated both of the batches I made today with it. This is the ginger kombucha I used for inoculation.
ginger-kombucha.jpg
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Dave Burton
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Here are today's updates. So far, nothing smells bad when I let a little air out, so that the containers didn't explode. I'm leaving the jars just a tad unscrewed to prevent a super build up of gas.

Everything mostly just smells fine, perhaps a little stronger. But they all just smell like stronger scents of the original food items.

The fruit one does have some chunks floating up to the surface, and the edible vegetable one looks red above the surface.
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S Bengi
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Looking super good.
The one that had floating bits, try and get that specific bit under the water it doesn't matter if a new one pops up top for just a day, the problem is when one particular one is above the water for weeks/months/etc. Then you have some different microbes with no competition from the good microbes that is in the liquid.
 
Dave Burton
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Ah, cool! Thank you! I'll scoop out the floaty bits!
 
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Dave Burton wrote: when I let a little air out, so that the containers didn't explode. ... The fruit one does have some chunks floating up to the surface, and the edible vegetable one looks red above the surface.



Letting gases out is called 'burping' - just like burping a baby. Floaties in motion are a very good sign - means it's actively fermenting. But, I would also look for means to keep everything covered in the liquid. A starter shouldn't be needed, for a salt ferment - but, shouldn't hurt, either. It will likely produce a differentflavor (& bacterial) profile, than without it.
 
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I found that I like my ferments much better without fruit.  I don't like the texture of fruits after fermenting, and they don't taste as good to my either.  Ferments are great fun to experiment with regardless, and taste and texture are very much individual.
 
Dave Burton
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I'll let you all know how the two edible ones taste on Thursday, and I guess I'll start finding out what my preferences are, too.

EDIT: Just now scooped off the floaty bits in my veggie/fruit combo ferment, and I'm really liking the smell of it! It kind of smells like a fruit smoothie. I can smell the banana and dill that I added to it, and they smell wonderful. Most of the floaty bits were banana mush, because I used a very ripe banana in the veggie/fruit ferment. I'm looking forward to eating this one on Thursday! And yeah, it's got quite a lot of bubbles going! This is so cool!!!
 
S Bengi
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Taste it as it goes along, even daily if you want.
Then compare the different level of ferment and which one you like more. Esp for the fruit+veggie ferment. It transition from yummy, to okay to, blah this is mush but I guess it is healthy.

I currently have some ginger+carrot juice fermenting/resting in the fridge. I am going to have a drink.
 
Dave Burton
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Tasting it won't mess up the ferment? It'll just keep chugging along after I scoop some out?
 
S Bengi
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Just don't double dip.

Also you can make two jars of a ferment.
One to sample as you go along and another to only open at the end.

But I really like the idea of sampling as you go esp as you start out to compare the difference/progression and figure were on the condominium you like your ferment.  
 
Dave Burton
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The observation piece of mine is starting to leak. I filled that one way too much.

The vegetable only ferment is red, and the rocks being used to hold the vegetables down are getting coated in bacteria. Perhaps these rocks could be used to inoculate future ferments. I think I know where that red color is coming from now. It is coming from I think the swiss chard or collard greens that I was using. One of them had red stalks and red veins in them. The water level on this one has risen a bit, probably due to the bubbling it has been doing. This is after two days.

The vegetable and fruit ferment smells nice still, kinda like a fruit smoothie. I don't think there is much I can do about the banana bits bubbling to the top, because it was a mushy mushy banana that I used. I'm starting to see the red color leak out of the swiss chard that's in this ferment. I can see it from what is touching the sides of the glass jar. The water level has risen here, too, but not quite as much. This is after two days.

Thank you, S. Bengi! I'll go sample both of these at lunch today and then sample them again tomorrow and see how they taste!
Observation-Piece-Day-04.jpg
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Veggie-and-Fruit-Batch-Day-02.jpg
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Dave Burton
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So, I tasted both the veggie batch and the veggie/fruit batch today at lunch. I wasn't too impressed with the flavor of the fruit in the fruit/veggie batch, but the taste of the veggies in the veggie/fruit batch was strong! Especially the fermented mustard greens, which I think I forgot I put in there. Those were spicy! The pure veggie ferment was epic! The taste of the dill and cilantro was much stronger than when I usually have them just raw on salads, and the intensity of the flavor of the just veggie ferment really made my salad much yummier and more delectable! It made me really want to finish all of my lunch salad! I also loved the strong salty taste of the just veggie ferment, too. I'm looking forward to finishing both of them tomorrow, or perhaps finishing most of them and leaving a little bit to continue fermenting over Winter Break.

I made duplicate batches of a pure fruit ferment that is just one banana and one apple. Both were inoculated with kombucha liquid, and both follow the same general recipe of just unrefined sea salt and water. I'm going to have on of these tomorrow and leave the other one undisturbed to go the entire Winter Break.
Veggie-Ferment-Day-02-after-tasting.jpg
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The red staining is the chard.  I grow it because I like the color, but I also grow plain cause sometimes I just don't want the color creep especially if feeding other people.  Sometimes I'm vain that way😀

There is a book I just read that made me think of you.  It's called The Fermented Man by Derek Dellinger.  He eats nothing but fermented foods for an entire year.  I liked reading about the different experiments and foods he tried.  Thought you might find it of interest.

Glad the veggie ferment turned out so well!
 
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Dave Burton wrote:I think I know where that red color is coming from now. It is coming from I think the swiss chard or collard greens that I was using. One of them had red stalks and red veins in them.



Exactly. I thought I would make up a real pretty batch of sauerkraut. I used 1 red (purple?) cabbage and 1 green cabbage, along with ginger root, onions, carrots, and maybe a couple other things... It ended up with everything an icky pink color. At least it tasted good! In other ferments, the carrots haven't altered the color of the entire batch.
 
Dave Burton
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I'll have to read that book sometime, Tina.

Well, urghhhh... My poor insides! It tasted great going down, but geeze! i woke up overheated last night, dehydrated, and terrible bathroom incident ensued, in which I could clearly see stuff that looked like my ferments. So, perhaps, I either overdid eating my ferments (because I ate quite a lot of them, when they're supposed to really be used as a condiment ), maybe there is actually something wrong with my ferments (I hope not, but this is quite possible), or maybe it was something else I ate. But uuuuugh, i did not know so much liquid could come out of my body like that and just how exhausting that feels, too.

I think I will try my one day old fruit ferment, which is bubbling a lot and definitely smells a little yeasty like kombucha.
Veggie-Ferment-Day-03.jpg
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Well, urghhhh... My poor insides!



oh, dear....that's not good.
It's possible you did just eat too much or that you're 'insides' are not used to an active ferment.
Moderate amounts of a good ferment shouldn't upset your stomach.

Maybe hold off testing your fruit ferment until things have settled down?

I wonder if since you began with Nourishing Traditions recipes that maybe releasing the lids has changed the ferment. The instructions for most of the ferments in that book all had lids firmly tightened and not released for the two to three days required for each particular ferment.  Is it likely you've just made too many changes from the basic recipe?  For fruit ferments she usually calls for some whey along with the salt and filtered water...the fruit might be making alcohol.

I think someone mentioned trying a basic cabbage kraut just to get the hang of it.  That can be done with no lid...just weight the sliced salted cabbage beneath the brine and lightly cover with a cloth.  If your home is warm it will be edible in a week or so...if cooler it will take longer.   It's important to top up the brine if necessary so that the cabbage stays covered.

Maybe for the first few batches it might be better to try a simple recipe and stick with it throughout and then once successful do some experimenting?






 
Tina Hillel
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Been there, done that, NOT pleasant😣

I got greedy with a batch of kimchi.  I love kimchi with rice, avocado and an egg. Ate two batches heavy on the veg. Thought I would turn inside out. I ate a mini portion a couple days later to test it and the food was fine.  Volume got me.

Hope you have a speedy recovery. Dont test it before a final😉
 
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I wonder what kind of stone you used and if you killed all the bacteria that was on it.
Or if the rocks from park (doggy park) inoculated the ferment and took over? jk

Most likely your ferment made you enjoy eating salad so much that you over did it with salad/fiber.
Then you also probably over did it with the good microbes.
And then to push you over the limit, the "bad" bacteria from the stone, did you in.
Any two by themselves would have been fine but all 3? Well just your unlucky number.


 
Dave Burton
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Well, that's kind of where i am a little stuck. I can't exactly stick to the recipes completely in the book. They don't even have pasteurized whole milk on campus. I am kind of trying to stick with mostly stuff from campus, since that's already been paid for, which is why I'm kind of extrapolating to a general recipe that I don't think will involve too many external supplies. And as for keeping the lids tightly sealed, as per the instructions, I can either risk them exploding, which would leave me with a mess when I get back or leave them a little loose and allow them to let gas escape slowly. I would much prefer to have a little gas escape than risk damaging more property than I already have.

I am letting the vegetable ferment go the entire Winter Break, because I did not feel like having more of the today. I did eat my one day old fruit ferment of bananas and apples, and that had a nice tart flavor to it. I'm letting the other fruit ferment go for the rest of Winter Break. I terminated the observation piece and veggie/fruit ferments, because those were starting to not smell good.

I washed the rocks and then rinsed them in filtered water a few times, so I wouldn't think those were issue. I really want to lean on the ferments are fine, and I just ate too much of them at a time. And I do think it is probably true that my system is not used to active/live foods.
 
Judith Browning
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I can't exactly stick to the recipes completely in the book. They don't even have pasteurized whole milk on campus. I am kind of trying to stick with mostly stuff from campus, since that's already been paid for, which is why I'm kind of extrapolating to a general recipe that I don't think will involve too many external supplies. And as for keeping the lids tightly sealed, as per the instructions, I can either risk them exploding, which would leave me with a mess when I get back or leave them a little loose and allow them to let gas escape slowly. I would much prefer to have a little gas escape than risk damaging more property than I already have.



I understand...and like your constructive thinking about this.  

One thing I've tried, after it was suggested to me, is replacing the whey with the same amount of liquid drained off of some plain yogurt...that works also and might be available on campus.

It sounds like you're on the right track!

I've noticed that Sally Fallon's recipes are quite exact while Sandor Katz is a lot looser with his methods and then all of the rest of us fall into even more ways to do a ferment after trying and failing a few times...you'll soon find what works reliably well for you

 
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Tina Hillel wrote:Been there, done that, NOT pleasant😣
I got greedy with a batch of kimchi.  I love kimchi with rice, avocado and an egg. Ate two batches heavy on the veg. Thought I would turn inside out. I ate a mini portion a couple days later to test it and the food was fine.  Volume got me.



I am with Tina here.
Most probably just overeating on something your guts weren't used to.
For sure, fermenting is not for control freaks. I know people - nice, educated people - that are grossed out by the idea that you expose food to wild ferments and leave it there without cooling etc.
I guess we know better...

BTW, there is a German joke which goes like this:
Two friends meet, and one has a bad cough. The other advises him: Eat two pounds of sauerkraut and drink one liter of fizzy water with it!
The next day they meet up again: So, are you still coughing?
The other replies: No, I don't dare to!
 
Dave Burton
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I'm leaving to visit relatives for Winter Break tomorrow morning, so i won't be able to check these ferments until I get back in January. So, these will be sitting for about three weeks. I have left the lids just loose enough that all the ferments can burp on their own without my help. I did a little bit of looking stuff up, and I found an article about fermenting without airtight seals, and I felt it made pretty good sense. I think I will be fine, because as long as the ferments are active, gases will be produced, so the pressure inside my jars will be greater than the outside air pressure, which I think will prevent the system from becoming aerobic and keep it all anaerobic.

I could not resist doing an experiment. So, I made two duplicate batches in this picture.
On the far left are my previously made vegetable and fruit ferments from 12/10/18 and 12/18/18, respectively.
In the middle, the tall left jar and the small jar to its left have been inoculated with a little bit of yoghurt smeared onto the ingredients inside.
To the right of the tall left center jar is the tall right center jar and the small jar to its right. These two have not been inoculated with anything.

The two tall jars are fruit ferment preparations of: apples, cantaloupes, bananas, and lemon.
The two veggie jars on either side are preparations of: spinach and red onion (pretty plain and simple).

All four jars have a very concentrated unrefined sea salt solution, and all jars have rocks weighing down the food. Also, all lids have been unscrewed enough that they can burp by themselves without me watching them. I scooped off whatever was on the top that I could. But both fruit ferments do have some mushy stuff floating on the top that I just could not scoop out. I think i put enough of a layer of brine that whatever is floating on the top won't affect what is happening on the bottom- I hope!

Now, the experiment begins.

I've only read The Revolution Will Not be Microwaved by Sandor Ellix Katx, and yeah, I kinda got the sense he's a bit looser about what to do. A lot of what I did seem to pick up was: just go do something and learn from experience! I'll have to read The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz after I finish reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

About control freaks; I am a recovered control freak. I used to be very much that everything must go according to my plans and get extremely stressed when anything deviated or went wrong from plans of how I thought something ought to be done or happen. Though, now that I have my emotions, I've developed a bit on that area, and I kind of have my own flow about things and am a good deal less worried about things being perfect and more concerned that I feel good, that what I am doing is something I care about, and that everything gets done in its own time. Just a good example of this in how I used to write out plans for the day vs how I plan stuff out now; I used to have linear sticky notes of objectives in a specific sequence/order to be done, but now, I have bubble maps for the day of these are things to do, and you may connect the dots as you wish throughout the day to take advantage of the moment and random occurrences. And so, that's kind of how I am also approaching my foray into fermentation: there is much I would like to do and much I would like to be better, but for now, it's all okay to make the best of what I have happening right now. And there's probably plenty of bacteria from my hands and stuff that I think there's some lactobacillus somewhere that will thrive in the salt ferments I didn't inoculate. And if it's not bacillus, it's probably something good enough and close enough to make it work. *shrugs shoulders* I'll just find out! That's the joy of it! The joy of actually having no idea what will happen! (I never thought I would say that, because the unknown used to really scare me, and eh, I guess all that is unknown and beyond my control perhaps is not all that bad)

And hahaha! That is such a good German joke!
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Dave Burton
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So, it has now been about a month-ish since I left all of my ferments at college.

All of them are a little bit fuzzy, but I don't think (crossing my fingers) that means I can't eat them. I will be sampling each one- one at a time and only one tasting per day. So, it will take a little under a week for me to sample each ferment I made.

I am a little concerned about the white floaties in a few of the containers that have turned black.
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Carla Burke
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Those floaties? Those are bad. Don't eat those! Everything in those jars is contaminated.
 
pollinator
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Yeah those all look rotten to me.  I could be wrong though.  In my experience,  the gas from fermented products sometimes smells funky but not awful.  And you still want to eat it. If you go to put it in your mouth and you feel yourself recoil, listen to that.  My experience anyway...
 
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Scrape off the top layer, give the container a few seconds to air out, then test aroma and flavor. If it smells ok, taste a little bit. If it tastes ok, it should be fine to consume. If the vegetables smell or taste unpleasant to you, discard everything, clean the container thoroughly, and try again with a new batch.

The white stuff is almost always okay, but the black/green/etc stuff is the stuff you have to scrap off and investigate.
 
Dave Burton
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I tasted the first vegetable batch, the one inoculated with kombucha, and that one tasted fine at lunch today. It tasted, as expected, just salted veggies.

I will listen to my instincts when I go to taste the other ones. If they smell fine and taste fine, then I'll eat them. If they don't smell fine and/or they don't taste okay, then, I won't eat them.
 
Dave Burton
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I had the fruit one that was inoculated with kombucha, and it wasn't bad. I just wasn't terribly impressed. I think I like my fruit ferments done over shorter periods of time, rather than a month. It didn't smell bad. It was just kind of boring. It tasted like salty water pretty much. Most of the fruit flavor had disappeared.

I started two new ferments today. I am fermenting hard boiled eggs in salt water inoculated with yoghurt, and I am trying to reculture some milk that I would not otherwise drink (homogenized ultrapasteurized whole milk).
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S Bengi
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I would only ferment meat/protein with koji (sake starter). But eggs are fine in the fridge for 5 or so days. So if you put it in the fridge for just a week, maybe even for 2 weeks. I think you might be okay. Brined meat are traditionally super super salted and they were recooked before they were eaten after fermenting.
 
Dave Burton
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And while I was at it all yesterday, I decided that the bland fruit ferment was no longer worth keeping. So, I took out all the solids and decided, "ehhh let's see what happens...". I kept the liquid from the old batch, because it's sure going to contain lots of bacteria in it, and I just added some banana and dates into the jar and sealed it at that.

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S Bengi
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For fruit ferments I recommend adding ginger. Most kombocha/water kefir/fruit+greens smoothie, add ginger for a reason.
 
Dave Burton
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I tasted my veggie ferments from a month ago that were inoculated with yoghurt, and upon opening the jar, they had a nice earthy aroma and pleasantly oily smell. These were just spinach and onions. I am guessing the oil came from the onions and the earthy overtones came from the spinach. When eating them at lunch, the spinach had a good salty taste, and the onions still tasted like onions. So, I think long vegetables ferments make for pretty good eating.

I checked up on my dates and bananas ferment from yesterday, and it's alive! Bwahahaha! ;) It's started bubbling away!

I also checked up on my eggs ferment from yesterday, and that's bubbling, too! So, yeah!!!

In the third image, left jar:
I made a duplicate batch of hard boiled eggs to ferment, which I am going to let go longer than the one from yesterday.
This was made with unrefined seasalt, snowmelt water from a tiny waterfall on Mount Sentinel, which I collected this afternoon, and inoculated with yogurt.

In the third image, center jar:
I repacked the month-long veggie ferment with onions, shredded beets, carrots, spring salad greens, and more spinach. I'm reusing the old bacteria, so this one is now some kind of continuous ferment- I guess.

In the third image, right jar:
I am trying to make pickled cucumbers. I ran out of rocks, so I am using an empty glass salt shaker that I filled with snowmelt water to try to hold down the cucmbers.
This is made with unrefined seasalt, snowmelt water, and cucumbers and green onions. It is also inoculated with yoghurt.
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Dave Burton
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So, today, I tasted three ferments:
-the two-day fruit ferment of dates and bananas from 1/11/19: this one tasted awesome! The dates had a nice gooey slightly airy texture from fermenting and salty sweet flavor. The bananas were nice, too- salty and sweet as well.
-the two day egg ferment from 1/11/19: the eggs tasted just like salty eggs, and they were nice and moist, too, which I really liked. I'm going to try the rest of the eggs in this jar tomorrow to see how they taste after three days.
-the month long fruit ferment that was inoculated with yogurt: this was practically the same as the one inoculated with kombucha- kinda bland and flavorless. It tasted mostly of salt.

I refed the bacteria in the kombucha inoculated two-day date and banana ferment- this time with only dates (far left jar).
I refed the month long fruit ferment that was inoculated with yoghurt- this time with a bunch of grapes and a couple dates (far right jar)
I made a new jar of sweet peppers inoculated with a couple of rocks from the month long fruit ferment that was inoculated with yoghurt (middle jar).
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Dave Burton
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I made some soft-boiled eggs, which I am trying to ferment.

The left jar uses liquid from my first batch of fermented hard-boiled eggs from 1/11/19. I also finished eating the rest of those fermented hard-boiled eggs from 1/11/19, and they tasted great, today!
The right jar uses liquid from my no inoculation vegetable ferment from a month-long ferment. I tasted that today, and it was a bit less interesting in flavor than the one inoculated with yoghurt. I tasted mostly of salt and didn't have as distinctive of an earthy aroma as the one that was inoculated with yougurt.

My fermentation experimentation may have to slow down soon as my classwork gets more ramped up in how time-consuming it gets.
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