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Dave de Basque

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since May 08, 2015
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Basque Country, Spain-43N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
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Recent posts by Dave de Basque

"This is our kickstarter video.  The only way to confirm or deny that it is full of naked people is to watch the entire two minutes."  

Yes, that would get my attention!
1 month ago
I think I qualify as a generic "busy" person that often has little or no time for long emails and/or videos, so maybe my experience would apply to some number of other "busy" people. I also used to work in web usability for what it's worth.

I've received lots of communications about the Kickstarter, and maybe I'm subscribed to the dailyish etc. in text-only mode because I don't remember seeing any spiffy-looking graphics like the ones shown at all.

Anyway, if the idea is to get me to watch the video, the best you could do for me would be to send me a *really* short email saying something like

"Wondering what this SKIP idea is all about, and whether to back the Kickstarter? This snappy 4-minute video explains everything, and it's fun to watch too!"

...followed by a hot-linked pic from the video, or even better, a super-tiny embedded video so I don't have to go to YouTube (I know you probably can't compress it that much, but just in case). Anyway, if I'm feeling busy, there's no chance I'm gonna watch a video unless I know how long it is.

For us text-only-email folks, maybe you could make some text art that would get my attention and make me click.

That said, depending on the time of day I receive it and what I have on my mind right then, some days you might be out of luck no matter what you do, I'm not watching your video or anyone else's.

Hope this perspective helps you with your crafty plans.
1 month ago
Just found a German manufacturer of cast iron that seems to have a wide range of products, including items with perfectly flat bottoms that can work on glasstop stoves/cookers/hobs:
5 months ago

Rebecca Norman wrote:What I remember from Sandor Katz, the fermentation deity, is that it's usually safe to have a taste, and if it smells or taste yucky, pitch it. Otherwise, give it a go.

What you are describing sounds like it might be fine, or might be going bad (maybe because of low salt as mentioned above).

If I were you I'd try a little taste.

Thanks, Rebecca, I had no idea about Sandor Katz but I do now. We all need a fermentation deity in our lives!

So in the end, I threw out the jar that seemed kind of suspicious-smelling, even after adding more salt, a touch of sugar, starter, and a cabbage leaf late in the process.

The other jar, I whizzed up in the blender with a lot of its liquid, and it is now one of our official house (mildish) hot sauces. It's just sitting in the fridge in a pretty full jar with a lid. It seems to be fine. It still doesn't smell what I would call great, maybe I just need to get used to fermentation smells, but it tastes good in food and is highly digestive, so I think it's safe to say disaster was avoided.
1 year ago

S. Bard wrote:Hi Dave,

The white mould, if it’s not three dimensional/hairy, sounds like Kahm yeast. Still edible, but it just produces some off flavours when left in the brine too long. As long as the smell is fine and you do a little taste test, it should be ok just scooping it off. You can always do a Ph test if you want to be sure (ph strips are cheap but not super accurate, ph-meters can be very accurate, but they do leave a nice hole in your wallet).
Cloudy brine and white residue on the bottom are indicators that your ferment is active, so combined with the bubbles it sounds like your ferment is going well 👍

[...lots more great observations and advice...]

Hope that helps!

Thanks so much, S., for helping me identify a lot of what I was seeing and setting my mind at ease! This is gold.

Any advice for when you want a ferment to last longer -- 6 months or a year?
1 year ago

Kate Downham wrote:
For brine ferments, a brine of 20g-50g of salt to 1 litre of water is more reliable, this works out to be between 2 and 4 tablespoons. I usually use around 2 or 3 tablespoons.

I thought the original recipe seemed too low, and I think my fermentation process bore that out. I will try your proportions next time, thanks!

Kate Downham wrote:
Starter culture
Brine ferments are trickier to do as a wild ferment than kraut - there's more chance of other stuff getting in and turning it bad before the good bacteria has had a chance to grow. I use around 2 tablespoons whey for each litre of water. Juice leftover from a successful ferment is also good as a starter.

Ahhh... the advantages of being a goat farmer! You're a lucky woman, Kate! I have a source of sheep whey from a friend's farm for about 4-5 months in late winter and spring, but unfortunately I have few veggies to ferment at that time of year. Maybe I need to make friends with a cow farmer. Or break down and use the "starter culture" I have.

Kate Downham wrote:Other things that weren't specified:
Did the salt have any additives? These can interfere.

I'm pretty careful about my salt. Atlantic sea salt, no additives, artisinally sun-dried on clay pads... you get the picture. Pretty much unprocessed, like it should be.

Kate Downham wrote:
Did the water have any additives? If it's standard town tap water it might contain stuff that will stop the good bacteria from growing. If it's raw riverwater/rainwater etc it might contain some spoilige bacteria that will compete with the good bacteria, I often use boiled creek water that's cooled down.

I'm even more careful about my water. I go up to a local mountain spring every once in a while with a bunch of saved screw-top 1L glass bottles, and that's where I get my drinking (and fermenting) water from. But maybe I should have boiled and cooled it before using. Since fermentation depends on bacteria, I'm never really sure how "sterile" to try to make things. I guess the idea is to give the good bacteria a head start and to knock back the bad bacteria. Next time I'll try boiling the water, and boiling-water-sterilizing the jars and rocks too as you suggest.

Thanks for all your recommendations!
1 year ago

Mk Neal wrote:I can't tell exactly what is happening with your peppers, but if they are slimy and in anyway unappetizing, probably best to chuck them. Fermented vegetables don't usually slime.

In my own house, I have noticed that vegetable fermentation did not go well at "room temperature" in the warmer months in my un-airconditioned house; things get soft and unappetizing.  I actually get better results fermenting in the refrigerator.

Hmmm... I wish it was so definite. The sliming really only lasted a couple of days, now it seems to be in a holding pattern and is pretty clean. Just a few little blobs of whitish mold that accumulates every 2-3 days and I clean off. OK, the mold is part of a bit of a jelly-like blob. The peppers themselves are not slimy. They don't smell really great, but then again, I open up a jar of locally produced (but commercially bottled) sauerkraut or kimchee, and they don't smell so hot either. Actually one of the jars doesn't smell much at all now, and the other is still a bit rank to be honest. I will probably end up chucking it. But for now I'm letting it sit around to just see how the experiment goes.

Interesting about fermenting in the refrigerator. I would think that takes forever. Doesn't it? Is this mainly good for producing things like crispy pickles?
1 year ago
Hey, never get tired of replying to yourself! Thoughts from anyone who knows anything about fermentation would be appreciated.

In any case, after waiting for a week or 10 days to see how things went, lately I've done the following, basically grasping at straws, to see if I can make this fermentation less scary.

-- remove the rocks holding the peppers down and replace each of them with a cabbage leaf (since as far as I know cabbage leaves have lots of helpful fermentation microbes)
-- drain off a bit of the fermentation water (one jar smelled a bit more suspicios than the other, so I drained more), and refill with
----saltier water
----a pinch of sugar (something I know ferments)
----a little bit of the vegetable fermentation starter I had in the fridge but didn't want to use (you know, the whole "using the local microogranisms" thing...)

For what it's worth, they smell better now.

I still don't know how I would tell if they're safe/unsafe to eat, or when they're done/not done fermenting...
1 year ago
Added note: I have water kefir crystals available and some sort of "vegetable fermentation starter" in the fridge that I was not going to use. I'm of half a mind to make up a little bit of new salt brine and add a bit of sugar too, so the fermenters have something to ferment, and mix it into the batches, perhaps with the addition of one or the other of these fermentation aids.

1 year ago
I had a bunch of not-very-hot hot red peppers last season and decided to ferment some once I learned that that was a thing.

I watched this Green Moxie video on YouTube:

So I stuffed a bunch of medium-large peppers with the tops cut off into a 1-quart mason jar and another smaller jar, and I whipped up the brine of 2 teaspoons of salt per liter/quart of spring water without any chlorine or other toxic gick in it. Put a kind of smooth not-too-porous-looking rock on top of each to keep the peppers submerged. Placed a loosely fitting lid on top and sat in a corner of our never-very-cold kitchen. That was a little over two weeks ago.

A few things have happened, and since my fermentation adventures in the past have been limited to water kefir and pickles, I'm not sure what is normal:
  • The peppers turned soft after about a week
  • They bubbled a little bit for a few days. Part of that was releasing air bubbles.
  • After maybe 5 days they started forming some scum at the top every day, which I've been removing with a wooden pallet once every day or two
  • The brine started turning kind of cloudy and red-brown-yellow-ish
  • Some white powdery-looking stuff started settling on the bottom.
  • The brine started tasting like hot pepper brine.
  • After about a week, what looks like some bright white powdery mold started appearing at the top every day, not much.
  • When opening the jars, just at first you get a little whiff of a kind of off, compost-scrap-bucket smell. But the brine still tastes good.

  • And now here's my problem: In the last 3 or 4 days, there is more stuff rising to the top. The light scum and the bright white mold have now been supplemented by a kind of clear slime maybe 2mm thick in places over the top. It's not so easy to remove, but I try. But I'm not really sure there should be slime. Or maybe it's some kind of mother or scoby or whatever that's forming? It's not as thick or solid feeling as a kombucha scoby at all.

    So my questions are:
  • Is this slime thing normal? Good? Bad?
  • How will I know when my peppers are done fermenting?
  • How will I know if my fermentation has gone wrong?
  • How do I cut the fermentation and store the peppers when they're done?

  • 1 year ago