Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Holy Fermentation, Batman!

It's been a busy night in the kitchen. In the quart jars you'll see the night's big project: Cortido, a.k.a. Latin American Sauerkraut, ready for 3 days of lacto-fermentation on the countertop. Next to it is a bowl of black beans, soaking so they'll be ready to cook tomorrow night, and a bowl of oats, soaking in warm water and 2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk and cinnamon so it will be ready for our muesli tomorrow morning. Finally there is a big, beautiful, and oh-so-delicious loaf of sourdough bread, a collaborative effort between Michael and me today.

The cortido is my first venture into lacto-fermentation. It's kind of like a leap of faith into the wilds of non-refridgeration, and it's honestly taken me a while to get here. After seeing the beautiful results of sourdough, with its non-refridgerated (at times) starter, I am willing to take the leap! Basically, lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits bacteria, and historically lacto-acid fermentation has been used by traditional socities to preserve vegetables for extended periods of time. In other words, leaving the cabbage mixture out on the counter for three days won't kill us, and the author of my cookbook assures me that if the batch goes bad, it will smell so awful there will be no mistaking it. We'll see! I'll let you know how it all turns out when we open the jars on Friday, to use as a condiment for our Black Bean Tostados.
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