I did not know ‘kraut’ was a generic term to describe a type of salt fermentation, but thought it only designated German lacto fermented cabbage, till a few weeks back I went to a beautiful workshop at Cape Point nursery. The workshop was presented by Zayaan Khan, whose fields of interest embrace among others, seed sovereignty, the surplus people’s project, and preserving food with fermentation.
Kraut style involves adding approximately 2% salt by weight to vegetables which have been finely cut up. They are then, as is also found in German tradition, pounded until they release their juices, which is the only liquid which covers the vegetable or fruit.
In brine fermentation you basically add about 4% salt by
weight to the vegetable and then top up with water or other liquid, whereas Kraut style ferments in its own juices. This method is
great for chunky pieces or whole fruit or vegetables like olives, sweet peppers, chilis, beans,
carrots, cucumbers and so forth. It is better to weigh the vegetable matter and
base the salt quantity on that, than to make up a brine of a particular
concentration first and pour it over the vegetable. If there is a lot of
airspace you will have a strong brine and if there is little airspace for the
brine to run into you will end up with too little salt to preserve it.
I presume the liquids added to brine ferments can be things
like water, wine, vinegar, and starter mixes like liquid taken from other
ferments, whey, which is full of lactobacteria and so forth. However, as Zayaan
frequently underlined there are so many ways of doing this its hard to
Zayaan encouraged us to play, and play we did. Zayaan has been known to try anything, and her pickling skills extend to trying out preserving insects in hot spices ! With such a fab and creative mentor, we could not help but have our flame lit, and I don’t know about the other attendees, but I came home and pickled for two days and have been pickling stuff regularly since then.
We make kombucha, kefir, pumpkin and dill flower pickle, achar, numnum in whey brine, and in sugar, peach done with sugar fermentation, in the shade and in full sun and my own invention, the residue from wild fruit vinegar making, a pear mousse that is really ancient and alcoholic by now, dark brown and still fruity. But my favourite preservation technique is not even really a pickle, it is the Moroccan style salt and lemon preserve that Zayaan gave us a recipe for in the large beautifully illustrated download we were sent after the workshop. But it’s a simple recipe anyway, once you’ve seen it and done it you will remember it.
The workshop was spent with lovely people some of whom had a lifetime of experience of pickling and shared a lot of this lore. The nursery was gorgeous, an island of green in the burned landscape. They must have been through scary times this past year.
The venue at the nursery, known as Veld and Sea kitchen classroom, was in a little low beamed cottage with shelves bulging with delicious and diverse ferments. The host, Roushanna is an expert on indigenous foods and foraging, and we used wild rosemary and russ among other native spices, to flavour our pickles, while Roushanna spent the day preparing one pizza after another for us, each more delicious than the last. I couldn’t help myself when I saw the plants in the nursery, and splashed out on fynbos edibles which traveled home in the boot of my car with the new pickles.
We are not the only ones eyeing the food
smokey kombucha and spicey chai flowed
If you have any questions please let us know !
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