Today is a great day to ferment. If you don't know already, I'm a fermenty kind of gal: I'll ferment everything, from spices and herbs to beverages to fruit to all vegetables grown under the sun. I'm a little bit like these two. So when a friend of mine recently asked if I'd like to partake in the harvest of small baby cold corn from Kohut Farms just north of the city, I said well now of COURSE I will!
These baby corn cobs are incredible. They're really sweet, you can eat the whole thing including the cob when they're this little; you can even eat the tender greens surrounding the cob at this early stage of the game. I swear to you, tasting the greens and cobs and corn like this is a sensory explosion, taking me right back to the smell and taste of the air in that field, and the heat of the sun on my neck, all in one bite. Now to be sure, it will be a different story in a week or two when Kohut's Cold Corn will be fully grown and ready to go out to the shops (I hear Coop will be carrying them), but I bet you could do this recipe with it at that point in time, or with any corn for that matter. This cold corn is something that has been lovingly grown by Rick Kohut and his family near Didsbury for a few years now, and as I understand it, it's a specialty strain of corn that can grow in colder climates like that of our nights here in the prairies and is known for its high natural sugar content. It also has a thin endosperm, meaning the skin on the kernel is thin and so it is inherently easier to digest than most corn, you can eat this corn raw even when it's full grown. It's THAT good. Rick and his family grow this corn without the use of pesticides, it is non-GMO and when comes harvest time, it is hand picked. This is primo corn, my friends.
I ordered a few dozen from this special one-off a friend of mine was harvesting, with the intention of playing around. I grilled some to add to salads and noodle bowls, I quickly blanched and had as super fresh sides to dinners, and added some with shredded zucchini to a fritter recipe for breakfasts for a few days. But I couldn't get through it all fast enough, and so I knew that I'd be looking for a way to preserve the sweet bounty. Fermenting it is.
Fermenting is a quick and easy way to keep things nutrient dense and available for consumption into the winter months; it requires minimal output of energy at the beginning, the investment in a few good glass jars, and a little bit of faith. And a whole lot of play. There are so many documented health benefits to fermenting, something I talk about quite often (and will continue to). Today's post is not about WHY fermenting is so good for you, it's HOW EASY IT IS TO FERMENT. So if you are new to fermenting, this is a recipe you could try at home. If you'd like to learn more about fermenting, get in touch as I lead fermenting workshops on a regular basis and would love to host a class in your kitchen.
The recipe comes from Sarah Miller, a fermenting guru who heads the blog Attack of the Killer Pickles. Her motto: I Like to Play With My Food. (That's my kind of gal.) I tweaked the amount of 2 cobs of corn to be a dozen and a half of baby corn cobs, and it came out to be about the same volume in the end. As this recipe is not my own, and I really didn't tweak it except to use baby corn instead of full grown corn, I am going to point you to her blog in order to get the full recipe and low-down on how to make such a delectable treat. I layered the spices in the bottom, including the smoked chipotle pepper (you can buy dried packages of jalapeños and other peppers in select grocery stores these days; keep your eyes peeled. They keep well in the pantry or heck, cold smoke some jalapeños of your own and dehydrate them! And call me if you're doing that, because I'll join you.) and then did layers of onions and baby corn, ending with a last layer of onion on top. I made sure to keep everything submerged, and intend on flipping the jar every day to ensure that everything keeps below the brine as the month of fermenting goes along. The hardest part right now is to wait. 4 weeks? Don't know how I'll hold off. But I sure do look forward to tasting these morsels of goodness once they're probiotic-rich and flavour infused to perfection.
You don't need any kind of special equipment to ferment something like this. You can use glass Mason jars or similar jars with lids, you can also use a crock if you have one; I did mine in Fido jars. Their glass is rated to be able to take the pressure more than cheaper versions of these flip-top jars you can find in discount kitchen stores. I found mine in two spots in Calgary, at the Italian Store in the NE and at Crown Food Equipment, a restaurant supply store open to the public down in the SW of the city. Any which way you look at it, fermenting is so easy and a really reliable way to put up the harvest, all while upping the nutritional ante of those foods you're storing for later.
Incidentally, let me plug the upcoming Friendly Ferments Festival local lovelies The Light Cellar are putting on. It's mid-October, and tickets are now on sale. I'll be participating in the weekend, and will be a part of the follow-up fermenting classes that will continue on into November. Keep your eyes peeled for that, and get your tickets now before they sell out! It's going to be a fabulous weekend of knowledge, sharing, tasting and culturing.
Now go get cultured and play with your food, willya?