Happy Friday! I trust this note finds you well in the throes of putting up the harvest for the summer. In our parts, it appears summer is almost ready to make a quick exit, but only for a brief time so if you haven't done so already and are able to and find yourself in southern Alberta, you may want to cover the crops tonight. They're calling for that dreaded F word...
I'm going to pretend it's not happening and fully immerse myself in summer time things. It's how I roll. Deny, deny, deny. The vegetable du jour is the workhorse of many a suburban garden, the zucchini. Did you see that picture of the giant zucchini up on the interwebs the other day? So funny. And in some cases, so true… I have zucchini growing in my patch, but took in this baseball-bat sized rescue from a friend's garden. I knew right away my plans for this zucc -- make it into a relish. My mom has made this delicious zucchini relish for many years now, processing it in a hot water canning bath. I have used this recipe at canning classes I have led, and it is always a winner. But see, I'm getting lazy in my old age - I'd rather ferment all the things than can them. Canning is great but requires quite a bit of effort, and energy plus having to add that 10 extra minutes onto everything because of my elevation is a bit of a kick in the pants. So my canner stayed in the basement this time, and I pulled out my fermenting Fido jar for the task at hand.
My friend Liz came over to help, seeing as she donated the zucchini to the project. See how big it is, in the photo at the top of the post? I can't even get the whole thing in the picture...
We needed 10 cups shredded zucc for the relish, so Liz de-seeded and I blitzed through the grater on my food processor. (This is when I am eternally grateful for my trusty 20-year old food processor.) We set aside the 10 cups for the relish, and bagged the rest of the zucchini (plus a few from my own garden, to add to the stash). That bagged shredded stuff freezes well, and is a good addition to soups and stews come winter.
We went to task chopping 5 bell peppers, 6 small onions, a handful of celery stalks (about 1 cup), a small handful of lovage leaves (optional), a 2" piece of fresh turmeric root along with at least a cup of dried apples chopped into small pieces. You could also use a fresh apple chopped in to small pieces if you like; use what you have! We then weighed the lot in order to figure out what percentage of brine to make for the ferment. (Figuring out the salt amount in order to get the correct percentage of brine is the key component to a successful ferment.) With our 7 pounds of veggies, it looked like 4 tbsp of sea salt would be needed for a 2.2% salinity, so in it went with the veggies and the shredded zucchini. It did not take long to draw the liquid out of the vegetables, it was ready for the spices in no time.
To this mess we added a tsp of nutmeg, tbsp of mustard seeds, and quite a few cranks of the pepper mill, and tucked it in one of my big Fido jars, the 5 litre one. It filled it just about to capacity with a bit of room to spare, so in order to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine, we fashioned some celery sticks on top as weights, wedged in to the top of the glass jar. The sticks are two layers thick, and they should ensure everything stays submerged for the 4-5 day fermentation time. (My secret ploy is to use those celery sticks as garnishes in my next round of Caesars. Thanks Susan for the inspiration!)
So the big jar is the batch Liz and I made last night, the one on the right is a canned version my Mom made. I am so lucky, she brings a jar with her every time she comes west to visit. It's delicious stuff! So good with hot dogs, or on top of cream cheese on a cracker or bagel along with a soft yolk fried egg. Pretty dreamy in fact.
And now we wait. I will report back on flavour and texture, as the recipe did get amended from the original in order to make it a viable ferment. I suspect we will be missing the sugar content that went in the canned version, but hopefully that extra cup of dried apples will help provide a bit of natural sweetness to balance out those sharp fermenty flavours.