There’s a new fermentation kid on the block
Not that I’ve given up on the sourdough – if anything, now that we’re both at home all day, I’m baking more of it than ever, it’s just that it’s become somewhat routine. I was excited during the first lockdown to be godmother to a number of baby sourdough starters as various friends and Twitter contacts started asking my advice, for some reason (I hope they also consulted a few people who actually know what they’re doing), but I did slightly envy them the excitement of starting a new project seeing how much pleasure I’ve got out of my own sourdough adventures.
After miraculously managing to lose weight during the first lockdown, despite cycling drastically fewer miles, we’ve been somewhat pushing our luck in this latest incarnation by upping our culinary game. Not only did we try once of those fancy ‘restaurant in a box’ meals for our wedding anniversary, but I’ve also been trying to spend a bit more time away from the computer by attempting a few more elaborate dishes that take my fancy that I wouldn’t normally have time, which for me tends to mean sweet things.
Given that I also gave the other half an ice cream maker for his birthday last year (the best present ever, certainly from my point of view), it was clear that if I was to continue to fit into my jeans, I was going to have to develop some slightly more healthy ambitions than ‘perfect my shortcrust pastry technique’, hence sauerkraut which has all the potential rabbithole ahoy interest of sourdough for those who want to take it further, plus plenty of reputed gut flora benefits, without going completely down the path of kimchi, kombucha or (the one I’d really try if I had the courage, because who doesn’t want to be nursing what is effectively an improvised explosive device in their pantry?) home-brewed ginger beer.
So anyway, a couple of weeks ago, following the instructions helpfully supplied in the Weekend Guardian I sliced up a cabbage our neighbour had given us, massaged in the salt as instructed, added a few flavourings (if the last few 8-year-old juniper berries from the bottom of the spice jar count as ‘flavouring’) and left it in a ‘cool well-ventilated place’ to await its miraculous transformation.
After the suggested few days I tasted it to discover I had basically made some very salty raw shredded cabbage. So, I tried diluting the brine a bit, left it a bit longer (faintly tangy and ever-so-slightly less salty cabbage), left it a bit longer (possible faint echoes of sauerkraut) and then decided that perhaps keeping it in the effectively unheated utility room might be part of the problem (I should remember that London-based cookery writers’ interpretation of ‘a cool place’ may be different than for those of us living in Scotland). So it’s now found its niche in our kitchen where – a fortnight after I started – the other half has pronounced it as tasting ‘almost like sauerkraut’.
I’m reminding myself that this is probably better than the internet dubbing my second attempt at sourdough ‘dwarf bread’, and will persevere, hoping this isn’t something that ends in tears. Or, indeed, botulism…
What’s your latest lockdown project?