DIY Kitchen: fermented ginger carrots
We’re just back from 3 marvelous days of birthday camping (thank you heartily for your birthday wishes!). It’s funny how camping is like this schizophrenic mix of hard work and then so much leisure time you can get a little good-naturedly bored. You might spend half an hour cartoonishly scouring caked-on tortillas from your cast iron with a branch of stiff-needled spruce, all the while fending off curious dogs and children. And then the next 2 hours you’re in your camp chair listening to the beautiful sounds of slide guitar and chatting it up with dear ones, the only necessary work being periodically moving your chair into the shade.
Which is to say that last night, after shoving our dirt-dredged clothes in the washer, unloading the cooler and washing our grubby, gnat-bit bodies, we all fell right to sleep. Dan and I couldn’t even stay up late enough to lock the chickens in (they file into the hen house right at sundown). And now, by the grace of coffee, I am introducing to you the easiest vegetable ferment ever.
These cultured carrots are a starter ferment, a gateway that may lead to wild escapades in lacto-fermented pickles and coconut kefir water. Fermented ginger carrots are sweet and mild, something you could serve your skeptical father-in-law without even mentioning the word fermentation (when my parents were recently visiting, every night I made two salads: a tame, all-lettuce salad for my dad and the kids, and a wild romp of arugula, bok choi, chard, beet greens and spinach for me, Dan and my mom).
And, despite the fact that at our 2nd night campfire, many of us drank ginger tea (ginger tea! hangover-free!), I still feel like I’ve been scoured with a spruce-needle branch, and so I’m going to skip clever intros and get right to the recipe. But, I will say that when I make fermented ginger carrots, it is so good (sweet-sour-gingery), that a quart disappears fast and Rose will often choose cultured carrots for her vegetable.
Fermented ginger carrots
(30 minutes active time, 3-7 days fermenting time)
1 wide mouth glass mason jar and lid
5 – 6 cups grated carrots
2 tbsp fresh, grated ginger
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 cup water
Grate carrots and ginger, place in bowl. Toss grated carrots and ginger with salt and then let sit for 15 minutes, where the salt will begin to osmotically (take that 11th grade remedial-chemistry!) draw out water from the carrots. Place 1 cup carrots in a blender or food processor with the 1/2 cup water and blend for a minute (this breaks down the cell walls of the carrots and introduces the lactobacilli to the mix). Next, stuff (and I mean stuff), the carrot, ginger, salt mix plus the carrots/water from your blender into a quart jar. Use a fork to push the carrots down towards the bottom, allowing the liquid to penetrate all levels. Keep pushing until the carrots are submerged and there’s an inch of liquid on top. Cap jar and let sit for 3-7 days then transfer to fridge. The warmer your house temp, the faster your carrots will ferment. Check for taste after 3 days. I like mine sour enough to sit for 7 days.
The grating takes a very long time if you’re five.
Lethargy, boredom and anger may set in.
Adding the salt is more exciting.
Not as exciting as squeezing the salted carrots in hopes of facilitating the osmotic process (osmotic process! how do you like that?) This step is optional.
The blender step is really helpful to kickstart the fermentation.
Stuff those carrots deep in the jar.
This is what it should look like before you cap it. This is an anaerobic ferment, all the carrots need to be completely submerged. You can place a bag of water or a smaller jar of water on top of the carrots to weight them and keep the carrots submerged, but I usually just use a fork to push the carrots down once each day. If you don’t use a weight, screw the lid on the jar and let it sit in a warm place, but out of the sun, for 3-7 days.
I added some fresh cilantro because I’m wild and crazy and forty.
Then, play a little UNO to pass the time, if you don’t mind being trounced by Rose. Col is now spending most of his inside time drawing sharks and submarines and ships and an occasional hybrid: barracuda-toothed carnivorous squirrels.
Keep watch for bubbling and don’t be too bashful to exclaim loudly to your family how badass you are for harnessing naturally occurring bacteria to improve the health and digestibility of a simple carrot.
Oh, how I love this stuff. Enjoy!