Winter Ferment – Fennel KimChi

Fennel

Spying some really great looking fennel in the organic section of the market we decided to make a few types of kimchi this week. In the first one we cut the long stems off of the fennel and set them aside. We then mixed the fronds and the 6 fennel bulbs and a big yellow onion with lots of salt to draw out the brine and get it ready to suck up the the other seasonings. In less than 30 minutes it was already smelling really goodand lots of brine was being released.

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So we proceeded to chop up some carrots, scrubbed but unpeeled daikon radish and several really big fat scallions into big chunks.

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We mixed them lightly with a little of the salty fennel and onion brine, omitting the sugar that is often used when doing a ferment with daikon. That started producing brine very quickly.

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We made a purée of garlic cloves, lots of fresh, organic, unpeeled ginger, some red pepper flakes another yellow onion and a small amount of cooked steel cut oats (instead of a traditional rice paste).

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The fennel and onion mixture was well drained (but not rinsed) and the brine was saved. We threw the fennel and onions in with the carrot, daikon, scallions in their brine. It was pressed down overnight by putting another bowl into the bowl the mix was in and covering it to prevent any flies, insects or an overwhelming smell. By 24 hours it was already a little bubbly and tasted great so we packed it in jars and put a parchment top on it with a rubber band because it was going to stay out at room temperature for a few days.  Of course we checked the pan that we put the jars in and at 48 hours both large jars had lost fluid. This is why we always take the leftover brine when we first make a ferment it and let that ferment separately.

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Then we packed the vegetable part of the ferment down very well to remove air and make it look pretty. Each jar got a pretty heavy (about one pound) glass disk directly on top of the brine covered vegetables which kept the kimchi very well packed and wet but not swimming in brine. We the screwed wide mouth mason jar lids with plastic washers tightly on them and let them sit out another day.

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Just a tiny bit of leakage so we threw a few big crystals of sea salt on top after pushing everything down again and sealed them tightly. They hung out in the refrigerator for about 10 days. We then tasted them again. Perfect. So we packed them back up and in about a month we’ll just start going at them! What did we do with all the saved, released and extra brine? Tell you in a little. The next huge crock vegetable ferment couldn’t wait: a root vegetable extravaganza that we thought we just would never be to our liking. We were so wrong!

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