Friday, December 2, 2011

Sauer Jalapenos

Ever had a sour pickle?  What about real sauerkraut?  Kimchi is something similar that I really like.  What do all these foods have in common?  They are saured with a process of fermentation, and preserved with salt.  This is the original pickling process, and is far superior to the acid pasteurization process that is used for making modern pickles like my Jalapa Style Pickled Jalapenos.  The vinegar in acid pasteurization causes the food to be too acidic, and causes digestion problems for me.  When I started learning about sauering, I decided to try doing this with my Jalapenos.  This process is simple but it takes a long time compared to the acid pasteurization process.

I have just harvested a couple of pounds of Jalapenos, and was going to pickle them in the usual way.  But the Great Spirit, Kokopelli, whispered in my ear, and said try sauering them instead, so I went that direction.  There is no acid in this process, just the Jalapenos, Onion, Garlic, Salt and Vitalized Water.  I am going to start with the Onion on the bottom for flavoring.
I am salting all the vegetables with non-iodized sea salt as they go into the "crock".  In this case its a ceramic bowl, but usually specialized, ceramic sauering crocks are used for making sauered vegetables.  The have a weight that is fitted to the inside of the crock which holds the vegetables under the water line.  I add a few cloves of chopped Garlic in the bottom also.
Then I'll start adding the sliced Jalapenos.  I am slicing them around a quarter inch think.  Let a little pile accumulate on the cutting board, salt it well, and add it to the rest in the bowl.  There is a formula for the salinity of the brine.  It should be 5% to 10% non-iodized sea salt, and the remainder is water.  It might be more accurate to make the brine separate, and just pour it over the vegetables, without salting everything as you slice them.
This is my first attempt at Sauring, so not too concerned with the process yet.  I feel I be getting lots of practice at this in the future.  Now like an hour later I am finally done slicing Jalapenos.
Next step is to add water to the mix.  Altogether I added about three and a half cups.  Just enough to cover the Jalapenos, and a little more.  The water level needs to be monitored daily,  and you should not let it drop below the food, other wise mold can develop on the food if it is exposed.  Then I use a saucer that fits the inside diameter of the crock to keep the Jalapenos below the water line.
There, the setup is done, now we wait, impatiently, for Sauered Jalapenos.  Last step is to cover the whole crock with a towel to keep any airborne junk out of the process.  The specialized Fermenting Crocks use a special lid with a water seal.  The water seal lets pressure from inside the crock out, but won't let anything back in.  There are several methods of making a check valve like this that I have seen, like in beer and wine making.
Theoretically this will only take a week to produced finished Sauered Jalapenos.  I'll check it every day and top up the water if needed.  We'll give them a try in a week...

Update on 12/19/2011, here are the Sauer Jalapenos after four days of fermenting.  Notice the foam around the edges of the saucer.  The "wort" is active and producing Carbon Dioxide.  I will let these ferment another 3 days and then transfer them into storage containers, and put them in the fridge.
Here, after another 3 days of fermenting the Sauer Jalapenos are ready to go into the fridge.  This is a relatively fast process as far as fermentation goes, only a week and they are ready.  There are a lot of factors involved, one of which is temperature.  These sat on the dining room table at room temperature, around 70 degree Fahrenheit.  If they were setup in the garage, or a root cellar they wouldn't ferment as fast.  Here are a couple of shots of the finished Sauer Jalapenos in their storage containers.

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