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Fermented Party, a Girls Night In

On many occasions here on this blog, we’ve made mention of our black thumbs.

We somehow manage to kill everything living that we own, even cactus. It’s some sort of miracle that we are managing to shepherd our three boys to adulthood without major issues. We kill plants, animals, bacterial colonies, everything. We have had friends bring us their foolproof ferments and we somehow manage to screw them up. We are the Black Racer and we have the Touch of Death.

So it was with a large bit of trepidation that we decided to review the new Fermented. We so desperately wanted to ask a Team Member to do it, but it was time to face our fears. We are big fans of fermented foods, but seriously doubted we could do this book justice by ourselves. What were worried we’d end up saying We tried this out, but screwed it up royally and ended up with a rotted pool of blackened dead stuff!

So we decided to enlist the help of our talented, meticulous and experienced friends to see us successfully to fermentation. We had a FERMENTATION PARTY!

Fermented Party by PaleoParents

And it turns out this is a really good idea! With five of our friends all working on making successful ferments, the expertise of Jill Ciciarelli and her tremendous book, and the freshest ingredients we could find, SOMETHING has got to work, right? Not to mention, any excuse is a good excuse for a girls’ night in playing with a baby, real foods and fermented beverages.

Jill’s book, Fermented is really a delightful resource that really changed the way we look at the fermentation process. It’s no longer a scary, daunting process that we are certain will lead us down the path of food borne illness, but rather a fun and exciting activity that we can add to our kitchen repertoire. Thanks to the stunning and simple, clean photography of Bill Staley, the recipes are beautifully illustrated too. It’s the kind of book that you can’t help but flip through and earmark the pages you must try.

Ferment Party by PaleoParents

How do you have a fermentation party, you ask?

  1. Well first, fermented alcoholic beverages are recommended.
  2. Pick out recipes together and assign the responsibilities of bringing tools, jars, ingredients and make certain an experienced friend comes (if you have one). Usually they can offer up things like scobys, whey or other items that are called for in the book that are more difficult to find.
  3. Plan out the tasks of each recipe in order they need to be done, hot things being first (see lessons learned below about this step).
  4. Assign jobs as appropriate: cut produce, wash jars, be in charge of music and refilling wine glasses… you get the point.

Fermented Party Prep at PaleoParents

We decided on making several recipes on this night, including:

  • Kombucha, of course, but what’s interesting is that we learned we can brew kombucha with Roobios tea – which was really exciting for us, since it’s caffeine-free and flavored for the kids!
  • Real dill pickles (loved Jill’s “tip” about how to keep them crisp!)
  • Grain mustard
  • Ketchup and,
  • (my favorite) Fermented lemons (I’m so excited about these being ready for topping on fish and making fermented lemonade and hard liquor drinks!)

Fermented Pickles by PaleoParents

I loved that Jill had options and ideas for how to use some of these recipes without a dairy-culture starter. Even though some of our friends used whey (brought by a friend who makes her own yogurt) we used pickle juice to start the ketchup and mustard, genius and delicious! We all got our jobs and got to work on slicing and dicing, pouring and bottling.

You know what? This fermenting business can actually be fun! Everyone ended up being really pleased with the process that half-way through the party they were talking about which recipes we wanted to use for our second party! Who would have thought that spoiling food in a controlled manner by which both the flavor and the healthful properties are enhanced would leave everyone so tickled!

Fermented Cookbook Fermentation Party by PaleoParents

And in the end, we ended up doing Jill proud, I think. When I look at this picture, I can’t help but say, “We did it!”

Fermented Foods by PaleoParents

Some lessons learned:

  1. Don’t be overambitious in how much you take on for your first ferment party… ours lasted 5 hours instead of the planned 2-3, oops!
  2. Flag the pages you’re working on because it’s easier to do the same stages of each ferment all at once, which means you’re operating on multiple recipes pages flipping back and forth. Unfortunately we found the index a bit difficult to use, so once we found a page we needed we just bookmarked it.
  3. Make sure to read ALL of the info before diving in just on the instructions. Jill offers alternative ideas for how to do lots of things, and when you’re stuck asking yourself what way to cut ingredients or whether to remove seeds she’s actually already answered it with her ‘tips’!
  4. Brew your tea ahead of time.
  5. Make your salt solution (with hot water) ahead of time.
  6. If you don’t make your tea and hot water ahead of time first, then use about 1/3 the amount to make a concentrated liquid then add the remaining 2/3 at a cooler temp so you don’t have to wait hours for your solution to cool – otherwise you might kill your scoby and beneficial bacteria!

GIVEAWAY

Jealous? Want your own copy?

To enter the giveaway for a copy of Fermented leave a comment for EACH of the items you complete:

Giveaway will end on Monday, August 12th at midnight!

And in a rare moment of tossing everything to the wind, we’ll make this contest open world wide! Just do us a favor and make sure to enter your e-mail when leaving a comment, otherwise we won’t be able to contact you!

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