Digging Deeper: Meet Contributor Sophie MacKenzie


In our Digging Deeper series we introduce you to some of the contributors in our new issue TRADE. We hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at how some of the pieces came to be, and the stories behind these inspiring makers, doers, and dreamers.

Find Sophie's piece "Sea Change: A Guide to Edible Sea Vegetables" in the HANDS section of Issue 23 :: TRADE.

You write and blog about whole foods, with delicious, plant-based recipes and beautiful photographs. What first brought you to this world of food blogging?

Blogging was something I thought about for a long time before I actually made the plunge to put my recipes out there. I’ve always been one of those people who is into baking, cooking with natural ingredients, and feeding others. Our house was always the house people would come to and not leave without being fed, so I learned from an early age how to make a one pot dish to feed at least a dozen people.

After I graduated from university, I was left working full time in an organic wood fire bakery in Victoria, B.C. and felt a little lost. School had given me a project to work on and direction in life, and I knew that I needed to create my own ‘home work’ outside of my typical day to day work. Writing and recipe development naturally fit the bill. Then by chance, Demetria Provatas interned at the bakery I worked at. She was really into blogging at that time and having another person to discuss the process and to set up fun photo shoots with, made me fall in love with it even more

Tell us a little bit about the recipes you create.  Where do you find your inspiration? 

I grew up in a rural environment surrounded by the bounty of the west coast. We had chickens for eggs, goats for milk, and a huge veggie garden. My parents are really big into celebrating the seasons, so we would always make the most of whatever wild berry, or local produce was abundant. I was lucky enough to have parents who came of age in the 70’s and still held onto their hippie roots. Every meal we ate was homemade and enjoyed around the table as a family. Fresh brown bread, tofu, and sprouts were everyday occurrence to me. To amuse myself as a child, I would spend hours looking at my mum’s old 70’s cookbooks (Diet for a small Planet being her favourite), and ended up using them to make all my first meals (like whole wheat wacky cake). They totally shaped the way I think of a meal to this day. Whether it be for the blog or our suppers at home,  I still find inspiration in the west coast hippie tradition of my childhood and the food I grew up on. I like to take the traditional ‘hippie’ foods and try to give them a more modern spin while also adding in some of the ideas and flavours I’ve picked up along my travels.
 
                      

 

 

 


In this issue of Taproot you focus on seaweed, with its many varieties, uses and benefits. I’d love to hear more about your explorations in cooking with seaweed.

Maybe it’s in part because I eat vegan, but seaweed is something I crave - maybe it’s the iron - so I love to add it to as many dishes as I can. My brother and sister in law live in Japan, so whenever I visit them, I’m always picking up new seaweed ideas and tricks. We have such good seaweed here on the west coast too, and it’s so readily available, I feel like it’s a crime not to use it. Another reason I love it, is because all my ancestral roots are  in Scotland and the northern U.K., so I feel like eating seaweed is in part revisiting my ancestral past.

Lately, I’ve been super into adding seaweed to breads like focaccia, sourdough loaves, as well as things like savoury scones and muffins. And vegan pate! Kelp powder in vegan pate is the best, especially with some potato and mushrooms.. Sometimes a dish doesn't always turn out as planned, but most of the time the seaweed adds a nice earthy and salty flavour that I can get behind.

What projects do you have in the works? What’s next for you that you’re particularly excited about?

I really want to focus on the blog a bit more and add more natural DIY’s to it. While food is still my passion, I want to include more recipes for natural living like homemade soaps, creams, and natural hair care. I’m very much into making salves and body products at the moment, and hoping others are too.

You can find more from Sophie at wholeheartedeats.com.

August 16, 2017 by Rachel McDonald

Digging Deeper with Taproot: Meet Contributor Jessica Long

In our Digging Deeper series we introduce you to some of the contributors in our upcoming issue TRADE. We hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at how some of the pieces came to be, and the stories behind these inspiring makers, doers, and dreamers.

Jessica Long is a new contributor to Taproot and we're excited to introduce her to you! You'll find her embroidery pattern "Be the Light" in the HANDS section of TRADE. Thanks to Jessica for taking the time to share these stories with us!

You haven’t always worked with embroidery. I understand you were a scientist first. How did you first discover embroidery and get started down this path?

Once I had my son I hung up my lab coat for the opportunity to be a stay at home mom.  When I finally caught up on sleep I realized my hands and heart were aching to get back into creating. Prior to becoming a mother I enjoyed oil painting during my down time but I found that art form challenging with a baby. A friend posted some of her embroidery work on social media and I was intrigued. I tried out a kit I purchased on Etsy and was immediately hooked! Two years later I am now designing my own patterns and kits and I can’t seem to put the needle down. I had every intention of eventually returning to the lab but now I am keeping my options open. I still have to pinch myself some days. I can’t believe I am actually getting paid to do art!

What was that transition like? Have you found any similarities between your past work and embroidery?

Challenging! I didn’t realize how caught up my sense of self was with my job in biotech until it was gone. Plus, being a first time mother of a young child was very difficult for me and I struggled with anxiety. Both the meditative arts of embroidery and yoga really saved me. Having a piece of myself outside of my new role as mother helped me to re-center. Now that my passion has grown from my own personal therapy into a business I am faced with new challenges.

Embroidery and Fermentation Science both require patience! Watching microbes grow can be about as exciting as paint drying and I am sure some people feel the same way about hand embroidery. I also try to approach embroidery with some scientific principles: always keep learning, try new things, be willing to admit when wrong and start over with a new approach, don’t fear being wrong as it is part of the process, share your findings with the community.

You’ve occasionally used your work to voice your political beliefs.  How do you approach incorporating political views into your art?  

I try to keep it minimal. Politics are extremely important, but so is a reprieve from the insanity! I create art and stitch to relax and make something beautiful. I try to share that sense of serenity to my followers on social media, to give them a little island of peace in their day.

What advice do you have to others out there who might be thinking of taking the leap, and trying out a new creative endeavor like you did?  

Don’t give up! And be sure to do something you love.  Give yourself space for your own personal art in addition to creating what your audience wants.  I often have to remind myself why I started stitching.   Without the followers and the sales I would still be here creating art.

What’s next? What projects do you have in the works right now?
 
Right now I am designing a limited holiday collection and hoping to start back on my Creative Ladies Series.  Business has been delightfully busy but as a result my own personal projects have been sitting in a dusty drawer for over a year now!  I am very excited to revisit them.

You can find more from Jessica at namastehandembroidery.com.

 

 

August 14, 2017 by Rachel McDonald

Digging Deeper with Taproot: Meet Contributor Hannah Welling

In anticipation of the launch of Issue 23::TRADE later this month, we got in touch with some of the issue's contributors. We wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at how their pieces in TRADE came to be and dig a little deeper into the stories behind these inspiring makers, doers, and dreamers.

For the second interview in the series we talked to Hannah Welling whose piece "Mushrooms for All: North Spore Talks Business" you'll find in the HEAD section of TRADE. Thanks to Hannah for taking the time to share these stories with us! 

From photography to fiber to farming, you embody much of what Taproot is all about! Could you tell us a little more about what has inspired the path you’ve chosen?

Oh thank you! As it is with most people, my path has not necessarily been a straight one, but all of my experiences along the way have contributed to the place I am in. I knew in high school that I wanted to be a photographer, and so went on to college to study studio photography, but after four years, I realized I really didn’t like being cooped up in the studio. I loved interacting with people, and traveling. It was on a trip to Cuba my senior year that I discovered my real passion in the field. After graduation, I went to New York City and interviewed for an internship at Time magazine, which is what I thought I wanted. However, after spending the majority of my three days there on a subway, I emailed the magazine and basically told them that I could not see myself living in the city. I felt suffocated. So, I moved back to Maine and assisted, then later shot alongside, a local photographer who had a background in photojournalism. She taught me a lot about photoshop and digital photography, which was only just appearing on the scene the year I graduated. We parted ways when I married my husband and had our first child, and I began shooting a lot of editorial work for publications like Down East magazine and the New York Times.

Through it all, though I loved shooting stories around my native Maine, I had a very hard time getting behind the work. I felt like I was advertising a false image of the State; an exclusive view afforded only to the wealthiest of its residents and tourists. I grew up in a much more rural area of Maine, with no TV, and always with a large vegetable garden. My brother and I ran wild for most of the time…building hideouts, riding our bikes, running barefoot through the woods, etc.  So, that way of life continued to call to me.

When I was pregnant with our second child, I became quite ill, and that illness carried on for about three years. It turned out to be chronic lyme disease, which took years, and 13 doctors, to get diagnosed. During periods of that time, I had to spend a lot of time on the couch. It drove me crazy to not be accomplishing things, and I found that knitting filled some of that longing. I could feel a sense of satisfaction with completion of a project, but not have to spend a lot of energy. I also had to stop working as a photographer because there were days that I couldn’t even get out of bed.

With the diagnosis and help of a naturopath, I slowly began to recover, and as I did, things more or less fell into place. My parents purchased 40 acres in New Gloucester, and we bought the house that was on the property. I felt an undeniable urge to give our children the same experiences I had growing up, with the addition of a farm. Fiber was such a comfort to me when I was sick, and so fiber animals seemed like a perfect fit, though I knew nothing about raising them at the time. Simultaneously, photography was gradually finding a place in my life again, and I was finding joy in photographing things that really meant something to me. It has not been an easy path, but I feel strongly that it is the right one. This lifestyle allows me to homeschool our children, create a loving, healthy and creative home, and also contribute to our family’s needs all while feeling like I am promoting a meaningful way of life. 

What first sparked your interest in writing about North Spore Mushroom company?

Well, let’s see. This may sound a little backward, but it was actually their physical beauty. There is something very mysterious and magical about mushrooms; and they have been portrayed as such throughout history, in storybooks and illustrations. There is a thread of magic in everything that has to do with the natural world, and I strive to have that come through in my photographs. I am fascinated with form and nature’s perfect design. My mother is an artist, and I always marveled at her ability to create art from her imagination. I could only draw or photograph what was right in front of me. I struggled with that for a long time, and only now can I embrace it. I love to go close up, to smell and taste, and manipulate light to recreate what it would feel like for the viewer to actually experience that object or place with all of their senses. Amanda and I had discussed the idea of a piece on mushrooms for a little while, and North Spore seemed like a perfect place to start. Mycology can be an overwhelming topic to people, as it was to me, when you approach it from a foraging perspective. But, growing your own one species at a time? That seems a little more welcoming to the beginner. Northspore has done an amazing job at making basic mushroom education accessible to the general public.

Could you tell us a little more about your experience visiting their warehouse?

I have so much admiration and respect for them. The space is wonderful, and they were nothing but welcoming to me, and both my children, who were along for the experience. The warehouse fits in perfectly with their whole image…slightly hipster, but completely accessible. Truly, a photographer’s dream; gorgeous light, clean spaces.  And you won’t meet three nicer guys!



You have gorgeous photographs from that visit and others.  How did you first become interested in photography?  And what sort of other explorations has it led you to?

Thank you! I became interested in high school, but that was when everything was still strictly analog. I started out by taking a course or two at MECA, and pretty much made up my mind after that. I have always been artistic, but again, drawn to replicate what was right in front of me, rather than from my imagination. I find deep pleasure at being able to recreate the feeling of something I am seeing. I can’t always convey to the audience exactly what I am seeing and feeling with all my senses, but that’s the goal each time I photograph. What does it smell like? And what would that smell look like? What would it feel like to touch it? For a while I became quite disenchanted with the direction in which photography was headed; technology and post production weighted more heavily than the original capture. I really loved the slowness of it, and the equipment. Looking through the lens of a medium format camera is still a completely different experience than through the lens of a digital camera. My favorite camera to shoot with, when I find time, is still a Contax 6x4.5 medium format film camera. 

What other projects do you have in the works right now? Anything we should look out for? 

Oh projects! Yes, lots of those. The current project is getting fiber ready to sell at the Common Ground Fair, which is in September. My fiber is a 60% finn sheep/40% Mohair blend, all from our own naturally raised animals. It’s soft enough to wear next to the skin, and has beautiful luster. I’ve been doing a lot of natural dyeing, and that in itself is so much fun. This is my first year with a booth at the fair, so I’m very excited! Longer term, there are some photography projects I hope to keep chipping away at, including one about the “real” Maine. Having grown up in this beautiful state, I want people to know there is more to Maine than lighthouses and potatoes, but also feel a sense of duty to preserve the inherent culture of passing generations. Recipes, photographs, stories, etc. tied together with history of the land. 

You can find more from Hannah Welling at her blog: www.mindfulfolkfarm.com.

August 09, 2017 by Rachel McDonald

Digging Deeper with Taproot: Meet Contributor Rachel Wolf

 

 


In anticipation of the launch of Issue 23::TRADE later this month, we got in touch with some of the issue's contributors. We wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at how their pieces in TRADE came to be and dig a little deeper into the stories behind these inspiring makers, doers, and dreamers.

First up, is our interview with Rachel Wolf whose piece "Turmeric For Health" you'll find in the HANDS section of TRADE. Thanks to Rachel for taking the time to share these stories with us! 

In this issue of Taproot you focus on turmeric, with its various uses and health benefits.  I’d love to hear more about your explorations with turmeric.  Do you have any personal favorites of the recipes you share in this issue?

 

I fell in love with turmeric a few years ago when I found it was recommended for inflammation. I started making and drinking Cardamom and Ginger Golden Paste with my daughter and we both couldn't get enough! In the fall and winter we drink it nearly every night. I started recommending it to everyone - my team at work, my mom and sister - pretty much anyone who would listen - as a great way to naturally and gently reduce inflammation.

When I was testing the recipes for this issue, though, I had a hard time keeping the Turmeric Almond Bits around long enough to photograph! My daughter and her friends were constantly sneaking them out of the bowl between photographs. I'd call that a success.


 

 

 

 

You run an herbal body care company, LüSa Organics. How did you first get involved in this, and how has the company evolved?

I started making body care way back in the mid 1990's after reading an article in a magazine about a soapmaking family. The magazine belonged to my mom and I kept borrowing her copy to obsess over the art-meets-science romantic notion of homemade soap. Finally my mom bought me a book about soapmaking and a few months later I made my first batch. I was immediately hooked.

From soaps I moved into balms, oils, and scrubs and before I knew it I had an over-grown hobby/business on my hands. I had a career at the time, but my evenings and weekends were spent dreaming up and making products. In 2002 I left my career to stay home with my first baby. I began making mama- and baby-care products at this time, as well as incorporating herbs in my products. Honestly, I think that's really when the magic began to happen. Because herbal infusions take everything to a whole different level. 

 

By the time our second child was born my husband quit his job as well and we made it a full-on family business. That's when we renamed our business LüSa Organics, after our two kids Lupine and Sage.  I can't believe that was almost 11 years ago! 

Tell us a little bit about the products and recipes you create.  Where do you find your inspiration?  

Each product line seems to spin off from my current chapter in life. Body care evolved into mama and baby care, and now, with a 15 and 10 year old at home, I'm experimenting with a line of products for teens. (I'm also experimenting with products for men, because my husband deserves a good smelling beard balm after all these years of making body care with me.) I'm 44 now, so I expect that means I'll launch a line for mature skin soon!

Other inspiration comes from the wild plants I see around me. As an example, last year I noticed an abundance of nettle and horsetail growing together along our creek. I knew that both plants were wonderful for hair, so I was inspired me to make an infused Sea Spray. 

What projects do you have in the works?  What’s next for you that you’re particularly excited about?

Last fall I started offering women's herbal retreats - intimate gatherings of women coming together to relax, learn about herbs, make remedies together. I've offered two so far and have a third coming up this fall. (A couple of Taproot readers have driven across a few state lines to attend, and it's been such an honor to meet and make remedies with these inspiring women.) I'm also offering a parent-child herbal summer camp at the end of August that is going to be such fun! I can hardly wait.

You can find more from Rachel Wolf at her blog: lusaorganics.typepad.com and her business: www.lusaorganics.com.

August 07, 2017 by Rachel McDonald

From the Archives :: Grilled Zucchini Caprese Salad

From Issue 10::SEED. Recipe by Rikki Snyder.

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Salad 
This is my family’s spin on the classic Caprese salad. When you’re grilling this summer, throw some zucchini on the grill and add it into your Caprese salad. It makes a perfect side dish to beef or chicken and is even hearty enough to eat on its own paired with a nice crusty bread. 

Ingredients:
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
20–30 fresh basil leaves
3 cups sliced zucchini
olive oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper
minced garlic

Instructions:
1. Grill zucchini and combine in a large bowl with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
2. Season with salt, pepper, and desired amount of minced garlic.
3. Drizzle with olive oil, toss and serve.

July 27, 2017 by Amanda Soule

Taproot at the Renegade Craft Fair ~ Boston, Massachusetts

Taproot Magazine at Renegade Craft Fair, Boston MA
June 24-25
Saturday and Sunday 11 - 6

We're happy to be at the Renegade Craft Fair this weekend! We hope to see you there! 
June 23, 2017 by Amanda Soule

Join us for Taproot's GROW Makealong!


It's time for our next Taproot Makealong, GROW! It's easy, all you need to do to join is make something from the Hands section of GROW, and share it with us for a chance at the crafty grand prize (pictured above).

~ Make anything from the Hands section of GROW, Issue 22 of Taproot. Knit, bake, create, color, whatever your passion is, go for it! 

~ Post your progress and finished creations on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #taprootmakealong

We'll draw a winner from the posted photos by September 1st, and send the grand prize off to the lucky winner! The grand prize includes: a 12 Issue Subscription to Taproot Magazine, enough Quince & Co. yarn to complete the farmer's market bag featured in GROW, A GROW Project Kit (more details below), a Twig & Horn gauge reader,  Taproot Ceramic Mug, Fiery Ferments and The Wildcrafted Cocktail

We hope you'll join us! 

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GROW Project Kit ~ Summer Rain Shawl by Leah B. Thibault
The intermediate pattern for this lightweight shawl is in GROW. Our limited edition project kit has all the yarn you need to create one shawl (available in two color choices). It comes bundled inside our new screenprinted Taproot project bags (made by our Vermont neighbors, Evan Webster Ink, featuring the artwork of Phoebe Wahl).

June 14, 2017 by Amanda Soule

Taproot Events: Mother Earth News Fair ~ Burlington, Vermont

Taproot Magazine at Mother Earth News Fair, Burlington VT
June 10-11
Saturday 9 - 6 and Sunday 9 - 5

We're happy to be at the Mother Earth News Fair this weekend, bringing the pages of Taproot to life in our tent with many friends and contributors leading demos, workshops and discussions all weekend long. Plus raffle prizes! You can find us outside, near the Blue Ribbon Pavillion. We hope to see you there! 

Taproot Tent Schedule 
SATURDAY
10am, Elderberry Syrup Making with Kate Spring from Good Heart Farmstead
Come learn how to make elderberry syrup at home to nourish your family all year long.  Learn about the medicinal qualities of elderberry, the basics of growing your own, and sample the syrup from the live demo; pre-made syrup will also be available for purchase.

2pm, Seed Starting Demo with Kate Spring from Good Heart Farmstead
Get your hands in the soil at this interactive seed-starting workshop.  You'll learn how to grow pea shoots and micro-greens at home with just a few simple supplies.  We'll finish with pea shoot and micro-green taste tests.

4pm Kraut 101 with Kirsten Shockey
Learn the basics of fermenting in this hands-on workshop that will send you home with your own kraut! 

SUNDAY
10am Homeschooling on the Homestead with Kirsten Shockey
Come join us for a discussion about homeschooling, share your experience, and hear from others.

All Day, Sunday - Natural Dyeing with Tammy White from Wing and a Prayer Farm
Learn about natural dye, meet special members of the farm, and maybe try your hand at dyeing too! We'll also have a small trunk show sale of fiber from Wing and a Prayer Farm.
June 08, 2017 by Amanda Soule

Taproot Contributors :: Kirsten & Christopher Shockey’s Fiery Ferments

Editor's Note:

Kirsten K. Shockey has been a frequent contributor to Taproot - both in our pages and at our events across the country! A mother, homesteader, gardener, and fermintista extraordinaire, she is releasing a new book today created with her husband Christopher. In Fiery Ferments (available in our shop among other places!), you'll find accessible and inspiring recipes for all home fermenters, this time with a bit of zing! Today, courtesy of Storey Publishing, we share with you an excerpt from the new book.

~Amanda Blake Soule 

(Excerpted from Fiery Ferments, © by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey, photography by © Lara Ferroni, used with permission from Storey Publishing. Top Photography by © Lara Ferroni. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.)

Thai-Inspired Green Bean Relish
Yield: About 1 quart        
Technique: Kimchis, Relishes, and Salads        
Heat Index: 3

This green bean relish is hot and crunchy. Its heat comes on slowly, after you have tasted the other flavors, which makes it unique. Then it lingers with a full-body warming effect. If you want more burn, simply add more Thai peppers.

1 pound green beans
1 teaspoon salt
13 fresh or dried Thai dragon chiles (or Thai bird’s eye chiles), chopped with seeds
1 medium shallot, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thai basil
2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 1-inch segment

1. First prepare the green beans. Your goal is small slices, and how you get there is really up to you. We use a mandoline and are able to achieve a consistent, thin, slightly diagonal crosswise slice. If you don’t have a mandoline, you may julienne your beans or use the slicer blade on a food processor. However you do it, when the green beans are thinly sliced, sprinkle in the salt and mix well.

2. Add the chiles, shallot, and Thai basil, and massage the whole mixture together. This ferment will not look very juicy.
3. Line the bottom of a quart jar with the stalks of lemongrass, then pack the green bean mixture in tightly, pressing out any air pockets as you go.
4. Press a ziplock bag against the surface of the relish, fill the bag with water, and zip it closed.
5. Place the jar in a corner of the kitchen to cure. If you see air pockets, remove the bag, press the ferment back down with a clean utensil, rinse the bag, and replace.
6. Allow to ferment for 10 to 21 days. The relish is ready when you see the color of the green beans mute; you may also see a cloudiness develop in the brine. The ferment will have a pleasing acidic smell and taste pickle-y, and it may also have a bit of an effervescent zing. You can let it ferment longer for more sour and punch.
7. Screw on the lid and store in the fridge, where the relish will keep for up to 12 months. 

A Step-by-Step Visual Guide
Kimchis, Relishes, and Salads

This “dry brine” method is the basis for some of the juicier ferments in this book that have more texture because their vegetables are cubed, grated, or sliced. Some of the kimchi-type ferments use this technique, though the traditional kimchi method requires a two-step process.

This very simple, bare-bones fermentation strategy uses any jar (no matter the size or shape) and a ziplock freezer bag. However, you can use the general technique with any of the myriad fermentation setups out there.

1. Use a knife, mandoline, or food processor to prepare the ingredients as indicated in the recipe. Add the salt, massaging it in to develop a moist ferment. Some ferments will have a scant brine, while others will be downright juicy.


2. Pack the vegetables carefully into a jar, pressing out any air pockets as you go. Leave the top quarter of the jar free.

3. Press a ziplock bag against the surface of the ferment, fill the bag with water, and zip it closed. 

4. Set the jar in a corner of the kitchen, in a spot that is between 55 and 75°F (13 and 24°C). Let it ferment for the time indicated in the recipe.
5. During the fermentation period, watch for air pockets forming in the ferment. If you see any, adjust the ziplock, pressing it gently on the ferment until the pockets disappear. Or remove the bag, press the ferment down with a clean utensil, rinse the bag, and replace.
6. Following fermentation, screw on the lid and store the jar in the refrigerator. 

Kimchi’s Extra Step
For some people, kimchi is synonymous with fiery ferment. Though kimchi is often hot and spicy, that is not what defines it. Kimchi is simply the Korean word for pickled or fermented vegetables. There are hundreds of varieties of traditional kimchis and even more individual takes on the theme. Many of them are made with a two-step process.

We like to explain this process as a hybrid of brine pickling and dry brining. The napa cabbage, or whatever vegetable you’re using, is left to soak in a brine solution for 6 to 8 hours. During this time (as with brine pickling), the vegetable soaks up brine; salt penetrates it by osmosis and dehydrates it. The soaked vegetable is now set up for fermentation from the inside out.

At this point, the soaked veggie is removed from the brine and mixed with plenty of pungent flavors — gochugaru, garlic, and ginger — as well as other vegetables that have not been soaking. These ingredients begin to break down and release their own juices, rather like dry brining. The mixture is then packed into a jar, submerged in its own brine (no soaking brine is added), and left to ferment for the appointed time.

The extra time and planning that go into making traditional kimchi are worth it for the flavor. We use this two-step method for greens- and cabbage-based kimchis but have also included a few kimchi recipes that are made like a simple relish, with no extra step.

Curing Notes
Be sure to watch for air pockets. The thicker ferments may or may not show a lot of “heave” as the CO2 tries to escape. The thicker the ferment, the harder it can be for the CO2 to wiggle its way up and out. Sometimes, when air pockets have been developing in the ferment for a few days, a bitter flavor develops. If this happens, press out the air pockets and allow the mixture to ferment for another week or more, keeping an eye out for more air pockets. Often the flavor will right itself.

Conversely, these ferments, especially if they have a lot of fresh peppers in them, can be exceedingly dynamic, heaving and surging and hard to control the first few days. Even with an airlock system this can happen (the swelling ferment can fill your airlock and keep spreading right on out if it is that active). This is nothing to worry about; it is normal. You can plan for energetic fermentation by leaving extra headspace at the top of your vessel to accommodate the movement. If it is too late and you are staring at a mess all over your counter, don’t worry — everything inside the vessel is just fine. Open the vessel, press everything down, replace any weights, wipe off the inside walls with a clean cloth or paper towel, and put everything back to ferment. These initial over-the-top “explosions” may happen once or twice, but usually the ferment will then calm down enough to stay contained.

May 30, 2017 by Amanda Soule