This weekend I attended Philly BarCamp, if you don’t know what BarCamp is, you should check out this link. It’s an excellent, fun, nerd-filled unconference in which participants show up to learn and teach. If it sounds a little chaotic, it is. This year, we had a great app to help manage sessions and schedule, which was enormously convenient.
I attended some truly wonderful sessions, including one on language and design, one on Net Neutrality and how screwed we pretty much are and one on expertise. These sessions were so good, that when I decided to give my own semi-unplanned fermentation talk late in the afternoon, I was actually quite nervous. I say “actually quite” because I really enjoy public speaking, and there are few things I like talking about more than fermentation. But it turned out fine! I had a really active and inquisitive group that grew rather than shrank as my talk continued. And though I might have scared some people with my political angst about anti-bacterial soaps and the American fear of mold and microscopic life, I hope at least most people learned something. I plied them with samples of apple cider kefir, kimchi, desem sourdough bread and carrot and radish pickles. As a bonus, I’ve been invited to join up with a few people as the Head of Food Preservation when the zombie apocalypse inevitably comes.
So, in honor of BarCamp, and the many awesome nerds who gave their participation, time and expertise to make it a great day, I give you a ferment every nerd can love: a fractal pickle! Be warned, this is an advanced pickle. Not because making this is in anyway challenging, but because sometimes cauliflower, broccoli and their close relatives have an especially funky odor in a lacto-fermented pickle. I love it! But you might want to try a smallish batch to make sure those you feed will like it too.
2 small heads romanesco broccoli, or any other fractable (get it? fractal + vegetable) you find at the farmers’ market
4-8 cups of brine, depending on the size of your container (I used a half gallon jar, tightly packed and used about 7 cups of brine)
- Rinse Romanesco well
- Pull heads apart into individual points
- Pack heads tightly but carefully into container. Avoid crushing or breaking them
- Pour brine (I like 1T of salt: 2 c water) over vegetables until they are totally submerged
- Place a weight (a rock, my cheapo jar submersion system, your crock weights) on top of vegetables to make sure they remain underneath the surface of the brine
- Place jar in a room temperature spot away from direct sunlight and other ferments
- Let it sit for 1-3 weeks, depending on your acidity preference
- Go look at pictures of other beautiful fractals or learn about them from the master