When I teach fermentation classes, people are often curious what my house must look like. They are generally too polite to ask what my house smells like. The answer to both of those questions, for better or for worse, is “Ferments!” Yes, there are blooping crocks, bubbling jars, bowls of clumpy grain substances, pitchers of gelatinous SCOBYs and thickening dairy on just about every spare surface. It’s a true thing. My mom is so proud. Worse yet, when I’m prepping for a class or an event, I get the added bonus of stacks of cultures, in plastic bags or little jars, set where there’s room, and where I won’t forget them when running out the door with my arms loaded down with samples. I love this fermenty chaos, but I assume that most sane people wouldn’t necessarily be dazzled by the look of dozens of double-stacked jars wearing hoods and living on all of the shelves.
That is why, dear reader, I was elated when the wonderful people at Fillmore Container offered you up an alternative to my *cough* relaxed fermentation decor. If you aren’t yet in the know, there exists a prettier solution: the reCAP. ReCAPs are neato lids for the fermenting set. They have a hole intended for a bung and airlock (not included) and they come in a variety of colors. They look mighty pretty on the shelf, and help cut down on some of those fermenting odors that uninitiated houseguests may not enjoy (I say those folks are cray, for the record! Mmmm, kraut!). Furthermore, when fermentation is over, you can remove the airlock, flip the lid closed and stick them in the fridge. This is a much neater solution than my very handy and beloved ghetto jar method.
So we have Fillmore, a family-owned company that sells just about every container under the sun, to thank for the offer of two reCAPs. One will fit a standard mason jar and one will fit the wide-mouth version. These don’t just work great for pickles, they’re also excellent for small-batch home-brew experiments and any other type of fermented booze you may want to create. To be truthful, that is mainly what I use them for, but I also always recommend them for new or reticent fermenters on just about any project. The ease of use and the smell-deterence seem to be pretty big selling points for the new folks. Also, your mom might not think you’re turning into a crazy microbe-lady/hoarder when she comes to visit if these are neatly stacked on your shelves. Always a bonus.
SUNCHOKE PICKLES WITH reCAP
IF YOU ARE NEW TO FERMENTATION, PLEASE READ MY PICKLE PRIMER BEFORE GETTING STARTED!
Sunchokes make for truly excellent pickles, but there is one consideration with them. They need to be very well scrubbed before fermentation begins. All those little nubbins and crevices should be rubbed down, lest you end up with more than you bargained for, in the form of surface mold. Just make sure you don’t remove the whole peel in your scrubbing.
I used to call these my “Salt and Vinegar Chip” pickles, but I think their flavor is more accurately compared to fresh, crunchy, slightly nutty artichokes. Their flavor is perfect unadorned, so truly consider the spice recommendations as optional.
- 3.5 cups of sunchokes, unpeeled
- 1 scant tablespoon coarse salt, dissolved into 2 cups of room temperature water
- (optional) 2 juniper berries
- (optional) 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1-2 tablespoons vodka*
- Place spices, if using, into a quart jar.
- Thoroughly wash and scrub the sunchokes then slice into quarter inch rounds and then place them into the jar.
- Pour brine over the sunchokes and weight them down. A plastic bag filled with brine or a boiled rock will do the trick. Special pickle weights are also a great option.
- Place the reCAP with airlock on to the jar and place the jar in a room temperature spot away from direct sunlight. Leave it for 2 weeks. Taste and if it’s acidic enough for your tastes remove the airlock, close the cap and stick them in the fridge. They’re great in salads or for snacking.
*Pour vodka into the airlock. It’s a great way to keep any mold from forming if any of the starchiness of the sunchokes ends up in there.