A while back, this crock came in to my life.
I loved it and looked at it quite a bit; it eventually dawned on me that the number 5 in the crown meant how many gallons it can hold. I ran my hand over the smooth, obviously hand shaped, knob on the lid. The crock was admired daily, but it basically just patiently sat there while I figured out how I was going to -utilitarianly- use the darn thing. AND THEN...
I got a little crush on fermentation after reading Sandor Katz's cult classic, "Wild Fermentation". Suddenly I was throwing anything and everything into that 'ol crock; it is one of my most favorite processes now because not only are the results scrumptious, the concept is so very resourceful! In the winter, I tend to collect up any vegetable left lying around each Sunday, roast whatever it is, and then tuck it into the following week's dinners. Deflated red pepper? Roast it! Limp bits of kale and broccoli? Roast them! Now, with the warmer months, I turn to my crock: Soggy cabbage? Ferment it! Handful of garden radishes from Dad? Ferment them!
With lots of company coming for Memorial Day, I needed to accomplish 2 things today: clean out the fridge to make room, make a side dish for the weekend. After assessing what I pulled from the fridge, KIMCHI was the clear answer. Listen, I barely know how to pronounce it, but it is delicious stuff: healthful and refreshing. Basically, it's a slaw made of cabbage, carrots, and multiple types of radishes. The slaw is brined for 24 hours and then fermented with a ginger hot pepper paste for about 1 week. I'm so over the moon about making it that I even bought the board insert to help make fermentation go that much smoother. Bonus: it's helpful when I make sauerkraut too.
You can find kimchi recipes all over the Internet or, of course in Katz's book. I have found that coarsely chopping the seasonings and then blending them into a paste for the fermentation process works beautifully. If the paste gets too thick, just add some of the brine from your vegetables to it. Most recipes call for a heavy hand with the hot peppers, but I prefer to cut it back by half.
The crock hangs out in my pantry and I check on it daily while it is fermenting. After 7 days or so, I taste it. depending on the level of scrumptiousness, I either let it carry on another few days, or I transfer it into smaller jars, making sure to add enough brine to cover the vegetables, and then store it in a cool, dark spot in my basement.
Friends, I challenge you: Go peek in at the leftover vegetables in your fridge and show 'em who's boss!