Categories
Ferments

Kosho

This past weekend’s Virtual Ferment Fest was an absolutely fabulous, heart-lifting, globe-spanning microbial love fest. For  the festival, I did a short and sweet demo on making kosho, a citrus and hot pepper paste and also my favorite condiment for all occasions. Watch me ham it up for the camera here. Or follow the written recipe below.

I like doing these demos, and want to make them a regular thing. If there is a fermentation technique (or other kitchen skill!) you’d like to be guided through live, shoot me an email at sunshineandmicrobes@gmail.com.

As you’ll see, this is more a loose guide than a recipe. I’m not telling you what exactly to use or how much. I want you to use your sensorial judgment. Be confident in your kitchen abilities and taste as you go!

Ingredients

  • Citrus (whatever you like, but skip the super sweet stuff like oranges, or use sparingly in combination with more acidic options like lemons and limes)
  • Hot peppers (pick your poison)
  • Salt

Step-by-step

  • Slice off a small segment of citrus that includes the rind and take a bite. If it isn’t crazy bitter, use the entire fruit. Simply slice and deseed. 
    If it is unpleasantly bitter, just use the rind and juice (not the white pith between the fruit and peel). Feel free to mix different types of citrus together. As for quantity, 2-3 medium lemons will make approximately 1 cup of kosho.
  • Prep the hot peppers.
    -If using a super hot variety, you may want to remove the seeds and interior white veins.
    -If using something milder, simply remove the stem.
    As for quantity, it’s all about preference. If I’m using something very mild like Shishito pepper, I might do equal parts citrus and peppers. If using something very hot, I’ll just throw one or two peppers in. For two lemons, one or two jalapeños is plenty hot for me. 
  • Blend citrus and hot peppers together in food processor. I prefer the consistency a bit on the chunky side.
  • Tightly pack the mixture into a clean mason jar, removing as many air pockets from the mixture as possible.
  • Weigh the contents of the jar to calculate how much salt to add. 
    An easy way to do this is by getting two jars of the same type — one empty and one filled with the mixture. Weigh the empty one on a kitchen scale, and press “tare” on the scale. Then switch it out for the filled jar. 
    Calculate 2 percent the weight of the mixture in salt. So if the mixture weighs 250 g, that would be 5 g salt, about a teaspoon’s worth. Also, don’t feel like bothering with weighing out all the ingredients? A teaspoon or two of salt per cup of citrus-pepper mixture should be just right.
  • Sprinkle the salt on top of the mixture. Use a wet cloth to clean the exposed interior sides of the jar and remove any bits of the mixture clinging to the walls (it’s unlikely, but they could get moldy).
  • Loosely cover and allow to ferment at room temperature for three days to two weeks. Since this is such a salty, acidic environment, it’s highly unlikely that any mold will grow on the mixture. If for whatever reason it does, just use a clean spoon and carefully skim it off, and then wipe again the interior sides of the jar.
  • When happy with the flavor, seal tightly and store in the fridge indefinitely.


Categories
Kitchen Basics

Infused Salt & Sugar

Infusing salt and sugar with different flavors is a simple technique that can class up any meal. I love finishing a salad with a sprinkle of citrus salt, or dusting the top of cookies with vanilla-cardamom sugar. A jar also makes for a lovely (easy! cheap!) holiday gift. I’ve included some potential inspiration below, but let your own culinary creativity guide you.

Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt or sugar (I recommend a nice quality granulated sugar or a course or flaky salt like Maldon. Something with a textural crunch.)
  • 2 tablespoons dry flavoring of choice 

Step-by-step

Prep flavoring
  • Fresh ingredients will need to be dried (spread on a baking sheet in an oven on the lowest temperature until dry to the touch). Large ingredients can be crumbled or blended (in a spice grinder or high-powered blender) so that they incorporate easily. 
    Powders and other smaller ingredients like crumbled dried herbs or fennel seeds do not need any additional prep. 
Mix it
  • Mix flavorings with salt or sugar. Can be stored in an airtight container in the cupboard indefinitely.

Notes

Flavor Combinations:
Citrus Salt: Use that fancy new microplane grater you got for Christmas to remove the zest or a variety of (preferably unwaxed) citrus
Chili Herb Salt. Mix in equal parts red pepper flakes and a variety of herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme
Mushroom Salt: Use dried porcini mushrooms (processed to a powder). Kick it up a notch with lime zest and black sesame seeds
Vanilla Salt: Perfect for topping chocolate chip cookies. Use a pairing knife to scrape out the black magic inside a vanilla bean.
Black Garlic Salt: Slice, dry, and powder black garlic, which can be found in specialty food shops (or made at home!)
Chai Sugar: Use a tablespoon each of cinnamon and ginger, teaspoon cardamom, pinch of clove, nutmeg, black pepper, and black tea leaves
Matcha Sugar: Use matcha powder. For additional nutrition and Florida foraging bonafides, blend in some dried and powdered moringa.
Rosemary Fennel Sugar: Use dried rosemary and fennel seeds. For the best shortbread cookies ?
Mexican Chocolate Sugar: Use a tablespoon high quality cocoa powder, teaspoon cinnamon, teaspoon chili powder (ancho or chipotle would be nice)
Grapefruit Mint Sugar: Use grapefruit zest and dried mint
Categories
Misc

Salt-preserved Citrus

I am really into this simple preserve. I fill jars with all types of citrus in Florida when the trees are fruiting throughout the year.

Equipment

  • a glass jar that your fist can fit inside

Ingredients

  • Citrus. Any kind at all!

  • Salt. You’ll need a lot, but it need not be fancy so nothing too fancy

Step-by-step

  • Prep the citrus by washing it, slicing off the little nubs on the ends, and cutting into the shape of your choosing.  Slice into quarters but not all the way through. The quarters still should be attached at one end of the fruit. Or you can slice, dice, or chop the fruit into whatever size and shape you desire. You can even keep fruits whole for small stuff like kumquats or finger limes.
    Find a jar that your fist can fit inside. Add about a half inch of salt to the bottom.
  • Douse each citrus piece in salt (if using the semi-attached quarters method be sure to get salt all up inside of the citrus) and pack them tightly in the jar. Smoosh each additional piece of citrus into the jar. The goal is to remove any air bubbles and replace them with a salty brine created by the juice that’s expelled through the smooshing process. If the citrus isn’t fully covered in liquid, add more salt and smoosh more.
  • Once at the top of the jar, add another half-inch or more of salt, seal tightly, and stick on the counter for a few weeks or a few months. The longer the better. The salt will preserve the citrus and transform the flavor and texture of the fruit. After a while, the salty-brine will thicken into a pleasing goo. If left out for more than a few weeks, open it up and press down the contents of the jar (with clean hands) every once in a while to ensure the citrus stays beneath the brine.
  • If the citrus isn’t completely submerged in the brine, a bit of mold might grow on the parts of the fruit exposed to oxygen. Not the end of the world. Remove those pieces and keep going. Everything underneath the brine will be A-OK.
    These sour bad boys will keep in the fridge indefinitely.