Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sigue Sigue Sputnik

In order for the wintergreens blog to be a well-rounded place, we need to discuss bruises, rot, mistakes, failure, crashes and burns. One such crash involved the gorgeous and alien-looking kohlrabi, a vegetable as wild looking as the glam band, and in this case, as short lived.I got a most beautiful batch of white and purple kohlrabi bulbs. Excited to preserve these crisp lovelies, I moved them into a barrel of salt brine, covered them, and waited. After a few days, they smelled fantastic, and the one I sampled was crunchy and flavorful. Left to ferment longer, I was left with a big barrel of stinky rot, a struggle to get out to the compost without gagging. Slimy purple and white and black, with the stench of a dead cow.

It was my first experience with vegetables rotting that I was attempting to ferment. Up until this moment everything I'd captured under brine had preserved well, and often taken on interesting and new flavor qualities. I wondered, does kohlrabi have some special reason it can't be fermented? Nope—others have done it successfully. Was there a rotten bulb in there that caused the rest to turn? Did I not pack it tightly enough, and leave air bubbles? Was there not enough salt in the brine? Was the barrel left in too warm of a place? I'll never know, but you can bet the itch to do it again, successfully, has got to be scratched. I want kohlrabi more than ever.Spectacular failure is okay sometimes. After the eighties, we just go on.

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