Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fermented Red Onions and Fermented Jalapenos

More fermented foods! I have been trying a few new things here and there with fermenting. Some are great successes and other not so much. It all boils down to personal taste, as with most anything else. 

Fermented Red Onions & Jalapenos
I tried making a fermented version of Ajvar, a mixture of red bell peppers and eggplant with onion and garlic. That was a definite "no" for me. For a fermented food, it had very little flavor and nothing about it made me want to eat more. I even tried it on my eggs, but nope. That one was a dud. Another I had high hopes for was Fermented Salsa Verde. I made it with basically the same ingredients as my cooked version of Salsa Verde (which is just stupendous if I do say so myself!), even first charring the onions and garlic to add in some flavors. The resultant fermented version of this salsa was extremely tart with little to recommend it. I will likely slog through it, since I made it, but it is not a highlight. I read other comments on fermented salsas with a base of tomatillos with similar commentary. Too tart to enjoy. 

One that I tried and like just fine is Fermented Red Onion. Anyone who has used red onions will know that adding in vinegar will make them turn bright hot pink, just as it will do with red cabbage. Unfortunately with fermenting foods, adding in more than the tiniest splash of vinegar will inhibit the fermentation process. I found a recipe online at and it sounded like it might be good, so I only made the tiniest of variations, but this woman's recipe called for topping the mixture with a slice of red beet, which will give great color to the onions while they ferment, without the use of vinegar. Genius!

I chose not to chop the onions very fine, as did the person at "killerpickles". I halved the recipe, as I was not sure how they would taste and didn't want to have huge jars of something I would not eat. Ultimately, it is a wonderful tasting condiment, and would be great on hot dogs or brats, or as in the case of a couple of salads I made recently, they add great piquancy.

Fermented Red Onions

makes about 1 quart

1 pound red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 - 2 slices red beet

This is best made in a Fido type jar, with the latching mechanism. I did not use an air lock device, but left the ferment, submerged and weighted, just under the latched jar and it went well.

Prepare the onions as desired. I sliced them thinly and then did a rough chop. Place them into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss well and let the mixture set on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes. The onions will begin releasing liquid. Mix in the peppercorns and pack the mixture into a jar at least 1.2 to 1.5 quart. This mixture releases a lot of liquids. Stick the bay leaf down into the mixture as you add it to the jar. Press down the onions tightly using hands or some other tamping tool. Set the beet slice or slices on top (I used a wide jar, so I used 2 slices of small beet) and then weight the mixture with glass weights, another jar that will fit inside or very clean stones (not limestone, as they will dissolve). Clamp the lid on the jar and set the jar in a dark place, or cover it with a towel to keep out of light. Keep in a cool area (not cold!) and allow to ferment for about 6 weeks or until all signs of bubbling have ceased. 

The mixture should release enough liquid to submerge the onions, beet and weights within 24 hours. If it does not, mix a small amount of brine, using 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in 1/2 cup water and add this brine to the jar until everything is submerged by at least 1/2 inch.

Once the bubbling ceases, remove the weights and the beet slices and refrigerate. This will keep for a long while in the refrigerator. 

Fermented Red Onions & Jalapenos
When I made fermented Jalapeno peppers, I chose to slice them across into rings and push out most of the seeds. I was not being picky to get all the seeds, but I wanted to be able to eat them. I added in some carrot slices also, as I had always added carrot to my pickled Jalapenos in the past. In the case of fermenting, carrot slices help foods retain some crispness.

To make the Jalapenos:

Slice about enough peppers to make about 4 cups, packed. Press these into a 1.2 to 1.5 quart jar, adding in some carrot slices along the way. Press the peppers down well and top with a cabbage leaf or a butterflied pepper or two to help them stay submerged once topped with brine. Set a weight on top to keep everything down and pour on a brine made with: 2 - 3 tablespoons of sea salt with 1 quart of filtered water, stirring until the salt is dissolved. The brine is poured over the peppers to cover everything by about 1 inch at least. Cover the jar, preferably a clamp type jar such as a Fido. If an airlock is desired this is a great addition, to keep air out of the mixture. Air is the enemy to a proper ferment.

Ferment the jalapenos for up to 3 weeks in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate them whenever they look and taste as you prefer. They will keep for a long while in the fridge. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.