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Fall/ Preserving Know-how

Autumn Herb Bouquets

Herb Bouquet

The winds are blowing, the evenings are cool, and the end of season is in sight. But before the weather turns, it’s time to pick the final herb bouquets to dry, freeze and store for winter. Of course, using them fresh while they last is wonderful too!

Freezing:

Some herbs are better frozen than dried because the drying process reduces flavour. A typical freezing method is chopping herbs, adding a bit of water, and placing them in ice cube trays. They can be tossed into a soup, sauce, or pasta. I also chop herbs like mint and cilantro in amounts required for favorite recipes. One or two tablespoons of the herbs are placed in tiny mini paper bags I found at Michael’s. I freeze sage whole in wax paper as shown above and then placed in a small freezer bag. Since I love sage with squash and sweet potatoes, I will often freeze the cooked vegetables with sage and brown butter for use later in the season.

Drying:

I have a dehydrator, but I don’t bother with it for herbs. They dry well using less energy-consuming methods. For smaller quantities I put bunches in a paper bag with air holes created using a hole punch. Each bag is labelled and tied to my portable laundry rack. Pictured above are various herbs that will be used for home-made Herbes de Provence. For larger quantities such as those I use for teas (mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, bergamot), I hang them on my main laundry room rack (until there’s no more room for my husband’s shirts!). Drying can also be done in the oven simply by placing herb leaves on a screen, perforated pizza disk or a cookie sheet. Turn on the oven light and leave the herbs to dry overnight. Small amounts can be dried quickly in the microwave. Thyme (my most used herb), basil, parsley, savoury, tarragon, lavender, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, bay laurel and chives are all suitable for drying. If you are drying herbs, thoroughly shake and dust them off but don’t rinse them. The water can contribute to mold growth.

Fresh:

Capturing the end of season herbs is every cook’s delight. Take pesto for example. Use up basil, parsley & chives in a traditional pestos. Get creative with a sage-parsley and toasted walnut pesto. Freeze the pesto. Quick fry sage as an accompaniment to a pre-dinner drink or atop of a sage-butter pasta. Use herbs for a stuffing for pork, poultry, peppers, or cabbage. For a casual dinner, whip up brown butter scrambled eggs with herbs and an end of season green salad. The sky’s the limit.

Overwintering:

Finally, it’s time to bring in the herbs indoors. I bring in parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and bay laurel and put them in a west-facing window. As the sun diminishes, I add a small grow light on a timer to keep the herbs going until spring.

The blessings of the autumn herbs are wonderful. Dry them, freeze them, use them fresh or use them in preserves, and bring them in for the winter! Keep the faith until spring!

For more information:

Preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

 

 

 

Preserving Know-how

The Lowdown on ClearJel

Many of us are in the annual canning frenzy as the summer bounty bursts forth. That means making jams, jellies, pickles and other treats for the long winter. Many recipes, like mustard pickles, pie fillings and sauces require the addition of a thickener. The product most widely cited in modern recipes goes by the brand name of ClearJel. What is ClearJel? How is it used in food preservation? What are the pros and cons? Let’s take a look.

ClearJel is a corn starch derivative sometimes called a “cooking starch”. It comes in two forms: regular and instant each with a specific purpose. Regular ClearJel requires heat to activate the starch which makes it the type used for canning purposes. Instant ClearJel will thicken without heat so it used for items such as fresh pie fillings.  The product can be ordered online and bought at some stores like Misty Meadows in Conn.

The advantages of ClearJel over other thickeners like flour or regular corn starch are numerous. First, because it thickens upon cooling, it does not affect heat penetration during processing which is important from a safety point of view. It does not break down or become thin and liquids will not separate or curdle. And it’s shelf like is very good. It has no aftertaste, is less expensive than pectin and is neutral in terms of pH. The only disadvantage is that some people find it thickens too much. The University of Wisconsin food scientist recommends using 75% of the amount of recommended ClearJel to eliminate the problem.

ClearJel is good to lightly thicken relishes, sauces, salsas and mustard pickles. It can also be used instead of pectin in all jams and jellies that are cooked or frozen. The University of Washington suggests Substituting 7 tbsp ClearJel for regular pectin in cooked jams and jellies and 3-4 tbsp ClearJel for pectin in freezer jam. ClearJel does not dissolve easily so add a bit of sugar to it before mixing in. If using the product for a gravy, mix it with water first and then add the slurry to the liquid.

For canners and home cooks, ClearJel is a very effective thickening product that has many advantages and almost no disadvantages. It isn’t easy to find but is well worth the search. If you like a smooth, clear, stable, and tasteless approach to thinking jams, jellies, relishes, pie fillings or sauces, this is the product to add to your pantry.

Mark the date: September 14th, 7 – 9 pm. Drying, Freezing and Storing the Fall Harvest. To register by email info@greyagservices.ca or call 519-986-3756.  

Preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Preserving Know-how

Atmospheric Steam Canning

Several people have asked me about atmospheric steam canning. It is growing in popularity so let’s explore the uses, advantages, and disadvantages of this method of food preservation. In 2015 atmospheric steam canning was approved by the National Centre for Home Food Preservation and the USDA as a safe and efficient alternative to water-bath canning.

The steam canner (pictured here) uses a small amount of water (usually about 2 to 3 litres) or a couple of inches that creates an enclosed environment of steam at a temperature of 212 F or the same as boiling point. Jars are placed on a rack above the boiling water and are processed by the hot steam instead of water. This approach saves on water, eliminates heavy lifting associated with water-bath canners, saves on electricity or propane and saves time.

The advantages of steam canning are clear, but there are a couple of disadvantages to consider. Steam canning should not be used if processing times exceed 45 minutes because the water can run dry. Also, most steam canners are made of aluminum which cannot be used on induction burners. However, Vittorio does produce a stainless-steel version which addresses this problem.

As an alternate to water-bath canning, steam canning is suitable for processing high acid foods. As always, it’s important to use modern, tested recipes from reputable sources to ensure proper acidity levels. Processing times are the same for steam canning as they are for water-bath canning, adjusting times for altitude.

With the steam canner, you can warm your jars on the rack inside the canner with the stove on a low heat until you have filled the jars leaving a headspace as directed in the recipe. Once the filled jars are on the rack and the lid is on, increase the heat to boil the water. Once the steam is being release from the tiny port in the lid in a continuous stream of about 6 inches in length, begin your processing time. Once the processing is done, turn off the heat and allow the pot to rest for at least 3 minutes before carefully removing the lid of the canner. Remove the jars and allow them to stand undisturbed for 24 hours.

Steam canners are available on Amazon and at Peavey stores (formerly TSC). If you happen to have a Ball electric water bath canner, it can also be used for steam canning. Add water to the pot just below the lower ridge (about 2 inches of water), then rest the diffuser on the ridge. This becomes the rack for the jars. Proceed as described above.

Atmospheric steam canning is becoming increasingly popular for very good reason. The canners are inexpensive, use less water, are lighter, save time and energy and are as effective as water-bath canners for safe processing of foods. So, consider adding this method to your home food preservation repertoire.

Steam Canner

Preserving Know-how

The Pectin Challenge

As we’re all busy in the kitchen making jams and jellies, I thought it opportune to write about my experience with the “pectin challenge”. I went on a mission to experiment with and learn about pectin. So here we go.

Pectin is a carbohydrate naturally occurring in fruits to varying degrees. Some fruits like lemons and apples are high in pectin while others, like peaches, pears, raspberries are low. Pectin also changes with the ripeness of fruit is. Unripe and over-ripe fruit contain less pectin. There are tests you can do at home to determine the level of pectin. If interested, see my resources section at www.thevalleypreservery.ca.

In order to create a gel in jams or jellies water, sugar and acid are needed in the right proportions for the right amount of time in order for pectin to act like a web holding together the fruit and sugar. Pectin has a negative charge so it will not bind with water unless acid is added. This is why lemon juice is frequently added in jam and jelly recipes in addition to being a flavour amplifier.

Fruits high in pectin can normally be made without added pectin. For example, making apple jelly without commercial pectin is simple and reliable. The set or gel point happens between 217 and 220 F on a candy thermometer depending on altitude. It is also possible to test for doneness using the frozen plate test. Put a small plate in the freezer. When the jam or jelly begins to coat the back of a spoon, place a teaspoon on the frozen plate. If a finger drawn through the mixture leaves a clear trail, it’s ready.

It is possible to add pectin through natural means without turning to the commercial varieties. First, is the traditional long-boil method. Boiling causes pectin chains to be released from the fruit which then combine with sugar and acid to result in the “set”. Another way to naturally enhance pectin is by adding grated Granny Smith apple as is done in recipes from Test Kitchens of America. Finally, you can make your own pectin from apples. The pectin can be water-bath processed for long-term storage and used whenever you are in a jam-making mood.

 On the commercial side, there are basically two types of pectin. The first is high methoxyl pectin like regular Certo or Bernardin pectin in powder or liquid form. These pectins are activated by sugar which is why recipes often require a lot of sugar. Newer to the scene are low methoxyl pectins that are activated by calcium rather than sugar. Certo, Bernardin, and others have low or no sugar pectin options. Pomona was first to produce low methoxyl pectin and it is preservative free.

I set out to try these approaches in order to share my results.The disclaimer, of course, is this is my personal opinion!

The long-boil method without added pectin is a purist’s dream. The upside is it requires less sugar. There are two downsides: First, you need the skill of determining the set point either using a candy thermometer or the frozen plate test method. The second downside is that the longer the boil, the more the flavour diminishes. In fact, during my Cornell course, we tested strawberry jam made the traditional long-boil method comparing it to jams made with regular pectin and with freezer jam pectin. The findings were startling. The freezer jam produced the brightest colour and flavour of all! If you have little time and lots of freezer space, by all means make freezer jam. If you are a traditionalist, go for the long-boil method.

As far as high methoxyl commercial pectin goes, I find regular liquid pectin to be great for jellies. There is no risk of getting clumps of undissolved pectin in the jellies and the set seems consistently good. Regular powdered pectin often creates too firm a set for my taste. However, Canadian Living suggests using tablespoons of powdered pectin rather than the whole box and this produces a much nicer set. I have also used the grated apple method recommended by Test Kitchens of America for both peach and raspberry jam, and this too produces excellent texture, flavour and colour. Last year I experimented with Pamona low-methoxyl pectin hoping to become a convert to low sugar pectin with no preservatives. Alas, that didn’t happen. While Pamona requires low levels of sweetener, I didn’t find the texture to be appealing and it does not hold colour over the course of the year. The jam turns brownish. This problem exists for all low methoxyl pectin options. Sugar is simply necessary to hold the colour of the jam/jelly.

The power of pectin is critical to a good jam or jelly. Knowing the pectin levels of fruit you are working with is important and is available in reputable canning cookbooks. The question then is how to enhance pectin when it is required. Whether using a long-cook method, a natural enhancement, or a commercial pectin, all can work well. To some extent it is a matter of personal choice. To another extent, it is a matter of science. Embracing both yields the best results.

Preserving Know-how/ Spring

Wild Leeks in Spring

Wild Leeks in Spring

It must be spring when the forest floor is dotted with wild leeks! The cool spring this year has meant the leeks are starting later and staying longer which is great for we foodies.

Wild leeks, commonly called ramps, are of the onion family. They are easily spotted in forests and fields. The plants have distinctive elegant bright green leaves and bulbs that look like green onions but smell like garlic. They have strong roots which means a shovel makes foraging easier.

Once cleaned, wild leeks have many culinary uses. The bulbs and leaves are edible. Try a sauté, braise or stir-fry.  They are delicious any way, cooked or raw. I make Wild Leek and Potato soup and freeze it for a cold summer vichyssoise or warm winter soup. The bulbs freeze well but don’t forget the leaves. Throw them in the food processor and add a bit of water. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for a bright addition to a winter soup, stew or sauce. Pickled wild leeks are amazing too. To store fresh leeks, wrap in paper towel and put into freezer bags in the fridge. Don’t bend the leaves as they bruise easily. Make sure the bags are sealed or the entire fridge will smell of garlic!

Wild leeks have been over harvested to the extent they are becoming endangered! Take no more than 20% of any cluster of leeks. If you’re heading out to forage for wild leeks put on your conservation hat and then enjoy these precious gifts of nature.

For recipes/info: Martha Rogers

 preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Leeks in Spring

Preserving Know-how/ Summer

Tomato Season Approaches

“You say tomata and I say tomato.” Whatever your pronunciation, we can all agree that tomatoes are beginning to ripen on the vine. For all you foodies, get ready to preserve these fruits to brighten any snowy winter day. Tomatoes are perfect for freezing, drying or canning.

Freezing: Tomatoes can be cored, blanched, peeled and frozen whole or in quarters. Or roast tomatoes, garlic drizzled with olive oil at 350 for an hour until edges are darkening. Put in blender or food processor with additional oil and a large bunch of basil. Process until smooth. Freeze in containers for excellent winter sauce.

Drying: Tomatoes can be dried in a dehydrator for later use on pizza or pasta. Tomato pulp can also be dried as fruit leather and eaten or added to soups & sauces.

Canning: Homemade tomato sauce, chili sauce, salsa or simple canned tomatoes are hands down the most useful winter preserves. It is important to understand that the pH of tomatoes is around 7.6. This is critically important in order to choose the correct, safe canning method. Today’s tomatoes are less acidic than they once were. In part this is due to hybridization and also changes to growing conditions. This means that all tomatoes that are processed in a water-bath canning situation must be acidified. Chili sauce and salsas have added vinegar enough to increase acidity to a safe level. It is also essential to add 1 TBSP of bottled lemon juice to each 500 ml jar of tomatoes or tomato sauce to ensure safety. This might not be what your grandmother did, but it is required today. If you want to make stewed tomatoes or create a tomato sauce with vegetables or meats, pressure canning is necessary in order to raise the processing temperature to 240 degrees.

Stock up the pantry with tomatoes for winter: Freeze them, dry them or can them. Follow a reputable modern recipe (see Bernardin, Ball or Centre for Home Food Preservation websites) and specified methods to ensure high quality, safe tomato products for the home pantry.

For information about recipes or workshops, contact Martha Rogers:

preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Preserving Lemons

Preserving Lemons

January always makes me think about citrus. It is the time of year when we find Clementines, Meyer lemons, Seville oranges, blood oranges and fruits from Florida. The colours, aromas and tastes of citrus brighten up cold winter days. This month I will focus on citrus beginning with Preserved Lemons.

Preserved lemons are central to North African cuisines. They add a bright, salty, tang to Moroccan tagines, roast chicken, pasta, labneh, salads, grain bowls, vinaigrettes and sauces. Technically speaking, preserved lemons are fermented in a brine created with salt and lemon juice. It takes about a month for the lemon rinds to soften to a desirable texture through the fermentation process. Once this is achieved, the lemons will last in the fridge for up to a year. Although it is possible to use the entire preserved lemon, it is more typical to use only the rind, thinly sliced or minced.

Any well-scrubbed lemon is fine to use, but I prefer Meyer lemons that have a thin skin and a gentle flavour. Some older recipes use far too much salt, but updated recipes have addressed this issue achieving the right ratio of salt to acid. I like the recipe from “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving”.

After thoroughly washing 8 to 10 lemons, place each with stem-side down on a cutting board. Cut through almost to the bottom making an X pattern. Open the lemon like a flower and massage in 1 tsp.(5ml) of pickling salt. Close the lemon and put into a 1 litre jar pressing down to release juices. Repeat with lemons packing tightly into the jar leaving a 1 inch headspace. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons and pour into jar to cover the lemons. They must be kept submerged to keep them safe so add additional lemon juice as needed. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and screw on lids and rings. Leave on the counter for 3 days to kick-start the fermentation process. Then move to the fridge.

Let your imagination run wild with applications of the preserved lemons to your cooking. Whether adding to soups, sauces, vegetables, meats, grains or pressed yogurt, it will brighten the dish in taste and appearance. Preserving lemons is a simple, quick way to capture the sun in a jar during the winter months.

For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

 

Preserving Know-how/ Summer

Get Pickling

I may not be Peter Piper, but I certainly have more than one peck of pickled peppers in my pantry. Well, pickled peppers, garlic scapes, asparagus, cucumbers, beans, carrots, beets and mixed garden vegetables. Let’s just say I love pickles! While summer’s bounty continues, it’s the perfect time to pickle.

The easy place to start is by making quick refrigerator pickles. Any vegetable will do or a mix of colourful vegetables from the garden. Add garlic, jalapeno, dill, thyme, coriander seeds or any combination of flavours you like. Place in a sterilized jar and cover with a brine as per recipe instructions. Refrigerate for at least 4 days and then taste. They will keep for 3 months. Easy and delicious.

Dip your toe into the world of fermentation by making half sour fermented dill pickles. Let the lactobacillis bacteria do the preservation work for you. You don’t need special equipment to make a 1 litre of fermented dills. It is only a matter of preparing the pickling cucumbers, placing in the mason jar, adding herbs and spices and then pouring in a brine and ensuring the cucumbers stay below the brine. The fermenting period can be between 4 to 7 days. Refrigerate to halt the fermentation process and enjoy for months ahead. An authentic deli-style pickle.

Pickling vegetables (even fruits) for long-term storage requires that they be water-bath processed. Always use a modern, tested recipe and never adjust the vinegar to water ratio. Any vinegar (white, apple cider, balsamic, sherry) can be used as long as it is at least 5% acid. Pickling salt should be used or pure sea salt but avoid all salts with chemicals (table salt) or anti-caking agents. Even some Kosher salts have anti-caking agents. If you are using a commercial pickling spice, hands down, the best is from the Bulk Barn. There spice blend is richly complex and aromatic unlike the usual brands available in grocery stores.

There has long been debate about how best to make pickles crispier. In days gone by, grape leaves were added to each jar. Alum was also a commonly used addition. The commercial brand “Pickle Crisp” is also an option. The truth is there are three ways to make pickled cucumbers crispier. First, use the freshest pickling cucumbers available. Second, trim the blossom ends off by 1/16 inch to remove the enzyme that causes cucumbers to soften. And, third, brine the cucumbers in salted cold water for at least 4 hours. Home processed pickles will be softer by nature but that’s okay with me!

Whether you’re doing a quick refrigerator pickle, a fermented pickle or a water-bath pickle, you’ll be making the most of fresh summer produce. Add the pickles to a charcuterie board, sandwich, burger and as a snack or condiment tray. Pickles are wonderful in every season.

For recipes and resources contact:

preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Salsa

Fall/ Preserving Know-how

Apples, Apples, Apples!

Apples and Thanksgiving simply go together. For many people, apple picking is a family tradition and the bounty is so beautiful in all its red, gold and green colours. A pie or crisp in the oven, apple sauce on the stove or cider simmering fills the house with an aroma of sweetness and spice, contrasting by the crisp outdoor temperatures. There’s nothing like returning home from a Fall hike to the smell of apples cooking in the kitchen.

One of the most efficient ways to preserve apples is by making apple jelly. The reason is because nothing goes to waste. The pulp from the juice extraction process can be transformed into apple sauce or used as the basis of fruit leather. Very efficient!

As with any jelly making process, the apples are cooked with water until softened. If you are using organic apples or have treated the apples with a baking soda bath to remove pesticide residue, there is no reason to peel or even core the apples. Just chop and throw them into a large pot with enough water to prevent sticking. You can add a cinnamon stick, star anise and/or nutmeg, cloves or allspice. Cook about 20 minutes until soft. Remove whole spices and pour the mixture into a dampened jelly bag or cheesecloth lined sieve. Let it drip without squeezing for at least two hours. The extracted juice can be used right away or filtered again through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any sediment. Apples are high in pectin, so it is quite easy to make jelly without the addition of commercial pectin. But if using commercial pectin, I prefer the liquid pectin for jellies. No time to extract the juice? Use filtered apple cider with or without added spices.

The residual pulp should be put through a food mill to remove skins, cores and seeds. This pulp is apple sauce which can be frozen, canned or put into a dehydrator at 125 for 10 to 12 hours to produce apple leather. A couple of tips: If you are canning the apple sauce, it needs to be acidified with lemon juice (see Bernardin or Ball recipes) and it may be sweetened if desired with white or brown sugar or honey. Pure, unsweetened apple leather will please children and adults alike. But if you wish to sweeten it, corn syrup is better than sugar which will eventually crystalize. So simple to create three recipes from 6 lbs of apples!

Why not try some spiced apple jelly with your Turkey or an apple sauce tart topped with sliced apples and a glaze made from melted apple jelly. Really, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy our wonderful apple season.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Kimchi Making

Kimchi

Last week I facilitated a Zoom workshop for Agriculture Grey-Bruce on fermentation. I chose a focus on Kimchi because it’s so popular and is easy to make. Kimchi is a Korean fermented pickle that is primarily made with cabbage but not always. It’s said that there are as many Kimchi recipes as there are families in Korea. After fermenting, Kimchi has a salty-tangy taste with a touch of heat and slight miso finish.

In a recent issue of Cooks Illustrated, several stages of Kimchi fermentation were explained from an unfermented crisp salad-like Kimchi (Geotjeori) to the Kimchi we are used to with a short fermentation, to one more intense called Shin Kimchi used for cooking, to finally one that is very pungent after a 6 month fermentation. In Korea, Kimchi is eaten with almost every meal. It is a great accompaniment to rice bowls, fried rice, vegetables, meats or eggs.

Pictured here is Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi using a 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks. You can add onions, radishes, Asian pears if you like. I cut the cabbage into 2 inch strips but Koreans often leave the cabbage in large quarters or sixths. The cabbage and vegetables are massaged with 2.5 tsp of pickling salt (or sea salt). The salt extracts juices from the vegetables. Let rest for 2 hours. Add 3 TBSP fish sauce and/or ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce (your choice). Two TBSP of grated ginger is a must and Kimchi always has garlic. I used one large clove but I read recipes that had as many as 22! The unique flavour of Kimchi comes from ½ cup Korean chili flakes or powder (Gochugaru). There really isn’t a substitute so order online or find it in a local Asian market. Use gloves to mix in additions to prevent chili burn. Once mixed, push cabbage into a crock or 1 litre Mason jar. Press down very firmly to remove air. The juices will rise above the cabbage which is what you want. Place a cabbage leaf on top or parchment as a barrier and weigh down the cabbage. It must stay below the brine to be safe. I have used a weight and silicone top from Lee Valley, the latter allowing for the release of carbon dioxide as fermentation happens. You can also use a 4 oz mason jar filled with water or double freezer bags, one filled with water. Top with cheese cloth, cotton or a fermentation lid with air release. Check daily. Skim if necessary. In about 9 – 11 days the fermentation should be complete. At this point you can move the jar to the fridge to halt fermentation. Serve as you wish.

Enjoy Kimchi and other fermented foods. For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Kimchi

Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi

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Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 1 hour

Pictured here is Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks.
  • Onions, radishes, Asian pear
  • Pickling Salt or Sea Salt
  • 3 tbsp Fish Sauce and/or 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps Grated Ginger
  • One large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup Korean Chili Flakes or Powder(Gochugaru)

Instructions

1

Using a 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks. You can add onions, radishes, Asian pears if you like. I cut the cabbage into 2 inch strips but Koreans often leave the cabbage in large quarters or sixths. The cabbage and vegetables are massaged with 2.5 tsp of pickling salt (or sea salt). The salt extracts juices from the vegetables. Let rest for 2 hours. Add 3 TBSP fish sauce and/or ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce (your choice). Two TBSP of grated ginger is a must and Kimchi always has garlic. I used one large clove but I read recipes that had as many as 22! The unique flavour of Kimchi comes from ½ cup Korean chili flakes or powder (Gochugaru). There really isn’t a substitute so order online or find it in a local Asian market. Use gloves to mix in additions to prevent chili burn. Once mixed, push cabbage into a crock or 1 litre Mason jar. Press down very firmly to remove air. The juices will rise above the cabbage which is what you want. Place a cabbage leaf on top or parchment as a barrier and weigh down the cabbage. It must stay below the brine to be safe. I have used a weight and silicone top from Lee Valley, the latter allowing for the release of carbon dioxide as fermentation happens. You can also use a 4 oz mason jar filled with water or double freezer bags, one filled with water. Top with cheese cloth, cotton or a fermentation lid with air release. Check daily. Skim if necessary. In about 9 – 11 days the fermentation should be complete. At this point you can move the jar to the fridge to halt fermentation. Serve as you wish.