This recipe came together at the spur of the moment last fall when I was trying to figure out what to do with a few carrots that were hanging around in the fridge. I’m a huge fan of any and all form of vegetable, except carrots. I don’t like them raw or steamed or any other way and for years I’ve thought their only acceptable use was in cake, (the reason I bought them in the first place) until now.
Eager to expand my fermentation prowess beyond kombucha, I had begun to make lacto fermented (Wondering what the heck lacto fermentation is? Click here.) pickles over the summer with some of the bounty from our garden. Successful with pickling okra and jalapenos, David told me about this condiment of pickled peppers popular in Mexico and asked if I thought I could make it through fermentation. A little research told me that the flavor of his Mexican pickle might have been similar to the flavor of a Cuban relish I had been served (and loved) a few years back. The wheels got to spinning and our version of a Mexi-Cuban escabeche was born. That first batch was so good, I was eating it straight out of the jar, we were applying it to everything we ate and it was gone within a week.
Though I’m not a fan, David and Jonah are, so I kindly threw in a packet of carrots with our fall seed order. We harvested a bumper crop and I immediately got to work making another batch of our escabeche. I still eat some straight from the jar, but we also use it on veggie dogs, tacos and on any other dish that might be looking for a little jazz of flavor. If you’re new to fermenting, there’s tons of information on-line to get you started. I personally have found Sandor Katz’s ‘The Art of Fermentation‘ book and the online blog, Phickle, inspiring and helpful.
I’m one of those “dash of this, pinch of that” cooks and have no true measurements for this recipe except that with most vegetable fermentations, my brine is 1/2 Tbsp sea salt to 2 cups of water. I was using a 4 oz jelly jar as my fermenting vessel, so I just eyeballed what I thought would fit snugly. This escabeche is simply diced carrot, yellow onion, jalapeno and garlic.
Mix everything together in a bowl and season with your favorite spices. I used chili powder, coriander and cumin. (Never use salt to season, it’s in your brine.)
Pack everything as tightly into your fermenting vessel as possible. Mix 1 Tbsp of sea salt into 1 cup of water to make a brine and slowly start to pour it into the vegetables. Continue pouring in the brine until it covers the top of vegetables.
It’s important for the vegetables to stay beneath the brine to prevent mold, so I weigh mine down with something. Sometimes I use clean rocks or stones, this time glass marbles were a perfect fit.
Seal your lid on tight and place in a warm, but dark place. I tuck mine in a kitchen cabinet. Once a day, pull out your jar, unscrew the lid and then screw it back on. This releases the pressure that builds up as the fermentation occurs. This is a fast ferment and should be ready in three to five days. Taste it after the third day and if you like the flavor, move it the fridge. If you think it’s not quite ready, put it back for another day or two, remembering to release the pressure daily. In the end, you should have a spicy, pickle-y, mouth watering relish.
What does any of this have to do with surfing? Not much except that hungry surfers like to eat and in our house, those surfers eat well. Enjoy!
Lacto Fermented Escabeche
(as previously stated, I have no proper recipe, below are my best estimates for making a 4 oz jar)
2 med-large carrots, diced
1/4 – 1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1 cup of water
several dashes of chili powder, coriander and cumin
Mix the vegetables and spices together in a bowl.
Fill a 4 oz glass canning jar with as much of the vegetable mixture as possible, leaving about a quarter of an inch of breathing room below the rim. Really push down on the veggies, making sure there isn’t a lot of extra space in the jar. You want them packed tight.
Mix the sea salt into the water and slowly pour into the jar of vegetables. Go slow and stop couple of times to allow the water to seep into all the crevices between the vegetables. You should see air bubbles coming to the top. Pour in enough water to cover the veggies, use something to weigh them down beneath the brine and screw the lid on the jar.
Place the jar in a dark, but warm spot. “Burp” the jar once a day by unscrewing the lid to release pressure. Escabeche is ready in 3-5 days. Move the jar into the fridge by the 5th day.