Good morning! We interrupt the furor over faux fireworks to bring you genuine, non-faux news from the world of Food. Let’s start with Maura Judkis’s visit to the Fancy Food Show in New York, where she trailed Whole Foods buyer AnaMaria Friede to see how the buyer picks new items to stock on the stores’ shelves. Also this week, Alex Witchel introduces us to editor Maile Carpenter , whose Food Network Magazine has become the most widely read food mag in America. And Washington area cookbook author Nancy Baggett is pushing culinary lavender — not just in the baked goods you’re probably used to, but as an ingredient in all sorts of savory dishes.
You’ll have a chance to chat with AnaMaria, Nancy and the usual Food folks today at noon, when we open this week’s Free Range live discussion. Come one, come all, and bring your culinary questions. Even if we can’t get to it today, maybe I’ll give it a shot in the coming weeks — like I’m doing with this question from a recent chat:
I have been playing around with quick pickling and refrigerator pickling and now am interested in trying my hand at fermenting vegetables. It seems a little more intimidating. Any tips or advice?
Of all the recipes I’ve tested over the years, probably the easiest was Fermented Sour Beets. It was also one of the most intimidating, but only because I’d never fermented vegetables before. My nervousness was unnecessary; the whole process was amazingly effortless. The bacteria do all the heavy lifting!
You could start right in with that recipe or with another of our recipes for fermented foods. (A list is coming up). You could also do a little reading. At the very least, check out our story from a few years ago that discussed fermenting basics. You could also read the book “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz, a major fermentation guru whose website wildfermentation.com is also a great resource.
As for tips or advice, my biggest tip is just to trust the process. Putting grated beets in a crock with nothing but salt and caraway seed and letting the mixture hang out at room temperature for a few weeks requires a certain leap of faith. I spent a lot of time staring at the bubbling mixture, wondering whether I’d poison myself when I eventually ate it. But no; failure is rare — and obvious, so you’re not going to make the mistake of eating it. Follow an established recipe, and you won’t go wrong.
In addition to the fermented beets I mentioned earlier, here are a few recipes — mostly for vegetables, but not all — to get you started: