Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.

Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby soupnugget » Tue May 15, 2012 10:58 am

I am thinking about making a kraut or kimchi-esque veggies on the playa: chop up and prepare the cabbage and veggies on arrival Monday and have a nice jar of krauted veggies by Thursday. It would have to be a shorter fermenting time (clearly, and I have a couple recipes, including the tested and yummy napa cabbage kimchi by Ani Phyo). I like the idea of making it there, and then having the good bacteria for my gut and good tastes for my mouth and good veggies for my hunger-starved-playa-worn body. Anyone have experience fermenting on the playa? I would need to play with the salt ratio in regards to the summer heat, I'm guessing. Keep it wrapped up and hidden somewhere shaded or relatively cool. I've habitually avoided using coolers/ice for food during BRC, and I intend to keep that tradition going, so that's out as far as temperature regulation for the fermentation. Thoughts? Also it could be cool to play around with recipes and make something that is extra spicy/salty/unique flavor combinings/?
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby junglesmacks » Tue May 15, 2012 11:05 am

I think I managed to ferment my own liver once or twice out there.. does that count?
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby VultureChow » Tue May 15, 2012 11:29 am

No experience on playa, but tons with fermenting, and as far as I see it, you have two major obstacles. The heat and potential contamination from the dust. The dust shouldn't provide bacterial or fungal contamination but could affect the acidity as it is alkaline.

The temp seems to be the bigger issue. Keeping it cool enough to prevent spoilage.

Normally, I'd say bury the thing, but we're not supposed to be disturbing the playa surface that much. But how about evaporative cooling? Depending on the type of vessel you are using, I love my German sauerkraut crock with the water seal, you could wrap the whole thing tightly in several layers of towels. At night it will insulate it and keep it warmer. In the day time, you could pour water on the towels to provide cooling to the vessel.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby soupnugget » Tue May 15, 2012 11:43 am

VultureChow wrote:No experience on playa, but tons with fermenting, and as far as I see it, you have two major obstacles. The heat and potential contamination from the dust. The dust shouldn't provide bacterial or fungal contamination but could affect the acidity as it is alkaline.

The temp seems to be the bigger issue. Keeping it cool enough to prevent spoilage.

Normally, I'd say bury the thing, but we're not supposed to be disturbing the playa surface that much. But how about evaporative cooling? Depending on the type of vessel you are using, I love my German sauerkraut crock with the water seal, you could wrap the whole thing tightly in several layers of towels. At night it will insulate it and keep it warmer. In the day time, you could pour water on the towels to provide cooling to the vessel.


Dust- yes! How to plan to incorporate the inevitable playa dust in the kraut...

And evaporative cooling is a great idea! I've not tried it before (besides myself and soaking my hat and shirt in ice water to keep cool) but it seems like it could work with careful monitoring.

I've only used glass mason jars for fermenting.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby soupnugget » Tue May 15, 2012 11:44 am

junglesmacks wrote:I think I managed to ferment my own liver once or twice out there.. does that count?



It probably does count, but doesn't really help me much here.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby VultureChow » Tue May 15, 2012 12:39 pm

I started off with mason jars, and always admired the crocks. I finally invested in one when I found a small local shop selling them for a reasonable price(within 10% of internet pricing) I like to support local retailers.

I think the dust is manageable and since you're fermenting and not acid pickling, the alkaline dust might affect the taste, but not the safety of the finished product.

If you keep the thing wrapped in towels, elevated off the ground and permanently shaded, you might get away with a twice daily application of water. You can test it the first day and see how long say two liters of water takes to dry out completely and then schedule the remainder of the week accordingly. The traditional method of kimchi involved burying the crocks, so they're meant to have at least some temperature variation.

The best thing you have going for you is you know what the finished product is supposed to look/smell/taste like. If it seems off, don't eat it.

Personally I think it would be easier to bring the finished product with you and just keep it cool, but I wish you well in your endeavor.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby Bob » Tue May 15, 2012 2:23 pm

Might be worth a try, I'm sure the bacterial cocktail that makes it happen is viable anywhere between about 60 to 100 degrees. On the flip side, a bad batch might haunt you and your neighbors for the remainder of the camping trip.

If you're worried about the lack of ambient bacteria in the desert, just mix a little spit in it.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby Janet Planet » Tue May 15, 2012 11:02 pm

I planned to do this last year, and got distracted and never got around to it. My campmate cooked the cabbage on Thursday and we all enjoyed the freshness in that form.
I did take a pint jar of my Russian soured cabbage (a 5 day fermentation) that I made at home and it was my favorite thing I ate all week.
The body loves the acid and the cool and the crunch and the moist and the live microorganisms.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby Savannah » Tue May 15, 2012 11:07 pm

Pickled foods are wonderful on the playa, but I wouldn't try serving them without ice, simply because they taste so much better chilled. (If one is serving only the self, go nuts).

I suppose sauerkraut would be okay warm, if 1) safe, by whatever method, and 2) served on a fresh-roasted hot dog.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby RevDusty » Tue May 15, 2012 11:30 pm

In 2010, there was a Kim-Chi camp...I managed to get there a few times and it was so good! I won't be making any, but I've already scoped out a big jar at Ranch 99 market that is definitely making it to the playa this year.
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby Bob » Wed May 16, 2012 9:46 am

Atomic Frog Balls from the Ikeda Market up in Auburn are the bestiest.

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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed May 16, 2012 9:49 am

We get those frog balls with our tickets this year, don't we?
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby haolegolucky » Fri May 18, 2012 11:38 am

I came across "Kimchi Camp" on the playa two years ago. I am not sure if they had been doing the fermentation on playa or off, but they did have some tasty fermented stuff to share. :)

Go for it!
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri May 18, 2012 2:18 pm

Make some fish sauce.



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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri May 18, 2012 3:43 pm

Pretty soon we'll have someone telling us the wonders of garum in replacing electrolytes...
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby Eric » Fri May 18, 2012 4:05 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:Pretty soon we'll have someone telling us the wonders of garum in replacing electrolytes...


as long as they don't bring up lutefisk...
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Re: Sauerkraut Kimchi Fermentation On the Playa- Experience?

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri May 18, 2012 4:07 pm

I fear only the Minnesotans bring up lutefisk. And it's so hard to get it into a good prep school.
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