slow and wild fermentation

ZurekWinter in the kitchen, and tonight surrounded by freezing fog : slow fermentation under a massive pebble that the children once brought me back from a seaside they had gone to without me. Chillies, garlic and salt : garlic turns bright green and I had to use my favourite search engine, namely duck duck go, to be reassured that nothing untoward was happening (from what I read fermenting or pickled garlic may also turn blue like the tip of my grey hair). This will sit around on the counter top for nine days until it will be processed into a lovely spread.
Meanwhile I just used up another fermenting potion to make one of my favourite soups which, when cold, looks remarkably like dirty wallpaper paste : Żurek. Rye flour mixed with warm water (to be perfectly honest I often start with rye sourdough) with a clove of garlic added. It sits around for a while forming a rather scary-looking skin which, if allowed to come into its own, may be actually lifted in one go and turfed into the compost. A broth is made with celeriac (or Hamburg parsley root), carrots, celery, onion… while forest mushrooms are soaking in warm water. Vegetables are removed (they can be cut into chunks, mixed with mayonnaise and become a salad as is the tradition). Mushrooms and mushroom water are thrown in without the grit and cooked. The fermented flour is added, alongwith marjoram, pepper and salt, and also perhaps sausages or/and strips of cooked bacon. As most soups it likes to sit overnight and be reheated. It is then served with hard-boiled eggs halves floating in and a slice or two of generously buttered (sourdough) bread. It heals and warms my heart, hugs my body and soothes my soul. In one word I recommend it. It is a Polish soup and if you do decide to give it a go herewith (oh yes !) is the lovely song you may like to listen to while devouring it for appropriate resonance.


    • The right impetus with come at the right time for you and your bag of rye flour I am sure ! Do let me know what it brings into your life.
      It is indeed a gift to be able to interact in a respectful manner with living things—as you so obviously do—people, animals, plants, bacteria, strange and wonderful wild organisms…

  1. I love the pebble and the story behind it 🙂 I have heard of people weighing down their ferments with rocks but I have yet to try it. I’ll keep an eye out for one (or two). I have never tried zurek either but you’re the second person this month who has mentioned it. It’s on my long to-ferment list.

    • Zurek or Zhur is apparently one of the oldest Polish soups described as early as the 13th century, it’s been waiting for your attention for that long! When I first ate it it felt that my body had always known this utter feeling of comfort as if I had an ancestral memory of it. You’d love the fact that it is sometimes served in a spherical sourdough loaf hollowed out, as we found it returning to our seat from the dance floor around 2 a.m. at a lovely lovely Polish wedding a couple of years ago (this was heavenly).

      • Well, you have sold me and Zurek/Zhur has just moved to the top slot of my to-ferment list 🙂 I do love the fact that it’s served with sourdough bread! That does sound heavenly.
        Have you had bread kvass? I made it once from a botched loaf of sourdough. Fortunately my bread turns out well these days but that means no bread for kvass. It’s very sour (at least the batch I made was) but my Ukrainian boyfriend loves it. If I could perfect kvass, he would be putty in my hands 😉

        • Sounds like he should be preparing the kvass for you, to be sure and charm you. As I type I have beet kvass in the fridge made with garlic and ginger, you only need a slice of bread (or whey) to start this and the colour is out of this world. A good night cap if you ask me (just read about beet and turmeric kvass, must try this too). Happy fermenting !

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