If you’re earning a culinary certificate online, you’ll learn many different ways to prepare delicious foods, from grilling to cooking sous vide. One method you can experiment with is fermentation, the chemical process in which carbohydrates are converted into organic acids or alcohol by using bacteria or yeast. Fermentation is necessary for making a wide range of foods and beverages, so every chef should master the basics of the process.
Fermentation is an important step in making beer, bread, and cured meats like salami and chorizo. For those who are first trying their hand at the process, however, vegetables make a great choice. Cabbage contains enough water to create its own brine and, with a few added ingredients, it can become kimchi.
The Kitchn provided directions for homemade kimichi, starting with cutting the cabbage into strips and massaging them with salt. Add water and let the cabbage sit in the salt solution, covered, for an hour or two before rinsing and draining. Next, create a paste from ginger, garlic, red pepper and seafood flakes.
Combine the paste with the cabbage, plus scallions and radish, and mix thoroughly with gloved hands. Then, place the kimchi in a jar with at least an inch of space at the top. Let the vegetables ferment for up to five days, checking the flavor each day. When it reaches the right level of ripeness, move the kimchi to the refrigerator. The flavor will be at its peak after another week or so.
If you’re attending culinary school in Texas, then you have plenty of opportunities to explore the possibilities of fermentation. Farm-to-table restaurant Emmer and Rye maintains a fermentation pantry packed with fascinating and tasty items like shiso cucumber vinegar, pickled okra seeds and green tomatoes in brine. The results are incorporated into dishes such as a Norwegian mackerel – served with fermented tomato, garlic, basil and cucumber – or dim sum with fermented spaghetti squash, brown butter, shallots and mint.
In the Midwest, early October brings a time for trying and appreciating a wide range of fermented foods and drinks at Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Attendees can sign up for classes in making gluten-free yeast breads, cheese curds and kombucha, among other fermented favorites. There are also opportunities to enjoy art and performances.
Students attending culinary academy will open up many possibilities for their dishes by trying fermentation. Creating great fermented foods takes a little patience, but it pays off with plenty of flavor.