Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Bunch of Mustard Greens

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when the garden offers up a big bunch of mustard greens?
Pink Lettucy Mustard
I typically think of sautéed greens flavored with perhaps onions, garlic, hot pepper, and a pork product. But they are much more versatile than that. A quick scan of my Eat Your Books list of recipes for mustard greens in my scary collection of cook books and online sources that I follow offered up 169 results for "mustard greens". And that's just my recipes, a scan of EYB's entire recipe database yielded 1,636 results. But do you think I tapped into that bunch of recipes last night? Nope. The first thing I thought was that I need to preserve at least part of that nearly 2 pound pile of greens and my favorite preservation method du jour is lacto-fermentation.

That's about a pound of washed and spun-dry greens in a big bowl. A pound of greens will in time fit very nicely into a 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar.

Initial Salting
But before they will fit into that jar they need to be wilted. There's an Asian method of preserving mustard greens that calls for setting the greens out in the sun for a day to wilt and partially dry them. That's interesting but I took a shortcut and just tossed them with sea salt, 12 grams to be precise. The salt acts quickly. The photo above was taken just after I tossed the greens with the salt. The next part is easy. Wait an hour or 2 or 3 or more, tossing the greens when you think of it.

A Little More Than 4 Hours Later
I didn't have time to deal with the greens until after more than 4 hours had passed. At that point they were soften and a bit of their juices had collected at the bottom of the bowl. It was time to stuff them into that 1-quart wide mouth canning jar. And they fit with room to spare. After I stuffed the jar I added the juices from the bowl and used about 10 ounces of filtered water to rinse the bowl and fill the jar to cover the greens. Before I sealed the jar with an airlock system I ran a long sturdy metal skewer down along the inside of the jar, pressing on the greens, to release as much air as possible.

And there we go - a jar of fermenting mustard greens. They will be ready to eat in as little as a week and can keep in the fridge for months. Or to save fridge space the fermented greens can be drained and dehydrated. I dehydrate fermented foods at about 110ºF to try to keep them "alive". 

The same method can be used to ferment radish tops too.

Fermented Radish Greens Ready For Dehydrating
And then what to do with those dried fermented greens? So far I've cut them up and used them in soups and stir fry dishes and even used some in a rice noodle and dehydrated veggie & shrimp dish that we enjoyed on a recent backpacking trip.

And the other pound of greens went into a Mustard Greens & Apple Galette last night. Sounds a bit strange but it was really tasty.

Now there's another 169 other recipes to check out when I harvest the next basketful of mustard greens.  Clear soup with Sweet Potatoes, Silken Tofu, and Mustard Greens sounds good, as does Farro and Black Rice with Mustard Greens, Gurrants, and Pine Nuts. And then there's Chickpeas with Eggs and Mustard Greens. Or Warm Farro and Mustard Green Salad with Maple Roasted Acorn Squash. But wait, there's Dosas with Mustard Greens and Pumpkin Seed Chutney. And so many other delicious sounding dishes too.

Now I want those greens to hurry up and regrow!

While I'm on the subject of fermentation.

I just keep experimenting. There's a couple other jars keeping the mustard greens company on the counter. There's a jar of Terremoto squash that's been going a while. I tested a piece of squash the other day and found it to be still firm and getting tasty. And my other experiment is with wedges of Meyer lemons. I find traditional Moroccan preserved lemons to be too salty so I've got them fermenting in a simple 2.5% brine solution flavored with a couple of peppers (1 Joe's Giant Aji and 1 ripe Jalapeno) along with a few cloves of garlic. 

What can I ferment next? Dang, there's just not much in the garden right now. Damn voles.


  1. I got a big laugh out of this. Damn voles, indeed. Greedy ol' things!
    I cut a big bunch of greens for salad tonight -- microgreens, romaine, Nevada lettuce, red giant mustard, sorrel. First big pickin's. It was so good. Added sunflower seeds and Soy Vay Spicy and Sweet Chili Heat. You are so much more ambitious and energetic than I am. Expecting rain on Saturday.

    1. It's supposed to rain here too. The salad does sound good! Home grown fresh salad greens are just the best. The voles spared the lettuce, mostly, so we've been enjoying salads too.

  2. Replies
    1. Those are yummy in salads. They're supposed to make good pickles but I prefer them fresh.

  3. Hah - you've caught the fermenting bug! I've been wanting to try the fermented mustard greens and I have plants started now for Pink Lettucy and a few others I got from Wild Garden Seeds. The salting and wilting of the mustard leaves sounds like the first step I use to make cabbage kimchi. I had a bowl of it last week for a side dish, from some I made last July from the spring sown napa cabbage. It was still tasty and wonderful. It was also not too hot, since I used less hot pepper than most recipes call for.

    I also want to try Green Wave mustard, which Carol Deppe says is deer and rabbit resistant. It would be nice if I could grow it in the open and not have it eaten up by critters. It might be too hot for the fermenting treatment though.

  4. You and Dave always get me so excited to start fermenting - didn't get around to it last year, but I'm hopeful that this will be the year.

  5. I really like those fermenting lids! I googled them and they seem a bit pricey. Kraut Source right? Are they worth it? They look great.

    1. They are Kraut Source and yes they are expensive. But as you can see I've invested in three of them. They are very durable, don't react with the foods, don't absorb flavors or odors, and other than the silicone rings I can put them in the dishwasher. But what I really love about them, and this is kinda silly, is that as the foods ferment the gases push the top part up and it falls back with a "klink" which I love to hear. The downside to them is that you have to keep an eye on the open moat to be sure that the water doesn't evaporate.

      I also have another airlock system called Ferment'n which is made of plastic with an unglazed ceramic weight. The only thing that I don't like about that system is that the ceramic weight seems to absorb odors. On the other had the moat is covered so it doesn't dry out.

      I also have some glass weights that I use without an airlock system. Hmm, I suppose I could use the glass weights with the Ferment'n system, but my glass weights are pretty thick so they take up a fair amount of space in the jar. That's another nice feature of the Kraut Source, the steel plate and spring system is adjustable and allows the jars to be filled pretty full but will also hold stuff down a couple of inches.

      So yeah, they are worth it to me.

  6. It's so great seeing your little jars fermenting away. I'm hoping we have a moderate enough spring for greens this year.


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