One day a friend and I and my two kids took off in our 1966 VW bus to go pick up a load of limes at a farm in a most beautiful tucked away valley. The drive was a delight and the day turned out to be be epic. A nice jaunt around a gorgeous farm with good friends. I have a tendency to get distracted in my journeys and if you take off on a trip with me we are likely to take a few extra stops on the way there or on the way back. It was one such trip when I suggested that we go visit my friend Jim on the way back. I promised he was just a little out of the way...We pulled into his driveway and honked the horn and as he greeted us he said in his most wonderful NYC sarcasm "I thought it was the UPS truck pulling up. Who else would come unannounced and honk the horn?". He always throws in a few unmentionable words in there and you should keep that in mind when reading any quotes from him in this article. Yes, he is one of those!
We went into his house and I noticed some of his ferments on the counter. He had taken a workshop with Sandor Katz (my hero) at Happy Girl Kitchen a few weeks before. I asked him how the ferments were going as I saw a lid was slightly bulging and he said "I don't know, I just leave them out on the counter". Then he showed me some of the other jars that he had put into the refrigerator and confessed that his wife who was at the workshop with him had tended to all of her jars and put them in the fridge. At this point he was not interested in me or my ferment questions and had engaged in more interesting conversation with my friend and kids outside. I decided to check the ferment situation and without thinking I opened the jar in the middle of the kitchen. Of course gasses had been building up (thus the bulging lid) and pickled beet brine began shooting all over the kitchen along with my shouts and uproarious laughter. You can only imagine the words coming out of Jim's mouth as he came into the kitchen to see me running across with a spurting jar. I held it over the sink and laughed and then began to try the beets. Actually they were very good and although he thought I was crazy, I convinced him to try them too.
This made me realize that we should do home visits after our workshops to see how things are going. Because of the sugars in these golden beets, the air should have been vented more frequently. It seemed Jim was not completely paying attention in that part of the instructions. It can be hard to take it all in at a single workshop. I also know that no one has ever reportedly gotten sick from eating a fermented vegetable. That makes them some of the safest food on the planet (even safer than fresh produce) and so I did not hesitate in trying the carbonated beets. I wish that I could do home visits to each and every one of the peoples in my workshops and see their pantries and hear their stories. Is this what Facebook is for? Please let us know how it has been going for you after your workshops! We hope you have been having great success at preserving the local harvest. NOTE: Jim forgave me for making such a mess in his kitchen and I was grateful that he had hardwood floors which made the golden beet juice much easier to clean up. I wonder if he ate all those golden beets yet?