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Dave de Basque

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since May 08, 2015
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Basque Country, Spain-43N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
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Recent posts by Dave de Basque

Mk Neal wrote:I can't tell exactly what is happening with your peppers, but if they are slimy and in anyway unappetizing, probably best to chuck them. Fermented vegetables don't usually slime.

In my own house, I have noticed that vegetable fermentation did not go well at "room temperature" in the warmer months in my un-airconditioned house; things get soft and unappetizing.  I actually get better results fermenting in the refrigerator.

Hmmm... I wish it was so definite. The sliming really only lasted a couple of days, now it seems to be in a holding pattern and is pretty clean. Just a few little blobs of whitish mold that accumulates every 2-3 days and I clean off. OK, the mold is part of a bit of a jelly-like blob. The peppers themselves are not slimy. They don't smell really great, but then again, I open up a jar of locally produced (but commercially bottled) sauerkraut or kimchee, and they don't smell so hot either. Actually one of the jars doesn't smell much at all now, and the other is still a bit rank to be honest. I will probably end up chucking it. But for now I'm letting it sit around to just see how the experiment goes.

Interesting about fermenting in the refrigerator. I would think that takes forever. Doesn't it? Is this mainly good for producing things like crispy pickles?
2 weeks ago
Hey, never get tired of replying to yourself! Thoughts from anyone who knows anything about fermentation would be appreciated.

In any case, after waiting for a week or 10 days to see how things went, lately I've done the following, basically grasping at straws, to see if I can make this fermentation less scary.

-- remove the rocks holding the peppers down and replace each of them with a cabbage leaf (since as far as I know cabbage leaves have lots of helpful fermentation microbes)
-- drain off a bit of the fermentation water (one jar smelled a bit more suspicios than the other, so I drained more), and refill with
----saltier water
----a pinch of sugar (something I know ferments)
----a little bit of the vegetable fermentation starter I had in the fridge but didn't want to use (you know, the whole "using the local microogranisms" thing...)

For what it's worth, they smell better now.

I still don't know how I would tell if they're safe/unsafe to eat, or when they're done/not done fermenting...
2 weeks ago
Added note: I have water kefir crystals available and some sort of "vegetable fermentation starter" in the fridge that I was not going to use. I'm of half a mind to make up a little bit of new salt brine and add a bit of sugar too, so the fermenters have something to ferment, and mix it into the batches, perhaps with the addition of one or the other of these fermentation aids.

1 month ago
I had a bunch of not-very-hot hot red peppers last season and decided to ferment some once I learned that that was a thing.

I watched this Green Moxie video on YouTube:

So I stuffed a bunch of medium-large peppers with the tops cut off into a 1-quart mason jar and another smaller jar, and I whipped up the brine of 2 teaspoons of salt per liter/quart of spring water without any chlorine or other toxic gick in it. Put a kind of smooth not-too-porous-looking rock on top of each to keep the peppers submerged. Placed a loosely fitting lid on top and sat in a corner of our never-very-cold kitchen. That was a little over two weeks ago.

A few things have happened, and since my fermentation adventures in the past have been limited to water kefir and pickles, I'm not sure what is normal:
  • The peppers turned soft after about a week
  • They bubbled a little bit for a few days. Part of that was releasing air bubbles.
  • After maybe 5 days they started forming some scum at the top every day, which I've been removing with a wooden pallet once every day or two
  • The brine started turning kind of cloudy and red-brown-yellow-ish
  • Some white powdery-looking stuff started settling on the bottom.
  • The brine started tasting like hot pepper brine.
  • After about a week, what looks like some bright white powdery mold started appearing at the top every day, not much.
  • When opening the jars, just at first you get a little whiff of a kind of off, compost-scrap-bucket smell. But the brine still tastes good.

  • And now here's my problem: In the last 3 or 4 days, there is more stuff rising to the top. The light scum and the bright white mold have now been supplemented by a kind of clear slime maybe 2mm thick in places over the top. It's not so easy to remove, but I try. But I'm not really sure there should be slime. Or maybe it's some kind of mother or scoby or whatever that's forming? It's not as thick or solid feeling as a kombucha scoby at all.

    So my questions are:
  • Is this slime thing normal? Good? Bad?
  • How will I know when my peppers are done fermenting?
  • How will I know if my fermentation has gone wrong?
  • How do I cut the fermentation and store the peppers when they're done?

  • 1 month ago
    Not an expert, but aren't those just called French doors? i.e. two doors that meet in the middle, opening outwards.
    1 month ago
    Bemvindo, Danilo, to permies!

    I think a lot of what we could say about your garden plan is influenced by climate, and it seems like there is a lot of climate diversity in São Paulo state:

    Any idea which of the climate zones you're in? You can read more about Köppen climate classification here if you want.

    When placing trees, I would be very mindful of the shade they create. São Paulo is about 23° south latitude, so just at the edge of the tropics, so at the height of summer the sun will be straight overhead and the rest of the year it will be to the north. So I would generally try to place trees on the south side of your property and grow vegetables on the north side.

    What are the weather conditions where you are that cause problems in the garden? Sun too strong in the summer? Periods of very heavy rains and floods? Excessive heat? A very long and dry dry season? What natural disasters are there in your area? Those are good to keep in mind when designing.

    Shade can also be helpful in the tropics. Sometimes high shade from a stand of trees like palms can shelter more tender plants underneath them from the strong midday sun while allowing morning and evening sun from the sides. So that might call for a different design than what I was saying before.

    Do take into account the final height and canopy diameter of your trees and allow for that in your design. The Plants for a Future database is a good place to research that, even if they do have a lot more temperate plants than tropical in their database. As Eric said above, you don't want the trees to crowd each other out or shade out your veggies (unless you need shade, of course, it all depends!)

    It might also be really helpful if you could indicate the compass points on your map, and also which way the downward slope goes. And let us know some more about your climate. This will help other people make useful comments for you.

    Congratulations on a beautiful piece of land - I'm sure you'll do great things with it!

    1 month ago
    If sheep farming for other purposes than wool production is common in your area, I would seriously look into the wool option.

    Here our sheep are for milk, and our sheep's wool, which used to be used for clothing despite being a bit scratchy, is now considered a waste product. (A couple of sustainability projects are working on that at the moment.) In any case, you can go to any farm you're friendly with and get loads of it, they are starting to have to pay people to take it away.

    Our local wool, and I suppose wool in general, is indestructible. You can try to burn it, compost it, bury it, leave it outside in a pile for 10 years -- all to no effect. It will remain exactly as it was the first day. So that's a good insulation material in my book.

    I'm not sure about the process of going from shorn sheep's wool to ready-to-go insulation material, but here is a guy singing the praises, anyway:

    1 month ago

    Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
    Could you describe the Direct charge grocery co-op model? What does it purport to do? How does it operate, etc...

    Sure, sorry... I don't know if they always work exactly like this, but the legendary Nanaimo one apparently charged its members wholesale cost for everything, i.e. they sold everything for exactly what the supplier had charged them. So prices were very low. The overhead costs (rent, utilities, labo(u)r...) were charged directly to the members.

    The economic logic is great. So, you're already paying $30/mo. let's say as your share of the overhead. And the place has rock-bottom prices. Why would you shop anywhere else? You want to recoup those $30, and everywhere else is more expensive to buy anything, because everyone else charges a markup on things and your co-op doesn't. So loyalty is built in.

    The monthly charge is a marketing problem though, I guess. As cool as this plan seems to me, most people don't want to pay a monthly fee for anything. "Safeway doesn't charge me a monthly fee!" All the time being blind to the higher prices, 20 cents more on this, 55 cents more on that, etc, etc, ... it doesn't seem like money, even though it usually adds up to a lot more than your monthly fee at the co-op. It's the same reason people buy 10 pairs of cheap boots over time for $40 each, rather than one good pair for $150... "$150 is expensive, I can't afford that" ignoring the fact that they're actually spending $400 on the "cheap" ones. I think we're wired to think this way, and we have to train ourselves pretty hard to see things more rationally.

    Anyway, the model has this PR problem, or maybe it's a human perception problem, and as a result is not very popular, but I keep hoping that some day people will come around and it will take off. Or maybe it has, and there are some people doing it successfully. That's why I asked. I'd love to hear about any cases people know of.
    5 months ago
    As long as we're on the subject of consumer grocery co-ops this week, I have a burning question.

    A zillion years ago, when I was really geeking out on the cooperative movement (which later caused me to move to where I live now, in the heartland of worker-owned cooperative country), I heard about the direct-charge system of consumer coops. I instantly loved it for its logic and what it made happen. Back in the day, legend says one of the great examples was the Nanaimo Co-op on Vancouver Island in BC. Safeway was very keen to get them out of the market and be the kings of the town. So they put things on sale for years at heavy losses to try to get them to close. The co-op had a big board at the entrance advertising who had the best prices on a lot of items in town, including all those loss-leaders at Safeway. After all, people had been direct charged for a service, getting good, cheap groceries, so the co-op staff dutifully helped the members out. It was not about selling more, it was about giving good service to the people who paid you.

    Anyway, it's a strange model for people to get used to, but I think the principles behind it are great. I'm wondering if anyone knows if there are co-ops around these days using and/or (hopefully) making a success out of this model?
    5 months ago
    I wouldn't extrapolate too far from the Loess Plateau in China, or worry about repeating those conditions in the UK. The Loess Plateau is probably the most erosion-prone major landscape in the world, because of its geology, and is one of the main reasons that the Yellow River is yellow.

    Loess is a geological term for (usually) wind-blown sediment. You could think of it as simply dust. (The word comes from German and is related to the English word "loose," which is an excellent description of these soils.) Few or no rocks, very uniform, very little clay, nothing much to hold it together. This accumulated sediment is over 100m thick in China and well over 10m in many of the areas of the US Midwest where the Dust Bowl formed in the 1930s after huge areas of loess soil had been plowed up and laid bare for the first time.

    There seems to be very little loess soil in Britain, most of it being in the SE, only rarely over 1m thick, and only extremely rarely of the "true" wind-blown deposited loess sediment kind, as in China.  

    As long as you are practicing rotational grazing and are not letting any areas be grazed down to bare ground, you should "probably" be OK.

    But a full soil test might put your mind at ease, and I might well do thumb tests of soil from various areas around the property.

    Do you see evidence of landslides and slumping in the area at all? Do ask around and keep an eye out for where and when erosion events occur and have occurred. This can actually give you a lot of information and do a lot to set your mind at ease.
    6 months ago