How to ferment things in your van

The last few shows we have played have been pretty cool! Memphis is always a good time-and P&H Cafe definitely treated us well with a good show and really really buttery and delicious dinner. I think there is more butter in everything the farther you head south in this country. No arguments here. Little Rock was a good time---played a house show, met some cool people (Carl- if you're reading this, thanks for setting up the show!)

BUT. I'm kind of bored of writing about shows...so I'm going to write about how to ferment things in your van.

I'll preface this with saying that I'm a huge DIY fermenter, especially when I'm not on the road. I love making kombucha, krauts, kvass, yogurt...whatever really- but it is a hard habit to translate to touring.

My history with fermenting things in the Lung van has been a long one. For the first few tours, I tried to ferment different kinds of sauerkraut in the van. This was alright for a few days, until everything in the van started to smell like kraut. I remember one particular morning, Rachelle and I got into it over the fact that everything in her suitcase smelled intensely of sauerkraut. At the time I defensively denied it, but it was really pretty terrible, and I quickly composted it on the side of the road in Utah somewhere. 

A few tours later I developed a system of putting kraut in several airtight bags with baking soda and coffee grounds. When you do this, it doesn't smell too much but it usually ends up getting messy somehow--something will spill--and then no amount of bags can save you from smelling like a cabbage. 

This time around I decided to try Beet Kvass. Beet Kvass is a probiotic rich drink that is hailed as being a blood and liver tonic. When it's done, it is a super deep gorgeous magenta red color, and tastes amazing. So far it has worked out really well. It doesn't smell at all, because it is a drink not primarily a solid-and everything that is fermenting is pretty submerged in brine. It's also the lease messy thing I've fermented, and is much cheaper and easier to make and keep going than kraut is. You can make it at a gas station in 10 minutes.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE BEET KVASS IN A VAN:
1. 2 medium sized beets, washed but not peeled and roughly chopped
2. 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3. 1 Jalapeno (optional, makes it spicy)
4. a large 1/2 gallon glass jar with a sealable lid
5. Parchment paper
6. kosher salt
7. A jug of filtered water
 

HOW TO MAKE IT
1. After chopping veggies, throw them in the glass jar (that you cleaned beforehand. don't be gross)
2. Fill the jar with filtered water. Fill it pretty much to the top, but not all the way. You don't want to spill it in the van. Your bandmate might kill you.
3. This is the part where you can measure, or you can do it to taste. If you measure your salt, you are going to want to figure out how much salt  1.5-2 percent brine is. If you want to do it to taste, pour in about a heaping soup spoon of salt, seal the jar, shake it, and taste it. If it tastes almost as salty as pickle juice but not quite, it is the perfect amount. Just add, shake, and taste until it gets to a level of saltiness that is definitely SALTY but not so salty that you can't physically drink it. 
4. Put a small piece of parchment paper between the lid and the jar. This is because metal interacts in negative ways with ferments. I don't think you would die without doing this, but it's best not to mess with bacteria. 
5. Leave in a dark part of your house, or if on the road, in a cooler (with no ice!!!!!). Shake it every day. You can ferment Kvass for up to 2 weeks, but you can also start drinking it after 4 or 5 days. Depending on how warm it is, it will ferment at different rates. If your house is warm, it'll ferment quicker. If it's cold, it could take a lot longer. I've been keeping 2 going at once so that one is in early stages of fermentation, and the other is ready to drink.
6. Once you are done drinking your giant jar of Kvass, you can use the same beets+vegetables for a second batch. I leave a little bit of the first batch in to kind of kick start the second batch. After you are done with your second batch, make a salad out of your picked veggies, or blend them up and make some sort of crazy salsa. Haven't done the salsa thing before, but fermented salsas are delicious, and fermented beet salsa (maybe just add tomatoes, peppers, and vinegar? more garlic?) sounds amazing. 
also side note, you can make this with ONLY beets, water, and salt. I like adding garlic, jalapeno for taste. Also, ginger and turmeric can be delicious as well. 
 

 Enjoying some kvass. 

Enjoying some kvass. 

 Leftover beets from 2 full ferments of Beet Kvass. delicious. You can make Borscht with the leftover beets too. I've never made Borscht. If I ever figure out how to do this on the road with glass jars and gas station hot water, I should get some sort of award. 

Leftover beets from 2 full ferments of Beet Kvass. delicious. You can make Borscht with the leftover beets too. I've never made Borscht. If I ever figure out how to do this on the road with glass jars and gas station hot water, I should get some sort of award. 

 The ferment on the left is the one that was JUST made at the truck stop, the one on the right is a few days in. After a day or so more the one on the right is going to be crazy deep magenta purple red. 

The ferment on the left is the one that was JUST made at the truck stop, the one on the right is a few days in. After a day or so more the one on the right is going to be crazy deep magenta purple red. 

 see you later Little Rock!

see you later Little Rock!

IMG_0846.JPG
 Waffle House. We needed it. 

Waffle House. We needed it. 

 WHAT HAVE I DONE

WHAT HAVE I DONE