Like home-grown celery, aged beef, and real yogurt, you think these things should taste like the veg, beef, and yogurt in the supermarket until you take the first bite. It is at that point when you realize that whatever you were eating your whole life has been complete and utter junk and you can never go back. In this case, I had gotten a care package that included a bags of rye flour and bran from Geechie Boy mill on Edisto Island in South Carolina – one of my favorite makers of cornmeal – and I am ruined for most other rye products for life.
Sometimes it feels as if my consumption, alone, of rye berries on a daily basis keeps my grocery store stocking in the bulk section and rye ranks among my favorite breads, but this bran and flour is completely above and beyond. My first crack at a loaf of rye reinvigorated my love of rye bread, but this time made in the style of country bread. The flavors from the rye were so crystal clear. When I cracked the bag for the bran, I was curious. I had eaten oat bran a number of times, so my first attempt was in that style. I heated it in simmering water.
The flavors were like rye bread, but even more intense. With that kind of intensity, I thought transfer of flavor might work better than simply eating the bran like oatmeal. I had just read about nuka pickling. Nuka pickles (nukazuke) are fermented in rice bran instead of brine or miso. Now, I knew this was not rice bran, but how different could rice bran be from rye bran?
After heating the bran in a hot, dry pan, the house was filled with a nutty, toasted smell and the next step was to add beer to kick-start the ferment. I thought a toasty rye porter would be a good addition. After adding salt, water and kombu then mixing the entire pot by hand, I let the nuka pot sit for a week – mixing by hand daily for a week.
A week later, the pot had a good funk going. It seemed like a good mix of sourdough and a deep nuttiness. The first pickles I put in the pot were carrots just picked from our garden and left them in overnight. Once the carrots were rinsed, I tasted them. They were still crisp, but had a noticeable nuttiness without tasting fully fermented. That day, I buried peeled broccoli stems in the pot and let them sit for two days. After two days, the broccoli stems took on the funky flavor of the nuka pot. Understanding different veg takes to pickling differently, it seems like two days worked to my tastes better than one.
As time goes on and the garden forces us to pickle more items, I will continue to use the nuka pot. We have a trip to Charleston scheduled in a few months and you can believe that I am planning on bringing home some more of Geechie Boy’s rye goods. Incredible stuff.
- 900 grams rye bran (rice bran works)
- 500 grams beer, the more unfiltered, the better
- 40 grams water
- 30 grams salt
- 3 pieces boiled kombu
Step one: Toast bran until aroma is nutty.
Step two: Combine with beer, water and salt. Mix together by hand until texture resembles wet sand.
Step three: Add kombu and mix nuka pot daily for a week, keeping cheesecloth over the top while not mixing.
Step four: After a week, bury vegetables in nuka pot. Leave for a day or longer (depending on how strong you want the ferment).
Step five: Remove from nuka pot, rinse under cold water, dry and consume. Refill pot. Repeat.