Making a nuka bed requires patience and daily maintenance, but the resulting pickles are well worth the effort. The nuka bed is a pickling base of fermented rice bran.
Prepare the nuka mixture
In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice bran and salt. Gradually add filtered water while mixing the ingredients with your hands. Aim for the consistency of damp sand or wet breadcrumbs.
Add optional ingredients
To enhance the flavor of your nuka bed, you can add optional ingredients such as kombu, dried chili peppers, and a liquid like sake, beer, or water. Kombu will add umami flavor, while chili peppers will provide a mild spiciness. The liquid can help kickstart fermentation.
Transfer the nuka mixture to the container
Once your nuka bed has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to your sterilized pickling container. Press down gently to remove air pockets and ensure the mixture is evenly distributed.
Cover the container
Use a clean cloth, plastic wrap, or a lid to cover the container. Keep in mind that the nuka bed needs to breathe, so don't seal it airtight.
Allow the nuka bed to ferment
Place the container in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard, with a consistent temperature of around 60-75°F (15-24°C). Let the nuka bed ferment for about a week, stirring it daily to aerate the mixture and promote even fermentation.
Maintain the nuka bed
As the nuka bed matures, it will develop a slightly sour, earthy aroma. Continue to stir the mixture daily, checking for mold or off smells. If you see any mold, remove it immediately and discard the affected nuka. If the bed develops an off smell, try adding more salt and giving it a thorough stir. If the problem persists, you may need to start over with a fresh nuka bed.
The nuka bed should be kept in a sterilized containe, so the first sterilize your pickling container. Use a large ceramic crock, glass jar, or food-grade plastic container. Clean it thoroughly with hot, soapy water, and rinse well. Let it air dry completely.
Once the nuka bed has matured, you can start pickling your vegetables. Be sure to clean and dry the vegetables thoroughly before burying them in the nuka bed. Depending on the type of vegetable and your desired level of fermentation, the pickling process may take anywhere from a few hours to several days.
Remember, maintaining a healthy nuka bed requires daily care. Stir it regularly, even when you're not actively pickling, and occasionally refresh it by removing some old nuka and adding fresh rice bran and salt. With proper care, your nuka bed can last indefinitely, providing you with delicious pickles for years to com