After five days of stirring twice a day, my nuka vat finally smelled like nuka. For the first try I used Albanian cucumbers and carrots, both fresh from the garden.
After stirring the vat, place the veg on top and press them in. then cover the veg with the paste.
You still have to mix the paste twice a day, even with the veg in it. But just make sure you cover them up again if they aren't ready to eat yet.
Before I put any veg in the vat, I usually rub them with a sprinkle of salt and leave them for half an hour to sweat. Then I dry them off carefully with a paper towel and put them in the vat. In theory this will stop the nukazuke from being too wet and going off. In theory.
Troubleshooting my Nukazuke vat
It's now been ten days since I first started my vat. This morning when I opened it up to stir, I was greeted by a sweet and sour smell and a puddle of liquid forming in the vat. What! No! How can it go bad already? I've only got three helpings of pickles out of it.
Great sadness overwhelmed me. 'It must be Tuesday', I though, 'I never could get the hang of Tuesdays'.
I've been dedicated in stirring it twice a day, so I can't imagine it went bad from neglect (like my commercial nuka paste usually does). Could it be I didn't add enough salt? Am I using too many cucumbers and it's making the vat wet? Does the world of fermented foodstuff simply hate me?
Time to consult Google.
Troubleshooting your Nukazuke Vat and Nukamiso Guide were very helpful.
It's possible I've been keeping it too air tight. So I discarded the cling wrap and left it covered by one poorly fitting plate for a lid. Hope the flies don't get in.
I'll mop up the moisture with a paper towel (wish I had read this before stirring the moisture into the vat again) and stir it three times a day instead of twice.
I don't use any strong soaps or lotions on my hands, and always give them an extra rinse before siring the vat, so I don't think that's the problem.
I have plenty of eggs here on the farm, so I'll see what I can do about adding eggshells. Most old household manuals suggest dry frying the shells before grinding them to kill any bacteria, but this article just says use 'clean' ones, whatever that means. I'm pretty desperate to save this, so I'll give it a try.
Hope this can be saved! I love nuka more than any other way of eating vegetables. I'll be praying to his divine noodliness for guidance with this challenge.
Anyone out there have their own nuka pickle vat? Please feel free to share some suggestions. I would welcome all the help I can get.