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Nukadoko Progress Report: A Refrigerator Stay

Ready to go into the refrigerator!
Beige nuka paste in a rectangular, plastic container.

We decided to take a trip. I'd been home to see my family, but Mr. JFM had not been anywhere. This, my friends, presented a problem. Mr. JFM is nothing if not social. A global pandemic that kept him indoors, away from people, and not talking very much when he was able to be out and about pushed him, perhaps, to his limit. Fully vaccinated, we donned our masks and headed to Kanazawa.

However, before we left, there were a few things to do, not least of which was decide what to do with the nukadoko. Because this trip would be considerably shorter than my autumn trip home, I opted for the refrigerator.

What I Did

Using my bare hands, of course, I transferred the paste to a freshly washed and dried plastic container. The paste felt pleasantly wet but not mud-pie-goopy, and I gently pressed on it to remove any air pockets. The pieces of konbu I'd recently added were still visible, but the togarashi (Japanese red peppers) were not. The garlic and ginger were still there looking, for the most part, like garlic and ginger. I popped the lid on and placed it on the middle shelf in the fridge and wished it well. 

I also took the opportunity to thoroughly wash and dry the nuka pot itself and set it upsidedown in its corner of the kitchen to wait. 

What I Should Have Also Done

A later conversation with Elizabeth highlighted a few things I should have also done before departure. 

  • Draining

Even though I had not done this so long ago, it would have been sensible to drain it before departure. Liquid can continue to build up even in a slowed-down state in the refrigerator, and as Elizabeth warned earlier, that's where bad things find an opportunity to grow.

  • Flattening

I also should have flattened the nuka paste more thoroughly. Even now, looking at the above photo, I realize I left it too rough. Those indentations would be great spots for liquid to pool or air to settle and unwanted elements to make themselves at home.

  • Layer of nuka powder

A layer of nuka powder on the top of the paste would have served to shut out air, according to Elizabeth, which would also be another layer of defense against bad things, i.e. bad bacteria, etc., finding their way into the paste. The fresh powder would also help absorb any additional liquid that might accumulate.

What I Did Upon Return

Emerged from the refrigerator and after a rest on the counter.
The texture appears a bit softer even in this photo.
Nuka paste in a plastic rectangular container.

After we got home and properly apologized to Frank and Stubbers for going away but before I unpacked, I took the nuka paste out of the refrigerator and set it on the kitchen counter to reacclimate. I did check it briefly to see if the refrigerator had gotten distracted from its duties and frozen it, which, thankfully, did not happen. Some liquid had accumulated on the top, which made me a bit nervous, but there were no nasty smells, odd growths, or creatures peering back up at me from the depths of the paste.

A sprinkling of fresh nuka powder on the bottom of the pot.
Brown ceramic pot with light brown nuka powder in bottom.

I let it rest there overnight and in the morning, I flipped over the nuka pot and added a somewhat thick layer of nuka powder to the bottom of the pot. I then somewhat gently plopped the paste back in and sprinkled it with more nuka powder and let it rest for a few hours again. 

A fresh layer of nuka powder on top of the paste after transferring it back to the pot.
Brown ceramic pot with nuka paste roughly mounded in bottom.

I gave it all a good mix and turn before letting it rest a few hours again. 

Freshly pickled cucumber halves with three persimmon seeds.

That evening, I popped a cucumber in to see where things stood. It came out reasonably well worked over, and a delightfully vivid green with a pleasantly tangy taste. We were back in the pickle business.

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