Category Archives: POSTS

CANNING JARS IN NYC: Where to get them

POST #831
Living in New York City, we often get spoiled into thinking that we can get anything here (I know I imagined that it would be that way back when I was still scheming to get here).  Surprise! There are lots of things you can get in other parts of America which are virtually inaccessible to New York City residents — We have no Walmart, and canning jars (Mason/Ball jars) are really hard to track down. I’m lucky that I happened upon an interesting blog, Autumn Makes and Does, with a posting about how to get jars in NYC, and with lots of follow-up postings from her readers, with their own information abut where to get jars.

Last week, I followed Autumn’s advice to go to Ace Hardware, order on-line, and then pick up at an Ace Hardware in the city without  paying shipping.  I ordered on Friday night, and my jars were in the store on Monday.  I couldn’t pick them up until today, and I couldn’t make a copy of my on-line purchase receipt, but the folks at the store were sweet, and let me have my delivery once I told them my true name and showed them an ID which reflected that name.  (My total for a flat of 12 qt. jars was $14 something — $8 cheaper than even amazon with amazon prime)

Here are some other suggestions for places to find canning jars in NYC:
True Value will also ship free-of-charge jars you buy on-line to the local store you specify. The jar prices are competitive with Ace Hardware. There are a number of True Value stores in Manhattan.
Rainbow Ace Hardware at 1st Ave and 75th: Highly-rated canning supply section, with flats of jars in all sizes, lids, canning gadgets and utensils, as well as pectin and pickling spices. Prices said to be not bad for NYC.

Home Depot, 23rd Street: various sizes of jars, and lids.  They say that, if you find a lower price elsewhere, if you talk to the Head Cashier, they will match the price.

Surprise Surprise, 3rd Ave and 12th St:. Carries jars at prices ranging from $1.50 – $2.99. Small discount for flats.
23rd Street Hardware, 23rd Street between 3rd and Park: This is a True Value store. Good selection of jars and lids. May be willing to special order what you don’t see. You can also order on-line and have your order delivered free-of-charge to this or any other True Value store you choose.

10/4/2012 CSA SHARE: The reality

POST #830
Escarole…… ………………………traded for kohlrabi
Mesclun Lettuce Mix……………traded for bok choi
Baby Bok Choi
Japanese Salad Turnips
Green Boston Lettuce…………..traded for kohlrabi
Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes…….traded for bok choi
Toscano Kale
Kohlrabi

There is some interesting dynamic going on. When I really want to get to the CSA distribution first, I get work that prevents that happening.  Work is good. I need the money.

So, today, I was second. The guy, bless his soul, who always gets there first and grabs everything in the share box, in a 3 for 1 deal, where he puts in one thing and takes three, got there first. Apparently he does not like lettuce.  The share box was filled with lettuce and nothing else…. ah, but I dug dug dug down to the bottom of the lettuce and found 2 kohlrabi bulbs. Ha! (apparently he likes kohlrabi, because he was hanging over my shoulder and, seeing me find the kohlrabi, tried to get it from me. Not a chance, big boy!)  I wanted to trade all of the lettuce and the potatoes, so I had to patiently wait for people to come and not want stuff.  Finally, someone didn’t want bok choy– MINE! Finally someone didn’t want kohlrabi– MINE!

Yea! I’ve got enough kohlrabi to make  a quart of pickles.

FIRST TASTE: the latest batch of fermented green beans

POST #827
I was trying to wait for the 4th day, but, finally, I just couldn’t wait, so I opened the jar closest to me to see what I’d got.

I had kind of expected this batch to be spicier, but, instead, it is garlicky, and not so dill-y.   The dill is still there in force, but the garlic is the primary flavor, and there is just a tiny kick from the jalapeno.  Still, these green beans are good, and I know they will be all gone soon.  

The big pieces of garlic are good, too, so I must remember to cut the garlic larger for these green beans, and other things I am adding garlic to.

Tomorrow I can try the carrots, or else, I can leave them another day or so.  Will I be able to wait?  Only the Creator knows at this point.

Meanwhile, yumm!  I am dining on a bowlful of the green beans! 

WHY I DON’T USE WHEY TO FERMENT MY VEGETABLES

POST #802
I’ve been reading a lot of raw fermenting recipes during the last few days (don’t know why it never occurred to me that others were reporting their ferments online before).

In books, and on-line, I’ve found a recommendation to use whey, but I never have and do not plan to (I am very milk allergic — it’s the casein– so I avoid milk products of any kind).  I’v also heard that whey ferments can fail.

I guess I am lucky.  When I set out to make my first batch of sauerkraut, I picked up from somewhere that I could use probiotics powder (or caps) to make a good ferment.  To date, I have only lost one batch, and that was the batch where I forgot to add the probiotics in.

I’ve always used New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora — I don’t rightly remember why I use this particular one, but I do recall that I made a point of chasing it down —  I suppose you could use any other probiotic you have lying around or choose to obtain.

Without having experience in any other way of making fermented vegetables, I think my way works very well, and ferments up in 3 days (for sauerkraut, and just about any other vegetable I ferment).  Sometimes, if I’m working with someone else’s recipe, if they recommend a longer ferment time, I’ll leave it for up to 14 days, but, usually, the longest I leave a jar is 5 days.

I’m excited about trying out all of these new recipes I’ve found recently,  but I expect I will continue my way of fermenting, because it works very well for me.  You might try it yourself.

SOMEBODY TAKE A PICTURE! I actually ATE a peach today.

POST #783
I do love peaches.  I don’t know why I don’t eat them — I’ll blend them into a smoothie or a shake/with cashews, or a pudding/with cashews, but, for some reason, for several years now,  I haven’t eaten a peach.  Today I ate a peach.  It was easy. It was surprising. It was, of course, delicious.  (I got up early and sliced a peach and put it in a little container.  It ended up being my lunch – after I ate the peach, I didn’t want any of the other cool stuff I had packed for lunch).  I think I’ll eat another peach tomorrow.  

If eating a peach is that easy, then I might well eat an apple soon (I’ll drink apple juice, and eat the pulp as apple sauce), but I never put apples in any food, and I never eat apples.  I think I will try slicing up an apple and eating it slice by slice.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do eat some fruit.  I eat grapefruit sections sprinkled with cinnamon.  I eat plums.  I eat prunes. I eat grapes. I eat strawberries. I eat blueberries. I eat raspberries. I eat blackberries. I eat bananas. I eat pineapple.  (There is no way I will eat mango, though.)  I think I’m ready to eat an apple. Maybe.  First, I have to eat my way through this bag of peaches.  I feel like an explorer.

8/23/12 CSA SHARE: What we got and what I took home

POST #786
Here’s what they said we would get, what we got, and what I traded for:

Green Beans – .75 lb bag……………………..traded for basil
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes – 1.25 lbs
Spaghetti Squash – 1 pc
Yellow Onions – 3-4 pcs………………………traded for tomatoes
Chioggia Beets – 1 bun…………………………got watermelon
Red Tomatoes – 6 lb bag
Basil – 1 bun
Apples – bag of 5
Peaches – bag of 5

I was disappointed that I did not get the beets- I was thinking of fermenting half and doing angelhair pasta with the other half.

I traded the onions because I still have a lot left, and the green beans because I didn’t think I would get around to eating them ever.

Watermelon tomorrow for breakfast.

I am going to juice the apples – that will get me applesauce, too – the pulp is enough like applesauce for me to call it like that.

I ate the cherry tomatoes as a quick dinner.

There are enough tomatoes that I can get at least one dehydrator tray worth of tomato flakes/powder (I’m going to grind them up in the food processor and then spread all out on a teflex sheet and dehydrate.  I like to use tomato powder or flakes in recipes, and they save longer dehydrated slices.

I will still have some tomatoes left to eat in slices or chop into salads.  (For some reason, using tomatoes for “spaghetti” topping hasn’t been working for me recently.)

I’m going to dehydrate some of the basil, freeze some of it, and eat a lot of it.  Pesto!

Boy oh boy! Am I ever going to be busy for the next couple of days, what with all that dehydrating.

30 FREE DEHYDRATOR RECIPES

POST #774
The blog Healthy Blender Recipes is offering 30 free dehydrator recipes this month.  You have to go to the blog every day to get the recipes, but the first few I have seen look luscious.  As the blog mentions, some of them look too fancy or expensive to mess with on a whim, but some of the ideas inside of the recipes I will probably never make are useful for things I would make.  Hey! Free recipes are nothing to scoff at.  If you don’t want to make one, don’t download it, or else, do download it on the off-chance that you might make it one day, or that you might use a technique for something else.

IT IS TOO HOT TO EAT! Yes, I have to ingest nutrients

POST #773
Here in NYC, it has just been too hot to eat.  I guess this is where smoothies and green drinks come in.  Actually, I have been eating some of the sauerkraut that came ready last week, although I haven’t gotten around to opening that jar of fermented turnips yet.  My main nutrients have come from blending up the peaches from the CSA for a breakfast smoothie, and eating sliced cucumbers with onions, tomatoes, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. (I used to love those big dishes full of cucumbers that my grandmother put on the table at summer dinners — I’ve just checked with my mom, and she says that all Grandmomma used to do is put the sliced cucumbers and salt and apple cider vinegar in a bowl, and mix it all up and chill it, but Mom says she prefers to mix water into the vinegar so it isn’t so strong).  I guess I’ve gone on and fancied up that famous dish in my memory.

I think I’ll mix cucumbers into sauerkraut tomorrow. We’ll see if that sounds right after I drag in from the heat. If it works, I’ll tell you how I did it.

Meanwhile, with the heat, and the not chowing down, I’ve taken off some pounds, and it looks like I might be able to get into those peach silk pants I bought at Salvation Army last year, figuring I would get back to my fighting weight some day soon.

8/2/12 CSA SHARE: What we got

POST #772
Here is what we got:
Toscano Kale – 1 bun……………………2 med eggplant
Cucumbers – several pcs………………..2 cucumbers
Fennel – 1 hd……………………………….2 sm hds
Fresh Yellow  or Walla Walla Onions – 1 bun…..about 6 med.
Baby Watermelon – 1 pc
Bell Pepper – 1 pc
Green Long Peppers – several pcs
Red Tomatoes OR Sungold Cherry Tomatoes – 2 sm

No kale! Oh well!  I traded the eggplants I got instead for another watermelon.  (I have some good raw vegan eggplant recipes, but I just don’t feel like doing that much work)

I would have liked to trade away the fennel, but there wasn’t anything else to trade for, and some helpful volunteers suggested a fennel and orange salad (something I wouldn’t think of, because I don’t normally put fruit with vegetables – except, of course, with tomatoes)

I also got a bag of regular peaches and another bag of UFO peaches

SAUERKRAUT & SAUERRUBEN: fermented cabbage and fermented turnips

POST #768

I’m being good this week. I said I was going to make sauerkraut and sauerruben (fermented turnips), and, indeed, I am doing it.  I think it took me about 4 hours last night to do all the work, but I did.   Part of my impetus was that my half-full jar of sauerkraut (made about 4 weeks ago) fell out of the refrigerator and shattered  — big mess, dead jar, no sauerkraut this week!

Some raw foodists are concerned about fermented foods.  I am on the side of people like Ann Wigmore (pretty much the “mother” of raw food), and others, who think that it is useful to supplement pro-biotics (yes, you could go and buy capsules or powders, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could get the same benefit through your food?)  I use New Life All-Flora probiotics to jumpstart my ferments.  Some people object to fermented foods as “rotten”, but I don’t happen to be one of them.  I understand that, when you ferment raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds, you create a food product that is rich in probiotics and good for you.

I had 2 small-ish heads of cabbage in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.  When I dug them out and cut them in half, I found, interestingly, that the center of each was going bad, while the outside (about 3 inches worth all around the center) was perfectly fine.   I cut away and discarded the centers, and shredded the rest.

STEP BY STEP SAUERKRAUT (no video, just do it)

  • I shredded the cabbage in my wonderful Cuisinart Food Processor.
  • I put all the shredded cabbage in a large bowl, mixed in 1 tablespoon sea salt, and then mooshed/squeezed it all around with my hands, until the cabbage gave up its juice and was reduced in volume by about 1/2.
  • Then I put all of the shredded cabbage and juice into a quart mason jar (I used the wide-mouth funnel of my Champion juicer to get it in neatly), and smooshed it down until there was about 1/2 inch of space above the juice on top of the cabbage.  (The idea is that you want to pack the cabbage very firmly into the jar.  I do it with my fingers — my fist is a little too large to fit inside a quart jar.  The juice rises above the cabbage.  I do this in the sink, because some of the juice -and a little of the cabbage– might seep out.)
  • After I had the cabbage packed into the jar, I emptied 2 capsules of New Chapter All Flora Probiotic Capsules
    into @1 tablespoon of water and mixed well.  Then I poured the probiotic/water mix into the jar, and used a chopstick to make holes down into the cabbage so the probiotics would go down into the cabbage (I don’t know if this is necessary, but it seems logical, so I do it).
  • Then I put the jar in a bowl and set it in a cool corner of my kitchen (cool? ha ha! It is summer in New York City, and we don’t have air-conditioning. Suffice it to say that I put it in the corner of the stove top — we don’t use the stove, anyway.  That is probably the coolest place in the kitchen).  That was about 7  pm last night.

SAUERRUBEN (fermented turnips)

While I was gearing up to make the sauerkraut, I decided to read through Sandor Katz’s book, Wild Fermentation again.  This time, since I had a slew of turnips in the refrigerator, I noticed the “sauerruben” recipe for fermented turnips.  I held back from my irresistible desire to add stuff to a recipe since I’ve never tried to ferment turnips, and since Sandor says that plain fermented turnips are delicious, and I made the straight recipe with just one addition – I added probiotics, which I always add to fermented foods because, when I do,  my product never ever fails.

STEP BY STEP FERMENTED TURNIPS (SAUERRUBEN)  (no video, just do it)

I honestly can’t tell you how many turnips I used.  They were the “Japanese salad turnips” (smallish, all white).  These were medium-sized turnips – large enough to make it worthwhile to peel them.

  • I peeled then chopped the turnips.
  • I shredded the turnips in my food processor
    (with the S blade) (normally when I do turnips, I grind them to a fine texture somewhat similar to applesauce, but this time, I shredded them a little less, to a chunkier texture — but not by much — I hate to chew)
  • I placed the shredded turnips in a large bowl and added 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  I mixed it all around, then squished/mooshed/squeezed all of the turnip/salt mixture, until it yielded a lot of juice and reduced in volume by about half.
  • Then, I placed the turnips in a 1 pint jar.  At first it seemed the turnips would not all fit in, but, after a lot of mooshing/pressing (which I did in the sink, in case of overflow, of which there was some), I got all of the turnips into the 1-pt jar, with a little space at the top.
  • I emptied 2 capsules of New Chapter All-Flora Probiotic
    into @1 tablespoon of water and mixed well.  Then I poured the probiotic/water mix into the jar, and used a chopstick to make holes down into the turnip mix,  so the probiotics would go down into the turnips.
  • Then I put the the 2-part lid  onto the mason jar (I’ve used recycled jars with plain lids, but the two-part lids of the mason jars are traditional, and you do get some feedback if you use them — as the vegetables ferment, some juice seeps out, which lets you know that your product is successful), and I put the jar in a bowl in the coolest corner of the kitchen, beside the sauerkraut jar.

This afternoon, when I came home about 4 pm, I checked the jars, and I was happy to see in that a little less than 24 hours, they had bubbled out about half a bowl-ful of liquid each.  That is a good sign. Actually, I have never seen so much liquid bubble out in one day before — it could be because I used 2 caps of probiotics instead of just one — whatever the cause, I am happy, and I am excited.

I know that my sauerkraut will be ready in 3 days (although I can leave it for longer — I’ve left it for up to 2 weeks.  I suppose I could leave it for longer, but I like the 3-day flavor).

Since this is my first time with fermented turnips, I will go with Sandor’s suggestion of one week of fermentation (although he ferments without probiotics).  I’m sure it will be fine.  (After my first batch, I will understand what I want to do, i.e., what I might like to add, and how long I will need to ferment it.)

After I finish the turnips, I am going to ferment the beets I have in my refrigerator.  I am sure they will work like the turnips, so I will already have something to go on at that time  (I am imagining that I will add garlic and/or something else to beets)  I’m imagining that the beets will turn out to be really delicious.  I can’t wait.