Category Archives: PROBIOTICS

10/03/2013 CSA SHARE: What we got, what I took, & what I will do with it

HERE IS WHAT WE GOT AND WHAT I TOOK:

Baby Beets- 1 bun
Swiss Chard- 1 bun
Boston Lettuce- 2 heads(green or red)       Red Peppers
Tomatoes- mixed variety
Arugula- 1/2 lb. bag
Toscano Kale  – 1 bun
Long Red Peppers -3 pcs

The first major question I heard from other CSAers was “what happened to the beet greens”? Someone figured there was a CSA out there somewhere which had only beet greens and no beets!

With the Swiss Chard, it was me doing the “I will/I won’t” dance. In the end, I did come home with a bunch of chard – just not the bunch I had put in the trade box. What will I do with it?  I am not real sure just yet, but I am thinking wraps with the leaf halves and a ferment with the stems.

Beets?  I just haven’t decided  yet.  Thank heavens beets will stay in the refrigerator for a while, giving you time to think things over.

I ended up bringing home some arugula – I tried it on a sandwich but it was most unpleasant for me. I tried it in a marinated greens recipe, but it was grim.  Dehydrate it and grind it and add it to my super-greens jar?  Sounds like a plan.

At least half of the (sweet) red peppers I came home with will go into a hot ajvar. I know it. I have been radically protecting my Monday night event with New York Ferments, and I’m taking the ajvar with me.  This won’t be a traditional ajvar (you cannot keep me away from garlic – it will be in there, I will likely substitute chili powder for the red pepper needed, and I will probably feel the need to put some onion in it)

The kale? Ah! The kale! Kale cheeze and, probably kale chips!  I do love kale!

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8/29/13 CSA SHARE- what we got and what I am going to do with it

POST #967
Without my blog, yesterday seems so long ago! I mean it! I’m so happy to be back on-line!

WHAT WE GOT
Yellow Potatoes – 1 qt
Scallions – 1 bun
Green Bell Peppers – 2 pcs
Garlic – 1 pc
Tomatoes – 6 lbs
Zucchini – 2 pcs

Somehow, I came away with 3 bunches of scallions and 3 pcs of garlic, and a thing of chard (what do you call a “thing of chard”? Thank heavens for the word “thing”)

I chatted with some interesting ladies at the share distribution (one on the volunteer side of the table, and the other right up next to me, bagging her boxed goodies (I gave her one of my Ziploc bags) Promised to send them some fermenting recipes (should I start a mailing list on these things? I’ll have to look into that!) I expect this weekend is going to be about fermenting – I have some cabbage, all those tomatoes, and, I hope some of last week’s cucumbers have survived)

I decided to keep the potatoes. All of the raw food “experts” are now saying that they are actually eating cooked food. I haven’t done that in a long while (I had the power company cut off the gas a good while back, when the last room-mate left, because I haven’t cooked food in 30 years or so). I do have a rice cooker , a coffee-maker, and a microwave, left by a former room-mate, so I am going to experiment with cooking the potatoes and making a real potato salad (with such raw entries as onions and bell pepper). We’ll see how that goes. (We’re talking: I’m dirt poor right now, and I live off what comes in the box, so, at least, this week, I am going to bend and see what all the hoopla of going off 100% raw is about — okay, folks! I’ve been telling you I am 95% raw, even though I have been 100% raw – this is where that comes in! I am finally going to do something you can point at). I’ll let you know how that goes (I’m feeling kind of sheepish. I mean, how do you cook potatoes without boiling or baking them? I guess I can find the info on the Internet somewhere. Somewhere somebody has put information about how to get boiled-like potatoes in a microwave or a rice cooker — if you know, I’d be grateful if you’d tell me – I’m thinking rice cooker)

So, anyway – I’m going to make a fermented salsa with most, if not all, of the tomatoes. Ferments last longer, and I can combine a fermented salsa with all sorts of things. I am probably going to take one tomato and make a fresh “pasta” with one of the zucchini.

An aside – I am kind of bummed that I won’t be able to go to the September meet-up of “NYC Ferments” – they are doing “fermented fruit” this time, and I was planning to take a fermented squash salsa  (check it out on meetup.com), because I have work that night (yea, work! helps pay the rent)

Stay tuned! I’m back! Yea! (thank you WordPress, and thank you, Lord!)

WOW! WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Joys of fermentation

POST #934
I just started my two sauerkraut batches last night, but when I came home tonight, there was a funny smell … heck! I know I cleaned the kitchen last night, and I know I threw out the trash this morning…… 

When I checked the sauerkraut, I found where the smell was coming from!  Aha! That kimchi juice is working its magic!  (Will the sauerkraut made with the kimchi juice have a kimchi essence to it? I’ll know on Tuesday night, when I open it.

The happy note is that both jars are working hard – the bowls they are sitting in were almost full of expelled water!  That is always the first and best sign that things are going according to plan (I am suddenly curious as to whether this is the sauerkraut juice people speak of.. If you know, please tell me)

MY LATEST FERMENT-ATHON IS ON!

POST #932
I have just put up my latest two jars of sauerkraut.  I don’t always tell you about my sauerkraut jars, simply because I always do them the same way, more or less.  This time, however, I have done two things differently, and one is a big experiment for me.

I’ll start with the big experiment:  I have always made my sauerkraut with probiotics powder, and it has always worked for me – the only failure I have ever had was the batch where I forgot to put in the probiotics.   I keep hearing about using sauerkraut juice or kimchi juice from previous batches, and I’m curious (I never end up with juice, really – so I wonder about that, too).  A few weeks ago, at the Union Square Greenmarket, I found a stall that was selling kimchi juice as a tonic.  I asked them how I would use it to start sauerkraut, and they suggested I use a couple of tablespoons to a jar of sauerkraut.  So… tonight, I put up one jar using only 2 T of the kimchi juice.

Different thing number two, which goes for both jars:  I am going to a fermented foods meet-up where we are supposed bring some garlicky fermented food.  Garlic goes in most things I make, so… what is garlicky? Do I put more?  I decided to add about 8 cloves of garlic for each of the two  heads of cabbage.  In addition, I sliced up about 3 fairly large jalapeno peppers and added them to the mix, simply because I have always liked my sauerkraut spicy, and spicier sounded like a good idea.

One interesting thing happened: when I went to open the probiotics capsule, I had a hard time with it, and then it slipped and fell into the water I was going to mix it into.  Since that was my last capsule, I could not afford to lose it, so I ended up swishing it around in the water – the gelatin capsule finally gave up the powder, but was still solid enough for me to remove it from the water. That’s good to know – I mean, I don’t plan to extract the powder that way, but, I won’t have to worry any more if I drop the cap into the water.

The two jars are sitting there in bowls on my stove shelf (I don’t use my stove, so I have a large cutting board covering the burners, and, when I am fermenting, half of that goes to the ferments).   Both jars have the “dome lids”, i.e., the two part lids, although the jar with the kimchi juice has a re-usable plastic disk for the dome lid.

My meet-up is on Wednesday, so that gives me 3 days to ferment.  I am confident that the probiotics mix will be ready on time, but I am not sure about the kimchi juice ferment. I’ll just have to test it on Tuesday night and see how it is.

SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: why other people don’t like raw sauerkraut and how you can

POST #899
SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: Why Other People Don’t Like Sauerkraut, and How You Can

Swayze Foster recently posted a “low-sodium” sauerkraut-related video, in which she talked mostly about how she hates sauerkraut.

I’m a fermenter, and I do like sauerkraut, and I have been lucky that everyone who has tasted my sauerkraut has liked it (I do get lucky like that – people who say they are don’t like something that I am pushing  generally tend to like it once they have tasted it). 

Swayze says she put her sauerkraut in a jar covered by leaves, and topped  by cheesecloth to ferment for three days. That is, by me, the first mistake – if you are going to make “short-ferment” vegetables of any sort, you need to 1) press the vegetables down under the liquid, and/or 2)cover the recipient with a tight lid.

I’ve tried several ways to weight the vegetables, all of which involved putting a cabbage leaf on top and putting a weight on that, and then putting the lid on.  Each time, I have ended up with a slimy cabbage leaf, and an iffy batch of sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut I make is low sodium (I use a maximum of 1 T sea salt to a large head of cabbage — 2 1-qt jars worth). The sea salt is already low sodium, and it helps to draw the liquid/juice from the cabbage.  I find that the kicker, or the trick, to making a successful, tasty raw sauerkraut is the addition of 1 – 2 capsules-worth (or 1 teaspoon) of probiotics to the mix  (you could mix it in by hand, but I worry that some might get stuck on my glove and not remain in the mix, or you could mix it into the water you add to top off the jar)  The salt works to ferment, but salt wants a while.  The probiotics go to work immediately, and practically ensure that your batch of sauerkraut will succeed (when I first started making sauerkraut, I was warned that my first batches might fail – the only failed batches I have ever had were the ones where I did not use the probiotics)

I usually let my sauerkraut batches go for 3-4 days before I open them.  With the tight cap on them, I need to open them over the sink, as the probiotics will have created a fizzy pressure, and the cabbage sometimes pops out of the top of the jar.  I like the sweetness of the 3-4 day ferment, but I have left it as long as 7 days with no ill results.  My batches rarely last more than 7 days in the refrigerator, as, when I have a batch of sauerkraut, it goes into almost everything I make up (wakame seaweed and vegetable salad, raw tuno, crackers – you name it!)  I often eat it on its own, as I love the flavor (I most frequently simply add jalapeno pepper slices, but often I add garlic, dill, cilantro, curry powder, or kimchi spices).

The way I figure it is, if you don’t like raw sauerkraut, most probably, you have gotten a bad batch, or you don’t like the flavorings.  A simple, plain raw sauerkraut made with just sea salt and probiotics will be tasty, sweet-ish,  to almost anyone, even children, and will be a good addition to just about anything you want to make up.

One last thing about sauerkraut, or any other fermented vegetable: If you don’t like to chew,  or if you don’t like crunchy, process your vegetables to a fine grate (not applesauce texture, but more like if you chopped for 20 mins) and be sure to include probiotics in your mix (many people tell me you can use sauerkraut juice from an older batch, but I never have that much juice left, and I don’t trust commercial batches.  For my first batches, I used a Zukay salad dressing for the probiotic, but, since Zukay salad dressings are not available in New York City as of this writing, and the company refuses to sell even crates of their product to individual buyers, I have never used that since).

OPENING CEREMONY: You can’t always get what you want

POST #867
OPENING CEREMONY this afternoon.

IT’S A GO!
The cranberry sauce I made from the cranberry pulp left over after I made cranberry juice came out very well.  I tried a spoonful, then spooned out about a cup on the plate and inhaled it. Yumm!  This stuff is too good to share. It’s mine, all mine!  I’ll make some more as soon as I get some oranges.

The butternut squash came out rather spicy, but, mixed with my fresh lentil sprouts, it was delicious.  I’ll use it as an ingredient, not as a dish on its own, and the next time I make it, I will go a lot easier on the jalapenos.  It is good enough that I’ll mix it with lentil sprouts and take it to a potluck party this coming weekend.

The sauerkraut is good, but somehow I made it too salty. How did I do that? No clue – I am very parsimonious with salt.  I am going to leave it another week to see if it gets better.  It is still good, just saltier than I would like it to be.

Mmmm.  Well, this is the first time I have opened up stuff that I haven’t absolutely loved right off the bat.  Actually, this is the first time I have made any foodstuff that I did not like. (I guess it had to happen sooner or later.)

I’M BLUE
The cranberry sauce that I made from the recipe I got from a book was not the best stuff I have ever eaten.  For some reason, it lost all its color, and had little taste. I’m not even sure there is anything I can do with it, other than throw it out.

 This is the first time I tried fermenting mushrooms, and it will be the last. First, the mushrooms really do shrink down to very little. That wouldn’t be a problem if I like the texture or the taste.  I did a jar of portobellos and a jar of criminis, and I didn’t like either.  I’ll probably stick these in some soup where they might hide from me. 

GRAND OPENING: Cultured Butternut Squash

POST #858
Back to the fermented butternut squash I told you about several days ago.

This was “opening night”!  WOO-HOO!
I want you to know that I have squirmed every day and night since I put that stuff up.  Because of the smell the fermenting gave off, I was afraid I had put in too much garlic, and then I worried I had put in too much jalapeno.  I had already started planning what I could do with it if I couldn’t eat it straight out of the jar.  (I’ve never gone through so much agony over a ferment before)

Well, tonight was the night I decided to open it up.  Tentatively, I took a heaping forkful out and put it in a bowl. Even more tentatively, I took a small forkful in my mouth!

Oh my!  Heavens!  Goodness! Woo-hoo! Oh boy! Wow!  This stuff beats tomato salsa in sweet flavor.  The squash is soft (the way I had hoped it would be — easy chewing), and the flavor is …. pickled!  Amazing!  I did not put any vinegar in the mix, but you’d think I had, from the bright, sweet flavor.  The garlic is not overwhelming, and the jalapeno just gives a mild zing.  I love that vinegary taste, for sure.

I combined it half and half with a “TuNo” mix, and ate a big bowl of it.

I can see grinding this up fine and making a spread to put on other food, or sandwiches, or use as a dip.  I could use it as a soup base.  I could use it as a salad base and add some sprouts (that reminds me, I need to make some new lentil sprouts).

Suffice it to say – this stuff is yummy!

This is stuff I could get hungry for all over the place  (and I don’t get hungry for much).

I will have to start a couple of new jars at least by tomorrow, because I want to show off this stuff and give it to my next-door-neighbors, people who have helped me or given me stuff, and some people I really don’t like (must do something to resolve the karma).  They will get the next jars!  This stuff is all for me!

Meanwhile, except that I am full, I would go right back to the kitchen and eat some more of this stuff. It is really good.