Category Archives: RAW FERMENTATION

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!)

KOMBUCHA & KEFIR RESEARCH

POST #942
I have the kombucha scoby and the water kefir grains in the refrigerator. The Russell James Chef Homestudy course I’m going through now has, just this week, given me a very good grounding in what I need to do for kombucha and kefir brewing. I just like to read up on as much background as I can.

KOMBUCHA
kombucha scoby getkombuchaI’m finding out that I may have destroyed my kombucha scoby – who knew that you shouldn’t put it in the refrigerator. Well, it’s been in there almost a week, and I probably won’t try to do anything with it until at least tomorrow. (the scoby picture is from getkombucha.com)

Meanwhile, I have found two downloadable kombucha brewing guides on-line:

The Cultures for Health ebook  is very extensive – it covers in pretty much detail just about anything you want to know. This site also has quite a few informative videos on kombucha

Kombucha Kamp’s kombucha guide is concise and informative. I like it as a checklist for after I have read through the entire Cultures for Health book.

Yemoos Nourishing Cultures’ kombucha FAQ  has some useful information, as well.

More details at GetKombucha.com What is Kombucha

dried kombucha kombuchananaDrying kombucha – I kept trying to find out how to dehydrate kombucha, but never came up with anything much about using a dehydrator. Most of the info was about how to air dry it. I saw one mention of dehydrating at 105 degrees, but when I tried to follow that google link, I didn’t find anything further. It seems you are supposed to dry it to jerky consistency, but, on kombuchanana , which has some interesting ideas for what to do with dried scoby, I saw this picture where it looks pretty dry.

water kefir grains wikipediaKEFIR
Cultures for Health has videos on water kefir . Their ebook deals only with milk kefir, but it is free and has interesting information (the picture is from Wikipedia)

Yemoos Nourishing Cultures has an extensive online water kefir “book”  which covers just about anything you could want to know.

Wellness Mama’s recipe promises Kefir soda  .

Lea’s Cooking’s kefir article  gives her recipes , as well as recipes she has found in her web research

GRAND OPENING: SAUERKRAUT

POST #936
I opened the sauerkraut this afternoon – at 3-1/2 days.  The jar I made with probiotics was great, as usual, but I am not terribly crazy about the jar made with the kimchi juice.  It is okay, I mean, it isn’t off or anything, but I am not so sure I like the taste. It seems a little bitter to me. Perhaps it will grow on me (meantime, I can hope that the people at the meet-up do like it and eat it all up).  I’ve put what was left in the jar back on the board to ferment a little longer – that might help, too.  I was kind of surprised that, despite all the garlic and jalapeno I put in there, it doesn’t taste all that garlicky (at least not to me) nor does it seem overly spicy.

I put half of each jar into pint jars, identifiable by different lids, to take to the meet-up tonight.  I always hope the people will like what I have made.  This is my first time with this group, so it should be interesting.

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)

PENNI SHELTON’S APRIL INITIATIVE – check it out

change your life

POST #913
I’ve always liked Penni Shelton’s work at RAWFOOD REHAB.  Just now I’ve seen that she has a new program, April Wellness Initiative,  that might work for a lot of people.  Check it out. (btw, I get no kickback for telling you about this – I just think it is a good opportunity.)  Participating in group work is often quite fulfilling. Penni has priced this program at a highly reasonable price, to make it available to more people.

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).