Tag Archives: natural sauerkraut

NEW BOOKS and SAUERKRAUT

I have been kind of busy lately.  I’ve had to put off a bunch of things I want to do, like finish up my Raw Vegan Nutritionist Centre of Excellence online course (hope they’ll give me some extra time on account of the virus or some other excuse – I really do want to finish the thing up. More about that later.)

My job went from brick-and-mortar English school to on-line virtual English school over one weekend.  We got about 5 minutes of training,  and then they handed me a computer and said, basically ‘go home and do the job’.  So I’m learning how to do that.

Meanwhile, I’m self-isolated in my building. So, what to do.  I accidentally found some raw vegan books when I answered a dumb question on Quora (have you ever done that?)… So, anyway, someone recommended this book, The Health Seekers’ Yearbook:  a Revolutionist’s Handbook for Getting Well and Staying Well Without the Medicine Men, and it’s by Victoria Bidwell, an author I had never heard of before.   This goes on my “early books shelf” – published in 1990 – how did I miss it?  Anyhow it is really seriously about food combining, nutrition, and lifestyle.  It’s kind of strict, but that’s not so bad.   There are some recipes, but not too many… it’s more about managing a very healthy lifestyle with exercise, positive thoughts, and la la la.  Once I’d found that one, I found another one which is pretty much an encyclopedia  (like 2 or 3 inches thick), again talking seriously about nutrition and raw vegan natural hygiene (food combining).

I’m looking forward to having time to sit down seriously and read through these books (I’ve just looked at the index and, yes, they are influenced by T.C. Fry’s work, among others.)

Then, too, I found Cherie Soria’s book Raw Food for Dummies.  How come I didn’t know about that?  Probably because I’ve been working my way to a minimalist approach toward raw veganism, where you don’t need an arsenal of expensive equipment to be raw vegan. (I’m back to my knife, and my cutting board. Okay, I do have a food processor and a spiralizer.  And a nut grinder.  I’ve always followed Soria, and liked her recipes.  Now I have a book full of them, plus lots of instructions for stuff I had forgotten about. This book was published in 2013.  I think that, by then, I had decided that all the great books had already been written.  Nope!  This is a fun romp, with lots of recipes I’ll be willing to make when I get some time (i.e., not everything is made using a dehydrator or a juicer costing hundreds of dollars and requiring gobs of space)

My other news is my new sauerkraut batch.  When I went in the supermarket and saw a head of cabbage for 59cents, I knew it was time.   So, the day before yesterday, I went into the kitchen, chopped up the head of cabbage, chopped like 4 jalapeno peppers, mixed it all with salt, probiotics, and water, and I am eagerly expecting some delish sauerkraut the day after tomorrow.

Oh, yes! I forgot to mention that I have been sprouting lentils like nobody’s business!  They’re so easy, so fast, so gratifying, and so tasty!  It only takes about 3 days to get a nice quart of lentil sprouts, and they’ll last in the refrigerator for 5-6 days!  Yum!  Now, I am a window farmer!

Now, off to teach another class.

GNOWFGLINS – interesting resource for food prep lessons

GNOWFGLINS is a homesteading blog/website/newsletter with mountains of information. Wardee Harmon sends out newsletters with all sorts of useful free  information, and, too, she offers on-line e-classes, each of which contains numerous useful items.  What’s interesting about her courses is that they are offered on a “membership” basis, i.e., you pay by the month (so, if you are like me, you could probably inhale at least 5 courses in the space of a month).  These courses are not exclusively even vegetarian, but quite a few offer useful items for raw vegans (I have my eye on the first course, Fundamentals, which talks about sprouting beans, making water kefir, sprouting whole grains, and making natural pickled foods, among other items which are not of interest to me). Fundamentals II covers equipment for a traditional foods kitchen, natural sweeteners, superfoods, homemade salad dressings and sauces, and kid-friendly snacks, among other things I probably won’t be interested in). LactoFermentation covers all aspects of fermentation (I’ve read Wardee’s book on fermentation, but I still think this might reveal some things to me. I know she uses a whey-based fermenting culture, but I know I can get around that with lactobacillus caps. This lesson promises how to ferment fruit, fermented condiments, kefir, kombucha, and kvass, fermented honey, and more)  The dehydrating course is of interest to me because I am self-taught, and I think I might be able to learn some extra things

That’s 4 courses that I think I can learn something from, which, if I can focus and finish those courses in a month’s time, will make the month’s $17.95 membership very cost-effective. 

You might consider checking out Wardee’s site, and these course offerings – I haven’t seen such a good over-all pricing for the information I am after, and, anyway, I’d like to see how she does this, so I can tell you more at another time.

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)

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).

11/15/12 CSA SHARE: A perfect world: What I got

Post #861
My perfect world:  What we got, what I took home:

Leeks……………………….traded for kale
Watermelon Radish
Green Kale
Russet Potatoes…………traded for cabbage
Cabbage
Broccoli……………………traded for carrots
Baby Carrots

Yep, I wanted it and I got it all!  (I’m kind of worried, though. I hope my nemesis, the old guy who always gets there before I do, even if I get there before the CSA workers do, and always takes whatever I want from the trade  box, is okay.  He didn’t show up in all of the @20 minutes I was there.)

Curiously, the workers were watching me like hawks when I was doing my trades.  Okay, I do go to the trade box first and take what I want, because I want to get what I want before someone else does, and because I know that I will be bringing back certain things (you’ve seen my plans — I stick to them ), but I told them exactly what I would bring back, and I did so as soon as I dug them out of the box.  I took back the broccoli, the leeks (they were few and small), and the potatoes.  I also took the radishes because I thought that maybe something else I wanted would wind up in the box before I left. I went back for the radishes but  I only took three, although I had put in about seven (I realized that later).  

Nuff said about my “CSA experience”

I made up some kale chips last night, only I forgot to put the red bell pepper into the cheeze mix, although it was sitting right there on the table.  Du-umb!  I am here to tell you today that the red bell pepper really does make a difference.  The chips are okay, and I’ll eat them all, anyway, but I will never ever ever forget the red bell pepper again.

I have another large bunch of kale – I think I’ll halve it and make cheddar cheeze chips and smoked jalapeno chips, as well — that was the original plan, anyway.

Those cabbages are big enough to make up maybe 3 quarts of sauerkraut each. Flavor experiments here we come!  

The carrots will probably go to sticks again — those were good.   

BACK HOME & BACK IN THE KITCHEN

POST #846
I’m home at last! The hurricane was coming in, my family valiantly worked to get me out of the Outer Banks, into Virginia Beach, onto a bus to Newport News, VA, and then I had a 10 hr. train odyssey back to New York City (Luckily, I had an arsenal of books and magazines, and…the train had electrical outlets and wi-fi, so I didn’t get a wink of sleep on the all-day train!)

After a long night’s recuperative sleep, I woke up bright and early this morning, did some work around the house, ran around the neighborhood scoring batteries and flashlights and some kale (I figure 2 lbs of kale will make enough kale chips that I can live through any power outage). Everyone’s hurricane-crazed here (insane lines with people in stores talking to total strangers (me) while standing in interminable lines that kept seeming to get longer or else not moving at all, or else both.

This evening, I opened the last jar of kohlrabi/garlic/jalapeno pickles and the last jar of cabbage/jalapeno sauerkraut.

I’d been unhappy about the first jar of kohlrabi, but, after a week, the second jar turned out fine (we ate them up at the beach last week!), and I had left the third jar to see what would happen if they went 3 or 4 weeks. Opening the jar today, I was faced with some busy fizzing, and, when I tried the pickles, I was glad to know that longer works very well. These pickles are even better.

The sauerkraut was a very happy experience! The first jar did nothing for me, but this jar (at 3-4 weeks) turned out very tasty. Yumm!

Right now, I have a jar of lentil sprouts working, and jar of sunflower seed sprouts. Tomorrow morning, after I make up the kale chips and stow them in the dehydrator, I think I will make some sunflower seed crackers from a recipe in Rose Calabro’s book, Living in the Raw … haven’t had those for a while (hopefully, we won’t lose power, and I’ll be able to get them dehydrated for 12 hrs).

ANNIVERSARY MONTH: It was 10 years ago this month that I knew I had taken off 100 lbs. They are still off!

POST #833
Ten years ago, on October 2, my birthday, I realized that my clothes were rather loose.  I ultimately took off @100lbs.

So, now, it has been 10 years that  I have kept the weight off.  I hope you will understand if I reach around and pat myself on the back.  Yeah, I’m proud.  Today, instead of wearing a size 22, I am wearing a size 2.

 

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.

FERMENTED FOODS: My first fermented food book: Truly Cultured

POST #800
Truly Cultured, by Nancy Lee Bentley, was the first book I bought on fermenting foods. I made my first sauerkraut following the recipe in the book (with the exception that I chose to add 2 capsules of New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora — I added the probiotics then, and I continue to add probiotics to my ferments because, when I began making nut cheeze, probiotics were recommended, and I experienced success, and, also, because everyone I spoke to said it was difficult to make sauerkraut, and that, in all likelihood, my first batch would fail.  To date, only one batch, the one I made without the probiotics, has failed).

Truly Cultured is an excellent introduction to making fermented/pickled/cultured foods. I count it among my go-to books on fermentation.