Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grandaughter Will Eat Vegetables; If they are Fermented!

       She is 2 1/2 and is very fussy about vegetables much to her mother's distress.  I visited them recently and her mother and I put together some fermented vegetables.  It was a traditional  recipe my daughter-in-law liked with some canning spices and a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs.   I convinced her to try fermenting this recipe instead of using sugar, distilled vinegar and cooking them by water bath process.

       We put her recipe all together then used chlorine free water and 1 tablespoon of Real Salt per quart.  We used  wide-mouth quart jars and found some drinking glasses. whose bottoms fit within an inch, the openings of the wide-mouth jars for the fermenting process.  The glasses fit into the jars just enough to keep the floating vegetables down under the brine.  I wish I had taken a picture of them.  

     I had to leave so did not see or taste the results.  When I got home I repeated a similar process and left them to ferment 5 days, repacked the vegetables into 4 quart jars, lightened lids,  then cold storage for another 5 days.   I kept one quart in my fridge after tasting them and the other 3  quarts are in my basement.  They are wonderful!

     Now  here is the punch line.....when my son called me, I asked him how those "pickles" turned out and he excitedly told me that they turned out great but the best part was that  SHE ate them and asks for more!   My fussy granddaughter will eat vegetables prepared this way!   Is the spices?  Is the salty?  is it the texture?   They don't know.  Could it be her body wants the pro-biotics?  Don't know....it is a wonder.  I am hoping  that this might be a good motivation for other frustrated parents or grandparents to try no-cook, vegetable fermenting. 

     You will need.....Chlorine-free water,  a variety of vegetables, some pickling spice, some Real Salt or other mineral rich sea salt, and some clean glass jars.  

For 4 quarts of pickles ; 2 large 2-quart jars 
4 carrots peeled and cut into sticks
4 stalks celery trimmed and cut into 3 inch sections
10-12 peeled garlic cloves
half head of cauliflower cut into florets
2 low to medium  heat peppers sliced long and seeded
half head of green cabbage cut into small wedges
1 large turnip partially peeled and cut into sticks
2 medium onions cut into quarters or small pearl onions peeled
2-3 sprigs of fresh dill
4 TBS "pickling spice"
4 TBS Real Salt or other mineral-rich sea salt
2 quarts or more of chlorine-free water

     Clean, trim and chop vegetables and pack clean jars.  Press down with your fist.  Make sure each of 4 jars gets garlics and fresh dill and the "pickling spice".  Dissolve the salt into 2 quarts of chlorine-free water and then fill the jars to within 1 inch of top.  The vegetables will want to float so this is where you need something clean and heavy to weight down the vegetables under the brine.  The "starter" is all ready on the the vegetables.   The starter is friendly Lactobacillus bacteria and it is on all healthy, produce from a healthy garden.  They eat or consume the sugars from the juice of the vegetables.  Normal rinsing of garden vegetables will not wash them off.  You have to sterilize the vegetables with come chemical or cook the vegetables to kill them off.

       For fermented "pickles" we want those bacteria on the vegetables and on your hands and knives and chopping board.  They are very salt tolerant.  The salt water or brine protects them while they consume the vegetable sugars and produce all the wonderful vitamins and bio-enzymes that are so good for us.  They also produce Lactic acid which preserves the food and tastes so good....kinda like vinegar but not as harmful and acidic.  It's actually alkaline which tastes like acid vinegar but is very good for our bodies.  Fermented vegetables, is how our ancestors processed much of their garden produce to last through the winter and with it's minerals and vitamins they were able to retain their health until they could get spring produce and  the next harvest.  They used big ceramic crocks with crock plates that fit and held the vegetables down under the brine.

     The  'air-lock' systems you see in my pictures were constructed from Tattler Lids which fit our wide-mouth jars so well and air locks from a beer brewing company. If I did not have these, I would use glass jars, marbles or something else heavy that will fit the jars.  These are just so convenient.    The fellow ferment er that constructs these and sells them is Dr. Kyle Christensen of Utah County.    A set of 2 he sells for s13.00.   He can be reached at email address;    kylesinthegarden@gmail.com


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Natural Yeast, Mulit-grain, Seeded Crackers

My husband loves these crackers with raw milk cheddar cheese most days in his lunch.  He needs the calories, I don't so I have just a few crackers out of every batch and I like them with fermented bean dip or kefir cheese dip or with cheddar cheese.  This recipe makes about 4-5 dozen.  Soaking for 8 hours or more reduces the phytic acid on all grain and seeds which frees up the nutrients and makes them more bio-available.  Using natural yeast or sourdough allows the yeasts to start the process of deconstructing the starches and proteins that can be very difficult to digest without help from our friendly microbes.  Soaking with live cultures makes the grain flour more digestible.

The idea is to mix the flours with sourdough or natural yeast starter and water or whey or kefir and let sit at room temp for 8 or more hours.  I let my dough sit for 2 days, but this long, I put the dough in the fridge.  A food processor is useful making this recipe because the dough is rather stiff and hard to mix.  I like mixing and squeezing with both hands.  

1/2 cup starter
1/2 cup whey, or milk or kefir or yogurt
1 1/2 cup whole spelt flour or wheat flour
1/3 cup rye flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup oat flour or brn rice flour
1/2 tsp chia seeds
1 TBS  flax seeds or toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp Real Salt
1/2 cup soft butter

1 1/2 tsp baking soda (right before baking)

When mixed either by hand or in processor, put dough in a bowl and cover with plastic.  Allow to soak for at least 8 hours, like overnight  or 24-48 hours but in fridge. Prepare for baking by working the baking soda into dough with hands or processor then roll  out dough on floured surface or pastry cloth to 1/8 " thickness.  Cut into squares and with spatula carefully remove to a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper on cookie sheet.  Brush each cracker with melted butter and pierce each cracker  with a fork about 4 times.  Bake in oven low temp about 150 degrees for a couple of hours until very dry.  I like to broil the crackers first to turn them a golden brown....but you have to keep an eye on them so they don't burn.  Broiling is not necessary.  After broiling them to get nice surface color, I transfer them to my dehydrator for a few hours at 100 degrees to dry them out. They store nicely in a large zip lock bag or covered plastic container. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Preparedness Expo; Orem, Utah

Two days of talking, teaching and selling starters and some cloths and Precious Prills.  I had a great time teaching folks about getting healthier with fermented foods.   Hello, to all who talked to me and actually looked up my blogspot.  It was so nice to meet all of you.  I'd say 2/3 of the people I talked to knew something about fermenting and and half of those were doing kefir or yogurt at home.  The other 3rd had never heard of fermented foods before so it was great fun for me to teach about it.

I have learned that beginning fermenters will do best with one fermented food at a time andt first one I reccomend  is milk kefir.  Milk kefirs are pretty hard to kill off, and they do a good ferment of any milk within a short time....like 18 to 24 hrs.  They also are very tolerant of the natural lactobacillus in raw milks.  With yogurts you have to heat raw milk up to kill the lactobacillus because the yogurt strains of bacterial do not like the competition for lactose  ( I guess that is the reason)  anyway, it's hard to make yogurt with raw milk.   I've heard of a strain of yogurt that will tolerate the lactobacillus but haven't picked up a start yet.  I have 2 different kinds of milk kefir starts, one for raw milk and one for pasteurized milk. They are a little different but both work very well in turning milk into kefir.

Kefir just tastes good too especially if you blend it in a smoothie with some fruit and juice and just a little stevia for those in the family that like it sweeter.  Another thing you can do with kefir or yogurt is separate cultured milks using a cloth like the one I demonstrated at the Expo, into whey and soft cheese.  The cheese can be scraped off the flat polyester cloth I sell and stored in a container in the fridge and flavored either with  fruit jam/preserves or flavored with garlic and herbs for a dip.   The whey can be used to ferment other foods especially canned foods like beans and salsa and fruit juice.  Heat canning kills natural lactobacillus and other bad mircroes as well, but the food is basicly dead.  It has some nutrient value of course, but with some pre-planning you can open that food and introduce some whey with living lactobacillus  and give it a couple, three days of fermenting  and you can boost the nutrition and add flavor with the lactic acid the microbes make.

Kefir is just so versitile and so "gut friendly" as a pro-biotic food and so easy to make that is really is the best choice for a beginning fermentor.

Second choice after you get the hang of kefir, is sauerkraut or some other fermented vegetable "pickle".
Check out my older posts for these recipes and processes.