Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Smreka! Juniper Berry Ferment

Smreka....fun word to say.  Just had to try this.  Someone in a class suggested I make this, they said all you need is a cup of juniper berries and good water and a gallon glass jar.   That sounded easy enough so I bought the juniper berries, another gallon jar and of course my own chlorine-free, "Prill Water" at ph 8.5.  No sugar or anything sweet was added.  It was supposed to sit for a month!   It took about a week before I saw any fermentation activity but the berries began this cute little "dance" of bobbing up and down slowly in the water.  Fun to watch. 
At my class last week at the Herb Shop here in Orem, (the shop where I bought the juniper berries)  I poured off (decanted) Smreka and all of us had a taste.  This was a week before the month was up, but hey, it was a new fermentation and I wanted to share the moment with others. 

Well?   It was kinda boring....not much flavor to it. It was definitely fermented and gratefully, no discernible alcohol, but just not exotic or exciting like I had hoped. 

I had a half a gallon left so I took it home.  Others suggested I add some more flavoring to it so I added some sliced ginger, a small organic lemon and a handful of raisins.  

For the next few days it fermented just fine and then today I decanted it and the flavor was really much better. I could taste the lemon and ginger but not the raisins or juniper berries.

  I decided to do a second ferment so I put all the berries, ginger, lemon and raisins back in and added more water and put the paper/elastic cap back on.   I think within the next couple days I will buy some more juniper berries and add some new ones. 

When I "muscle tested" this drink, it rated very high for me.  So, I'm going to keep it going for a while.  I like that it didn't require sugar.  I guess the sugar came from the berries when soaked, they split open a bit and the lactobacilli got access to the sugar and started the ferment.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Water Kefirs!

I have water kefirs!   These are big and healthy and reproduce well in captivity!   I got them from a friend, not a box.  Now the reason I am so excited about this is two-fold: 1.  my husband will drink finished water kefir and he likes it  2.  I had bad experience with last batch couple years ago and didn't want to start again. But, these guys look like they will be fun to work with and any fermented drink I can get my husband to drink will be a winner for me.   In a couple weeks I should have enough to start selling them if anyone is interested.  

I make water kefir in a 2 quart jar with 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 tsp. dark molasses added to 2 quarts of filtered or chlorine-free water. When the kefirs are added to this mixture with a lid on top, it sits in the fridge for a week then the kefir grains are strained out and put in a smaller jar with more sugar and water and kept in the fridge to await another big batch.  The large container of kefir water is then consumed.  It can be flavored with added fruit or juice but I wouldn't try essential oils.  The lemon essential oil I used on a batch tasted great but it killed off the pro-biotic mirobes that are one of the benefits of drinking a fermented product.  

Some fermentors keep the kefir grains going full time from batch to batch and they bottle the kefir water with different flavors and seal tightly so the carbon dioxide gas builds up and causes the opened bottle to fizz, like a soda pop. In fact, many people start fermenting with water kefirs to take the place of soda pop.  

I found that my microbes like a chlorine-free water that is slightly more alkaline than neutral ph of 7.  I get this by using "Precious Prills" (magnesium crystals) with city tap water.  After sitting a few hours in a glass container with these "Prills" the chlorine has escaped and the ph has been raised to a nice 8.5 which my microbes like. ( I sell Precious Prills too or you can look them up online)  

I also found out that the microbes, the friendly ones, need minerals, like we do, that is why I add some molasses to the sugar water mixture.  It is amazing what the friendly microbes do with just sugar, molasses and water.   They turn that bare minimum food into a healthy, pro-biotic liquid that tastes good and is very "gut friendly".   

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sourdough Banana Nut Bread

OK, a kind friend brought me some big, very ripe bananas that had to be used up right away.  I don't like freezing them.....takes up too much freezer space and I forget about them.   So, I came up with sourdough banana bread.  I don't bake sweet things very often either, because I eat it and stuff like this is just another weight gain source for me....not my husband.  But, this recipe turned out well and I used my small loaf pans and froze the finished loaves except one.  These I will keep in freezer...if labeled properly so I don't forget them.

Note; Using sourdough start for this kind of baking has some health advantages: the natural yeasts and bacteria in your start do some good things to the flour if given enough time...18-24 hours.  They start to consume or deconstruct the starches and the proteins which makes them more digestible for them and for US.  Soaking the flour also reduces the phytic acid on all grain flours, nuts and seeds, thereby rendering the minerals and nutrients bio-available for us. Baking also kills all natural yeasts, which is desirable. This is how to get some nutrition from the sweet baked stuff so many of us crave.   

Day before baking; combine the following...

3 eggs
 2/3 cup soft butter, or coconut oil or olive oil
1/2 cup sourdough start (you fed this yesterday)
1/2 cup kefir or whey or yougurt
1 tsp, Real Salt
1 huge or 2 small really ripe mashed banana
(you could also use pumpkin or squash puree about 1/2 cup)
2 cups of flour, mixed varieties like; whole wheat and sprouted spelt, or kamut or white wheat

optional; some raisins, soaked walnuts or pecans, chia seeds or flax seeds.

Mix together then cover until next day.  Then add
3/4 cup honey or agave or combination or same amount dry sweet stuff like sugar ( I like to use honey crystals).
Add 1 tsp.baking soda and maybe 2-3 drops lemon essential oil or vanilla. 

Pour into greased loaf pans or a 9x9 square baking dish.  Bake at 350 for at least 30 minutes or longer if in a single baking dish.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kefir Cheese Dehydrated

In the bowl with spoon is my kefir cheese that I got by separating the whey from the caseine by using my Dairy Strainer Cloth ( I show how this is done in older blogs and in my classes)....you can see the cloth on the wooden board and the scraper tool I use to get it off the cloth. The cloth cleans up very fast in warm water and dries fast also.  It is a polyester fabric designed for use in 'silk screen' printing. I do sell those at my classes for $10.  

I flavor the kefir cheese with either honey, maple syrup, garlic powder and salt or curry and other spices and herbs.  Nice thing about cheese is that it can flavor up sweet or savory.  Once flavored, if I know I am not going to consume it within 3 days, I spread it out on some clear plastic trays ( that came with my L'Quip dehydrator) and dry it.   

In the front of the picture is a snack size, zip lock bag with some dehydrated kefir cheese.  These bags are labeled and kept in the fridge.  I've used them to flavor commercially sold sour cream and to inoculate ( takes about 2-3 days) the commercial product with living kefir microbes, which of course, are  better pro-biotics than the commercial varieties.  

I know, a lot of trouble, but I can't imagine a future without my raw milk kefir and this is a small way to prepare for an uncertain future.   

Sourdough Muffins and Silicon Cups

I've posted this recipe before but it is worth posting again and this time I have picture of muffins with these colorful silicon muffin cups, regular size.  I have a set of 18 of these cups and have used them for over a year now and I'm very happy with them.  I don't have to grease them before dropping dough in them and the baked muffins come out perfectly.  Once filled, I place them in my old metal muffin tins so they keep form but my guess is that they would keep their form without my old tins.  Love the colors too.  Now, if giving away muffins, I still use the papers but for our use, silicon is the way to go. 

My recipe is for 18 muffins and my husband goes through 2 of these a day.  Doesn't cause constipation in him and he is satisfied.  I eat one per batch because they are a source of weight gain for me.  

Sourdough basic Muffin recipe:

Day before baking: Mix together...

2 eggs 1/2 cup sourdough start  ( you fed your starter yesterday)
1/2 cup water or kefir or milk or whey or yogurt
1/3 cup olive oil or soft butter or ghee or coconut oil
1/2 cup honey or agave or combination (but hold until next day before baking)

1 cup whole spelt or wheat flour or sprouted flour
1/3 cup  millet flour'
1/3 cup  oat flour
1/3 cup  other flour, white or corn or brown rice
1 tsp. Real Salt
1/2 tsp.  baking soda (hold until next day before baking)
optional:   some raisins, nuts, chia seeds or flax seeds and some flavoring like vanilla or lemon essential oil.  If using essential oils save until right before baking as they can kill the yeasts prematurely.  I love the flavor of lemon, orange, cinnamon and ocatea.  Not all in the same batch...individual batches.  

Mix together all ingredients except the honey and the baking soda.  You will add those right before baking.  Cover bowl and allow to ferment overnight.  Next day, add the honey and baking soda....dough will poof up a bit and then fill those lovely silicon cups 2/3 full.   Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.   
While hot, I brush on some coconut oil.  When cooled down, I store them in the silicon cups in a large plastic lidded container in the fridge until they are gone. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November and December Classes

I think this is it for 2014.    Up coming classes:

The next one is Tuesday Nov. 11 at the Herb Shop in Orem on State Street just a block south of Center Street at 6:30.   This class will be the usual introduction to Fermentation with emphasis on vegetable ferments and lacto-fermentation of all read canned foods.   No fee but plenty of tastes. 

The next two classes are at my house in Orem, 727 N. 450 East.   No fee
Wed. Nov. 19 at 7:00.  This class will focus on 
"Grains, Sourdough and Pulses;  Wheat Sensitive Alternatives for Health and Food Storage".   I will have blood type pulse combinations for tasting and packages for sale.  

Tues. Dec. 16  also at my house but in the afternoon at 1:00 pm.  The emphasis will be on lacto-fermentation of all ready canned foods and vegetable ferments.  I will also demonstrate how to put together a basic cabbage sauerkraut.      No fee