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Category Archives: Fermented Foods

Fermented Kale

I work a farmers market and one of the things that I almost always have left over at the end of the day is Kale.  Mid-westerners are known to not like their vitamin K and although they “know they should be eating more greens” they simply cannot make the change from yellow (corn) to green leafy stuff.

I don’t really have a set way to do kale but the last time, I chopped it up very finely in the food processor, added in a little shredded onion and carrot, garlic, lime juice, Braggs Amino Acids, and of course salt. The idea was to duplicate the flavor that goes into my kale chips….well, it didn’t turn out tasting like Kale Chips but it is still tasty and a good way to consume the nutrient dense kale.

A person’s liking for fermented food is as individual as the person themselves.  For instance, Hubby likes his Kraut shredded, he likes the texture better.  Darling Daughter likes it slaw cut ( grated).  Instead of making two batches, I try to vary it each time I make it.    Almost every week for the past 10 years I have filled jars with some concoction, with something always working in one corner of the house or other.

Something for consideration, particularly with children, is that their tastes buds can be more sensitive so too much hot peppers or spices can be overpowering.   When one starts the GAPS diet we tend to want to make things as “flavorful” as possible to entice the children….when in reality the child may do best on having foods a bit more bland and then gradually add in the herbs and spices.  And I think this goes ditto for aging palates as well.  Things that we might have liked when we were younger change too as we age.  So if you have family members that lean more to the “basic flavors”, I encourage you to stick to the basics. As fermenting is becoming all the rage, we do not have to compete with our neighbors with more hot peppers, cumin, etc.  Nor are we slaves to a particular recipe.  A good basic beans with onion can be as satisfying as the ones with all the extras.  If mild Kimchi is preferred over the dragon breathing kind then make it mild. The goal is to have your family consuming these foods at every meal.  Our fermenting should be to satisfy our family not to try and out do others.  If it is too hot, overly spicy, or the flavor just grows boring, the consumption will slack off and our family will lose the intestinal benefits they gain from eating them.  In the growing community of fermenting it is important to remember that we are all after the same thing, intestinal health and that we need to love one another and support one another in our individual preferences.

Happy Fermenting!!

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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Fermented Foods, Greens, Kale

 

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Lactose Fermented Kimchi

There is always something brewing in my kitchen.  This week it is Kimchi, pickles, grape leaves, and a catmint (not catnip) tincture.  There was also a pot of tea but I omitted it from the photo.

If you haven’t tried fermented Kimchi I am here to encourage you.  When you make it you can control the level of heat that you put into it.  I like it mildly hot but one daughter likes it best without the heat so I make it mild and then sprinkle on extra cayenne pepper when I want it.

Kimchi is made out of a nappa cabbage, a head of bok choy, a small daikon radish (but you can use regular salad radishes), 3 or 4 scallions, a 2 inch chunk of ginger root peeled and grated, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic.   Oh yes, and I add 2-3 carrots!!  You can omit any of these ingredients but for the best tasting Kimchi use them all.   And if you like hot food add in some dried hot peppers, and if you don’t like hot food skip them completely.  Kimchi is just as good without the heat.

I chop my nappa cabbage and bok choy up coarsely.  Small enough that it will pack in jars comfortably but not shredded like for sauerkraut.   After I get every thing chopped up I add 1 TBSP of sea salt (sometimes more if the heads of cabbage and bok choy were large) and 4-6 TBSP of kefir or yogurt whey.  And before I stir it all up I take my paparika shaker and give it all a generous sprinkling of paparika.  This will give the Kimchi that good red color and enhances the flavor.

After I get everything in the bowl, I toss it all together and allow the bowl to set for an hour or so.  This is not necessary but I have found allowing my kraut and kimchi to sit in the bowl for a little while helps the packing process.  The salt begins the break down process which makes for easier transfer from bowl to jars. 

I pack the Kimchi into the jars, packing the ingredients down with a wooden spoon until the juice rises above the contents.   Fill the jar giving yourself about an inch of head space.  I set the jars in the little plastic boxes that mushrooms come in to catch any overflow of brine.  The kimchi sets out for three days before I transfer it to the fridge.  

I often eat Kimchi with a splash of Braggs Amino Acids.  Out of all of the fermented foods that I make Kimchi is probably my most favorite.   So if you have only made sauerkraut, you might want to give Kimchi a try!!

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Cabbage, Fermented Foods

 

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Rambling On About Fermented Foods

 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, fermenting is sort of a hobby that I have. I have tried all kinds of things, finding some totally not to our liking and others very good.   Because we make gallons of kefir we always have excess whey so I use lots of whey and not a lot of salt.  This allows each family member to adjust their salt usage to their individual tastes and needs.   Whey fermentation seems to speed up the process a bit so soft foods like cucumbers do better with a bit less whey and a little more water.  All the more dense veggies do well with a lot of whey.

Removing kefir grains

When a family is eating fermented foods regularly, there is always something “cooking” on the countertop.  It makes for a messy looking kitchen and my Mum likes to comment on that fact regularly…but I try to ignore the negative remarks and enjoy with relish all the good things that we are eating.

 

Mixed Veggies ready for fermenting

One of the things that is recommended in the GAPS book is to fill a crock with an assortment of veggies and put them in the fridge.  Well, we don’t own an expensive crock and I do all of my fermenting in glass jars.   But the assorted veggie idea works just as well in jars.   I have found this a fun way of putting together a variety of fermented things.   The success of this is to use only dense veggies with dense veggies and less firm veggies with other less firm.

Cucumbers, onions, peppers, and tomatoes go well together. Cucumbers seem to be very time sensitive.  In other words if you are making “pickles” make only small batches at a time or they will get overly soft on you quick.  I have done the pearl onions and loved them but was a bit skeptical about throwing in chunks of sweet onions to my fermenting stews but after the first try I was hooked. The crunch and zizzle has so much mouth appeal.  But like the cucumbers, they need to be eaten sooner than later or they will get mushy.

Any coarsely chopped dense vegetable combination will work well. Cabbage, broccoli, carrots, celery, etc.. I lay the veggies in the jars then cover it with about half whey and half water, let it sit out on the cabinet for 24 hours and transfer to the fridge.

The exception to the rule is with tomatoes.  I recently did a combination of cabbage with tomatoes.   I was making fermented salsa and didn’t have enough tomatoes so I added in some sliced cabbage.  WOW this one was good.  The combination of the tomatoes and the cabbage went very well together.  While the tomatoes were soft the cabbage had a crunch to it.   It came out of the jar like a salad.

Tomatoes with Cabbage

Anything fermented with tomatoes leaves a wonderful “juice” that can be drank or mixed into soup and other foods.  My Dad who is not too keen on the “fermented stuff” recently enjoyed the juice from my last batch of salsa and said it was good.

You can also ferment freshly squeezed juices.  This might be very helpful for those trying to get the health benefits of fermented foods into picky eaters. It is also good for those trying to break a soft drink habit because half of that battle is wanting something cold sweet and fizzy over ice.

Another cool thing to consider when fermenting is using various spices and herbs.  Cinnamon and cloves are good.  Ginger and garlic go well together. Again it is finding combinations that you like.  If you try someone elses recipe and you don’t like it consider changing the spices/herbs or try making it without any to determine what you think might be an asset to the flavor.  Fermenting like all recipes is open to your personal interpretation.

Well, that is probably enough of my ramblings for the day.  I just want to encourage you to not let your fermenting jars (or crock) run empty and to keep being adventurous  in developing your own favorite combinations.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Fermented Foods, Helpful Tips

 

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Lactose-Fermented Lentils

Fermenting Lentils

Well, after spending several days on the road and then spending another several days trying to get the phone company to fix our internet I am finally getting back to my correspondence and etc…

I have previously mentioned that one of our favorite beans was the pinto used heavily with Mexican dishes.  A few years back, after acquiring Nourishing Traditions, I began to ferment things…we have already talked about the lactose fermented kraut.  Well, once I got the hang of that I began fermenting everything to include pinto beans.  At first I was afraid to do this for fear that I would be eating spoiled food. As a word of encouragement, if something you attempt to ferment spoils, you will know it by the smell.  Properly fermented food has a pleasant smell not something that smells like death warmed over.  (Which is what spoiled beans smell like.)

Well anyway, with GAPS we had to give up the fermented pintos.  I did try fermenting Navy beans but they just were not the same.  For some time I have been considering fermenting lentils.  I was a bit skeptical of what they might taste like since they are completely different from pintos in texture and flavor.  Well, last week I decided to give fermented lentils a try.  I was more than pleasantly surprised by the texture and the taste and these will become a standard fermented food for us from now on.  They take a lot less time to make (less soaking, cooking time, and fermenting) and just as yummy as fermented pinto beans although different.

Finished Product

To make fermented lentils you start out with a pot of freshly cooked lentils–nothing but lentils and water. I usually soak my lentils for awhile and then drain the water off rinsing them in running water and then add fresh filtered water. Then I slow cook them until they are tender…usually about an hour.  After that I allow them to cool sufficiently so as not to kill the whey.

The recipe goes something like this– a pound of cooked lentils, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, 4 or more tablespoons of kefir/yogurt whey (I usually use a lot more), one small chopped onion, a crushed clove of garlic per jar. Stir it all together well and put it in a jar that has a good screw on lid. (Canning jars work perfectly for fermenting.  Sit the jars in a dish pan for a couple of days on the countertop and then rinse the outside of the jars off and transfer to the refrigerator.

(Fermented food has a tendency to off gas out of the lids which push some fluid out of the jars and can make a horrible mess and smell. Please make sure your lids are on tight, I have had jars of pinto beans blow their lids off and we’ve had to scrub beans off the ceiling.  Not a fun job.)  

My family likes their fermented beans with breakfast as a side to their eggs but they go well with most meals.  And very good with salsa.

Yummy Beans and Salsa!!

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Fermented Foods, Lentils

 

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Making Kraut

Fermenting Kraut

 A better part of the day was spent in making Kraut.  I harvested several cabbages the other day so today’s chore was cleaning and chopping, smashing and packing kraut jars.  When all was said and done I ended up with exactly 4 gallons!!  I will put it in the basement and forget about it until much later.

I have been making lacto-fermented kraut for years now.  The recipe is found all over the internet and in several books so no need to duplicate that information here. As I have said in a previous post, I am not one to follow recipes very well.  But when I first started making kraut I was so afraid that I was going to do something wrong and eat spoiled food.  Since then, I have learned a good deal about fermenting. I am fearless now when it comes to lacto-fermenting.   If you have never played around with this wonderful way to preserve foods you are missing out on the fun and health benefits.

Kraut is like a good science experiment and you get to eat it too. Watching the fermentation process work is fascinating.  I have let jars of kraut sit for two years until the fermentation process is totally complete.  Kraut at this stage is safe to eat and very tasty.  By the time it has quit working the cabbage is very tender as if cooked yet darker in color.  Darling Hubby and child #3 likes it this way particularly cooked up with onions and butter.

I am still all excited about something that I learned last year when making up my fall harvest of kraut.  Because we always have excess whey from our kefir I went to using more whey and less salt. The kraut quits working before it gets to that “fully cooked” texture. Also it does not darken.  But the best part is that it tastes better, less salty.  I have gone to doing this with more of my veggies and we are very pleased with the outcome. 

Fermentation has become a great hobby of mine…and with that I must be off to another project. Salsa!

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Fermented Foods

 

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