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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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