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Posts Tagged ‘fermentation’

Fermented foods are alive foods.  In the past couple of years I have experimented with different types.  Sourdough, it is a fermented flour that creates the rise you need for bread.  No needing to go buy yeast packets from the store, God gave it to us naturally!  Lacto_fermented Sodas, this is a natural soda that uses lactobacilli to create a fermented and bubbly drink.  Lactobacilli are naturally occurring in roots, it protect the root during the winter months from freezing, but it also loves sugar and will grow and make a wonderful soda culture.  Kefir, uses grains to ferment milk or water into a pro-biotic drink.  Milk to me is a bit sour and I can’t take too much, unless I add a lot of sugar or fruit and then I feel like I’m not getting the most nutritious drink, but the water kefir tastes more like a slightly fermented wine and it much better to my taste buds.  Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that uses a scoby type “mushroom” that ferments tea and sugar.  I was horrible with keeping up with my Kombucha.  The scoby grows on top and gets bigger and bigger, it grows in layers and you can tear off them to separate them and give them away to friends.  Ours got out of hand and then started tasting like vinegar.  So I don’t keep kombucha now, but a lot of people swear by it.

I’ve wanted to ferment vegetables for a while now.  I bought fermentation weights from a seller on Ebay, they fit inside of large mouth (they also sell small mouth ones) jars and hold down your food.  Hubby is a go-getter, I think I established that in my last post.  His life motto (after the power of Christ of course) is “A closed mouth, don’t get fed” and he lives by that, he is not afraid to ask for anything.  The worst answer he can get is “no” so he just asks away, I find it quite amazing how he is not afraid to ask!  Anyway, last week we took a different way home in order to drop off a friend to their house.  We passed a large field of cabbage and just like hubby is, he pulled over and went to ask if he could pick a few heads.  He had gleaned some strawberries from the same field a year ago summer time, so I think he felt confident in asking.  He grabbed a few purple heads and green, the purple were MUCH more dense.  Now those fermentation weights would finally get to be used!

This weekend we got our our trusty thrift store score food processor.  It’s one of those all in one things, I guess it’s suppose to be a mixer too but we only use it to shred food, like apples we want to press for juice or cabbage for sauerkraut. 🙂  Hubby shredded about 5lb of cabbage and we added about 3Tbsp of salt as he was shredding.  The salt will force the water out of the cabbage and then it will be the protection for the fermentation process.  The book we used said to add 1 cup water and another Tbsp of salt after 24 hours to a gallon jar.  Since our fermentation weights don’t fit well in a gallon jar, and even in a half gallon wide mouth they seemed too small, we used quart jars.  4= 1 Gallon 🙂  We ended up with a gallon and probably a pint. I also added a small jelly jar with water (some I just used the jar that is filled with jelly for the weight) in them to weight down the fermentation weight.  I am not sure if this is necessary but the book did talk about adding a plate to the top of your vessel and then putting a rock or a jar with water on top to force out the juice.   Yesterday I looked at every jar and the liquid had filled above the food line on all the jars but the pint.  When I left for work this morning, I just left them as they were and will check again this evening.  From what I read the purple cabbage will turn a pink color mixed with the green.  It should also only take a few days for a nice ferment, unless we put them in our cellar/basement for a slower ferment.  We are opting for the first, a quicker ferment in our warm house.  I took photos, but I’ve been a slacker on getting my pictures onto my computer.  I have to admit when you look at a computer all day, the last thing I want to do is look at another one at home.  This is one of the reasons I rarely make phone calls too, if you are forced do do something all day long the last thing you want to do in your off time is the same thing… Anyway, I’ll post photos hopefully shortly of the before and after.  Lets pray the fermentation goes just as planned and we have some good alive sauerkraut.

Update: Finally got my pictures up! Yay.

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About a year ago I got milk kefir grains from a nice person on craigslist.   I thought it would be a wonderful way to get probiotics into our bodies.  It worked, for a bit.  I just couldn’t get use to the very pungent tasting drink.  Even with fruit and sweetener I just couldn’t get over the tart taste.  But the stuff in the grocery store is SO good!!  I thought for sure I would enjoy it, turns out the amount of sugar that is added to the stuff you get at the grocery store would spike your blood sugar so high you’d be doing the Freddy on the front porch.  (or maybe that was when I had my first cup of coffee…)  Either way I couldn’t do it, hubby on the other hand enjoyed it, or so I thought.  Turns out he just liked the probiotics and the protein from the milk.  We were using raw cows milk but have since switched to raw goats milk, but I gave up the idea of milk kefir a long time ago.  By the way I pronounce it KEY-FUR.  So I found a yahoo group about Kefir and joined.  A few days later a wonderful woman who lives not far from where I work dropped off some water kefir grains.  Basically it’s the same probitoic goodness in the milk kefir but no milk, Yay!  It is supposed to taste like a soda of some sort.  This lady gave me directions, 1/2 cup of grains to 1/3 cup sugar, fruit and 4 cups water (well you start out with 5 cups water, but you simmer the water and fruit and it reduces).  She was using ginger and I’m sure it makes a wonderful ginger ale type drink, which I make in a lacto-fermented soda, I’ll post that later.  So I wanted to try fruit, we have an abundance of frozen blueberries that hubby harvested so I used blended blueberries, water, and the fruit then I made my first mistake, I added the grains.  There are two different ways to do kefir water, one says to put the grains in a small sack (burlap/cheese cloth type) then you can easily remove the grains, the other says just put it all together and then you can just wash the grains off when you’re straining it.  After 48 hours I strained and found that I couldn’t separate the fruit bits out of the grains!  Of course you have to rinse with cold water and after my fingers were numb I figured it was a lost cause.  I grabbed out as many big grains out that I could and fed the rest to the chickens.

With my first lesson over, we drank the “juice.”  It was sweet and yet had a fermented/wine type smell.  It didn’t taste fermented it tasted sweet.  The next batch I added frozen blueberries, in a large pot with 10 cups of water (I’m doubling the recipe) and simmered.  After that I strained off the blueberries, added my sugar and let the mixture cool.  After it was cool enough to the touch (what is cool enough? well it felt cool to the touch, not warm…) I poured it into two half-gallon jars and added the grains.  Let it sit 48 hours and again, success!  Sweet goodness.

My third attempt, again another lesson in this one.  But we do learn from the mistakes don’t we?  It’s hard to make the same mistakes twice.  This time I decide I want to try Elderberry.  Hubby and I LOVE Elderberry.  God made these perfect blue/purple berries that not only make one of the best wines I’ve ever tried, and some amazing muffins, but it also is an immune system booster.  Many cough and cold remedies have Elderberry in them.  So we generally harvest a lot of berries, last year our buckets were OVER FLOWING with these beautiful little berries.  The only “bad” thing is the seed, it is quite big for the little berry, and it’s got this crunch that you can’t really explain, you just have to try.  Too many seeds can be bad, only because there is just too much crunch.  Oh and I forgot to mention it makes an amazing jam too!  Ok… back to the subject at hand.  So when I’ve made Elderberry soda before (with the lacto-fermented version) it was VERY explosive, which leads me to believe that the sugars are eaten up pretty quickly, and ferments quickly.  I followed the same rules for the kefir water and left it for 48 hrs, but the end of that time there was obvious fizz on the top of the jar.  We strained it and this batch smelt VERY fermented, in fact I was a bit apprehensive to try it.  Hubby went first, bless his heart.  He likes it!  So I give it a go, when you don’t take a big inhale before you drink it’s really great, when you do you get that fermented smell first then you can’t help but taste it.  It seems to have settled down in the fridge, although that could just be my brain playing tricks on me.  But what I would do different, is probably add less grains, more sugar and maybe even ferment it less time, or a combination of these things.

Kefir water is a hit in our house.  Hubby is even considering retiring his milk grains for a bit.  They can keep in the freezer so can the water kefir grains actually.  This way if and when he’s ready for milk kefir again he can have them, and when our water grains multiply like crazy then we can save some, and give some away.  I think too many people don’t do “nice” things anymore, everyone seems to expect something and no one can truly get something for nothing.  I do think it’s important to share, I mean isn’t that one of the first things in life we learned?  So I plan on extending my water grains to some folks on craigslist, and maybe here if anyone is listening. 😉

Happy Kefiring (totally just made that up, I think)!

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