Page 2

I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
944 articles written by Shannon

It is sweet potato season and I am already considering more growing options for next year. We only grew them for the greens this summer, having gotten them in far too late. The pumpkins were the big producer and we are very grateful for the harvest and certainly enjoying them, but sweet potatoes plus pumpkins seems a good way to grow lots of calories.

With these you can make breakfasts, breads, desserts, soups, stews, stir-fries and, yes, tacos.

These are not, as you might assume, a seasoned sweet potato mixture folded into a tortilla. Rather, the sweet potato becomes the shell and the fillings are piled high. You can really fill them with whatever you have – beans, meat, cheese, sour cream, veggies. This time around we stuck with some longhorn we canned this past March along with broccoli, onion, and avocado.

Any kind of sauerkraut is always a welcome addition, of course, as is a fermented hot sauce.

Sweet Potato Tacos

  • 8 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1.5 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of ground cayenne
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2 avocados, for serving
  • 1 broccoli crown, for serving
  • chopped onion, for serving


Bake the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees until they are fork tender, approximately 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the meat with the cumin, cayenne, and salt. Set aside for serving while you chop the vegetables.

Once the sweet potatoes are baked, split them in half and top with the meat, veggies, and avocado. Serve alongside a salad or fermented vegetable.

Last year we had a wonderful turnip harvest which nearly overwhelmed me there for awhile. After weeks of eating them fresh almost every single day, the day came when we needed to pull the whole bed. So we brought a couple of totes into the house for processing and sent a tote out to the pasture to feed to the goats.

I canned some and, frankly might regret that decision. They smelled awful when I pulled them out of the canner and I’ve still not opened a jar. We ate a bunch raw and boiled and mashed and stewed. And then, of course, we fermented some. Actually, gallons. We fermented gallons of whole or sliced turnips and gallons of Homestead Chi found in Traditionally Fermented Foods and gallons of Turnip Kraut, too.

A couple of jars of the whole and sliced turnip pickles were not great and so they went to the goats. The Turnip Kraut and Homestead Chi was eaten up within a few months because we just really like that stuff. And several jars of turnip pickles have sat on our counter for the past year waiting to get eaten up.

Well, the other day we cracked open our last large gallon jar. There was no yeast in sight. They smelled definitively tangy but not terribly pungent as turnips can often be. I was putting them on the table alongside some fermented okra as the raw portion of our meal but decided I’d better taste one before serving it to the family. I was blown away.

They tasted not unlike a typically sour vinegar-pickled cucumber. In fact, a couple of tasters said “They taste just like store-bought pickles!“. After thinking it over, I believe there are a few reasons these pickles turned out so well and that after an entire year of simply sitting on our kitchen counter:

A cool, slow fermentation. I talk about this a bit more in Traditionally Fermented Foods, but I’ll just say that I find that a low and slow fermentation does wonders for the flavor, texture, and preservation of lacto-fermented pickles of all kinds. These turnips were probably fermented at an average temperature of around 40-60 degrees for a few months.

We peeled the turnips. Like a radish, much of the bite of a turnip is in the skin. I peeled the very large turnips we were harvesting and cooked, raw, and fermented they tasted much better.

The turnips were fermented in a lot of brine. This is something I go into greater detail on in Traditionally Fermented Foods, but suffice it to say, I find that the more brine you have in a jar between the lid and the vegetable, the better the ferment ends up. So I generally fill jars about 80% full and then have about 2-3 inches of brine on top, depending on the size of the vessel. This was a gallon jar and I do think, for some reason, these larger batches keep much better than the pint and quart-sized batches commonly made.

Now that our root cellar is done, I will have more options for keeping ferments cool during those crucial early months of the fermentation process. And now that we know how good these guys can taste, we are finally considering growing large amounts of turnips again – because they just seem to grow no matter what.

What are you growing, harvesting, or fermenting?