Fermentation

26 articles in category Fermentation / Subscribe

herbkraut

Joshie and I went to the Pallet Garden last week to see what everyone was up to. Planting garlic, it turned out, along with preparing a small hugelkutur bed. Most everything in that garden had been neglected through the hottest parts of summer and so the few tomatoes and collards that were left were sad at best, but mostly they were just done.

I did find a few exciting perennials in the mix of weeds, however. There was the ever-present stinging nettle, which you can see poking up in the bottom right corner of the top photo. And then there was the Tulsi which I promptly picked for afternoon tea and tipped the seed heads from to see if I could encourage further growth.

And then there were these garlic chives, overly mature but so tasty and begging to be picked.

With a few cabbages on the counter and a new fermentation weight I wanted to try out, kraut seemed the most logical use of the bowl we brought in. I do this a lot with herbs – fermenting them with cabbages and other lovely vegetables to preserve them while taking advantage of their yummy flavor.

But you can also ferment herbs all on their own, in their whole leaf and stem form or ground into a pesto-like paste. You can find recipes for these in Traditionally Fermented Foods.

herbkraut3

These fermentation weights, The Pickle-Pusher, were sent to me a couple of months ago but with the busyness of late summer gardening and such, I just got around to playing with them recently. The design idea is a great and original one. This green “weight” that you see above is actually not a weight at all, though the way it slides into the jar and fits so snugly is great all on its own.

But there is another aspect to the design. Do you see that hole in the middle of the weight? A stainless steel pin is screwed down into the jar through this and the “weight” held down with a great deal of security. According to their website:

“It will allow you to hold the contents of your fermenting or canning jar below the surface of the brine without bothersome weights. It will perform this task at many times the holding power of traditional weight systems! It also extends storage life by doing the same in the refrigerator once your jar is opened.”

It is really quite clever.

I am always a bit leery of much in the way of metal – even stainless steel – coming into contact with my ferments, though, so I forewent the pin and just used the “weight” element, filling the jar 80% full as I like to do, and allowing the brine to cover the weight by at least half an inch.

herbkraut4

A week later, we have some seriously tasty Garlic Kraut that will only get better as it sits on our counter. It’s been several months since we’ve had kraut, with the influx of cucumbers and okra that have needed pickling. And while I really enjoy those pickles and happily crunch away, I have come to find that a good kraut has my fermentation heart forever.

Which reminds me, I need to water the cabbages and radish babies tonight.

If you are interested in trying out The Pickle Pusher for simple, well-executed home fermentation, check out their website. And if you’d like more methods for fermenting fresh herbs, check out Traditionally Fermented Foods.

Note: I received a complimentary sample of The Pickle Pusher to try out. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

kefir-ranch-two

It is a funny kind of irony that moving to the land and leaving the grid resulted in a break from some of our better eating habits. There were some needed compromises and some not-so-needed and I (and my many excuses and justifications) take full responsibility for this as the kitchen-dweller of the family. We were living in a camper; we were living in a wooden tent; I had a corner for a kitchen; we had no refrigeration; we were both working; I worked in the garden all morning…

Blah, blah, blah.

The truth is I shifted around priorities when things got tough and made some necessary, and some plain-old-wrong, choices along the way. This impacted all of our well-being and it’s just the past couple of years that things seem to be returning to a healthy normal.

We have good raw milk and lovely golden eggs most of the time. The gardens are beginning to supply us with vegetables regularly. I have been fermenting, soaking, sprouting, and souring most of our grains and legumes. We make and eat ferments regularly. The chicken flock is growing towards giving us more and more of that golden broth.

All of these were practices I had – and foods I sourced out – six years ago when it was just us and two little boys. It just happens to be that now we (and often our neighbors) are growing these foods. And somehow saying that out loud kind of helps me make sense of it all.

Another habit that takes just a few minutes but has been a real game-changer is making sauces and dressings regularly again. Honestly, much of the time I just splash some ACV, olive oil, and salt on the greens and call it a day. But then we’ve still got loads of homegrown garlic that we are trying to eat daily and, of course, I am always trying to get more milk kefir into our bellies.

And then Stewart bought me this handy-dandy immersion blender that I can run on our solar panels when the sun is shining. I’ve been blending up all sorts of nourishing stuff, one of them being a super simple mayonnaise that is really indiscernible from the Hellmann’s of my childhood but with a way better ingredient list. Inspired by that, I’ve been whipping up this Better Kefir Ranch which is sort of a hybrid Kefir-Mayo dressing and we have been drizzling it over everything from salads to slaws; salmon burgers to beans; baked potatoes to carrot sticks.

kefir-ranch-one

And while it feels really good in the belly, it also just makes everything taste fresh and delicious.

A Better Kefir Ranch

Makes 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cultured milk kefir
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups avocado or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a quart jar and carefully blend until completely smooth and creamy using an immersion blender. Alternatively, grate the garlic into the jar with the other ingredients, place an airtight lid on the jar, and shake until all ingredients are combined.

Use as a salad dressing, dip, or sauce.

For many more good-for-you milk kefir and yogurt-based sauces, dressings, spreads, and desserts; see the Dairy Chapter in Traditionally Fermented Foods.