Category: Lactofermeting


Morrocan Eggplant

I got a great deal on eggplant last week. As in- I have 10 pounds of it. So I decided to lacto ferment it with some indian/morrocan flavors

3 eggplants

1.5 tsp gram masala

2 tsp curry

1 tbs salt

1/2 onion

Let it sit out for about a week, and then put it in the fridge. Eggplant really seems to take a while to soften. So I didn’t care for it the first couple of weeks. It’s now about 3 months old…..and really good. The spices are strong- so if you are not used to indian food, you might want to tame the spices down some. It sure is a pretty color. This eggplant is a nice accompaniment to grilled meat, and not really intended just as a snacking food. It’s too strong for that.

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Water kefir

There are a thousand and one  recipes on the internet for water kefir. Most of them are pretty similar. I think I just might have tried them all. At its most basic- water kefir is the kefir grains, sugar, and water. Brewed like that- it’s slightly carbonated, just barely sweet, and pretty bland and unappealing. You can take those grains though, and add a vast combination of juices, fruits, extract, and flavorings to create a wonderfully carbonated just slightly sweet VERY refreshing drink. I’m enjoying some right now.

There are basically 3 ways I prefir to make water kefir.  They range in strength of flavor, and cost to make. I mostly tend to make the least expensive option- cause my family can put it away-faster than I can make it 😀

1. Apple Cider Kefir

This taste very similar to a hard cider- without the alcohol. It’s wonderfully strong and full of apple flavor. Since it’s brewed in straight apple juice- it’s also the most expensive. This is hands down, my husbands favorite kefir recipe.

Ingredients:

1 gallon organic apple juice. No preservatives! (I buy the not from concentrate apple juice at our local health store. YUM!)

3-4 Tbs water kefir grains (or milk kefir grains that have been transitioned to use as water kefir)

Combine both ingredients in a large jar. Place a lid on. On my normal water kefir I use a tight fighting lid. My big jars don’t have a tight-fitting lid- so I just use what it came with, and it works fine. Let sit for 48 hours. Strain the kefir out, and bottle. I use the swing top bottles, because we like the carbonation. If you want carbonation- after bottling let it sit out for another day or two- then place in the fridge and enjoy!

2. Fruit flavored kefir

Ingredients

3-4 Tbs kefir grains

1 1/2 – 2 quarts filtered or spring water

4 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp ground up egg shells (I use the shells from hard-boiled eggs. Once they are dried I blend into a powder using a small spice grinder or coffee grinder. I then store in a jar until needed)

Combine all ingredients in 1 gallon jar, or 2 quart mason jars. Cover tightly and allow to sit out for 24-48 hours. Strain kefir grains. Before bottling, fill the bottle 1/4 of the way full with your choice of juice.  Add the kefir water prevously made, and fill the bottle. Allow to sit out for another day or two to build carbonation. Place in fridge and enjoy. Grape juice kefir is a great one to start with. It’s going to appeal most to those used soda pop. I had a friend tell me it tasted like a non alcoholic sangria. Other favorite flavors at our house are peach, and pineapple. It’s important to use good organic juices for these. This is where your flavor comes from. I’ve read that orange juice doesn’t do so well do to the pulp. Haven’t tried it myself to know for sure though. One helpful hint- when I am experimenting with new flavors, I pour kefir water into a pitcher, and start adding juice (keeping in mind the percentages, so i can match it again in the future if it’s a winner) Then I taste and adjust. If I end up with a flavor I don’t care for (we didn’t like grapefruit kefir) just add grape juice. It’s such a strong flavor- it gets it back on track and taste great!

3. Ginger Lemon Kefir

This is the batch I make the most of. It’s wonderfully light, and dances on your tongue. Plus – it’s really inexpensive to make.

Ingredients

3-4 Tbs kefir grains

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 quarts filtered or spring water

4 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp ground up egg shells (I use the shells from hard-boiled eggs. Once they are dried I blend into a powder using a small spice grinder or coffee grinder. I then store in a jar until needed)

1/2 organic lemon or lime (peel if it’s not organic)

2 tsp ginger juice

1-2 dried figs

I typically make this it two quart jars. Just split the ingredients between the two jars. Place the kefir and sugar in the jars. Squeeze the lemon or lime a little into the jar, and then drop it in also. For simplicity, I juice about 1/3-1/2 a cup of ginger juice at a time, and then keep it in the fridge. I go through it pretty quick. If you don’t have a juicer, or don’t want to juice the ginger, you can peel it and slice it and add that to the jars. It’s the way I originally did it- but I got tired of picking the ginger out, and trying to separate it from the kefir grains. The figs are optional. They can be a little pricy, so I jump back and forth between added them and not. They add an additional depth of flavor. Add the ginger, and figs. Sprinkle the egg shells over everything. The eggshells add minerals and calcium to the hungry little kefir grains. Once everything is in the jar,  fill them about 3/4 of the way full. Place a tight lid on, give them a good shake, and put to the side. 24-48 hours later strain and bottle. Again, for extra carbonation (although it’s good straight from the mason jar too) leave out for an extra day. I think the taste is somewhere between a less sweet 7up and gingerale.

Kefir, kombucha and lacto ferments are all living works of art. The are influenced greatly by time and temperature. When you are first playing with any of these, taste often at different stages. It wont be long until you will develop an understanding and figure out at what stage your family enjoys them best.

This chutney has quickly become my favorite lacto-fermentaion recipe. Like many cultured recipes, the flavors meld and become more sweet over time. When first put together, it taste too salty- just give it a couple of months in the fridge and you’ll fall in love with it too!

 4 plums

1/4 tsp mustard seeds, ground

1/8 tsp star anise, ground

pinch – 1/8 tsp cloves (to taste)

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp-1 tsp ground chipolte pepper

1 bunch green onions -bottoms only, sliced

1/4 cup chopped raisins

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 Tbs whey

2 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients. I put it in a mason jar, mash lightly and covered tightly. Unscrew and release the built up pressure once a day.  Let sit at room temperature for 3-4 days. Afterwards place in the fridge. This is not a sweet chutney to start with, but it really mellows out over time. It’s really great with chicken or pork. Enjoy!

This post is part of  Real Food Renegades – Fight back Friday!

pickled okra, dill pickles, spicy carrots

When I was younger my great-grandmother came to visit for a couple of weeks. While she was there I watched her peel and slice brocoli stems and place them in the pickle jar with old pickle juice. She would also drink leftover pickle juice. At the time I thought she was obsessed with pickles, and maybe just a little nuts. Little did I realize she was tapping into an ancient nutritional truth. I bet she didn’t even know what she was doing or why. It was simplly what she was taught and she was repeating that act (although the brine from store-bought pickles had zero nutritional value).

Pickles weren’t always an item on the shelve in the grocery store, made by Claussen, Vlassic and others. To glimpse a time when pickles were a health food, you have to go back. Back before the grocery store pickles, back before the little housewife in the kitchen working hard to can her pickles. Originally pickles, sauerkraut and many other foods were made by a process called lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation is how families preserved their food for generations. This was an art-form, handed down from mother to daughter throughout generations. So what happened? World war II. When all the able-bodied men went off to fight in world war II, the countries work force suffered. For the first time in our history, women were being told we were more valuable (or only valuable) working outside of the home.  So we went to work. In drones, women joined the work force. All the sudden, there was no one in the home to do all the work that came with running a household. No one to make the bread or cook dinner, much less make the pickles. So the manufacturing industry stepped in – enter white bread and tv dinners! Pickles were a problem though. Lacto-fermentation can’t be done on a large-scale. It’s an art form, not an exact science. So they figured out a way to make something that “tasted like” pickles. The manufacturing industry discovered that canning pickles in vinegar created a similar taste and texture and that it could be done on a massive scale. And so was born the modern pickle. Most of the flavor and texture, none of the health benefits.

So what makes pickles healthy? What is lacto fermentation? Lacto fermentation is a process that converts the sugars and starches in food into lactic acid. This occurs through the works of friendly bacteria.  Now don’t be scared by the word “bacteria”. Our bodies need good bacteria, also called probiotics. This bacteria, and their by-product lactic acid actually improves the nutrition and digestibility of the food.

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89

So the process of lacto-fermentation increases your health beyond just the range of vitamin and minerals nutrition. It is like a boost to your digestion and immune system. So how about reaching for a lacto-fermented pickle to enjoy with your lunch tomorrow? Oh- and did I mention? They taste WAY better than brine and canned pickles. Yeah for healthy pickles! I’ll be posting some EASY lacto fermented recipes in the coming days. In the meantime- there is one small brand I know of that still uses lacto fermentation. Bubbies brand makes dill, bread & butter pickles, plus saurkraut. You can find it in health type grocery stores- Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market- ect. It will always be in the refridgerated section- because it is alive (like a yogurt). Check it out- you won’t be sorry!