Monday, May 21, 2012

Fermenting Sauerkraut

I have been super into fermenting things lately. Several months ago I took a class on fermenting foods at the local co-op. It was very interesting and discussed the health benefits to eating fermented foods plus we got to taste multiple foods the instructor had made. We ate fermented salsa, pickles, sauerkraut, pineapple chutney, ketchup, and winter veggies. It was so delicious. I apparently love fermented veggies about as much as I love popcorn and chips.

Anywho, fermented foods are traditional foods in many countries. Researchers have shown that in 3rd world countries, where fermented foods are regularly eaten, people have better dental health and healthier immune systems than people who eat a western/sugary diet. Here is a semi-boring video about it if you want to watch (and this lady smiles at odd times but it does show how to make whey which you will want for the recipe below).

You may remember that last year I made my first batch of fermented veggies and it was delicious. I kinda just made the recipe up at the time. Since then, I have tried make more fermented foods but I was nervous because I didn't really have a recipe that gave me specific instructions and when you are making raw food turn into something else using bacteria, it is slightly unnerving to eat it if you don't really know what you are doing. So, after I took this class, I had a nice list of recipes and I have been making sure I always have some fermented foods on hand. We have been eating them with most of our meals and I have to say that this winter I didn't get sick once...that is pretty good for me!

Currently, I have fermented beats, sauerkraut, carrots, and kimchee all waiting to be eaten.

If you would like to ferment something, you can pretty much do it with anything as long as you have some whey (or raw apple cider if you are making a brine), some veggies, and a quart size mason jar. But, if you would like to make some sauerkraut then you are in luck because here is the recipe (I'll do pickles later in the season):

Real Sauerkraut
makes 1 quart
adapted from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook ← effing good!

1 medium head cabbage (cored and shredded, a grater works well) *save an outside whole leaf
1T dill seeds
1T salt
4T whey

1. In a good sized bowl, mix together cabbage, dill, salt, and whey.
2. Now it is time to squeeze the livin' day lights out of it all. You can use your hands or you can find a wooden pounder to get all the juices out of the cabbage. It will take about 7-10 minutes. You should have about 1/2cup of juice at the bottom of the bowl.
3. Place everything in a quart sized mason jar and press down until juices come to the top of the cabbage. (If you need to add a little water, that is fine.)
4.  Take that extra leaf you saved and fold it into the top of jar to press down the kraut and hopefully keep it covered.
5. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for 3-5 days before putting it in the fridge where it can hold for months. It will improve with age.

Eat with just about anything or by itself!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rosemary Rhubarb Jam

When we moved into our house, we acquired a nice rhubarb patch. It is so great, every year it grows back and it doesn't need anything. It doesn't need fertilizer, it doesn't need water, and most importantly, it doesn't need weeding. It's perfect.

But...there is only so much you can do with rhubarb. You can't eat it raw but you can turn it into something delicious with a buncha sugar. You can't really go wrong with anything and sugar, I suppose, but rhubarb does have a very earthy taste that is pretty darn good.

For my first harvesting of the rhubarb patch, I wanted to make some jam because I have been eating jam everyday with my oatmeal. I didn't want to make rhubarb strawberry jam though because strawberries aren't in season. I found a recipe that incorporated rosemary with the rhubarb and since I have a rosemary bush, I decided to go for it. When making it, it smells very rosemary-lemonady which is all right but I wondered if I would really want to eat lemonade. Alas, the final result turned out great and I am eating it pretty much every morning. (I have had an oatmeal problem since the beginning of the year. Thanks to Sissy really.)

Rosemary Rhubarb Jam
adapted from Food in Jars
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar (to taste)
- 1 cup water
- 1 frond of rosemary finely chopped
- 2 lemons juice
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2t pectin (I used pomona's pectin and followed the instructions on the box)

1. Put the rhubarb, sugar, 3/4c water, rosemary, and lemon in a medium sized saucepan. Let boil for about 5-7 minutes or until the rhubarb breaks down.
2. Add the 2t calcium water if using Pomona's pectin.
3. In a bowl, stir the pectin powder in 1/4c water until it is dissolved. Dump it in the rhubarb mixture and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
4. Take off the heat and stir in the lemon zest.
5. Transfer jam to jars. It will still be quite runny because the pectin won't set until it is cool.
6. Put jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes about 3 half pints.