Showing posts with label lacto-fermenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lacto-fermenting. Show all posts

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homemade Sauerkraut


In case you were wondering about my lineage (just in case), I am almost completely German. My mother's father was German and her mother was mostly Alsatian (Franco-German). My father's father was German and his mother was Scotch Irish. (Did I get that one right Dad?). With 3 of four grandparents belonging to a generally Germanic background, I always grew up saying that my heritage was German. But unlike the Italian-Americans, I did not get to grow up eating my homeland's food. Why not? Much of my German family came to this country around the turn of the 20th century, while some came over 10-20 years earlier I believe. During WW2, many German-Americans were eager to sluff off their heritage in favor of being Americans. It was very unpopular then to be proud of being descended from the country we were at war with, and later it only became worse when news of atrocities and genocide came out of Europe. What was a family to do except walk away from their culture. Many of my great grand parents spoke German and ate German food. But my maternal grandmother told me many stories about her desire to not be associated with her heritage. She was in her early twenties during Word War 2. I truly feel that this is a shame, because nothing has survived from my family's culture save our American traditions. But I will resurrect them if I can! Today I make Sauerkraut.

This Sauerkraut is nothing like what you buying in those terrible glass jars, all stringy and white and sour from vinegar. Jarred sauerkraut must be pasteurized to be allowed to sit on grocery store shelves indefinitely. And while my sauerkraut is technically preserved, it must be refrigerated in order to halt the fermentation. The longer it sits out, the more sour it becomes. And at a certain point, it definitely is not good eats. But, on the up side my sauerkraut is considered a raw fermented food. It is teeming with live enzymes and it is very good for your tummy!

Sauerkraut-from Nourishing Traditions
One head of green cabbage (You know--I never thought of doing this with red cabbage, but....apparently you can)
One tablespoon of sea salt
One tablespoon of caraway seeds
4 tablespoons of whey (or you could just use an extra table spoon of salt, which is nice if you don't want to go through the trouble of making whey)

Shred the cabbage and place in a large bowl. You could use the food processor, but I find that shredding with a knife makes for a better consistency. sprinkle in the sea salt, caraway seeds and whey. Using the pestle of a mortar and pestle (or some other similar blunt object) mashing the shredded cabbage until it's juices are released. Place in a large mouth quart sized jar and press down firmly with a pounder firmly until the juices rise to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be more than 1 inch below the top of the jar (but mine was several inches below--small cabbage). Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about three days. After then it can be refrigerator. The Sauerkraut can be eaten then, but improves with age.

I made my kraut on a Sunday evening and let it sit. On Thursday morning I put it up in the fridge, but did not serve it for dinner until the following Saturday. I served the cabbage cool (I let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving) alongside fats links of turkey sausage and mashed potatoes. The kids refused to touch it. But DH, why he loved it! DH is also about half Germanic, though not from the same general vicinity as me. He grew up embracing his culture because much of his family came to this country after the war. When he had my sauerkraut he absolutely loved it. Which meant alot to me. It takes a special man to learn to love his wife's fermented vegetables. He also gave me a great idea. A hot panini with roast beef, swiss cheese and my homemade sauerkraut. Whoa. Now I am hungry.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Homemade Mustard

I just love homemade salad dressings that are made with whole grain mustard. And while I have found a dijon mustard that is additive free, I could not find a whole grain mustard in the same category. Sigh. I guess I'll have to make one.

My biggest issue with most of the homemade condiment recipes is that they are fresh and go bad quickly. Mayo, mustard, ketchup, all of them last for about a week. Whereas a bottle of store bought mustard can last for 6 months, or maybe longer. (Perhaps they don't last that long, but I have never had any trouble with them) I sure don't want to be making mustard every other week every time I make a salad. The whole point of this is to make life better, right?Eat better, feel better? Not slaving in a kicthen for an hour for every sandwich.

So I looked for a recipe in Nourishing Traditions, my go-to guide book now. And guess what I found. A recipe for lacto-fermented mustard. Now before you say "Ewwww That's Gross!" lacto-fermented really just means preserved, like yogurt is preserved milk. I saved the whey from my post How to Make Cream Cheese or Quark, and it keeps for several months in the fridge. So I used a tablespoon or so from that. This mustard will keep for several months in the fridge.

MUSTARD (This is for a half recipe, from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon)
3/4 cup (6 oz) of ground mustard
1/4 cup of filtered water
1 tablespoon whey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cloves of garlic (optional)
1/2 tablespoon honey (optional)
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds (optional)

Mix all ingredients together until well blended, adding more water if necessary to obtain desired consistency. Place in a right sized jar. The top of the mustard should be at least one inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

I, of course, aletered the recipe because I didn't have everything. (C'mon, you know your read this blog expressly for the hilarious stories of my screwed up overconfident cookery) I had a jar of mustard seeds, but no ground mustard. If you had a spice grinder that was clean that would work to grind your mustard seeds. But I was going for whole grain mustard, so I put my seeds in a mortar and pestle and crushed them. And crushed them and crushed them. And I tried to convince Thing 1 that he should crush some of them too, but he didn't fall for it. So I did some more crushing on my own. But I gave up after a while, because I am lazy, and my arm started hurting.

I then followed the recipe as directed and let the mix sit on the counter top for three days. It sat in the fridge for a couple more days, but that was just because I wasn't home. But the first full day I was at home, I made a sandwich and you know? The stuff really tastes like mustard, which I know is a dumb thing to say. But it has that sour kind of taste but instead of getting it from vinegar like store bought mustards, it got from the whey and the fermentation process. I liked the crunch of the whole grains. The following day I used the mustard in salad dressing. Since it keeps for a couple months, I could make room for this in my already packed cooking schedule. Next time, I am going to add a splash of white wine. That was really the only flavor missing. Yummmmm.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at The Food Renegade!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Make Cream Cheese, or Quark

I had heard of Quark before, but I had never tried it. Quark is a soft fresh or unripened cheese that is quite easy to make. I first tried quark when I made my Hot Pepper Jelly a few weeks ago. If you remember, I went to the grocery store to find a cream cheese and found that all the varieties of cream cheese available to me, organic or not, contained locust bean gum. And several varieties of non-organic cream cheese had an ingredient list a page long! They are definitely not making the cut these days. But the package of quark that I bought was simple. It was milk and enzymes and salt. And when I brought it home it was soft, fresh, creamy and easy to spread. Not hard and blocky like typical processed cream cheese is. Of course….I had to figure out how to make my own.

And wouldn’t you know it, Sally Fallon has a recipe for it in Nourishing Traditions. (Aren’t you ready to buy this book yet?) I have actually wanted to make this recipe because when you make cream cheese you also yield the all important whey, which is the back bone of all the lacto-fermented vegetable recipes that Fallon has throughout her tome.


First thing is first. You need cultured yogurt, buttermilk or raw milk. Many states do not sell raw milk. This is such a big controversy. New York State only allows farm sales of raw milk. And that means you have to go to the farm. So while I buy my milk directly from the farm that “grows” it, they could not legally sell me raw milk at the farmer’s market. So I bought cultured buttermilk from Hawthorne Valley Farm. I know they are a farm that I can trust for biodynamic organic products.


And making the cheese is pretty easy. You put the buttermilk (or whatever you are using) in a covered bowl (I used a 2.5 quart pyrex glass bowl with a fitted plastic lid) and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. It is pretty cool out now, so my buttermilk sat for about 2 and a half days. Here you see it on Day 1…


Now you see it on Day 2….
And finally Day 3…
Do you see how it is separating a little? I expected great clumps of curds like cottage cheese. But it wasn’t like that at all. The buttermilk just started to look….grainy. At that point I put a large bowl down and placed my colander inside. I lined the colander with the thinnest clean burp cloth I could find, something that is similar to cheesecloth. Please, use cheesecloth..I am cheap and will use a burpcloth because it is lying around, and I don’t have anyone to burp anymore.


The whey and the curds will begin to separate, with the whey falling through the cheesecloth and colander and into your bowl below. Make sure you save that whey, it has active cultures that are perfect for using to fermentvegetables (think sauerkraut, kosher dill pickles or kim chi, all fermented vegetables) and all manner of restorative drinks. Next take the corners of your cheesecloth so that the buttermilk curds are wrapped up like a pouch. I took the pouch and tied it a wooden spoon. Then I put the wooden spoon across my tallest stock pot so that the pouch was freely hanging and not touching the bottom of the pot. Forgive the coffee cup in the picture-it was 5:30AM when I snapped most of these pics. I let the curds strain like that for about 12 hours overnight. I had to go to work and couldn’t finish it the next morning so I parked in the fridge for the day, and when I returned from work that night, the cloth had absorbed enough moisture and the texture was perfect. See here when I unwrapped my package.
My cream cheese is great. The flavor is unexpected. I am curious to let it develop longer next time for a more sour taste. And while I like the buttermilk variety, I think I would like to try the recipe with yogurt for a different flavor. I have eaten my cream cheese, and there is no stomach upset. It is smoother than store bought cream cheese. Sadly, DH has been a hard sell but he did try it and said he like the texture. Some of the things I do are out of his comfort zone! I even saved the whey and have been adding it to some drinks that Fallon recommends for strength and health. I feel great! There is no need to buy yogurts labeled ‘probiotic’ that are pumped full of sugar and HFCS when you can do this at home. There are real probiotics in this cheese and whey. Plus there was no special equipment to buy. I hope that you will try this. Making cheese at home seems so intimidating and potentially toxic, but actually, it was pretty easy. It wasn’t that much work, but I was anxious waiting! I am really proud that I did this!

This post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays!