Sauerkraut and garden harvests

It’s a strange time of year when a very lateย winter crop and an ultra early summer crop overlaps in harvest but they have indeed done just that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Continue reading

Fermentation

Yes, I’ve been back into the world of sauerkraut again, despite having a fridge full of the stuff! ๐Ÿ˜€

My top shelf in the fridge is over half full of stacked up glass jars, full of fermented carrot sticks, fermented coleslaw, straight sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and fermented ginger and carrot too. There are several other jars of ferments in there too. My fridge looks like a chemistry fridge in high school. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Continue reading

Making Sauerkraut

Sour seems to be a theme in my life. Sourdough, sauerkraut (literally sour cabbage), kefir (soured milk). There is a reason for this. Soured products either preserve the food or make nutritionally available more of the goodness in the food. Or both. ๐Ÿ˜€ Sauerkraut is both.

Way back when or “in the olden days” ย as I tell Jasper, there was few methods of preserving food available. Fridges and freezers were yet to be invented and canning and bottling weren’t available either. So, how to preserve the Summer and Autumn bounty for other seasons when food was scarce? Yes, people ate far more seasonably but without some for of preservation you could end up with onions, any meat you had hunted and grains to eat or make into breads and little else. Don’t forget too, foods like potatoes were only introduced to the UK and Europe after Christopher Columbus had discovered the Americas. Many of the longer storing vegetables weren’t available to Europe yet. So, how to preserve the excess foods from harvest? well, with root vegetables like beets and such and with cabbage they can be pickled or soured. This makes their goodness nutritionally available and also enhances that goodness with the probiotics that are added in the souring process. Sauerkraut, a food we associate with German cuisine is made using 3 ingredients plus a little labour. And it’s not that much unless you make a big batch. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, here’s my “How to make Sauerkraut” instructions. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take 1 cabbage. You can use red or white cabbage, it makes no difference or so I’ve read. So far I’ve only used white but that’s what’s been available each time I’ve made it. I now have a purple cabbage though as I reckon a combo of both would be really pretty. And yes, aesthetics are a big part of food to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, take your cabbage, peel off the outer leaves and get rid of any yucky bits. Then comes the “labour” part. You need to slice it thinly. I read somewhere that you slice it to the thickness of a dime but that means little to me having not held a dime since 1997. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But you get the idea. Pretty thin. If you have a mandolin slicer here then it’s going to be a much quicker job and far more uniform slices. I have however, failed to locate the box my mandolin slicer is packed in so I just sliced the old fashioned way.

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Once all your cabbage is sliced up, stick it in a bowl and find something to pound it with. I use the end of a wooden rolling pin. Now you need to bruise the cabbage. This helps to reduce the juices inside. It doesn’t need to be totally flattened but give it a good ol’ squishing. When you’ve finished you want it looking a bit limp and lame but not requiring life support.

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Pack it into sterilised jars and I mean pack it down. Put in a loose 1/2 jars worth then pummel it down, then repeat until the jar is about an inch from the top. It should be firmly packed.

Now you need your salty water. Please do NOT use iodised or even uniodised table salt. The iodine in it will kill the good bacteria that we’re harnessing for the souring and it’s also not good for you. Normal table salt is about as good for you as sugar so please do yourself a healthy favour and get good quality salt. I’ve seen sites recommending pickling salt but I’ve used Maldon salt and that worked well and I now use Himalayan rock salt so I’ll see how that goes. ย Anything but that bleached and processed rubbish sold cheaply as salt. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of filtered or chlorine free water. It needs to be chlorine free as the chlorine will also kill the good bacteria on the cabbage and we need them to do the work for us. Pour the water over the cabbage in the jars until it is submerged and pretty close to the top. Screw on the lid until it just catches. it should be pretty loose.

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Put your jars in a tray such as a cake tin or slice tray. It’s going to bubble up and spill over so you want something to catch that excess liquid. Then put the whole lot in your pantry or a cupboard for 2 to 3 weeks to ferment.

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The first time I made this I was really worried when I brought my tray out of my pantry. The tray was full of mold. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I thought I’d stuffed something up but I hadn’t. The tray and its overflow had been exposed to the air and the bacteria that travel thereon but the jars were all full of clean beautifully fermented sauerkraut. ๐Ÿ˜€ If there is mold inside the jar then you need to discard the sauerkraut. If that happens then I’d hazard a guess that the jar wasn’t completely sterile at time of packing or something has got in when handling the jar. These things happen. If there is white stuff floating on top of the water it’s apparently harmless and can be scraped off then re-top the salt water in the jar. I’ve never seen this in mine although I think I lost a jar to mold last year from my second batch.

Topping up the salt water.

Topping up the salt water.

Keep an eye on the jars though and if the water level has dropped too far then top it up with salty water. Once your 2 to 3 weeks are over, clean your jars off, check that there’s nothing unwanted in or on them, tighten the lids and pop them in the fridge. They should store for several months. I think ours lasted 6 months all up but that’s because we ate it all. ๐Ÿ˜€

The overflow in the tin is about 5mm deep - the excess liquid that has bubbled out during fermentation.

The overflow in the tin is about 5mm deep – the excess liquid that has bubbled out during fermentation.

I followed the instructions I found here but left out all the seeds and spices as I didn’t have them first time I made it and the flavour works for our family without them. My mother-in-law was born in Germany and has informed me that caraway seeds are usually included less so for flavouring than for flatulence control. Yes, sauerkraut, if you haven’t heard, is prone to make one a little windy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ A small side effect of a food that contains so very much goodness.

Welcome to a new and wonderful way to boost your probiotics, vitamin C and variety in your meals. It’s a wonderful side serving to go with meats, cheeses, salads and other such meals. And my husband, my kids and I all love it! ๐Ÿ˜€

Tomatoes, coconut flour, sauerkraut and foraged bounty

The tomatoes are done! The big order is bottled and safely away. The pantry is groaning.

Continue reading

Sourdough and mustards and other food stuff.

I got to thinking again the other night. Again. Makes for a bad night sleep when that happens but it does make for good time to sort through the racing ideas in my head.

Some of the things I got to thinking about were what would change in my kitchen if Peak Oil happened and imported or long distance foods became too expensive to buy. Things that would disappear off my table would be the tropical fruits. No pineapples, no bananas (that’s a big one as my kids adore narnies), no ginger, pepper, sugar, cereals and oh so many other things. But a few struck me as things I could do without buying anyway and so I did a little research.

Yeast. I know very little about yeast despite baking bread around 5 times a week. It comes in a vacuum sealed foil packet in freeze dried but active form. I know it’s alive and needs food to do its thing so it gets some warm water, a little salt and sometimes some form of sweetener like honey or rapadura or even fruit in my fruit bread and then it makes my bread dough double in size when it’s kept warm. It’s cool stuff. But I have absolutely no idea how I would grow and harvest this form of yeast or even fresh yeast if I could no longer buy it. Hmmm. As challenging as it would be I know I could grow my own wheat if push came to shove and I also know that it’s grown a lot more locally than pineapples (my mother’s family grew wheat in central NSW and family friends still do) and with a Thermomix I can and frequently do grind at least some of my own flour. Sweetener can be accessed in the form of fruit or honey but yeast… Then I thought about sourdough bread. Sourdough is made using a starter which is made to capture the wild yeasts floating around in the air and is probably the first means of making leaven bread. Check this for some further information. Hence I hit google last night and found a few recipes for sourdough starters. As of this morning I have 2; 1 with plain organic flour and 1 with freshly ground spelt flour. My recipe is from here and here. This is another good link too. I’ll keep you updated.

I also got to thinking about mustard and became convinced I could make my own. I’ve been meaning to look this up for ages but just never got to it. Well, I finally did yesterday and I’m kind of stunned at how easy it is and more than a little disgusted I haven’t looked it up before now! Instead of paying for this I can make it myself! :O EASILY! The 2 mustards we use are dijon and wholegrain so I’ve found 2 recipes I intend to try. Dijon requires white wine and onions, 2 ingredients I actually don’t have at the moment (I’m not a drinker and Martin doesn’t drink white wine and the onions got used up the other night making honey mustard chicken along with the last of my wholegrain mustard) so it will have to wait but my wholegrain is sitting on the bench ripening. ๐Ÿ˜€

Another food I have made from scratch or raw ingredients is Raw Sauerkraut or fermented cabbage. It’s extremely good for you and the more I think about it, in some ways similar to sourdough bread in that the starter and the cabbage are both soured with lactic acid fermenting. That was an easy make. I saw cabbages in Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour shops and figured it was worth a try. I grabbed 2 cabbages and headed home. I had no idea the sheer quantity they would make! Ai! Using my mandolin slicer I sliced it finely, then used the end of the rolling pin to bruise it and start releasing the juices. I put it into sterilised jars, squished it in with the rolling pin again and made sure it was covered in salted unchlorinated water. Into the pantry it went and I had the foresight to put the jars in a slice tray – they will bubble as they ferment and make a mess of your shelf – and a week or so later I had a try, yummo! I lost 1 jar to mould each batch I made; I think 1 was as the water level dropped too far and the other must have been an inadequate sterilisation. I still have a few jars in my fridge. This is the recipe I followed but I left out all the spices. If you do like the spices, the caraway seeds will assist in keeping down some of the more explosive results of eating too much sauerkraut or so my German mother-in-law tells me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve also madeย mayonnaiseย in the Thermy. My hubby loves it. I’ve had some mixed success with the Every Day Cookbook (EDC) recipe where it has split 2 out of 5 tries but I have this recipe to try thanks to Linda from Diary of a Nifty Mum. She gave it to me absolutely ages ago but just hadn’t got around to it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Well, off to make it now I think. My poor hubby has been deprived of mayo for far too long.

Edit added: How could I forget?! Just made some more homemade chocolate hazelnut spread. It’s a Thermy recipe and I am not sure who to credit for it but here it is with the changes I’ve made to it too:

120g raw hazelnuts
Grind sp8 10 secs.

Add 380g rapadura (you can put nuts in a bowl and grind raw sugar for 20 sec sp9 instead though)
40g raw cacao powder or 60g cocoa
Mix n speed 7.

The recipe says 1/4 cup canola oil but a) canola is genetically modified and b) I have always found it needs more than 1/4 cup so I just pour in oil – rice bran or sunflower oils have worked well for me – starting with at least a 1/4 cup then seeing if it is just starting to ‘flow’. If not I add more. BUT GO SLOWLY. Too much oil is bleugh. When it’s mixed and at the consistency you like, pop into jars and into the fridge. Remember though, the oil will solidify somewhat in the fridge although it melts again when on hot toast.

I absolutely love making things like this myself. 1 less thing I need to pay for, 1 less round of preservatives and flavour enhancers, 1 more thing I can chalk up to self sustainability. What do you balk at buying and prefer to make yourself?