What do grandchildren, dancing on the porch, fermentation, and – ahem – microbe farts have in common? Believe it or not, it’s a combination that adds up to a lot of love, close family life, and good health. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: Welcome back our special guest bloggers, Doug and Stacy. Today they conclude their four-part series of living off grid with one very important topic – food.
“Get closer to your food.” For eight years, we have been on the quest to do just that. Now when we say “quest”, we mean that we sold everything, left the city life and built a log cabin from scratch. We decided that we wanted to slow down and be more intentional with our time and our health. On our 11 acres in the Midwest, we have begun the journey. In this day and age of toxic food sources, we wanted actions to speak louder than words. We wanted to be in charge of where their food came from, how it was treated, and what went in it. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: We’re happy to announce our guest blogger today is fermentation expert and author Kirsten K. Shockey. She has a wealth of information to share, and in this post, she tackles a question we hear often at Lehman’s. Enjoy!
What is the difference between fermenting and pickling? It is a common question. In a way, it is just as much a semantics question as it is a process question. Continue reading
Happy New Year from Kidron, Ohio and all of us at Lehman’s. We hope the new year will bring you peace, joy and the start of new traditions!
If you’re still trying to finalize those New Year’s resolutions, consider this. One of the most rewarding experiences is learning something new. It can help you step out of your comfort zone, become more self-sufficient, and build lasting connections with family and friends. Continue reading
Homemade basic sauerkraut used to be a staple in every home.
As a society we have gone outside the home for most of what we need and want in our lives. Food, music, health care, clothing. It’s all acquired from outside of the family and community. Continue reading
It has been cold here. It isn’t really out of the ordinary, -10 degrees in January is pretty typical but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. My root cellar doesn’t like it either. It’s a fine dance we do, keeping the door open just enough to keep the temperature above freezing but not so high as to trick the carrots into thinking spring is here and it’s time to sprout.
It is so important to check the food down there. Today I find that I have cabbage and carrots that must be seen to and apples that must be used up. The apples are easy. We love apples and onions caramelized with some butter and maple syrup and poured over pork chops. The cabbage and carrots are going to be fermented. We are kraut crazy around here. I got one of those dandy little air lock tops and lids for my ½ gallon Mason jars and now I can make kraut without getting the brine all over. Bruce bought me a mandoline for Christmas so I’m going to break that in too. I do love my little gadgets!
I cut the cabbage by hand but we love our carrots in slivers and that’s where the mandoline comes in. I make the mixture about 1/3 carrots and 2/3 cabbage. For 2, ½ gallon jars of kraut, you need about 5 pounds of vegetables. It can be any mixture you like. I sometimes add a bit of garlic, some beets or Daikon radish if I have it. Today it will be straight cabbage/carrot. 5 pounds of vegetables will need three tablespoons of salt. It is really important to use good salt. It should be coarse and not iodized. There are so many lovey salts to choose from, some pink, some grey, but I have made many a jar of kraut with just kosher salt. I put my salt in a bowl and sprinkle as I go so the salt is fully incorporated. As you put the cabbage/carrot mixture in the jar, tamp it down tightly. This helps draw the water out of the cabbage and creates the brine. I use the wooden reamer from my old-fashioned food mill. You have to really push it down. Once the jars are full you should start to see the liquid rise to the top. You should re-tamp the kraut every few hours. If, after a day, the brine has not covered the vegetables, you can mix a tablespoon of salt to a cup of water and pour it
over the top. This happens if the vegetables are older as they simply have less water in them.
Now let the kraut sit in a cool place to ferment. I check it every few days. You will see a bit of scum on the top. Just skim it off. It won’t hurt the vegetables as long as they remain submerged. The warmer the spot, the quicker the fermentation will be. When you reach the right level of tang for you, refrigerate your kraut and enjoy.
The brine is full of healthy lacto-bacillus. If your stomach is feeling iffy a table spoon is a great tonic.
Alrighty then, it’s that time of year. The garden is starting to really gear up and I have more produce than we can eat before it goes bad. My plan for filling the pantry with wholesome and delicious foods that have less than 5 ingredients, none of which came out of a lab, is working.
Pickling for people disinclined to boil vinegar
So, what is a girl to do with all this bounty?
I know, I’ll lacto-ferment it all. I like lacto-fermented veggies, so does the hubbin, and I really actually find cutting up veggies to be enjoyable. I’m weird that way!
And as a completely unrelated bonus, lacto-fermenting things is so incredibly easy that even I can’t mess it up. Though I thought I had and threw out the first batch I ever made: more on that later.
Lacto-fermenting is what creates sauerkraut, kimchi and cocktail onions, to name some of the more commonly known results of the process.
It is a bacterial process, utilizing critters that are present in any environment that has not been completely sterilized (it will not work in outer space, so those of you reading this from the Mir Space Station, sorry, try it when you get back home), so yes, when I first got into this process I had to get over my germophobia and embrace the little things (metaphorically speaking). It’s similar to the fermentation that creates alcohol, just with different microbes.
Which brings me to examine exactly how one goes about lacto-fermenting, rather than creating carrot booze accidentally.
We want to attract the right kind of microbe, so we have to create the right kind of environment. Think of it as very, very small game trapping, because the microbes are all there, hanging out together. We want to encourage the lactobacilli, while discouraging the yeasts (alcohol) and other things that would spoil our food. Continue reading
Beyond Pickles I have always made a lot of pickles. We eat something pickled nearly every day. Pickled beans and beets are our favorites with carrots and cauliflower nearly as popular. We like bread and butter pickles too but by now, last year’s are are getting a bit soggy and nobody likes a soggy pickle. Lately, I have been making a lot more lacto-fermented pickled than traditional canned pickles in brine. We can make a ½ gallon of pickles and eat them over the course of a few weeks and then just make up another crispy batch. The process is really simple too. All you need is a sharp knife and a cutting board and some ½ gallon jars. Almost any vegetable can be fermented although a few things don’t appeal to me. I have tried pickled greens and found them, well…odd is all I can say about them. Continue reading
There’s something to be said for a quick and easy meal, that can make a hurried, hungry person happy in a matter of minutes. A fried egg, for example, or a peanut butter sandwich, or a handful of cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine.
But there’s something very different and just as beautiful to be said for foods that take a long time to create. Fermentation is a hobby of mine, I have to say—I get more excited about creating vast quantities of sauerkraut than consuming it, as delicious as it may be.
When, the other night, I looked at my counter and saw a total of 5 different cultured foods fermenting away (fyi: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, sourdough pizza dough, and apple cider), I decided I had to write about it. Continue reading