A New Scarf Pattern

I have a couple of family members who occasionally email me crochet patterns that they think I might be interested in making. This one was sent by Aunt Donna. I though it was an adorable pattern and decided to make it into a child size scarf just to try it out. I have a feeling I will be using this pattern again.

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What do you think?

 

** Editors Note: In case the pattern is not clear in the photo – it’s puppy paw prints. ūüôā

Lacto Fermentation – Sauerkraut

I would venture to guess that there is not one pharmaceutical that can :

  • Help improve digestion
  • Improve immune function
  • Reduce inflammation and allergies
  • Support cognitive health and mood
  • Provide cancer fighting anti-oxidants

but according to this article  eating sauerkraut and other fermented foods can do all those things. This post is part of a series I am writing on fermenting foods and for anyone who has come across this post but has not read my introductory post Рyou can find it here with more information about the health benefits of fermented foods.

For those who are not familiar with it sauerkraut is fermented (pickled) cabbage. I have been eating and enjoying sauerkraut for as long as I can remember. Sauerkraut and sausage has always been a family favorite and a I have always loved a Rueben sandwich with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese stacked on rye bread and then grilled. Growing up our sauerkraut was purchased in cans or jars at the grocery store.

I have made homemade sauerkraut with some degree of success in the past, which also means some degree of failure. ūüė¶ The major “failure” was¬†a large batch that went bad during the fermentation process. I could tell it was “bad” because¬†it had a rotten¬†– putrid smell to it. Eww! I can’t say for sure what caused it to go bad, but knowing what I know now I’d guess it was that the salt I used had an anti-caking agent added.

The batch the was a success had the smell that is unique to sauerkraut ( I’m¬†not sure¬†how to describe it but it does make my mouth water). It also had the wonderful and hard to describe flavor of sauerkraut – tangy – somewhat sour – somewhat sweet – somewhat salty all in one and it still had a¬†some of the raw¬†cabbage flavor which seems to disappear once sauerkraut had been pasteurized or canned. During the fermentation process the texture of the cabbage softened some but it did retain some of the crunchiness. Since this batch was 3 or 4 gallons I found it necessary to can most of the sauerkraut in order to preserve it. Although we were able to enjoy it for months to come, and there is certainly nothing wrong with eating cooked sauerkraut, (at minimum it still¬†provides some good fiber) it no longer contained the beneficial probiotics that developed during the fermentation process.

Remember probiotic food needs to be consumed raw.

After successfully fermenting our garlic I decided it was time to make some sauerkraut. Since cabbage is not in season this time of year I purchased one when I was doing my grocery shopping. I decided to make only one quart in a wide mouth canning jar and found a recipe that told me I would need about 1 3/4 lbs. (.68039 kg) of cabbage and 1 table spoon of salt. I again used the Pink Himalayan salt. I also decided to keep it simple – there are many recipes out there that add different vegetables and herbs to sauerkraut – but I really like just plain (fermented) cabbage.

The process for making sauerkraut¬†is different than fermenting garlic¬†¬†because¬†instead of¬†making a brine to pour over the vegetables, cabbage makes it’s own brine. I sliced the head of cabbage in thin strips and weighed out 1 3/4 lbs.¬† I put it in a bowl then I sprinkled the salt on the cabbage and worked it in with my hands. The salt helps pull the water out of the cabbage. I then packed all of the cabbage into a wide-mouth, quart size canning jar. It is¬†a tight fit and needs to be packed very tightly. There are tools designed to assist in this process. They are called sauerkraut stompers or pounders and although they vary in design they are¬†consistently some type of fat wooden stick. I don’t own a sauerkraut pounder but I do keep a rubber mallet with a wooden handle among my kitchen utensils. The wooden handle was perfect for pounding or packing the cabbage into the jar. The reason for pounding or packing it tightly is to squeeze the water out of the cabbage thus mixing with the salt and creating the brine. Once the cabbage is packed tightly into the jar there should be enough brine to fully cover the cabbage. It is important that the cabbage be fully submersed, so¬†if¬†I ever¬†come up a little short I will make up some brine to add.

I then placed my smaller jar (see fermenting our garlic post) inside the wide mouth jar as a weight to hold the cabbage beneath the brine. I covered it with a jelly bag (again another type of cloth would work) and placed a rubber band on the secure the jelly bag.

I began tasting the sauerkraut on about the third day and by the seventh day I decided it was ready to be moved to the refrigerator. We have been enjoying a couple tablespoons as a side dish with either lunch or dinner usually every other day or so.

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Now I think it is time to start another batch. ūüôā

Next up – sour dough bread.

What is your favorite way to eat sauerkraut? Do you eat it raw? Have you ever made your own?

 

 

 

 

Vicki’s First Book

Today I am sending a¬†shout out and a great big¬†‘atta girl to¬†my friend and fellow blogger Vicki at Horses, Dirt and Motherhood. A few weeks ago Vicki announced on her blog that she just published her first book. What a great way to start the new year! I have great admiration for Vicki because I know there are many of us, Bloggers and non- bloggers, who have said or thought¬† “I should”, “I could” or ” I want to – write a book” but we just haven’t done it yet. It take’s a lot of time, talent, commitment, and I sure some money to write, illustrate (Yes, she illustrated it as well) and publish a book and Vicki has shown us that it can be done.

I received my  copy in the mail yesterday and am now looking forward to sharing it with my grand children on their next visit.

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I found it very touching that in addition to fulfilling her dream of becoming a published author, Vicki is using this as an opportunity to help support a cause that is near and dear to her heart.

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To find out where to purchase the book follow this link to Vicki’s blog. If you would like to show support for Vicki’s endeavors but do not have young children in your life you might consider buying a copy and gifting it to your local library, preschool, or elementary school. You can also help spread the word by sharing this post.

Thanks for reading and have a great day. ūüôā

Lacto Fermentation – Pickled Garlic

What Is Lacto Fermentation

Simply put Lacto Fermentation is a process that uses salt water also know as brine to ferment vegetables. For a more detailed explanation you can click here. Sauerkraut and pickles are probably the most commonly lacto fermented foods here in the USA. However not all pickles are made using lacto fermentation and although sauerkraut may be made using this process it is often pasteurized (canned) thus killing the probiotics and depleting the nutritional benefits of fementing.

Getting It Right

As I mentioned in my last post I have done some fermenting in the past. Sometimes they turned out good and sometimes they did not, so recently when I was reading about lacto fermentation I was mentally taking notes to see what I may need to do differently.

After reading this article , choosing the right type of salt seemed like something that could be a key to getting it right. In the past I had used either pickling salt or kosher salt. I had thought that they were pure salt and  varied only in texture. I did not realize that they may have anticaking agents added which may effect the fermentation process. It is also worth pointing out that some sea salts may have anticaking agents added.

When we visited our local health food store and I asked the sales person about salt she showed me the three varieties that they carry. They included Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, and a product called Pure Salt. She told me she had used each of these salts and all of them work great for fermenting foods. I chose Himalayan Pink.

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Water was another concern. I knew that I must use water that was not chlorinated for making the brine but what I had not thought about was the water I was using to clean the vegetables. I had been using our tap water (which is chlorinated) to clean my vegetables and probably killed off some or all of the healthy bacteria that was present. I have since started using filtered water to clean my vegetables.

The last decision I made was to only do small batches. Although I have fermenting crocks, (2 gallon and 5 gallon) for a couple of reasons fermenting in quart and pint size canning jars seems to be a better option. Since it is just my husband and I at home we¬† are not likely to eat two gallons (or more) worth of sauerkraut (or any other vegetable ferment) before it passes it’s prime. Additionally if I ferment a smaller amount and for some reason it goes bad I only wasted that small amount. Even if I want to do larger amounts it seems wise to use the canning jars as they are easier to store in the refrigerator and I could gift them to family or friends.

My Process

Since we still have some home grown garlic on hand I decided to start with fermenting a jar of garlic. As you can see in the photo above I used a wide mouth pint size canning jar. I (kind of) followed this recipe. I actually had to chuckle when I read their instructions for peeling garlic cloves. If you have been following my blog for a while you probably already know that I highly recommend using these silicone tube garlic peelers.

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I peeled enough garlic to fill my jar leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top. I mixed two tablespoons of Himalayan Pink salt with one quart of non- chlorinated water and stirred it until all of the salt was dissolved. I the poured enough of the salt-water (brine) over the garlic to cover the cloves. Since the garlic cloves floated up and some parts were no longer covered with brine I needed to weigh them down. I had a smaller jar that nested nicely inside the wide mouth jar. Perfect! I then slipped a jelly bag over both jars and secured it with a rubber band to keep fruit flies out. Any clean cloth would have worked for this purpose I just happened to have a jelly bag. I then stored the extra brine in my refrigerator in case I needed to add more or to use for my next batch.

I left the jar of garlic sitting on the counter in the kitchen for about 10 days. I checked it every couple of days, by tasting it, to see if it was ready to be moved to the refrigerator where the fermentation process would¬†be slowed down significantly. I¬†determined it was ready when the garlic had developed a milder¬†and a somewhat sweeter flavor and the brine¬†was infused with¬†the garlic flavor. The cloves had begun to soften but still had some crunch to them. Determining when the vegetables are ready really is subjective – if you like the flavor and texture then they are ready. ūüôā To refrigerate them I removed the jelly bag and small jar. Then I capped them with a regular canning jar lid.

Eating Fermented Garlic

We are now enjoying eating fermented garlic. In fact the jar is more than half gone. It has a pickled garlic flavor. I try to include a couple of cloves in our diet each day. Our home grown garlic has a stronger (hotter) flavor than any garlic that¬†we have found¬†commercially available and even fermented it has retained some of it’s heat. My husband, who will often eat raw cloves of garlic despite tears coming to his eyes as he chews it up, will eat a few whole cloves of the fermented garlic as a side dish with his lunch or dinner. I, on the other hand, prefer to slice the cloves and add them to a salad or a sandwich or¬†throw a few slices on top of my spaghetti. However we decide to eat them it is important to keep them raw in order to reap the benefits of the probiotics.

Next Up

Sauerkraut! I originally planned to include it in this post but since this post is getting long I will dedicate a separate post to sauerkraut.

Have you ever eaten pickled garlic? Do you have a favorite fermented vegetable or recipe you would like to share?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2019 – Learning To Ferment Foods

Wow! Where did January go??? The good news about January being over is we are closer to spring, and while we are in the midst of climbing out of a brutally cold spell, spring is a most delightful thought. The other good news is even though the month seemed to be gone before I knew it, I did do some things that I am quite pleased with.

The one thing that I am going to share with you¬†(it will ¬†probably take¬†in a few posts) is that I have been studying about and learning to make fermented foods. I have experimented with some fermenting in the past and some times it has been good and other times not so much. This time, although I am still experimenting, things seem to be going better ūüôā

Before I start talking writing about what I am fermenting, I wanted to tell you why. You may recognize fermentation as a method of preserving food but it so much more than that. While canning, freezing, and dehydrating are all methods of preserving food which I practice none of them increases the nutritional value of the food. Fermenting does! Over the past month or so I have viewed many websites related to fermentation and I thought I would share just a few.

I choose¬†the first article Seven Reasons Why Fermented Foods are Healthy because it cites case studies which support these claims. If you have any heath concerns,¬†including depression,¬†I recommend taking a look at this article. This article also provides a list of fermented foods and says some are commonly found in grocery stores. While that may be true it is important to know what to look for where to look for it. Some foods on the list like pickles and sauerkraut are often found sitting on the store shelves. These canned foods have been pasteurized¬†thus killing off the¬†probiotics.¬†Fermented foods sold in the grocery store will be found in the refrigerator section. Some key words to look for on labels are “Raw”, “Perishable”, “Naturally Fermented”, “Live Cultures” or “Active Cultures”. This link pertaining to only sauerkraut explains and gives some brands that¬†may be found in stores.

While the above article cites case studies the following video explains the health benefits of fermented foods in a way that I thought makes a lot of sense. Personally I have not watched the entire video as the later part teaches how to ferment foods and I have already read all about that.  I do highly recommend watching/listening to the first 16 Р17 minutes.

 

This last site has a plethora of information about fermenting and I keep going back to it. Since they do sell fermenting supplies I will tell you that I am not affiliated with them nor have I purchased or used any of their products (yet). I do find it most admirable that even though they sell starter cultures they also give instruction for making your own starter cultures. They also have many recipes and I will be sharing in an upcoming post some of the recipes I have tried.

I will close by telling you that over the past few weeks, since I began including fermented foods in my diet daily, I have felt some positive results. I have more energy, my digestion has greatly improved, I feel more satisfied by a small meal and don’t get hungry as often, I also don’t crave sweets and I have lost a few pounds. I am fairly certain there is more going on than meets the eye, but these are the results that I can attest to.

As always I thank you for reading and I would love to hear from you. Is your year off to a good start? Do you ever eat fermented foods? Do you ever make fermented foods?