With spring in the air, dandelions in bloom, and seed planting up on us, I'm also dreaming of cooler drinks over hot ones.
While there is always room for a good cuppa hot tea in the morning, the warmer weather has me turning to iced and sun tea as well as cold, bubbly, kombucha. There is just something about that fizz that is refreshing after a hot day out in the garden.
In our family of 6, brewing kombucha with the batch brew method doesn't cut it. It just doesn't make enough tea for all the thirsty people in our house and so we use the continuous brew method for making our kombucha. Plus continuous brew kombucha is faster, easier, and simpler to make.
“80% of your immune system lives in your gastrointestinal tract and probiotics can help. Approximately 500 different species of bacteria live inside you. The weight of these bacteria is about two to three pounds.” Institute of Health Sciences.
What we eat and drink directly affects our immune system by way of our intestinal health. We truly are what we eat (and drink) and the quality of that food and drink has a huge impact on our immune system. There could be no truer quote regarding food and medicine than that from Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
Kombucha, a fermented tea packed full of probiotics (good bugs for the gut) can attribute to making sure your gut is getting what it needs and in turn your immune system what IT needs. Adding herbs and spices to that mix just adds to the healthful affects on the body. Whether you are flavoring your first fermentation with herbs or the second fermentation, adding herbs and tisanes (herbal teas) will open up the flavor possibilities as well as the benefits of drinking kombucha.
Gut shots and kraut pounders. A couple of words I didn't think would probably ever enter my vocabulary until a few years ago. Doesn't sauerkraut just come in a jar? Isn't that, that stinky stuff that goes on roast beef sandwiches? Cabbage? Bleck! I wasn't a fan of sauerkraut in the least, at least the stuff that I saw at Costco being piled on hot dogs and the yellowish stuff out of a jar for on top of St. Patrick's day corned beef. And if your wondering what a gut shot is.... its kraut juice in a shot glass (just had to put that out there.) I'm here to tell you that REAL fermented sauerkraut doesn't taste like that stuff at all. Its actually good!
About 5-6 years ago I encountered traditional cooking. A way of cooking that uses traditional preparation methods for things like grains, vegetables and meats. Some of these methods might not seem so strange like dehydrating meat for jerky. Fermenting bread dough and vegetables was a new thing to me though.
The fermentation process, whether it be bread our sauerkraut adds nutrition to the foods, helps to pre-digest some things our bodies are not so great at digesting and helps with our overall health. Live fermented vegetables add probiotics to our gut which helps us have healthy digestion. It is said that health starts in the gut!
These forms of food preservation were used until the Industrial Revolution making them quite normal in every day life. Over time that changed and these methods were lost and set aside. With so many gut related health issues in the news (think Chrons, IBS, ulcerative colitis) its no wonder that these traditional methods are coming back.
So its time to throw out that jar of store bought kraut and meet the real stuff!
Plain sauerkraut Recipe
2 medium to large green cabbages (purple cabbage works too, a bit spicier!)
9 tablespoons of good quality sea salt
1.) Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage to insure cleanness.
2.) Shred cabbage with a food processor shredding blade, knife, or traditional cabbage shredder.
3.) Add sea salt to shredded cabbage. Blend in well.
4.) Pound the cabbage to help speed the release of the the cabbage juices. When cabbage is juicy pack into a jar that kraut will fill to the top. You don't want any extra space in the top of your jar.
5.) Place a fermenting weight on the top and a lid. Let fermented at room temperature for 3-7 days until you see bubbles and have a sour taste. Time frame will vary depending on the temperature in your house.
If you love spicy and hot things than kimchi is going to be the kraut for you! Ours is a little more low key than the traditional Korean stuff but a great place to start if you are not sure about kimchi .... or if your just not ready for that hot bright red stuff!
Our low key kimchi
2 heads of green cabbage
9-12 tablespoons of good quality sea salt
1-2 daikon radishes
2-3 garlic cloves
Approx. 4 inches horseradish or to taste
2-3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1.) Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage to insure cleanness.
2.) Shred cabbage, carrots, daikon radish, horseradish, and garlic with a food processor shredding blade, knife, or traditional cabbage shredder.
3.) Add sea salt to shredded cabbage & veggies. Blend in well.
4.) Pound the cabbage & veggies to help speed the release of the the cabbage juices. When cabbage is juicy pack into a jar that kraut will fill to the top. You don't want any extra space in the top of your jar.
We hope that you enjoy these simple sauerkrauts as much as we do! Feel free to try different veggies in either of these recipes. Caraway seed and dill might be great in the basic recipe and remind you a bit of dill pickles. Spice up the kimchi more or less according to your taste! Add some green onion or what ever suits your mood.
If you would like to watch how we make sauerkraut we did a little video here with our 3 year old helping us out, complete with an end of fall farm update! See you next time.
CeAnne & Paul
How to Make sauerkraut
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"The chief things for man's life is water and bread, and clothing, and a house to cover shame." Ecclesiasticus XXIX, 27. Today we are sharing our recipe for the staff of life, that foodstuff that man has had for thousands of years, bread. But in our day and age bread seems to be on the list of things not to eat. It seems there may be many reasons for that as the type of bread many tend to eat in our time is different from what use to be eaten. In our previous blog post on Milling At Home Joseph Husslein S.J. Ph D. shows how just by the way wheat is milled takes our "staff of life" and turns it into something other than a healthful food stuff.
Going down Father Fahey's list of 12 Factors of Proper Nutrition we are going to touch on numbers 10 and 11 today with our sourdough tutorial: proper preparation of food and proper cooking of food.
What is so special about sourdough bread? According to the all knowing Wikipedia, "Sourdough is the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast." Prior to the use of commercial yeast (bread yeast typically purchased for bread making) sourdough starter was how families baked their daily bread. Sourdough starter uses a natural leaving that takes the naturally occurring yeast from the air when flour and water are mixed together. This is what makes the bread rise in a sour dough recipe. Most sourdough breads purchased or served in a restaurant do not use this method but add other agents to mimic the flavor of sourdough.
Why is all of this important? Sourdough starter not only makes the bread rise without having to purchase a commercial man made yeast but it also helps to make bread more nutritional. The lactobacilli (the yeasts and bacterias) digest the sugars in the wheat, they give off gas in the process making the bubbles in the starter/bread dough which make it rise. When these lactobacilli eat the sugars they are "pre-digesting" the bread for us which makes it easier for us to digest. It also prepares the nutrients in the wheat for us so that we get more out of our wheat than we would have had these bacteria and yeasts not started the job for us. This study from the US National Library of Medicine shows that souring the bead reduces gluten and may be helpful to those who are gluten intolerant. In our own personal experience we don't have the bloating that is associated with eating yeasted bread and the whole wheat sourdough also ties us over to the next meal much longer. When we have gone back to a commercial yeasted bread we feel as if we didn't eat much and continue to feel hungry, in return eating more.
So without further ado, we present our family sourdough recipe. This recipe has been a labor of love in the making for about 4 years. One downside to sourdough is that it isn't a scientifically made commercial yeast. Meaning that it isn't a straight forward consistent item to use in the kitchen. It has been said that sourdough making is an art and there are as many ways to use this lovely starter as there are recipes in Russia for borsch, recipes in the US for potato salad and recipes in Bulgaria for Shopska Salad (as every country has its dish! Our children are adopted from these…). With that I will say this recipe might not work for every starter and every situation but it is what has been working for our family for 6 months almost without fail after 4 years of many sourdough bricks! I must also send a thank you to all those family members who have helped give tips along the way! To my sister-in-laws, cousin and aunt who put up with all my questioning and probing. This recipe is a combination of all of those tips and much reading and research.
Grind your Wheat!
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