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Hands On Sauerkraut Class

In preparation for my upcoming Hands On Sauerkraut class at this years Provender Conference, I am gathering information from some of my favorite sources, mixing it in with my own experiences and setting it aside for 3-5 days to let the bacteria flourish!

The coolest thing that i learned today in my research is the benign lactic acid bacteria that make sauerkraut what it is,  were born and evolved eons ago in some rotting veggie pile.  I love the idea of something literally being born in a heap of compost that changes the way that humans eat forevermore.  Or not.  As  humans shy and yield away from eating fermented foods there has certainly been a boom of, up til now unknown, gut issues, auto immune diseases and the like.  I think that those bacteria born all those eons ago and living in our bodies are our best friends and even though we can’t talk to them, we do get to enjoy hanging out together all the time, occasionally sharing a beer and well, pretty much all of our meals are enjoyed together.  What i am trying to say is that these bacteria are, in my opinion, the key to our health and well being and without them all sorts of diseases and disorders are born in their absence.  

And fermented foods are DELICIOUS!

I think somewhere along the line once sauerkraut started being canned and pasteurized for mass production we all got a bad taste in our mouths, and for most of us that was the only taste of sauerkraut that we’ve ever had, and it wasn’t that great.

But homemade sauerkraut is fast and easy and delicious and if you’ve never tried making it or eating it, please, let me introduce you to your little friends!

The basic ratio for making sauerkraut is 5 lbs of finely shredded cabbage (about the thickness of a dime) to 3 T sea salt or some other high quality salt.  Thats all you need!  Massage the salt into the cabbage, put the cabbage in a jar and let it sit for about a half an hour.  Then, using some sort of tool mash it up to release the water from the cabbage and create a brine.  The cabbage needs to be at least an inch below the brine and it needs to stay there.  So, cover the kraut with cheesecloth and weigh it down with boiled rocks, or a smaller jar full of water, or anything you have around the house, just make sure to sterilize it first.  The let it sit in room temperature (the cooler the better) for 3-5 days until the bacteria are born.  After that put it in the pantry or the fridge, somewhere nice and cool and let it sit as long as you want to.  Check it every couple of days and if there is scum forming, then scrape it off.  Also, taste it every few days so that you know when it is perfect for you.

Easy Peasy!

At the class i am also going to have available: beets, turmeric, ginger, juniper berries, caraway seeds and most likely some other random spices so that participants can mix and match and play and create their very own batch of sauerkraut to take home to remember the fun they had at Provender 2015!

Labels would be so cute for the jars…with Moxie Consulting on them…sigh..so little time so much to do!

Now get out there and grow some bacteria and Be Well!

xoxo

-m

 

Summer in a Jar

When I go to see my grandma I gain a lot of weight

With her dear hands she gives me plate after plate.

She cans the pickles, sweet & dill

She cans the songs of the whippoorwill

And the morning dew and the evening moon

‘N’ I really got to go see her pretty soon

‘Cause these canned goods I buy at the store

Ain’t got the summer in them anymore.

                                              Canned Goods, Greg Brown

 

I have been listening to this song a lot lately, well actually, I have been listening to a lot of music lately as I stand in the kitchen, sweat beading on my forehead and attempt to preserve the abundance of the gardens this year while at the same time passing on a family heirloom that is as cherished as the Cherokee Black tomatoes I grew in the garden. This heirloom that is as much a part of me as my father’s nose and my mother’s eyes is one of the true gifts that I will pass onto my daughter. It is so crucially important that I pass on this gift to her that I sometimes question if the pressing urgency to share the knowledge of preserving food with the next generation actually is coming from me, or from my ancestors long passed working their magic through me.

 

In the heat of late summer the stove is the last place I want to be, yet here I stand for hours and hours wondering why I am so possessed to do this, wondering if all of this work even saves me any money. I can go to my local co-op and buy a jar of strawberry jam for a couple of bucks and we have a local producer that makes great dilly beans. Tomato sauce? It’s on sale all the time; I can buy it by the case and get a discount. Then, floating on the steam collecting above my head I hear Greg Brown singing “Cause these canned goods I buy at the store Ain’t got the summer in them anymore,” and the essence of what I am doing comes to light. I am putting the seasons in a jar. All of the winter nights pouring over seed catalogues dreaming of the sun, the rainy spring that nourished the seeds and threatened to flood the land, the hot dry summer that made it almost impossible to keep everything watered, harvesting everything under the blazing sun, or sometimes in the middle of the night just to beat the heat, our daughter laughing and crying, stepping on baby plants and kissing them better, harvesting onions and sometimes just wanting it all to stop. All of that goes into the jar, a year of our family, our love, our struggles, our successes, our life, our food.

 

As I write this the strawberries have been preserved, the beans and the okra have been pickled, and the plums have been brandied and jellied and jammed. The tomatoes have almost taken me down with enchilada sauce and salsa and marinara and just whole canned tomatoes with herbs thrown in. The peaches are nestled in their sweet bath and I am ready to be done, but I look out the window and I see an acre of pumpkins and winter squash and I start to get that feeling again, one of delight and dread. What will I do with it all?

 

I did some research and found out that pumpkin and winter squash due to their low acidity cannot be canned using the water bath technique and since I do not have a pressure cooker, I will have to rely on my Excalibur dehydrator and my freezer to get me through. I plan to cube and steam the pumpkins and winter squash and then freeze them for curries and soups and warm thick winter dinners that will coat our insides with summer and keep us cozy. I will steam and puree both winter squash and pumpkin and put them into freezer for breads and pies and treats to bring sunshine into the dark. Last but not least I will dehydrate it to make pumpkin leather with some honey and spices for my daughter Stella, the now holder of the family heirloom, so that one of her favorite treats will always remind her of this gift that she holds and of her responsibility to make sure that her children know how to put the seasons in a jar.

 

 

Pumpkin Pie Fruit Leather
an easy way to utilize a bumper crop of winter squash or pumpkin and make a delicious treat for your kid's lunchbox
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups steamed pumpkin or winter squash puree
  2. 1/4 cup local honey
  3. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  5. 1/4 tsp powdered cloves
  6. 1/8 tsp nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Using the solid sheets that come with your dehydrator, or parchment paper, generously spread the pumpkin mixture, taking the time to spread as thinly and evenly as possible.
  3. Dehydrate at 140 degrees until dry but still pliable.
  4. Peel it off the sheets with a flexible metal spatula, if it is over done it will be brittle, but still delicious. If it is under done it will be too wet to peel off, so just put it back in the dehydrator.
  5. Store in a glass jar sealed tightly in the pantry.
Kitchen Thyme http://kitchenthyme.moxie.consulting/