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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in Recipes: Lacto-Fermented/Cultured Foods (18)

Thursday
May192011

Cultured Curried Carrot Sticks (gluten-free, ACD)

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I love making cultured (also known as lacto-fermented) foods. After taking about 6 months off from fermenting (save a battle with 20 heads of cabbage that resulted in 7 gallons of kraut), I'm back at it. Last week I made some lovely Cultured Curried Carrot Sticks, and now I've been bit hard by the fermentation bug. 

Cultured and lacto-fermented foods - such as sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, yogurt, miso, kombucha, and kvass - are rich in probiotic bacteria, enzymes, and amino acids. These foods aid digestion, increase immunity, and help alkalize the body. While everyone can benefit from consuming fermented cultured foods, they are especially beneficial if you are recovering from chronic illness, allergies, yeast infections, or have taken antibiotics recently. Many natural grocery stores and co-ops offer wonderful cultured and fermented foods, but they are often costly. I prefer to make most of mine at home - it is simple and much more affordable! 

These cultured carrot sticks can easily be made year-round. Make them now using sweet and tender young carrots from the spring garden, and use larger carrots as the summer goes on and as summer wanes to fall. If you can store carrots in cold storage for winter, or actually get local carrots through the colder months, you're in luck, and can make this even when the snowflakes start to fly! But if I were you, I'd make lots of jars through spring, summer, and fall, and take the winter off and rely on your stash. Jars of cultured carrots will last 6-8 months when kept in cold storage! And besides, the longer they sit, the better they taste; cultured foods age like fine wines.

I took a few jars of these carrot sticks to the second MPLS Swappers food swap over the past weekend (if you want to read more about the MPLS Swapperscheck out our blog). I organize this event with my friends A-K and Mandy, and it was a big success once again! All my jars of carrots were swapped in no time. Thankfully, I reserved a couple of jars at home for myself and let them ferment a few days longer, to get nice and sour the way I like them. And when I opened that jar after 7 days, those carrots bubbled. 

It's aliiiiiiive, ha ha ha ha ha!

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Cultured Curried Carrot Sticks

yield 6 pints or 3 quarts

These carrot sticks are slightly sour, slightly salty, slightly spicy, and plenty crunchy. They have a beautiful bright orange color, due in part to the addition of curry powder. Serve along side sandwiches or wraps, Indian-style meals, as part of a relish tray, or eat straight out of the jar. Cultured carrot sticks can also be finely chopped and added to relishes, salsas, or chutneys for a healthful probiotic kick.

Metal reacts with fermented foods, so remove carrot sticks from jars with wood or plastic utensils and serve in non-metallic bowls/trays.

  • 4 pounds carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 fresh cayenne peppers, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • 6 Tbsp whey***
  • 3 Tbsp unrefined salt
  • 3 tsp whole coriander seeds 
  • 30 shelled whole cardamom seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • filtered water

Heat a small heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and lightly toast, stirring often, until they are golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl to cool.

Slice carrots into 3-4 inch lengths about 1/4-inch x 1/4-inch. prepare other vegetables as directed. Thinly slice one of the halved cayenne peppers cross-wise. 

If using pint jars...

Add 1 sliced garlic clove, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 5 cardamom seeds, 1/4 tsp curry powder, 1 Tbsp whey, and 1 1/2 tsp salt to jar. Then tightly pack with carrot sticks and one of the cayenne pepper halves. Sprinkle with a few slices of cayenne pepper. Then fill with water within 1 inch of the top.

If using quart jars... 

Add 2 sliced garlic cloves, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 10 cardamom seeds, 1/2 tsp curry powder, 2 Tbsp whey, and 3 tsp salt to jar. Then tightly pack with carrot sticks and two of the cayenne pepper halves. Sprinkle with a few slices of cayenne pepper. Then fill with water within 1 inch of the top.

Tightly close jars, and shake lightly to distribute ingredients and dissolve salt. Then place jars in a tray and set on the counter at room temperature for 4-7 days.  Try them at 4 days and see if you want them to be more sour or not, to get them more sour and softer leave them out at room temperature longer.  While I enjoyed them at 4 days (they were very crunchy and a little tart/sour), I liked them best after 7 days (softer but still crunchy and more intensely sour). If you let them sit for 7 days, they will bubble quite a bit when you open them - that's live food, friends! In warmer weather, your carrots will ferment more quickly, so be sure to check in on them periodically.

After fermenting at room temperature, keep in your fridge. If you can, wait a week or two before eating them - the flavor will intensify. The longer they sit, the better they are! Like all ferments, these will last for 6-8 months when kept in cold storage.

 

***A Note on Whey

Whey is the watery liquid remaining after milk has been curdled (yogurt) and strained. Full of enzymes, probiotic bacteria, vitamins, and minerals, whey can be used for making fermented foods and beverages, and is also a healthful drink on its own. Whey can be made easily at home by straining yogurt. Strained yogurt is thick, rich, and creamy, and has a more intense flavor than unstrained yogurt. 

To strain yogurt, I generally line a medium sized fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth or a large coffee filter, place it on top of a bowl, and put 2-4 cups of yogurt in the lined strainer. I cover lightly with a towel and let strain for 12-24 hours. You can do it on the counter, or you can put it in the fridge. The site Wonderful Ingredients also offers up two good methods for straining yogurt.  

If you are intolerant to lactose, whey is probably not a good choice for you. Some individuals who are casein sensitive may be able to tolerate whey, but cross contamination is highly likely. So, if you are intolerant or don't have whey (or plain yogurt) on hand, you can make this recipe without whey with success. Simply omit the whey and double the amount of sea salt - the increased quantity of salt will help preserve the carrots and stave off unfriendly bacteria in the whey's absence. 

Wednesday
Feb092011

Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Kefir Ice Cream with Mixed Berries, No Ice Cream-Maker Required

Perfectly pink and full of probiotics.

My housemate Mary has been making coconut milk kefir lately, and our refrigerator was rather full of the stuff. She is using these kefir grains from Cultures for Health, and process couldn't be easier. I'm not going to go into details about how to make the kefir in this post, because you can read about it on Cultures for Health's website. She uses cans of organic coconut milk, not the coconut milk beverage, adds the grains, and lets it sit. After a day or two, it's ready to go! Every so often she needs to divide the grains and innoculate them in goat's milk, just so they stay active. Her grains are mulitplying like crazy, so I am going to take some from her and get my own batch started.  

The cultured coconut milk kefir is quite lovely. As the coconut milk cultures, it thickens considerably, resulting in a rich, very thick, very creamy and tart kefir that is much thicker than any dairy kefir I have ever eaten. In fact, it is so thick that in order to strain out the kefir grains, we have to thin out the kefir considerably with water! Mary has been eating it like yogurt and adding a dollop to soups, and I've enjoyed adding it to smoothies and spreading it on muffins and bread like cream cheese.

I thought it might be fun to try making it into a frozen yogurt/ice cream type thing.  It was a breeze to make - no ice cream maker required - and tasted delicious. It tastes a lot like a strawberry malt, is very coconutty, and has just a hint of that cultured tartness on the finish. A mixture of berries, a bit of agave nectar, and some stevia liquid add just the right amount of sweetness. And let's not forget the best part - it is filled with beneficial probiotic bacteria! Could there be a better dessert to show your special someone how much you care this Valentine's Day? I think not. Nothing says I love you like happy bacteria.

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Saturday
Jan152011

How to Make Sauerkraut in Gallon-Size Plastic Bags: A Follow-Up

Updated on Saturday, January 15, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

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Back in October, I posted an entry called How to Make Sauerkraut - or - Four Women have a Cabbage-Laden Sausagefest.  I described one method for making sauerkraut, as demonstrated in photos of a party that three friends and I had where we shredded 50 pounds of cabbage and ate lots of sausages. After letting the cabbage ferment away for about 6 weeks, we got together back in December to sample our krauts, pack them into jars, and eat more sausages (and locally-made haggis). I wanted to let you know how it all turned out!

As you may recall from that post (found HERE), we fermented in gallon-size plastic bags, and made 9 different flavors.

  • plain with one with Canning Salt (3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • plain with RealSalt (3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • juniper berries (1 Tbsp berries, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • seaweed extravaganza (a half cup each of crushed nori, laver, dulse, and wakame, 3 1/2 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • caraway (1 Tbsp caraway sees, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • garlic, onions, and red pepper flakes (1-2 garlic cloves, 1 onion, 1/2-1 Tbsp red pepper flakes, 3 1/2 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • dill seeds (1 Tbsp dill seeds, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage)
  • "Kim's Mix" - fennel and coriander (1 Tbsp fennel seeds, 1 Tbsp coriander seeds, 3 Tbsp salt, 5 lbs cabbage) - I sliced by thumb open while making this one, so I got to pick the spices. We joked that blood was one of the key secret ingredients.  Although I didn't actually bleed in the kraut, I did get to keep the batch.
  • "Terre Vivant" - a mix of juniper, clove, bay leaf, sage, and cumin, inspired by a recipe in the marvelous  book Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing. I don't recall the exact measurements, nor did we write them down! But it was around 2 Tbsp total spices, 3 Tbsp salt, and 5 lbs cabbage.

IMG_0091Homemade haggis and sausages from the Seward Co-op in Minneapolis, MNSampling three varieties of our kraut with dinner: seaweed, garlic and onion, and Terre Vivant

 

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Thursday
Oct142010

How to Make Sauerkraut - or - Four Women Have a Cabbage-Laden SausageFest

Updated on Saturday, January 15, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

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My new friend and fellow blogger Amy is wise in the ways of fermented cabbage. Her Croatian-bred family has a long history of kraut making, and she is the proud owner of her grandmother's kraut board.  A few weeks ago, she led a great demo at the Minneapolis Farmers Market about how to make sauerkraut.  I was awestruck by her sense of humor, her knowledge of kraut, and that amazing kraut board! After the demo, I approached her about getting together for a kraut-making party.  She gave me a quart of her homemade kraut, one thing led to another, and soon we had a date. We invited a couple local food loving friends, and decided we'd eat sausages, make kraut, and have fun.  Female sausage-fest, here we come!

Finally, this past Sunday, the big day came.  It was an unusually warm October day, with temperatures soaring into the upper 70s while golden leaves fell from the trees. We met at Amy's house at 8:45 am, then hopped in her car and drove to the Minneapolis Farmers Market in search of the perfect cabbages.  After investigating all the cabbages at the market, we found the goldmine: 50 pound bags of cabbages for only $12.  The cabbages were wet under the outer leaves, and were still moist ('bleeding') on the stem where they were cut. Perfect! We bought a bag. I hopped up and down with delight at the thought of all those cabbages, giggling like a little schoolgirl, while Amy hoisted the entire 50 pound bag of cabbages onto her shoulder.  She hauled that whole bag of cabbage back to the car on her shoulder through crowded farmers market aisles and busy sidewalks; it was like she was carrying a battering ram. I was impressed. Amy is hardcore.

With all that cabbage weighing down the back of her car, we made a quick stop back at my apartment to get a big plastic tub (more on that later), then went back to her house. Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to set up our cabbage shredding operation on her back patio.  While we got our ingredients and equipment together, we made sure the cabbage was set up comfortably in a lounge chair.

Relaxed cabbages and relaxed people make much better kraut. Seriously.

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Friday
Jul302010

Lacto-Fermented Vinegar-Free Cucumber Pickles (gluten-free, vegan, raw, ACD)

'Tis the season to preserve, friends, so I'm posting another recipe for pickled vegetables.  You can't escape the natural cycles of the growing season.  So, I'm offering this one up for Summerfest 2010, a community blog event celebrating summer ingredients.  This week's theme is cucumbers and zucchini, so it was perfect timing for my pickles.

I have to say that these are the best dill pickles I have ever tasted. Granted, I'm partial, but seriously, these are crunchy, not too salty, and full of garlic, dill, and spices. And best yet, there isn't a drop of vinegar to be found - they are naturally pickled and fermented in a salt brine, and are full of beneficial bacteria. 

Lacto-fermentation is a process of preserving foods that relies on lactic acid, a naturally occurring preservative that is produced by lactobacilli. Lactobacilli are live bacteria that exist on the surface of every living thing. At the most basic level, you create a brine of water and salt, which preserves the food long enough for the lactobacilli to catch up and produce lactic acid, which then preserves the food for the long-term. In addition to being preserved, the food is live, meaning that the healthy bacteria are still thriving in the finished food product and are available to your body. Live beneficial probiotic bacteria - like those found in these pickles - help strengthen immune system function, aid in detoxification, and regulate digestion. When you learn to control the production of lactic acid, you are able to protect against putrefying bacteria and safely preserve all kinds of foods, from meats, to vegetables, to fruits, to beverages. Unlike vinegar-cured and canned pickles which are shelf-stable, most lacto-fermented foods require refrigeration or cold storage.

I make a lot of fermented food and find it to be very beneficial to my overall health, especially because I take so many antibiotics for Lyme Disease treatment.  I've been playing around with cucumber pickles since last summer, but just hadn't hit the right combination of factors until now. I think I finally nailed it, and have concluded that it comes down to a few decisive factors...

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