The Cabbage Song

Pound the cabbage.
Pound the cabbage.
Add the whey
and caraway.
Then you add the salt.
Tell me what you get.
Sauerkraut, Sauerkraut.
To the tune of Frere Jacques

Yep, we’re the freaks that make up songs about stuff like sauerkraut.  Actually the first time we sang it my now 3 year old sang “sauer-crap” which I thought was hysterical!  She didn’t get it at the time, but I couldn’t help myself…I had to record it!  We’ve been making it for years and the kids have been helping since they were old enough to “pound the cabbage.”  And what little kid doesn’t love to pound stuff right? Put that energy to work! Continue reading

Kiddie Kvass

Lacto-fermented beverages such as kefir, kvass and kombucha are a great substitution for soda and concentrated juice drinks.  They are just sweet enough and just fizzy enough to pass for naughty, but in reality they are super healthy beverages that support both digestion and immune function.  Finally, a “soft drink” that you want your kids to drink (see more reasons at the end of this post)!

If you are having trouble getting fermented foods into your family’s diet, start with drinks instead.  Just an ounce or two a day is plenty for toddlers and you may even want to water it down at first if they are unaccustomed to eating and drinking fermented foods.

This kiddie kvass recipe is adapted from the wonderful Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well.  It’s quick and easy and a great recipe in which you can involve the kids both in the planning and preparation.  

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 apple (any kind)
  • 1 kiwi
  • 6- 8 strawberries
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 C whey

PREPARATION:
Coarsely chop all of the fruit and place it in a large glass jar along with the ginger and whey.  There should be about an inch of space left at the top to allow the fermentation to occur.  Cap the jar tightly and allow it to ferment for 3 days.  Depending on the temperature of your kitchen this may take a little less or a little more time.  When it is done, the lid should feel tight.  Strain the liquid and discard/compost the fruit.  Refrigerate and serve.

Once you are comfortable making fermented beverages mix it up a bit.  Let your kids plan what fruit they want to try and help them make a list and shop for the fruit.  I go for a ratio of about 1/2 fruit and 1/2 whey once it’s in the jar.  If you come up with an especially yummy recipe, please share it here!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

More About Fermented Beverages:

In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon writes, “Throughout the world, these lactic-acid-containing drinks have been valued for medicinal qualities including the ability to relieve intestinal problems and constipation, promote lactation, strengthen the sick and promote overall well-being and stamina. Above all, these drinks were considered superior to plain water in their ability to relieve thirst during physical labor.”

From the WAPF Website

  • “Fermented beverages infuse the gut with lactobacilli and lactic acid to sustain their growth, as well as serve up a nice array of enzymes and nourishing minerals.”
  • “When it comes to fermented beverages, a little goes a long way. Not only are they super- hydrating and supportive to the intestinal ecosystem, but lacto-fermented beverages are also quite detoxifying. The process of lacto-fermentation with both foods and beverages creates a host of beneficial micro-organisms. Many of these bacteria are crucial to detoxification.”
  • “Because of these powerful properties, the average adult will do well to consume around four to six ounces and a child would need even less at one time. Quite small amounts might be best for those just getting started. A person’s optimal quantity can also be influenced by his unique sensitivity and the strength of the beverage. A good place to start a toddler would be with a few tablespoons mixed into a blend.”

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Please Pass the Mustard

This post is part of a weekly series in which I give ideas for eating off the grid.  In other words…fringe eating.  It is also a REAL food challenge and my first GIVEAWAY!  See the Wednesday, April 11th post for all of the giveaway details.  There are two weeks left, so please join us!

After taking a little break for some yummy Cinco de Mayo recipes, I’m back on my condiment kick.  Another great thing about making your own condiments is that you can put them to work for you by turning them into digestive aides.  Allowing  your condiments to lacto ferment supercharges them with powerful probiotics & enzymes.  These otherwise dead foods now have the power to aid in digestion, and we know that the health of the body’s immune system is directly related to its ability to digest and utilize food (source).  Take that hotdog!  So before your next backyard barbecue give this easy ferment a try…your fellow picnic-ers will thank you.

garlic dill mustard

Lacto-Fermented Mustard (adapted from Simply Being Well)

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 1/2 cup ground mustard seeds
  •  1/2 cup filtered water
  •  2 TBS whey
  •  2 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
  •  juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp spice of choice (some great options are turmeric, garlic, dill etc.)
  •  2 TBS whole brown mustard seeds

PREPARATION

  1. Mix 1 C of the ground mustard and all ingredients except brown mustard seed in a food processor.
  2. Mix in the remaining ground mustard a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Stir in the whole brown mustard seeds.
  4. Place in a glass jar with at least 1″ of space and cover tightly.
  5. Leave it at room temperature (68° – 72°)  for  3 days and then move to cold storage.

Make sure to write the date you made it on the lid.  If you store it on the door of the fridge it should last for about six months.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

That’s the Whey!

Yogurt & Whey

Now that we’ve entered the realm of fermented beverages and lacto-fermentation, you’ll begin to see whey as an ingredient in many of my recipes.  So I thought it deserved a post of its own.  Everyone has heard of whey (remember Little Miss Muffet?), but I’m guessing there are many out there that have no idea what it actually is. You know that liquid that forms on the top of your yogurt that you mix back in before you eat it?  Turns out that it’s actually an incredibly healthy and useful “healing water” according to ancient Greek doctors.  In fact, Hippocrates and Galen, two founding fathers of medicine, frequently recommended whey to their patients.  Whey from fully fermented milk no longer contains lactose, and is full of probiotic organisms, which can help counteract any microbial imbalances in the gut.  Whey also contains vitamins and minerals,  notably B2 and potassium.

You may be able to find a source of whey locally, but if not it is easy to make.  Go out and get a quart (or more) of plain, full fat yogurt (organic and grass-fed if you can find it).  Place a strainer into a large bowl and line it with a towel.  Dump the yogurt onto the towel and walk away.

You’ll begin to see the whey dripping into the bowl almost immediately.  After about an hour you’ll probably have a cup or so.  If you want, you can stop now and still eat the yogurt.  It will just be a bit thicker like Greek yogurt.  If you want to let it go a bit longer, you can.  This will give you more whey.  The longer you go the thicker the yogurt, now called curd cheese, will become and eventually you will have homemade cream cheese.

I’ll be posting many recipes that call for whey in the near future, but in the meantime, here are a few uses for whey from WAPF.

  • Drink it! Drink it straight or mix it in with a fermented beverage or hot tea.
  • Freeze whey into ice cubes and blend them into smoothies for a more slushy texture or use to cool down a beverage on a hot day.
  • Replace a portion of the water used to cook grains.
  • Include in soaking water for legumes and grains to improve digestibility (see Nourishing Traditions for details).
  • Lacto-ferment almost anything – apples, zucchini, cabbage, cherry chutney, ginger carrots—see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.
  • Feed to pets – chickens, dogs, cats, they all can benefit from this nourishing liquid.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Kefir, Kvass & Kombucha…Oh My!

Check out that carbonation!

Want to take another baby step toward better nutrition for you and your family?  Lacto-fermented beverages such as kefir, kvass and kombucha are a great substitution for soda and concentrated juice drinks.  They are just sweet enough and just fizzy enough to pass for naughty, but in reality they are super healthy.

In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon writes, “Throughout the world, these lactic-acid-containing drinks have been valued for medicinal qualities including the ability to relieve intestinal problems and constipation, promote lactation, strengthen the sick and promote overall well-being and stamina. Above all, these drinks were considered superior to plain water in their ability to relieve thirst during physical labor.”

From the WAPF Website

  • “Fermented beverages infuse the gut with lactobacilli and lactic acid to sustain their growth, as well as serve up a nice array of enzymes and nourishing minerals.”
  • “When it comes to fermented beverages, a little goes a long way. Not only are they super- hydrating and supportive to the intestinal ecosystem, but lacto-fermented beverages are also quite detoxifying. The process of lacto-fermentation with both foods and beverages creates a host of beneficial micro-organisms. Many of these bacteria are crucial to detoxification.”
  • “Because of these powerful properties, the average adult will do well to consume around four to six ounces and a child would need even less at one time. Quite small amounts might be best for those just getting started. A person’s optimal quantity can also be influenced by his unique sensitivity and the strength of the beverage. A good place to start a toddler would be with a few tablespoons mixed into a blend.”

Water Kefir Grains

Eventually I’ll do posts on all of these amazing drinks, but today’s post is devoted to my favorite and the easiest of the bunch…Water Kefir.  Now, water kefir is very different from milk kefir so please don’t get the two confused and definitely don’t use the water kefir grains with dairy. 

First, you will need to get some water kefir grains.  There are many sources out there, but your best bet might be to find someone in your area that makes water kefir, as these grains multiply like crazy and fermenters will often be trying to find a home for their extra grains.  One way to do this is to find your local WAPF chapter and ask around.  You’re likely to make some new friends, learn a few things and pick up some grains, scobies and starters.  Once you have your grains, the recipe is simple.

WATER KEFIR
1 Tbs (or more) Water Kefir Grains
1 Quart Filtered Water
1/4 C Sugar

Heat a small amount of water and dissolve the sugar completely.  In a two quart (or larger) glass container, combine your sugar water solution with the remaining water and allow it to cool to room temperature.  At this time you can add your grains.  If you have a mesh bag like the kind you use to sprout seeds or soak nuts, you can put the grains into the bag.  If not you can just put them right into the solution.   For the basic recipe this is all you need to do.  Cover the glass container with a coffee filter and allow it to ferment for 24-48 hours then remove or strain the grains and refrigerate your water kefir in a glass jar (with lid) and enjoy!

If you want to get fancy you can add some citrus or dried fruit to your ferment.  Even fancier than that, you can do a secondary ferment:   Remove your grains after 24 hours and add some fresh or frozen fruit or juice to the mixture and allow it to ferment another 24 hours before straining and transfering to the refrigerator.

Rinse your grains with filtered water when you are done with each batch.  When you are not using your grains, you can store them in the fridge in some sugar water for up to a week.  If you need to store them longer just remember to “feed” them weekly with fresh sugar water.   As your grains multiply pass them along and teach, teach, teach!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

NOTES
1.  Grains don’t like metal, so use plastic or glass when handling the grains
2.  Grains don’t like pesticides or chemicals so always use filtered water and organic fruits.
3.  You can double or triple this recipe as your grains multiply, just keep the ratio the same.

If you’re confused or need more recipe ideas, check out these resources.

What is Water Kefir and How to Make It