Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sauerkraut in 10 Minutes

This might even take you five minutes, or twenty, depending on how fast you can cut, chop or grate vegetables.  Typically, I use a grater or just chop up cabbage and other vegetables that I want to ferment but today I tried out a new cabbage shredder that I picked up at an antique store a few months ago. These seem to be a dime-a-dozen on the east coast in antique stores and you can also usually find one less than $20.

I would also like to add that you can make your sauerkraut more interesting by using other vegetables and even some fruits, like apples or pears. I added shredded carrots to this batch since I had extra in the refrigerator. Some other ideas of things to add to a batch of sauerkraut are ginger, beets, sea vegetables, and cucumbers.

Getting to the process…Before you chop, dice, grate or shred the cabbage, take off some of the outer layers (about 3-4 larger sized leaves) of the cabbage and put them aside for the time being. These will be used in the final stage.  
Then, cut up your cabbage. I use about two whole cabbages for a 5-liter container. If you choose to chop larger sized pieces, then you may only have to use about one and a half. If you shred into finer pieces, I'd have three cabbages on hand, just in case.

Put your cabbage and anything other chopped food you want to add into your crock and fill with water to the point that you can easily submerge the cabbage. Then, add salt (I use a granulated sea salt) to taste. The best way to go about this is put one tablespoon in, stir, and taste. When it starts to taste like ocean water, you'll know you have enough. You'll read in numerous recipes that now would be the time to start pounding the heck out of cabbage in order to get moisture out rather than using water. From my experience, this is a waste of time and energy. Plus, the final product is much crispier without the pounding, so just skip it. Here's where you add the whole cabbage leaves: just on top of everything.

Add your weight to submerge everything and you will be left with some floaty bits on top.

With a slotted spoon, take out as much as possible so that you will have little to no moldy, gross stuff on top when you are ready to eat it. Because these small bits are exposed to air, they will build up bacteria and cause a much more pungent smell.

 For this batch, I'm using this beautiful Gartopf fermentation crock. I highly recommend having at least one nice crock around like this for small fermented batches that you want to keep in your kitchen so that it's easier to get to and keeps virtually all smells away. These are pretty pricey (ours was a wedding gift) but well worth the investment. If you find out you hate fermented foods or don't have the time to invest in making this culture, you can always re-gift or consign it...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Garden Day

 It can be difficult to be present in the summertime, thinking about all that needs to be foraged and harvested for the year to come. Today, I worked on gathering culinary herbs and some medicinals to dry for this year's use. Among them are some new herbs I have yet to use, catnip and mugwort.
Some things to think about when drying herbs:

  • Bundle in small amounts so that air can filter through the stems and leaves for more efficient drying 
  • Hang them to dry in a place with plenty of ventilation and that remains relatively dry. We used to hang our garlic to dry underneath a covered gazebo but although the daytime is dry and breezy, the early morning brings a lot of dew and dampness which caused our stock to become prematurely moldy. This will depend on what region and microclimate you live in.
  • Don't leave herbs too long in a place that has lots of sun exposure. Check them often and once they're dry get them stored in jars. Nutrient loss may occur as a result of too much sun. 

Lars and I tidied up the greenhouse after hanging the herbs (which will inevitably be dirt-clodden by next week), but there's something about sweeping away dirt that is so satisfying.
Project for tomorrow: Harvest Queen Ann's Lace (aka wild carrot) for flower pressing to use in future art projects!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moving to Idaho

After two years of searching, we have found the perfect home in the panhandle of Idaho. The cabin was built in 1937 and sits on five acres. We will be leaving behind our beloved yurt and 150 acres at Fawnwood Farm to start another leg of our journey in homesteading in the 21st century.
A bountiful harvest our first year at Fawnwood

Our first attempt at installing fencing and becoming
 owners of two sheep, two goats and a llama