Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Home Style Fermentation Projects | Pineapple Vinegar

This week, Contributing Writer Michelle Felt shares step-by-step instructions to transform organic kitchen scraps into nourishing, fermented fruit vinegars. Enjoy!
Fermentation obsession is in full force at our house. For at least the last 4 or 5 months. It started with lactic acid fermented or 'raw' sauerkraut. Which for some reason I still haven't posted about. I feel that's craziness, especially as I opened our 3rd batch of sauerkraut yesterday and started our first batch of pickles last night. The sauerkraut, I've been making in our first ever Harsch crock. Those delicious experiments are for another day.
The idea to make my own pineapple vinegar came about after I referenced the amazing resource, Wild Fermentation by Sandoor Katz. I first checked out this book at the library along with a bazillion other books in order to soak up as much information as I possibly could about home fermentation and specifically lactic-acid fermentation. Lactic-acid or lacto-fermentation is basically what happens when your starches and sugars in your fruits and vegetables start to break down and change to lactic acid. This happens because friendly bacteria (think about the stuff in yogurt) is munching away at the sugars in your fruits/veg. This type of fermentation not only preserves the fruit but also increases its nutritional content (Vitamin C, B12, healthy flora). Very soon, I found that his book, was worthy of gracing my book shelf - it is a wonderful read - giving you inspiration to delve into all things 'fermentable'.
I've done a few posts on how to cut your own pineapple. One with a pineapple corer and the simple knife route. Cutting your own pineapple is way cheaper than buying store bought and now you have a way to use the outer skin too, using all the bits, except the crown, but maybe I can think up something for that. I was working on the corer post when I came across Sandoor's recipe for Pineapple Vinegar. Say what?
I'll be honest I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it, but so far I've used it in a very good smoothie (see below) and I'd also like to use it in a quick salad dressing, so stay tuned.
What you need:
  • sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • skin from one organic pineapple
  • a wide-mouthed jar that can hold about 8 cups of water + pineapple
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice sugar)
  • water (preferably filtered)
  • some cheese cloth or a nut milk bag you won't need to use in the next 3 weeks
Please note, I think the jar I used was cute and it worked, but next time I would like to try one with a wider opening, to allow more air circulation during the fermentation process.
Start by placing 1/4 cup sugar in your jar and adding a little over 4 cups of water (about 1 quart). Swish it around until the sugar is dissolved.
Then cut the pineapple skin into small chunks (I even removed the bit around the crown). Make sure to remove any additional fruit that is along the skin, perfect for noshing on the job. I found it helpful to prop the pineapple strip upright instead of laying it down, it was far easier to cut this way. Places pieces in your jar of sugar water as you go.
Once all the pineapple has been placed in the jar, cut a piece of cheese cloth large enough to cover the opening and down the side of the jar about an inch. The cheese cloth will keep dust and bugs out of your business.
Secure with a rubber band and set in an out of the way place to ferment for the first week at room temperature. After 7-8 days the liquid should darken and that is when you will strain the fruit pieces and continue fermenting the liquid until it turns to vinegar about 3-5 weeks later.
Here's days 1-4 and you can see the liquid darken and the bubbles grow a little more each day!
Strain the fruit pieces using a colander to drain 'vinegar' into a bowl. Discard or compost fruit pieces. Return 'vinegar' to original fermenting container and replace cheese cloth and rubber band. Continue fermenting the liquid another 2-4 weeks; stirring and agitating every once in awhile. Depending on the average temperature of your home this could be 2 weeks if it's warm and humid or 4 weeks if it's between 66-69F (like our house).
Wow and already 4 weeks later (38 days) from straining the fruit, the vinegar is done. The color looks like pineapple juice and I'm pretty sure it has 'mother' just like Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar does. Cool!
Empty into a jar and secure with a lid. I've been storing mine in the refrigerator.
Random Bits:
  • The smell in the beginning will be 'yeasty', like beer. It's pretty cool. By the end, the vinegar smelled like vinegar and a little bit beer. I think with a wider jar opening and periodic swishing the vinegar smell will be stronger.
  • At the end of the 1st week, when I strained the liquid, I did not have mold growing on the fruit, but I imagine if you are in warmer climate this could happen. Just skim it off OR try to keep the jar in a cooler room of your house (about 69F).
  • Just like making our sauerkraut in our crock, this was pretty uneventful. I took pictures along the way to help jog my memory and give you an idea of what it will be like but yeah this was on the easy side.
  • I know I bolded organic pineapple in the ingredients but it is VERY important to use organic produce when fermenting, especially something like this, where you're soaking fruit skin for a week. You don't want pesticides or nastiness going into you or your ferments. That being said - with all the pesticides used on conventional fruit and veg to prevent them from turning quickly, those same monsters are going to prevent your cabbage or whatever from properly fermenting and prevent the good bacteria from doing its job. You'll end up wasting the 4 weeks of time and produce. Buy organic for these projects.
I look forward to doing this one again or making other fruit scrap vinegar!
Michelle Felt

Michelle is a graduate of the Raw Gourmet Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, she has recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, where the produce is crazy fresh abundant and the culture is as thick as the Midwest’s humidity. She loves raw foods and advocates for eating with realism and relish. "Approach each eating experience as an opportunity to nourish your body, eating the best you can, in the moment."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Scones for Baking and Making Memories

First off, I have to say I have a great sister! Bethany asked me what I thought about adding support to her blog while she was away on her trip around the world. I was a bit quiet at first but gave a cheerful response of, “Sure.”

After a total loss of what to make for the first posting, I sent four-way text message to my other siblings and asked what I should make for the blog. A unanimous response of “Make your scones,” was given. So I decided to go with that.

I first found out about said scones from my eldest brother, Noah. He worked at a local coffee shop in Newberg for a while during High School, and he memorized and wrote down the recipe. Being a recipe used to sell in a shop, the quantities of the ingredients are a little high, but you can easily down-size it. I will put a link for computers and a QR code for Smartphones to get the recipe near the bottom.

Overall this is not a very hard food to make, but something I have always enjoyed because it reminds me of my siblings.

The scones can come out very dry sometimes, which can mean a lot of crumbs. The milk used in them was provided from my relative Charlotte who runs a Creamery down the street next to Champoeg. She was also gracious enough to give me some homemade butter. The butter was an excellent addition to the scones.

Scone Recipe
Put into a bowl or mixer:
6 cups of flour
1-1/4 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
3 Tablespoons of baking powder
1 cup of butter

The original recipe said, "in little pieces," however I have found that melting the butter in a saucepan works better.

In a separate bowl put:
5 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Optional: You can put in two cups of another ingredient, too. Things like chocolate chips, berries, and other things like that; you're free to be creative.

Directions and Temperature: Set oven to 335F or 169C

Stir both bowls until each is mixed together

Put the wet mix of eggs, milk and vanilla into the dry mixes

Sprinkle flour onto counter and knead dough by hand. Since this is a quick bread, you'll want to make this process fast and be sure not to knead it too much.

Shape dough into triangle shapes and place on baking sheet.

Bake in oven for 28 minutes.

Jesse Buck
Jesse is Bethany Rydmark's {big} little brother. He is a junior in high school and lives on the family farm in St. Paul. He is a video game playing, combine driving, movie watching teenager who also may be found planting the garden, harvesting fresh veggies, snapping food photos in Hipstamatic, cooking dinner for special occasions, and spending an afternoon watching Julia Child episodes and cooking through stacks of recipes with his favorite sister.

Editor's note: I am so happy that Jesse likes spending time in the kitchen! Cheers to teenagers who use measuring cups and source raw milk...  ~Bethany

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spring Clean Your Pantry and Beat the Mid-Winter Blues

About this time every year, the marketing powers that be start trying to convince the public that spring is just around the corner. I suppose this “Spring Has Sprung” campaign would make more sense to me if I lived in a place where winter could be reasonably expected to end around March 20th. Alas, the six weeks of winter predicted by our friend the groundhog are probably optimistic at best for those of us living in western Oregon.

The only way I know how to survive six months of cold and damp is to fill my house with good friends and tasty food.

I have a tendency to hoard my last few jars and freezer bags of preserved summertime delights for that moment in February or March (or sometimes May – I’m looking at you, spring of 2010) when it seems like winter will never, never end. Strawberries are delicious in June, but strawberries over vanilla ice cream in the midst of a howling, February storm? Bliss!

Strawberries fresh from the field

I recently opened up the roasted tomatillo and pepper salsa that I made and froze last August. Each bite was like a tiny taste of summertime, even though it was 40 degrees outside! We also enjoyed strawberry shortcake in January, using the last bag of strawberries that we picked in June.

One of the best things about seasonal eating and food preservation are the memories attached to what you eat.

Strawberry shortcake immediately brings to mind the berry patch down the road from our home and how much fun my husband and I had, teaching our two year old how to pick ripe berries (not the hard green ones) and put them in her box (not all in her mouth).

Future pasta sauce, ready for roasting

The roasted tomato pasta sauce makes me think of hot summer nights spent chopping and seasoning and stirring and wondering vaguely if I was suffering from some sort of heat-induced insanity to be working for hours, over my 400 degree oven, in August. Those late, late nights in my inferno of a kitchen seemed more than a little crazy, but I’m so thankful for them here in February!

So what’s in your freezer or pantry that you’ve been holding on to? Late winter or early spring is the perfect time to sort through your stores of preserved food goodies and start using things up! Maybe you have some jars from a friend or a food swap treasure that you’ve been holding on to for an inspired moment. It may seem like winter will never end right now, but soon you’ll be needing space for spring’s bounty and there’s no better cure for the winter blues than a little taste of summer!

Here’s a peek at how I’m planning on using up my summer and fall preserves to make way for spring: One of my very favorite things to do when we have friends over is pull out a few jars of pickles or fruit spreads and then add a few pantry staples that I almost always have on hand. This makes last-minute entertaining incredibly easy!

Jars of strawberry compote & pear butter

Right now, I have several jars of strawberry citrus compote and cardamom pear butter and some quick pickled red onions in my fridge. The pear butter will be perfect on a cracker with some creamy blue cheese. The red onions will make a nice complement to a dollop of mustard, sharp cheddar and a slice of salami. The strawberry compote will be happy alongside some mild, soft goat cheese or spooned over ice cream. I like to keep things like chocolate bars, almonds and maybe a bottle of wine or some bottles of my husband’s homebrewed beer around to fill out the menu and voilĂ  – instant party and I won’t have to cook a thing!

  • Do you still have an impressive stock of preserved food goodies around or are you down to your last few hoarded treasures?
  • Is there a particular item that you were reluctant to spend time preserving last summer, but are now very glad you did?
  • Any plans for how you want to use things up? 

Please share!      

Rebekah Pike 
Rebekah is happiest with her nose in a book and enjoys making the most of her pint-sized, apartment kitchen. After leaving work in media production to become a full-time mommy, she began exploring the sustainable living movement, reconnecting with the back-to-the-earth ideals of her hippie parents. She met her husband, Darian, in 2005, working as a camp counselor in Oregon's rugged outdoors. Most of their time is spent chasing after their two year old daughter, Ashlynn, and doing serious “research” at Portland's restaurants, coffee shops and markets.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wholesome & Delicious: Peanut Butter Banana Nori Rolls

An easy but unique snack that might even make you love nori, if you don't already, that is. If you love nori and sushi, you will adore these. I mean, just look at them, they're totally winking at you and saying 'Oh hey!'
You'll just need three relatively simple ingredients: nori, banana, and a natural nut butter of your choosing. The nori is the relatively easy part. You can order this online or go to an Asian grocery store OR even a natural health food store - like Whole Foods - they will be near the dried seaweed. 
Start by laying out your nori, shiny side down, and split your banana along nature's seams (or not - up to you - if you do want to, just press down on the banana and it will start to separate), and spread about a tablespoon or less of natural nut butter on the nori sheet.
Place bananas in the center or near the edge and roll up the nori.
Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, this helps the nori soften just a little bit which will help the pieces hold their shape.
Cut slices with a sharp knife in 1" increments.
Enjoy your new and strange snack! Bring it to work for an easy snack or lunch and enjoy it with chopsticks. Eating this may encourage curious glances and strange comments from co-workers. I loved that! Give samples - only - if you feel like sharing. ;)
Are you lucky enough to live in the Portland area? Check out your local co-ops, like People's Food Co-opFood Front Co-op, and Alberta Grocery Co-op; it's a great way to support the diversity and locality of your ingredients. Considering bananas aren't a local product, try subbing them for freshly grown shredded carrots or thinly sliced apricots this spring or keep this in mind for when apple season rolls around, julienned apple slices would be delicious!

Michelle Felt

Michelle is a graduate of the Raw Gourmet Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, she has recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, where the produce is crazy fresh abundant and the culture is as thick as the Midwest’s humidity. She loves raw foods and advocates for eating with realism and relish. "Approach each eating experience as an opportunity to nourish your body, eating the best you can, in the moment."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feature: Portland's Own "Community Supported Kitchen"

Salt, Fire and Time 1902 NW 24th Ave. Portland
Somewhere throughout my days, amid milking the cows, making sure my kids are fed and clothed, and running a farm corporation, I am aware of my well-worn copy of Nourishing Traditions beckoning, encouraging, and even pleading to me - pleading me to be an even “better” mom and keeper of these Nourishing Traditions. It’s as if Sally Fallon herself is looking into my windows and wondering why I haven’t rendered that tub of pastured pork fat into tasty lard, or perhaps she’s noticing that although there is some kefir fermenting on the counter top, there’s no ginger ale or sauerkraut or beet kvass culturing, nor are there wild yeasts being captured for homemade bread for my brood. Just as I was feeling hopelessly unsuccessful as a complete nurturer of my family, I discovered help!

Salt, Fire and Time is a wonderful gem of a store in northwest Portland. “Portland’s Traditional Healing Foods Grocery,” is exceptional in its vision by owner Tressa Yellig, in that she fills in the gaps for us busy Weston Price fans - in many cases, parents seeking to raise our families on a traditional foods diet, which by nature, is not convenient. A “Community Supported Kitchen,” (CSK) SFT is only the fourth of its kind in the country.

Kidney stew and a variety of kombucha flavors - plus much more!
An incredibly valuable resource in our community, SFT sells those items that all of us should be making at home but with spouses, children, jobs, and blogs to research, we may find we aren’t able to quite fit everything in. At Salt, Fire and Time you can walk in and purchase bone broths, organ meat stews, cultured vegetables, granola from soaked grains and nuts, pork lard, cultured mayonnaise, beet kvass, kombucha, and many more items to fill your larder with the delicious, nutrient dense foods traditionally prepared within a family.

Another of Tressa’s goals in opening SFT is to restore the food culture heritage “that understood the synergy between our food communities and our world.” The public can also take a variety of cooking classes teaching you traditional cooking techniques, including various cheesemaking classes I am offering monthly on Saturdays.
A volunteer baking the "hand pies."

What is a “Community Supported Kitchen?”

“It is a sustainable model for community-scale food preparation and processing that honors culinary traditions and provides nutrient-dense foods. It is a place for community and community empowerment and nourishment. Through seasonal feasts, classes and volunteer opportunities, a CSK seeks to improve the transparency of food from farm to table. Our mission is to restore food integrity and traditional preparations to our regional food economy. We are committed to sourcing locally, planning seasonally, minimizing waste and working respectfully in direct relationship with our community of farmers, customers and fellow artisans.”
Weston Price babies grow up to shop at SFT!
So next time you want to learn to preserve your own raw milk through cheesemaking, or perhaps you’ve run out of lard or need a boost with some freshly brewed kombucha, consider visiting Salt, Fire and Time. Or better yet, get involved – in the kitchen as a volunteer, at a community feast, or attend one of the various classes.

Check out details on Charlotte's next class:
Feta Cheese + Wine Tasting, Saturday, February 18th

Charlotte Smith
Charlotte passionately believes in the health benefits of a traditional foods diet, especially dairy products from grass-fed cows. She loves sharing time honored traditions of transforming milk into delicious and nutritious cheeses through her classes which are also teeming with nutrition facts and wisdom. Charlotte owns Champoeg Creamery, a pasture based raw milk dairy in St. Paul, Oregon, and is the mother of 3 and a certified Nutrition Wellness Educator.


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