June

Beet Kvass

beetkvass

Russians downs two things most: vodka and beet kvass, but probably not together...maybe. beet kvass has been around for almost 1,000 years and was originally lacto-fermented from stale sourdough bread but now commonly made with salt brine.

THE GOODS

  • Zero sugar
  • Abundant flora
  • High in fiber
  • Cleanses the liver
  • Purifies the blood

Tangy. Earthy. Salty. Addictive. You can add fresh mint or ginger during the fermentation process for a different kick. 

Ingredients

2-4 beets
4 tbsp. of sauerkraut juice (optional – speeds up fermentation & adds lots of healthy probes)
1 tablespoon sea salt or himalayan salt
filtered water
half gallon glass jar

Method

Wash your beets and peel (if not organic) or leave skin on (if organic)
Chop them in to small cubes all the same size.
Place the beets in bottom of half gallon jar.
Add sauerkraut juice and salt (If you don't want to use sauerkraut juice, you can double the salt instead)
Fill your jar with filtered water.
Cover your jar with a towel or cheesecloth and leave it on the counter at room temperature for 2-7 days to ferment. You can start tasting it at day 2.
Transfer it to the fridge.
Drink it. I drink about 4 oz. a day

Loosely adapted from the Wellness Mama

Classic Sauerkraut

Krautingredients

Our ancestors have been using fermentation techniques to preserve foods for centuries, and by traveling the world, we can see each country’s take on the age-old tradition. In Mexico, salt-brine is commonly used to culture carrots and jalapenos (also known as escabeche), in Korea it’s kimchi, in Japan there is miso, and in Indonesia it’s tempeh. Moving west, India incorporates lassi to deliver good bacteria to the body, and Ukrainians make yogurt, sauerkraut, and buttermilk.

Fast forward to today, and crafting krauts in the kitchen is becoming more and more common. Lacto-fermentation, a traditional method of preserving vegetables, produces enzymes that increase the digestibility of foods. Similarly, it creates a host of healthy flora throughout the intestines for slowing and reversing a variety of illnesses, improving digestion, strengthening immunity, clearing skin issues, and increasing energy. In preserving our food in this manner, it becomes our ally.

If you are new to fermented foods, start with one tablespoon of kraut or fermented vegetables with each meal, and work your way up from there. The good news is, you don’t only have to eat them the way you’re used to hearing about kraut (read: alongside your bratwurst). Try enjoying kraut in a scramble, mixed into a salad, on a reuben or over avocado toast.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

1/2 gallon fermentation crock with ceramic weights (I love Sarah’s Kersten’s crocks) or
1 quart Mason jar with an airlock seal
 

INGREDIENTS

2+ pounds of red or green cabbage (medium head)
Shredded beets, carrots, fennel, ginger or seaweed (optional)
1 tbsp. sea salt (add 1 tbsp. per 2 lbs. of cabbage)
1/2 tsp. each of caraway, celery, and dill seeds

THE BASICS

1. You’ll want to have your equipment and your ingredients ready. Make sure you wash either your fermentation crock or your mason jar with warm water. If you are using the mason jar method, make sure you fill the airlock up with water to the maximum fill line. Airlocks are a fool-proof way to prevent mold or scum from happening, and allow carbon dioxide to release during fermentation while also preventing air from entering and oxidizing the kraut.
2. Use fresh, organic (preferred) cabbage, and wash it thoroughly.
3. Wash your hands before beginning. Cut the cabbage into quarters, removing the base of it. Slice the cabbage as thin as possible using a knife, or if you are comfortable, using a vegetable mandolin. Slice other vegetables if you are using them.
4. Place your sliced vegetables in a large bowl and add salt, and other optional spices. Using your hands, massage the cabbage until it starts to feel very wet. This could take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
5. Now it’s time to pack the cabbage into your crock or mason jar. If you are using a crock, fill it up 75-85%. Next, pack the cabbage down with your fist, the bottom of a bottle, or any creative flat surface that is clean.
6. Place the fermentation crock lid or the airlock lid over the kraut vessel, and store it in a cool, dark place or pantry. You can start to start to taste the kraut by day five (it should taste tart and tangy). If you wish to intensify the flavor, you can continue fermenting it for longer.

ITEMS TO NOTE

1. Don’t be afraid to start tasting your kraut on the fifth day.
2. Don’t be afraid if you see mold or scum growing on the surface. Simply skim off as much as you can. There is significantly more good bacteria than bad, and the good bacteria will win this battle.
3. To slow down the fermentation process, store your kraut in the refrigerator with a standard lid.

Recipe published from Jessica Comingore at The Elysian Edit

Water Kefir

waterkefir_1

This summer it's all about drinking your medicine. I've been brewing water kefir for about 9 months now and it hasn't gotten old. Water kefir is refreshing, bubbly, and really good for you. I began by infusing berries to make a sweet berry flavor but when I began to infuse herbs, that's when the real fun started. Not only do you get the benefits of all the good guys coming into your system but you get the healing properties of unique herbs as well.  

Our bodies function at their ultimate when they are in balance. In order to ward off sickness, minimize allergies, have healthy digestion, energy, clear skin, and maintain a healthy weight, our bodies need to have a healthy gut system that houses both good and bad bacteria. When we consume weak foods with zero to little nutritional value, we can easily tip the scale to bad bacteria outweighing the good bacteria. But by nourishing ourselves daily with probiotic foods and beverages, it’s fairly easy to prevent the bad guys from taking over.

Many people have heard of or have tried kombucha — a fermented tea — but there is hardly any talk of its counterpart, water kefir. Water kefir grains make up various strains of good bacteria and yeast, and together have a very symbiotic relationship. Unlike the grains that we’re used to populating our diet (like wheat, rice and barley), water kefir grains aren’t grains at all. Instead, they are cultures that look a lot like translucent-to-cloudy gelatinous candies, and pack a pretty remarkable punch.

waterkefir2

Each of these cultures embodies billions of probiotic strains, valuable enzymes, pre-digested nutrients, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals (especially Vitamin C). Best of all, water kefir is more accessible than you may think, and lends itself to creating a myriad of unique infusions using herbs, fruit, and spices. Read on for a few of my favorite takes on the gut-friendly drink.

MAKING WATER KEFIR

Step 1. Activate the kefir grains by using sugar water. Typically, you want to start out by adding ¼ cup of Demerara sugar to 1 quart of water, and immersing the grains for 48 hours. Demerara sugar is partially refined, thus holding some mineral integrity. Allow the sugar to dissolve in hot water, and let it cool before adding it to the grains.

Step 2. Place the kefir grains into the sugar water. Cover it with muslin cloth and use a rubber band to secure it down. This will help keep dust or fruit flies from coming in. Allow the mixture to sit for 24-48 hours on your countertop. For a cooler spot, aim for 48 hours. If the temperature in your home tends to be warmer, the fermentation will speed up, so check it closer to 24 hours.

Step 3. Strain the grains with a nylon mesh strainer before drinking.

Step 4. From here you can explore different ways to flavor your kefir. Try adding fruit and blending it for a seasonal fruit drink, or infusing kefir with herbal teas, coconut water or fresh lemon juice for a probiotic lemonade. Be creative and have fun with it.

Step 5. You can reuse the kefir grains by refreshing them in sugar water and continuing the process.

20160527_e-e_kefir_02.jpg

Ginger, Turmeric, Fennel & Lemon Water Kefir
INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp. freshly grated turmeric
1 tbsp. fennel seed
1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest
 
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the fennel seeds (they have strong volatile essential oils that become released when crushed).
2. Strain the water kefir grains from the finished water kefir, and add the liquid to a quart sized jar, followed by the ginger, turmeric, fennel and lemon zest.
3. Use a plastic lid to cover the infusion and let it sit for up to 48 hours.
4. Strain the ingredients using a nylon mesh strainer, and pour the water kefir into a glass to drink.

Water Kefir Lemonade
INGREDIENTS
6 tbsp. of lemon juice
1 quart water kefir
Fresh mint leaves (optional)
 
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Add the lemon juice to the finished water kefir and stir to combine.
2. Muddle a few fresh mint leaves in for a refreshing coolness.
3. Drink now or refrigerate.
Tip: If you’d like to add a slight carbonation to your drink, use a funnel to pour the water kefir into airtight bottles. Leave them out at room temperature for another 48-72 hours before refrigerating. Though be sure to use caution when opening, as the contents may be under pressure from the natural fermentation.