Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Saurkraut and other ferments

We continue to do daily kefir. We use 2 1qt jars. There’s some space for air, some kefir lost on various surfaces, and I put a bit of the fresh kefir back in the next batch to help it get started. The upshot is that I actually get 1qt of fresh kefir out of each batch.

The amount we drink varies each day. I try to keep about a quart of fresh kefir in the fridge to give us some flexibility.

I have backup grains in the fridge that I will share with anyone who wants. I try to pull these out about once/week & run a batch of kefir with it. This gives me a little extra to store in the fridge, and wakes up the grains so they don’t go into a deep sleep.

For breakfast yesterday I made pancakes. Whole wheat flour, kefir, butter, salt, baking soda, bananas. Ideally I’d mix the kefir & flour the day before, to culture the wheat a bit. I’ve read that makes it easier to digest.

Saturday night I started another batch of yogurt. The first batch, from last week, was really good. Some of the credit goes to the very good milk we use. This week’s batch was much more sour, but still good. I plan to make Lebne with it, and use the whey that comes out to help get some other ferments going.

My darling wife brought me a gift of a head of cabbage. Last night I chopped it up, covered it in salt, and jammed it in to a jar. I pushed down with various kitchen utensils until it looked well packed. The juices did come out enough to cover the top. A heavy glass filled with brine sits on top to maintain pressure. This will be sauerkraut (I hope).

My friend John Bain brought me some of his grandmother’s kimchi, which he says is the best. I’m no kimch connoisseur, but it was very good. German sauerkraut is a cultural transplant of kimchi & other Asian fermented cabbages. I intend to make kimchi in the future.

With St. Patrick’s day coming up, cabbage has gone on sale at the grocery store. We think of corned beef and cabbage as being very Irish, but we’ve forgotten that traditionally it was a fermented foot. Both the corned beef & cabbage were fermented.

Capt. Cook’s exploration of the Pacific was supported by sauerkraut. At the time, sailors would get sick a lot due to poor nutrition. Cook’s crew was unusually healthy, thanks to the 600 lbs of sauerkraut that he carried. Well, so I’ve read.

I’m going to take advantage of the sales & make a bit of extra sauerkraut over the next couple weeks. It will keep well :-)

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