Monday, August 30, 2010

Waste not, want not, and all that jam....

This weekend has been off the wall. My house is filled with fruits and vegetables...bought & gifted. A late start to the Farmer's Market on Sunday made me miss my strawberries, but we walked away two large sacks of apples, peaches, plums, nectarines from one stand for under $10 (he did NOt want to take them home!). Always great deals at the end. I also found "French" plums :)....we Germans call them Zwetschgen, and swear they are not French :).

Then my family and I went on our annual self-pick to the blackberry farm. YUM!! We enjoy our weight in berries while we are picking, and then take home a heaping flat. Blackberry jam for the rest of the year...just finished off our last jar, perfect timing. This time I put cloves & cinnamon in with my jams..the house smelled heavenly! I don't put sugar in my jams, use No Sugar Pectin, or recently, Pomona. I put in a little honey for sweetness :).

What am doing with some of the bruised fruit from my heaping fruit bags?? Inspired by Tiffanie, I am making Srcap Fruit Vinegar!! Thanks to Wild Fermentation, this house is wastin' NOTHING! I can't wait for them to be done! My kitchen is starting is starting to look like a farm lab....mason jars everywhere.

Scrap Fruit Vinegar is easy to make. Just fill a mason jar with your bruised fruit (even apple cores), and 1/4 cup of sugar. Cover with a cheesecloth, or use coffee filters secured with a rubber band. Let bubble and brew for one week (check out the pic below). Strain out the fruit and compost. Recover, and ferment 2-3 more weeks, after which it will be ready to use :). Fabulous, yes?

Bubbles, after one day....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What else can I ferment????

A few weeks ago I began my fermenting adventure with Kraut :)...finally. "Wild Fermentation" inspires me to ferment everything I can get my hands on...veggies, fruits, dairy, sourdough.....

I am partaking in the "Preserving the Bounty" challenge at The Nourished Kitchen. If you need ideas, check out their great recipes, one of my favorite is Raw Milk Yoghurt. I have raw milk sitting on my window sill as I type, I wonder what it will turn into? This week, they are hosting a fabulous contest for all beginning fermenters :)!!

If I win, I am going to ferment peaches and try to make my favorite: Moonshine :).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Diastatic What??? Making and using Diastatic Malt....

Ok, I hope I am not the only one who has never heard of "Diastatic Malt" before.

I love baking bread, but have not been able to replicate the beautiful, yummy, crusty bread I grew up with in Germany. Though I have come close...I am not yet there.

I recently purchased "Rodale's Naturally Great Foods Cookbook" at my favorite bookstore...the thriftstore :). This is a great book, with sections separated by grains. Under wheat bread I found the mysterious Diastatic Malt.

Taken from the book:
"Diastatic malt has long been a secret of professional bread makers in Europe. It is made from sprouted grains that have been dried and ground. In bread recipes, it replaces the sugar or honey needed to feed the yeast and brown the crust. Because diastatic malt is full of enzymes and vitamins, it increases the nutritional value of the bread. In addition, the action of the enzymes on the yeast and flour improves both the flavor and appearance of the bread; it creates a finer texture and helps the bread stay fresh.

Diastatic malt can be made at home using wheat berries, purchased from a health food store, and your food dehydrator. When using it in bread recipes, remember that it is very potent and only a small amount is needed.

Don't forget that your dehydrator makes a wonderful place to raise your bread.

The method: Place one cup of wheat berries in a wide-mouth glass jar and add 4 cups tepid water. Cover with a piece of nylon net; secure with a rubber band. Let soak about 12 hours. Drain off water (save for soup stock or use to water your plants - it�s full of minerals). Rinse well with tepid water, and drain completely. Repeat rinsing process 3 times a day for 2 days or until the little shoots are about the same length as the grains.

Rinse and drain once again. Place on teflon sheets and allow to dry at medium heat in your dryer. Grind dried sprouts to a fine flour in an electric grinder or blender. This will yield about 1 cup of diastatic malt. Store in a tightly closed glass jar in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep indefinately."

And here is how Heike did it:

I cut our a piece of screen, and make my sprouter with a Mason jar.

Put one cup of wheat berries in a mason jar. Fill with water and SWISH! Turn upside down and shake out vigorously. Then place at an angle in a bowl, so that any excess water can run out. Do this two times a day ( I leave my on my sink, this way we do it whenever we are near. Great job for kids!), until you see sprouts.

Spread out on a cookie sheet and set out in the sun. I put a screen over mine to keep the birds from having a party. I bring them in at night...and after 3 days they are bone dry.

GRIND!! I will save you a huge mess and dishes. I tried to grind mine in my beloved Kitchenaid Food Processor. Big bust. Then I put them in my cheap, 10yr old mixer, pushed GRIND, and voila'....Diastatic Malt.

I will try the Wheat Bread and Black Bread and post the recipe after I experiment..

Have fun sprouting!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Kraut is making 'kraut :)

I have been contemplating making Sauerkraut for a long time. For one thing, we love it...especially on hot links. I also know what good Sauerkraut tastes like, since, yes, I am really born and raised German :).

Last week my favorite hardware store was having a "25% off everything that fits in your cart" sale, and that beautiful crock I have been fondling every time I go just jumped right in there.

At about the same time I signed up to join the "Preserve the Bounty" challenge(d) at The Nourished Kitchen. Normally not one to join such committed adventures, :), I was hooked when I read that we will be preserving the old fashioned way, with Mother Nature. As long as it is edible when I am done, without too much dirt from grubby little hands that can never stay way, I am good.

Imagine my delight when the first week's challenge is announced: FERMENTATION!! That is serendipity.

So, my friends, I am making Sauerkraut in my beautiful crock. And I am going to share with you. It is quite simple, yet you should really check out Wild Fermentation. Sandor Elix Katz is quite entertaining, and he makes it all look very easy. Though the site is very comprehensive, I ordered his book.

First, chop up about 5lbs of cabbage. I used red and green, because I want pretty PINK sauerkraut.

As I put the cabbage in the crock, I sprinkle it with sea salt and stomp it down with my firs to release the water in the cabbage. I add salt as I layer. Very therapeutic...

Voila'! Weigh it down with a plate (though I will make myself a round wooden cover soon) and a large glass jar or gallon milk jug.

Now you just need to check it, and keep down the pressure. Check out Sandor's site for details. I will post as it progresses.

Happy fermenting!

P.S. If you are German, and take offense to the word "Kraut" (and yes, I was called one as I was growing up with military kids), please don't. I say it with pride & love :).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ewww :(

I thought I had posted the recipe for the strawberry/mint jam I made a few weeks ago.

I was gifted a box of strawberries at the fruit stand at the end of the day, and they needed to be eaten pretty much immediately. So we ate a bunch, and I decided to jam the rest. I found a recipe for the strawberry/mint jam, and did it.

It said to let it set at least for 3 weeks so the mint could mingle.

Sure glad I did not give any of it away!

It was gross. That is all there is to it. The recipe called for "mashing" the berries, and quite frankly, I won't ever do that again. We like our jam with chunks of identifiable fruit.

I came here to link to the recipe and write "DON"t DO IT!", but alas, it has vanished.

With that said, I bought a beautiful flat of fat, sweet berries today, and made a new batch of jam. I added some lavender to two of the jars, can't wait to see how it tastes. We still have a few weeks of good berries, and I am ready to stock up for the winter :).

Thinking of strawberry/rhubarb for my next experiment.......