Kitchen Pets and Projects

by longtallyarn

It’s time for a blog about the kitchen projects.   I am trying to focus on healthy things we can make to ward off the next viral or bacterial event and to make us healthier in general.  Prebiotics, probiotics, etc. Here are some ferments, tonics and remedies I already have around the kitchen.

A few years ago I started to make Kombucha, the gateway ferment.  If you don’t know what kombucha is, look it up!  That’s what I had to do when this ugly looking Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, aka SCOBY, arrived in my kitchen.  There are many enthusiasts out there ready to tell you about it and give or even sell you one.  (If I know you in real life I will gladly give you a SCOBY for kombucha next time we see each other).

A friend of Oso’s gave us a culture to care for and it chose me.  I made a jar of the sweet tea and put the SCOBY in it to ferment the tea.  Kombucha is supposed to be good for you but I did not like it at first.  (I still add a little water and fruit juice, and fruit pieces if it’s summer, when I drink kombucha.)  However, being that it’s a living organism (sometimes called The Mother), I was unable to discard her so I just kept feeding her and she kept growing.  I feel like I have better digestive health and maybe better skin health when I take a drink of kombucha every day or so.  It’s been a healthy and fun project.

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Kombucha on the left, kefir on the right.

Pictured beside the Kombucha the kefir.  Compare to powerful yogurt.  The little “seeds” or curds are another type of Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.  You put them in a glass of milk, walk away for a day, or longer if you leave it in the fridge, and come back to a glass of this yogurty substance.  I have a love-dislike relationship with this food drink.  I love the health benefits, but it could taste greater.  The best description is that it’s almost as good as plain yogurt.  It’s my least favorite of the kitchen pets, but I guess I keep feeding all the living organisms in my house…  It is the highest maintenance, requiring the most care.  Whereas with kombucha, you just pour the drink off the top til you need to make more tea, with kefir you strain the cultures out with a seive and then add them to a fresh glass of milk every time. (You drink the milk they just finished fermenting–I guess you could say they drink the milk, then you drink the milk).  It’s not as gross as it sounds, but it almost is.  You can make something very similar to sour cream or cream cheese from the fermented milk by suspending it in a cloth and letting the whey run out.  The whey can be used to feed the dog her probiotic, or to jump start vegetable ferment like the kimchi…

My next foray into fermenting was the best looking of ferments.  Kimchi.  I don’t make it blazing hot, aiming more for the flavor of a spicy, sour pickle so in theory the kids would eat it.  They don’t appreciate it yet but someday they will.  I make it with purple cabbage and it looks beautiful in a jar or on a plate.  There are a lot of other vegetables fermented with the cabbage, you just can’t see them because they all turned PURPLE.  And so will food served with it.  Oso and I enjoy it as a condiment, not a main dish.

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Kimchi in front, pepper mash in back.

When I had a lot of hot peppers in the garden and my library had a featured book with spicy ferments I tried my hand at making pepper mash.  This is not our favorite thing, mostly because I don’t know how to make optimal use of it. It’s way too hot to eat plain. I tried making hot pepper fruit syrup, which you can barely see at the right of the photo.  I mean to try eating this on vanilla ice cream, for the health benefits, of course. But I can’t yet report on this combination. It is sweet and spicy.

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Fire cider ingredients.

Here’s another thing I recently tried to make, it’s called Fire Cider.  It’s vinegar, not alcohol based, so don’t get too excited!  It’s an herbal remedy I read about and hope will help with the contagions.  Here’s a picture of it as I put it together.  The vinegar is supposed to extract all the healthy substances from the roots and fruits, then I will remove the foods with a seive. I will drink the vinegar in small doses and throw away the foods.  That is, unless they taste like a delicious herbal pickle, which could happen.  It should be ready to start keeping me well this weekend.

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