Awesome Summer Ferments!

It’s that awesome time of year when the garden is going crazy with almost every vegetable (well, assuming that you weeded well in June – I’ve had plenty of barren July’s due to poor weeding habits). It gets to a point where it can get almost overwhelming – there’s no way you can eat fresh everything that’s ripe right now, and some stuff just doesn’t lend itself well to freezing – especially carrots and beets, both of which lose so much of their charm in the blanching process. Perfect time for a few magnificent, tasty summer ferments!

I had the pleasure this past weekend of a day to myself, so I made a couple awesome ferments, which I wanted to share with you. Enjoy, and please feel free to play around with the recipes here – fermentation is all about experimentation!

 

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Fermented Dilly Green Beans

Fresh green beans (at least a pound)

2 tbsp fresh dill (or 1 tsp dry)

2 tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp dry)

2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dry)

1 med clove garlic, diced

1 tbsp sea salt (I prefer Celtic brand)

2-3 ounces Zukay Veggie Medley, or fresh raw sauerkraut juice, or a yogurt culture like Yo’Gourmet if you don’t require vegan cultures

Well water, or some other non-chlorinated water

Quart Ball jar

Take the tops off of the green beans, break them into 1-1 ½ “ pieces, and toss into the Ball Jar. Fill the Ball Jar to about 1 inch below the top. Add the salt, dill, basil, oregano, and diced garlic into the jar. Add the Zukay Veggie Medley (or other culture), and then add the well water until the beans are covered. Cap off, shake well, and let sit in an area at room temperature, preferably out of the sun. By room temperature, I suggest no less than 65, and no more than 105 (so be careful of fermenting in attics, etc). A higher temperature will make for a faster fermentation, but I think a fermentation at 70-80F gives a better flavor. In any case, I like my green beans to ferment for AT LEAST 3 weeks, if not 6 – but I like the fermentation to soften them up a bit and get a good deep flavor going. They should be perfectly preserved after 3-5 days, though they’ll taste too much like raw beans for my taste. Refrigerate when fermentation is done.

 

Fermented Beet Sticks

2 medium fresh beets, red or golden (but not both! The red beets will turn the golden ones red)

2 tbsp fresh dill (or 1 tsp dry) – optional (but tasty)

1 tbsp sea salt (I prefer Celtic brand)

2-3 ounces Zukay Veggie Medley, or fresh raw sauerkraut juice, or a yogurt culture like Yo’Gourmet if you don’t require vegan cultures

Well water, or some other non-chlorinated water

Quart Ball jar

Wash the beets, but don’t skin them. Slice them about 1/8” thick, and julienne the medallions. Fill up the Ball Jar to about 1 inch below the top. Add the salt and dill (if you’re a dill addict) into the jar. Add the Zukay Veggie Medley (or other culture), and then add the well water until the beans are covered. Cap off, shake well, and let sit in an area at room temperature, preferably out of the sun. Again, by room temperature, I suggest no less than 65, and no more than 105 (so be careful of fermenting in attics, etc) – but beets are funny in fermentation. I really do suggest trying to keep them at 70-80, because beets can turn off, and I’m not sure why. In any case, I like my beets to ferment for AT LEAST 1 weeks, maybe up to 3. Beets reach their perfect taste earlier than other ferments do. Make sure you save the liquid – even though I sell Beet Kvass, may as well drink your own! Refrigerate when fermentation is done.

This one is great for kids and parties. Not everyone loves beets – which is a shame, but for those that do, this will be PERFECT – with or without dill!

 

Fermented Garlic Carrot Sticks

Approximately 1 pound fresh carrots

2 med clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 tbsp sea salt (I prefer Celtic brand)

2-3 ounces Zukay Veggie Medley, or fresh raw sauerkraut juice, or a yogurt culture like Yo’Gourmet if you don’t require vegan cultures

Well water, or some other non-chlorinated water

Quart Ball jar

Cut the carrots into 2-3 inch long chunks, and julienne from there (or, as I prefer, slice the carrots at a 45 degree angle, about 1/8” thick), and toss into the Ball Jar. Fill the Ball Jar to about 1 inch below the top. Add the salt, and diced garlic into the jar. Add the Zukay Veggie Medley (or other culture), and then add the well water until the beans are covered. Cap off, shake well, and let sit in an area at room temperature, preferably out of the sun. By room temperature, I suggest no less than 65, and no more than 105 (so be careful of fermenting in attics, etc). I like this ferment  to ferment for AT LEAST 6 weeks, as I really don’t like the “raw carrot” flavor. If you like the flavor of raw carrots, ferment for less – they should be perfectly preserved in 3-5 days.

Other awesome tips for this ferment to experiment with:

  1. Thinly slice 1-2 raw jalapenos to make it spicy
  2. Onion also works well along side the carrots. Long thin onion strips do the best in my opinion.
  3. Grate some raw ginger (1-2 oz) to give it a nice zing – though I personally am not a fan of ginger and garlic together
  4. Again, dill is always welcome in a ferment. Dill is welcome in almost anything, in my estimation.

Have fun with these, and I’ll have another post soon about more great summer and early fall ferments!

 

 

Springtime = Garden Time!

I am sitting out in the sun writing this, after a very long and dreary (though fun and eventful!) winter. I do love the winter, but nothing beats the warmth of the sun beating down on a beautiful April day, and here in Pennsylvania, we can’t take these days for granted –

Springtime for me means two things – gardening and gathering, two of my greatest outdoor loves. This post is about gardening – my post on gathering is almost done as well!

Gardening, especially the springtime, is an almost religious experience for me. After spending 6 months primarily indoors, watching over a grey/brown landscape, I furiously expend my pent up energy on my 6 well-loved (though not always well-weeded) double-dug garden beds, where I grow everything my family needs for the year (or at least attempt to). I’m so jealous of those of you who live in warmer climates that can grow more tropical/citrusy things, but I do my best to make my little Eastern PA garden sing with the following:

Beets, Carrots, Chard, Spinach, Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, Bush Beans, Romaine Lettuce, Arugula, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes (purple), Okra, Onions (usually yellow), Shallots, Broccoli, Kale, Cabbage (Green and Red), Collards, Cukes, Zukes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, and, if I’m feeling lucky, a melon or two (though I rarely have luck with those). I planted 2 fig trees last year and got my first fig, which I’m super excited about, especially as they seem to have survived the winter well, and I’ll finally be putting some asparagus into the ground this year as well. My mouth is watering as I type this –

fiiggg

So, it got me to thinking – what do I love most about gardening? What do you love most about gardening? Here’s a few things I thought of – feel free to comment and add your own!

  1. Time out in the sun – Vitamin D is soooo important, and as long as you don’t burn to a crisp (I got lucky with that), there’s no better way to get your full share than some time in the sun WITHOUT sunscreen. The spring is especially important, especially here in the north, as us snow people have gone months without a natural sun-filled Vitamin D shot.

  2. Getting my hands dirty! No, I’m not 7 (though I am lucky enough to have one of them), but I love the primal feeling of dirt on my hands, and I LOVE the fact that I am intermingling with tons of bacteria. Seriously? Well, I ferment things for a living, so what would you expect? But seriously, did you know naturally occurring soil bacteria , many of which are very probiotic, have even been found to enhance your mood? Sun + good bugs = happy gardeners!

  3. Getting my workout in for free – Some days in the garden are harder than others, but the early days where I till by hand are certainly the hardest, and help take off my “winter coat” of a few extra pounds that my body still feels an Ice Age need to throw on me. I do have some good “work” workouts during the winter, but not nearly as much as the warm months – and my body appreciates it.

  4. Instant shopping in my backyard – nothing is cooler than asking my wife what she wants for dinner, and walking outside and getting it.

  5. Barefooting – I’m a huge barefooting nut, and I pretty much discard shoes from April – November, There’s a bunch of benefits associated with barefooting (here, here and here), and gardening gives me HOURS of it.

  6. Connecting with your ancestors – I’m a huge paleo guy as well, and I believe being Paleo is as much about your mindset and actions as it is about your diet. Gardening is such an awesome way to reconnect with seasonality, the natural cycle of birth and death, and doing activities our ancestors have done for countless generations. I strongly believe our almost complete separation from nature and traditional living has contributed many, many negative aspects in our mental, physical and spiritual lives, and gardening is one way to get back that reconnection.

  7. Teaching your kids about nature – Having a working garden is the ultimate laboratory to teach your children about birth and death, chemistry, symbiotic relationships between the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and so many other things. It gives them a sense of responsibility for living things, and rewards them for a job well done. My kids get so excited every spring for the start of the garden, and while I haven’t fully sold them on the amount of work needed, it’s as much a part of their life as our refrigerator.

  8. It’s cheap! I can set up my garden for less than $200 per year, and if I can actually weed it often enough, can feed our family for the year, saving about 90-95% off my yearly vegetable bill. If I were extra diligent and saved all my seeds, I could probably knock that close to zero (someday).  I like to think of it as my own personal mortgage reduction plan with benefits –

What do you love about gardening? What have I missed?