Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Food Preservation

Last summer I embarked on my first canning project (green beans, and peaches), and things have really taken off. It goes hand in hand with adopting paleo, and self sufficient lifestyle changes.

green beans
stewed tomatoes
tomato sauce

pumpkin puree

Vacuum sealing:
ground beef

culinary herbs
beef jerky (involves cooking too)
medicinal herbs
tomatoes (this was great!)

Bulk shopping:
dried cranberries
pumpkin kernels
sunflower kernels
unsweetened coconut shreds
chocolate chips (don't judge)

apple cider vinegar
fruit kvass

nut butter
cocktail sauce
bone broth
mulling spices
cranberry sauce

using essential oils
homemade toothpaste
first aid ointment
household cleaning products

ground beef for venison
helping a friend for elk, and soup bones

essential oils for health and wellness

Now that I'm looking at this list, I'm feel pretty good about it. I'd like to go into more detail about these different projects. I'm also interested in taking on another project. Next up is.... pineapple vinegar!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fruit Kvass

I was looking for a new fermentation project, and found lots of intriguing recipes online.  Most intriguing were the recipes fruit kvass- especially this recipe, from Green Kitchen Stories.

I used frozen blackberries and peaches picked last summer, at Sauvie Island Farms. I added them to a fido jar, added a small scoop of sugar (to feed the ferment) and filled the jar with water. I did not use a started/culture for this batch. I sealed the jar tight, and stored it op top of my freezer in the basement, which is slightly warm. I placed a box over the jar, to block light.

Daily, I checked the jar for fermentation. When fermentation has begun, you'll see some bubbles. If you open your jar, and there is a release of pressure (aka a burp) then you've confirmed the fermentation. The burp may spray. I've heard a few horror stories about ferments exploding, so I'm considering using an airlock for future ferments. But I haven't pulled the trigger.

I tasted the drink daily. After 3 days I couldn't taste the sugar, but it didn't taste like much still. On day 4, we had a little carbonation, and a night slightly sweet, slightly acidic (zingy) taste and mouthfeel. Nailed it!

Other flavor combinations I've tried are pomegranate & orange, and cranberry $ orange. I LOVE the cranberry & orange! I used my kraut smasher to break up the cranberries. I didn't crush any other fruit before fermenting. I also tried a few batches including some whey from my kefir. I personally feel it's not necessary, though I do understand that it gets ferment going faster, sooner. I have also tried some batches with added sugar, and some without. I think the sugar in the fruit is enough to feed the ferment, and added sugar is not necessary. My personal preference is to add about 2 tablespoons of sugar per quart. I've used honey, and white table sugar.

Fermenting more than four days produced a boozier smell and taste, which I did not want. So for me, the sweet spot seems to fall around 3 or 4 days. I made a big batch (half gallon) to serve with Christmas dinner, using orange & cranberry. I fermented for 3 days, then kept it sealed in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve it. It was my favorite batch so far!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, not a professional chef, and have no professional expertise relating to this topic. Cooking and eating involves inherent risks! The author(s) of this, and any linked blogs/websites assume no responsibility, or liability for any damages you may experience as a result of the recipe, instruction, or other writings on this blog. This blog is written for entertain purposes only. 

Food prep, storage, etc

One of my favorite hobbies is food prep, storage, and cooking.  I like to take advantage of sales, so I can stock up with big purchases.

Before the Gross Out of 2013, the basement felt cluttered. I was aware it was time to do something about it when the Gross Out happened. We did lose a few things that we cared about, but in the end, we have a organized, and useful basement.

When we put the basement back together, I established our pantry. We have some bulk supplies (nuts, dried fruit, etc) and have been storing food as it comes in season, or goes on sale. For example, this year I made and canned apple sauce, and tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, peaches, and green beans. I also found a great deal on a vacuum sealer, and have been stocking up on meat as it goes on sale (like brats, salmon, and ground beef) and making beef jerky with a borrowed food dehydrator. I make and freeze broth regularly, and have really streamlined our food prep process.

I just love it. It's fun, it makes me feel like I'm doing something useful, and contributing to us having an healthy, efficient, and frugal lifestyle.

I don't know if anyone reads this blog, but if you're reading, do you have any experience with food storage, or do you have any times for prepping meals ahead of time?