Oh, Come On! Make and Eat Sauerkraut!

 

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

What do you mean, you don’t eat sauerkraut?! I know, I know. You eat your hot dogs with different toppings. That’s a New York thing. Yeah, well, me too. I do the Southern thing with mustard, chili, onions and, if I want cabbage, then slaw. I would admit to using ketchup, but that would blow my credibility with the “Foodies” crowd. Anyway, try searching “sauerkraut recipes” online and you’ll find that sauerkraut is NOT just for hot dogs. Also, if you think it’s too salty or too sour, you can give it a rinse in a colander and tone that way down. Personally, I like it pretty much full strength. Either way, you are really missing out on something, if you don’t give sauerkraut a try!

Now, this is my first attempt at fermenting sauerkraut at home. I’ve had it canned (many years ago…yuck! If this was your last experience, you definitely need to try again!), from a jar, and refrigerated from a jar or bag. Of those options, I like the “fresher” stuff from the refrigerated bag. I have been fermenting ciders and beer over the last year and have gotten more comfortable with the concept, so I decided to try making some kraut at home. The added benefit here is the lactobacillus in freshly fermented sauerkraut. It’s good for your gastro-health and immunity…like yogurt. Of course, if you home can the kraut or heat it too much, you take away that benefit, but should still be delicious.

I basically followed the process outlined here: http://www.food-skills-for-self-sufficiency.com/making-sauerkraut.html . I like to give due credit to my sources! The main things I changed concerned the cloth and rubber band cover for the container and the wooden “tamping” board.  Since I’ve been fermenting cider, I have a couple of 2 gallon fermentation buckets and airlocks. These can be purchased very inexpensively at a local home brew shop or ordered online. The benefit is not risking exposure to contamination. I also have a spray bottle of “Star-san” that I use on all my containers and utensils. It is a sanitizer that does not have to be rinsed off. Very convenient.  I don’t have a tamping board, so I sanitized my hands and pounded that cabbage with my bare fist! I feel so macho.

One other thing, I sliced the cabbage by hand, using a chef’s knife. I didn’t feel like preparing and cleaning up after my electric slicer and the mandoline slicer just seemed like it would be too slow. Yeah, mine’s a little coarser than some, but now I know anyone can do it without special equipment. Your welcome!

I didn’t get pictures up to this point, because my camera’s battery was recharging, but I’ll add some to a follow-up post. I think we can all imagine finely sliced cabbage in a bucket. ( And the link has photos.) I started with two fairly large heads of cabbage that weighed a total of about 8 lbs. After processing, I had about 7 lbs. I did need some extra brine to make sure that the cabbage was covered by liquid. I added a sanitized plate and a small canning jar (1/2 pint) on top of that, to weight down the cabbage and keep it submerged. Then I sealed the lid and added the airlock. I have read that the fresh kraut can be kept in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for a few weeks.  Fermentation is supposed to take 4 to 6 weeks. I’ll check it regularly for mold, to keep it clean. The airlock should tell me when it’s done fermenting. Looking forward to seeing how this goes. I love roasting pork on top of a bed of kraut and letting the juices flavor it! Enjoy!

 

Standard

Canning Peach Salsa for a taste of the Summer…Anytime!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

As the Summer begins to  wane and the Summer fruits and veggies become harder to find, I figure it’s time to make a few jars of my peach salsa for the pantry. Actually, one jar will be sacrificed to competition at the North Carolina State Fair, next month. I haven’t canned this year as much as I did last year, but I will be entering the salsa, crab apple jelly and wild muscadine grape jelly and hope to come home with a ribbon! Enjoy!

Peach Salsa

Ingredients for Home Canned Peach Salsa:

6 cups chopped peaches, about 3 pounds
3 large fresh tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups red or sweet onions, chopped
2 to 4 medium jalapeño peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1 large sweet red peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions for making Home Canned Peach Salsa:

Step 1: Sterilize 8, 1/2 pint jars, I do this in my dishwasher.
Step 2: Blanch peaches, cool in cold water, peel, pit and chop.
Step 3: Blanch tomatoes and cool with cold water, peel, remove seeds and cut into chunks.
Step 4: In a large stainless cooking pot, combine peaches, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño peppers, sweet red pepper, cilantro, vinegar, honey, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper.
Step 5: Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, stir frequently. If the mixture is too soupy, boil for a few minutes longer so that some of the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.
Step 6: Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Add more cayenne pepper if you desire a spicier taste.
Step 7: Ladle salsa into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of top leaving head space.
Step 8: Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between the glass and salsa.
Step 9: Wipe jar rim to clean off any spilled salsa.
Step 10: Place lid and band and screw until tight.
Step 11: Place jars in a hot bath in a canner and process for 15 minutes.
Step 12: Remove jars and place on a towel; allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
Step 13: Jars are sealed when the lids pop and are curved down. Remove screw bands. Store in a cool, dark place.

Standard

2014 Crab Apple Jelly

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Yes, it’s time for my award winning crab apple jelly! For the recipe and last year’s notes, check out this link: http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/crabapple-jelly-2nd-place-at-nc-state-fair-2012/

The only differences this year are that 1) I had to forage my crab apples from a neighbor because our HOA Board of Directors had all the ones on community property cut down. *steam*

Community crab apples cut down...have to rely on a neighbor.

Community crab apples cut down…have to rely on a neighbor.

and  2) I used about 5 lbs of crab apples instead of four. I wound up with 7 cups of juice, but I only used six cups and did not have to add any water.

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another winner at this year’s North Carolina State Fair!

Finished crab apple jelly

Finished crab apple jelly

Now I need to figure out what to do with 21 more pounds of crab apples before they start rotting!  I only need so much jelly…maybe one more batch for gifts. I’ll probably do another batch of hard cider…my little counter top extractor is a bit under sized for the job, but it’s all I have. One of these days, I’m going to burn out the motor. Maybe I’ll get a press some day…when I have substantially more money!

 

Standard

2014 Foraged Muscadine Jelly

Muscadine Jelly 2014

Muscadine Jelly 2014

This year, my first batch of forgaged grapes went towards making wine.

Muscadine Wine in the fermentation bucket

I have almost 3 gallons fermenting, but when the crushed grapes are removed (they are in a mesh bag), and I go through the process for extended fermentation and clarifying, I’ll probably wind up with about 2 gallons. So, I went for another round of grapes from my closest sources and gathered another 2 pounds of grapes, plus a couple of ounces. Referring back to last year’s post, I made another batch of jelly. The main difference is that this year, I was short on the juice by just a little over a cup. So, I pulled out a pint of crab apple juice that I canned last year and brought the measurement up to 5 cups.

Prepared crab apple juice, high in pectin.

Prepared crab apple juice, high in pectin.

Crab apple juice that has been made from cooked crab apples, and strained, is supposed to be high in pectin, too.

I followed the instructions and wound up with eight 1/2 pints and a little extra that I stuck in the fridge.

Eight 1/2 pints of muscadine jelly

Eight 1/2 pints of muscadine jelly

As I write this, the *ping* of sealing lids is making me happy! Will one of these jars be a ribbon winner at this year’s N.C.State Fair? Time will tell.

Here’s a link to last year’s post with instructions for making the jelly. (Store bought or farmer’s market bought grapes are usually bigger and juicier…but they ain’t free!) http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/wild-muscadine-grape-jelly/

This year, I have a compost bin, so I’ll be composting the grape skins/seeds. Since the seeds have been boiled, they should compost and not germinate.

Cooked and squeezed grape must, headed for compost bin.

Cooked and squeezed grape must, headed for compost bin.

I pulled the little extra jar from the refrigerator, once it had chilled and sampled it…a little tart, great grape flavor. The texture good…not loose. Good stuff. This would qualify as “spoon fruit”!

Pretty...tasty.

Pretty…tasty.

Little extra for sampling.

Little extra for sampling.

Standard

Day 149 Spent Grain Muffin Loaves, Muscadine Wine & Cider Still Going

mmmfoodies:

From my brew blog…using grains from brewing beer (spent grain). These are yummy!

Originally posted on Brewing stuff:

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

Spent Grain Peanut Butter and Banana Mini Loaf

I had a small bag of spent grain left from my most recent batch of dog treats, so I found a recipe for banana & peanut butter muffins and gave it a try. I have some mini loaf pans and I decided to use them, instead of muffin tins.  Here’s the recipe:

Banana Peanut Butter Spent Grain Muffins
Adapted by Chef Lisa at http://cheflisa.lisahartjes.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-spent-grain-muffins/

from: Eat Me, Delicious (http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/09/banana-peanut-butter-oatmeal-muffins.html)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups spent grains
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 2 med.)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup light buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, spent grains, baking powder, baking soda and…

View original 317 more words

Standard

Organic Homemade Pesticide for Your Garden

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Last year, I decided to build a raised bed garden, so that I might grow a few things on my otherwise desolate little spot of earth. I was moderately successful…I had a bunch of squash and grape tomatoes, some jalapenos and bigger tomatoes…my green beans were a bust.

Raised garden. About 6'x12'

Raised garden. About 6’x12′

But I’m learning! Last year, I found on Pinterest, an organic pesticide that I made at home. This year, I’m starting to get something chewing on my pepper plants, mainly and some Swiss Chard. So, I went to look it up on my board and found that the link was dead. I did a little searching and found another similar recipe. It called for a fresh jalapeno, which I did not have; so I remembered the other recipe used cayenne powder and that the important thing is the capsaicin, the “hot” ingredient in peppers. The following recipe is what I put together for this year. A couple of notes: first, be VERY aware of your hands, eyes and tender tissues. You may want to wear gloves. Do NOT rub your eyes, scratch your nose or use the bathroom during this process without thoroughly scrubbing your hands FIRST! Second, my recipe isn’t 100% organic when I use Dawn brand dish detergent; but, if you get something like Seventh Generation or other brand of dish detergent that is vegetable based and organic, you can get back that last 1%. Happy bug deterrence!

Ingredients in food processor.

Ingredients in food processor.

 

Homemade Organic Pesticide

1 Onion, peeled, cut into large pieces

1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder

1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1 gallon Water, hot (not boiling, just hot from the tap)

1 tablespoon of dish detergent. (Use 2 tablespoons if using organic)

In a pot big enough to hold more than a gallon of water, add the water. In a food processor or blender, add the other ingredients except the detergent and process at high speed for about a minute.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

 

Stop, scrape the sides down, and process a little longer. Using a couple of layers of cheesecloth (or an old t-shirt you can discard afterwards), strain the pulp from the liquids.

Pot with cheeseloth.

Pot with cheeseloth.

The pulp can be composted or thrown away. Using a funnel, add the detergent to a storage container with a closable cap or lid and the dish detergent. I use a class carboy from my local brewshop, but you could wash out an empty milk jug. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and make sure you mark it with a warning and use it only for this purpose!

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Clean all your supplies well…the dishwasher is a good idea for anything that will fit. And WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY!!!

Apply as a mist or spray on your plants. This is not a bug killer, it is a deterrent. You don’t need to spray streams on the bugs themselves.

Standard

Strawberry Pie in a Graham Cracker Crust

Strawberry Pie...fresh!

Strawberry Pie…fresh!

Many years ago, in another life and when I still had amazing stamina, I worked for the restaurant chain: Shoney’s. I worked my butt off from 60 to 80 hours a week. It was definitely a burnout job, only suited for the young! I worked there for a few years through and, for awhile, out of college. I worked as a cook, a kitchen manager and an assistant manager. While I was glad to move on, I did learn a few things. In addition to peeling, butterflying and breading shrimp, 20lbs at a time, and learning to make really good onion rings, I also learned how to make strawberry pies. LOTS of strawberry pies. I washed and capped flat after flat of strawberries and assembled pies using very specific techniques. Mother’s Day was a strawberry pie circus!

All these years later, I’ve decided to make one strawberry pie. That’s right: one. I happen to like graham cracker crumb pie crusts,,,and they’re easy to make! So, instead of making and pre-baking a pie dough crust. I’m going the graham cracker crumb route. I mixed 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs with 3 tbsp. sugar and then added 1/3 c. melted butter and mixed well. I lined a 8″ round cake pan with plastic wrap and dumped the crumb mixture into it. I then pressed the crust down on the bottom to form an even layer and also pressed up the sides. I covered the crust and popped it in the refrigerator.

Press in the graham cracker crumb, sugar and butter mixture.

Press in the graham cracker crumb, sugar and butter mixture.

Lined a pan with plastic wrap.

Lined a pan with plastic wrap.

Next, I took a pint of strawberries that I had already capped and made the strawberry glaze. This is a step I didn’t have to do before, because Shoney’s got their glaze in a bucket, already made. I found a recipe on Pinterest and gave it a try. In hindsight, I think I will try my juice extractor next time and not just mash the berries for the sauce…it doesn’t come out nice and clear…and it was a little thick. The recipe called for a  pint of strawberries, a cup of sugar, 3 tblsp corn starch dissolved in a little cold water.

Added sugar and corn starch...cooking the glaze.

Added sugar and corn starch…cooking the glaze.

DSC04893

 

I used a potato masher to mash the berries and added the sugar and corn starch.The mixture was brought to a boil, the heat reduced, and the mixture stirred constantly for about 10 minutes. I transferred the glaze to the refrigerator to cool.

Finished glaze...a little thick. I'll rework the recipe before next time.

Finished glaze…a little thick. I’ll rework the recipe before next time.

The pie assembly is pretty simple. Pre-bake your pie crust, if you’re using a dough crust, and cool. Bring the glaze to room temperature. Spread a fairly thin layer of the glaze on the pie crust to act as glue for the berries.

Positioning the berries, pointed side up.

Positioning the berries, pointed side up.

Arrange whole berries, point side facing up, in the pie crust, until snugly filled. Ideally, the glaze should be loose enough to pour off the side of a large spoon as you move the spoon from right to left in a motion that drapes the glaze evenly over the berries. You want the berries completely covered by the glaze, so there is no exposed berry. If the glaze is too thick, do the best you can. (Like I did this time!) It will still taste good!

Glazed strawberries.

Glazed strawberries.

Just try to avoid having it clump too much in any one spot. Serve immediately with whipped cream or refrigerate for up to a couple of hours.

To serve mine, I use the plastic wrap to help carefully remove the piece of pie from the pan and then  top with whipped cream.

The final product...yum!!!

The final product…yum!!!

Slice of fresh strawberry pie.

Slice of fresh strawberry pie.

You can certainly buy a pre-made crust , either dough or crumb. Just remember to bake your crust, if using a dough crust, according to recipe, before filling…and enjoy!

Standard