Whole Food Homestead

plant. grow. reap. eat.

Category: Fermenting

Fermented Pickles

Before the jarred pickles lining the shelves today, people enjoyed naturally fermented cucumbers. Their sour taste was not from vinegar, but from lactic acid produced by healthy bacteria, which also served to preserve the pickles. When the fermentation process was complete, the vat of pickles would be stored in the root cellar where the cool temps would help them last for months and months. Today, of course, you can buy a sealed jar of pickles that will last indefinitely, but the trade-off is in the nutrition. Continue reading

Water Kefir: Make Your Own Probiotic Drink

I post so rarely these days, although I’m often thinking of things I’d love to share. So when free time to blog is scarce, I must think about which morsel of information I reeeaally want to share. So, this is it – a delicious, fizzy probiotic drink that you can brew at home simply with sugar water and a starter culture. Continue reading

Fermented Green Beans

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I have green beans coming out of my ears! If you are a fellow gardener and have planted even one row, you are probably experiencing the same windfall. If not, you can find loads of beans in all sorts of colors at your local farmer’s market this time of year. I wanted to take advantage of this crop abundance as an opportunity to share a less common preservation method for green (or yellow, or purple!) beans – in addition to freezing, canning, or eating your green beans with every meal for the next couple weeks, a great option is to ferment them. Continue reading

The Straight Story on Kombucha + Brew Your Own

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The popularity of kombucha has exploded in the last several years. This functional drink didn’t even enter the American market until 1995, yet by 2015 it was a $0.6 billion industry, and its growth is expected reach $1.8 billion by 2020.  Despite its status as a raging trend, what I love about kombucha is that it is nothing new – it has been around for centuries, perhaps even as early as 221 BC in China, where it was known as the “tea of immortality.” Kombucha is historically known as a healing beverage, and it continues in that tradition today. Continue reading

Gluten Free Sourdough: The Secret to Gluten-Free Baking

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Whether a gluten-free lifestyle came to you uninvited or by choice, you’ve likely discovered that gluten-free baking can be quite challenging. Recipes often call for numerous ingredients to improve texture such as xanthan gum, guar gum, psyllium husk and others that are hard to pronounce, hard to find, and for many people cause digestive issues,  which is probably why you went gluten free in the first place! Furthermore, typical recipes call for multiple flours and encourage you to measure by weight with a kitchen scale so things actually turn out. In the end you still may end up with a brick or crumbly mess. Sigh. All this tedium and exactitude is not my style. So, this summer when we figured out that our three-year-old was having issues due to gluten, I knew I needed to figure out a process that would still allow us to enjoy family favorites, but without too much hassle or blowing our grocery budget on store-bought GF items (not to mention, so many of the store-bought products are hard to find organic, and they typically have a ton of “extra” ingredients I don’t care for health-wise).

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Basic Korean Kimchi

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Now – RIGHT NOW, as in don’t waste another weekend! – is a beautiful time of year to visit your farmer’s market – the colors and smells are amazing! Piles of purple cauliflower, peppers in every color, bright pink, orange and yellow chard, squashes, pumpkins, root vegetables, and even a few precious hold-outs from the summer such as cucumbers, beans and tomatoes, if you’re lucky. This is the glorious last-hurrah of the growing season, and I am focused on collecting and storing as many of these nutritious foods as I can for the upcoming winter. This kimchi recipe is perfect for doing just that – you can find nearly every ingredient in your own garden or the farmer’s market right now (the exception may be the ginger root).

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Fermented Carrot Sticks

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These are a super easy fermented vegetable to prepare. Carrots are easy to find and inexpensive – and this time of year you should even be able to find them at a farmer’s market. The flavor is similar to dill pickles and the texture will remain pretty crisp, so if you are new to fermenting vegetables, these carrot sticks shouldn’t come across as overly exotic.

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Sourdough Baking: Why and How

I have a bubbling jar of sourdough starter going at all times and use it for absolutely everything – bread, muffins, doughnuts, pizza dough, pancakes, biscuits, you name it. If it contains flour, I make it with sourdough. Why would I do this? What am I even talking about? I’m so glad you asked! A sourdough “starter” is just a mixture of flour and water populated with lactic-acid-producing bacteria – these are the “good” bacteria, or “probiotics” you’ve probably heard about. This is the same genre of bacteria that is used to culture milk into yogurt. There are so many benefits, but to me the biggest are that the bacteria work in the flour to break down gluten and phytates (or phytic acid) – making the end product easier to digest and the nutrients in the flour more bioavailable. There is a bit to dig into here, so if you’re up for it, read on. Otherwise, you can skip down to the instructions for getting started!

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