By Heather Jo Flores
Some of our favorite foods are fermented, such as beer, wine, bread, cheese, pickles, salami, yogurt, tempeh, vinegar, kombucha, kimchi and many more. And whether you are a devoted foodie with a well-stocked fermentation station on your kitchen counter or just somebody who loves a Reuben sandwich, one of the simplest and most satisfying fermented foods to make at home is good, old-fashioned sauerkraut.
If you've never experimented with home ferments, homemade sauerkraut could be the gateway. It is easy to make, hard to mess up, and once you've got the hang of how to make a good kraut, you'll be set up with the tools to branch out into more complex recipes like kimchi and kefir.
Myself, I prefer kraut to all the rest. I learned this recipe for homemade sauerkraut during a hands-on workshops with fermentation guru Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. For a labyrinth of delightful fermentation recipes, visit his website www.wildfermentation.com.
All of your supplies should be freshly cleaned in hot water. Don't bleach them but make sure they are free of dirt and debris.
Large stainless steel bowl
Sharp kitchen knife, not serrated
Large cutting board
A ½ gallon Mason jar, wide-mouthed
A smaller glass jar, narrow enough to fit easily into the mouth of the larger jar
A sanded and boiled 2-inch-wide, 10-inch-long wooden dowel or a clean, empty Tabasco bottle with the label removed
A clean, lightweight cotton cloth, such as a dish towel or pillowcase.
Ingredients and method:
1 large head of green cabbage
1 medium head of red cabbage
3 tablespoons non-iodized natural sea salt
(Optional ingredients could include juniper berries, radishes, daikon, carrots, garlic, horseradish, bok choy, onion, goji berries, currants, hot peppers or any range of small fruits, seeds and veggies, but I recommend starting with just a simple kraut of only cabbage and salt and then experimenting with other ingredients later on down the line.)
How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut
Wash the cabbage, remove the largest outer leaves and set it aside. Slice the cabbages in half and carve out the small, hard core. Some people include this in the kraut, but I find it doesn't ferment as well as the rest.
Taking your time, slice up the cabbage into very thin strips. Mix both colors into the large bowl, adding a dash of salt to each handful of cabbage.
When all of the cabbage is in the bowl, sprinkle the remainder of the salt over the top.
Squeeze and rub the cabbage with your hands, using your thumbs to work the salt into the leaves. Keep doing this until the cabbage feels wet and slippery, and the colors darken. This is the "cabbage massage" — the most important part of the kraut-making process.
DO NOT add water, vinegar, or any other liquid. This will cause your kraut to mold. Use only vegetables and salt.
Pack the cabbage into the large Mason jar, using the wooden dowel (or Tabasco bottle) to smash down each layer. If you have been thorough with your cabbage massage, a foamy liquid will start to form around the leaves as you pack them into the jar. Keep smashing and packing until all of the cabbage is rammed into the jar. Leave an inch or two of space at the top.
Rub salt on both sides of a few of the large cabbage leaves set aside at the beginning and place them over the top of the packed cabbage to create a leaf-lid that sits just under the top of the liquid level.
Now fill the smaller jar with water and seal it with a tight lid. Place this jar inside the mouth of the larger kraut jar to weigh the large leaves down on top of the kraut.
Wash and dry the steel bowl and place it under the jars to catch any liquid that overflows during the fermentation process. If you have ants, put a little water in the bottom of the bowl to trap them before they can crawl up into your kraut.
Drape your cotton cloth over the whole contraption to keep out bugs but allow in the happy ambient yeasts and bacteria that will help your kraut thrive. Keep it in a cool, dark place. Warm temperatures speed up the fermentation process, cold weather slows it down and super-hot weather could kill it.
Once or twice a day, uncover the kraut and remove the smaller jar and large lid-leaves. Smash the cabbage down. Smash, smash, smash! Wipe away any overflow liquid, replace the lid-leaves and smaller jar, and re-cover.
After about 5 days, begin tasting the kraut. My preferred flavor usually happens around 7 to 10 days. Longer fermentation time will usually yield stronger flavor and softer kraut.
Shorter time means lighter flavor and crunchier kraut. But if you let it go too long, it will get mushy and not so yummy. When it gets to the place where you love it, cap the large jar with a snug lid and refrigerate it.
If a murky film or fuzzy mold forms on the top or sides of your jars, don't worry. Just wipe it away with a clean cloth or carefully remove it with a spoon. If the kraut seems too dry, smash it more and perhaps add a pinch more salt.
That's it! My favorite way to eat it? Try mixing 1 part fresh kraut, 1 part chopped avocado and 1 part grated beets. Scoop this mixture into a boat of Romaine lettuce for a delectable, rainbow-colored, crunchy raw food snack.
#permaculture #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #growyourown #foodnotlawns #DIY
#foodforest #fermentation #homemadesauerkraut
with Kareen Erbe
Excerpted from our double certificate design course.
Appropriate technology and permaculture design go hand in hand. Remember that permaculture is a design approach that meets our food, energy, shelter and other needs. Through appropriate technology, we are engineering ways in which to meet those needs in the simplest, most locally based ways possible.
The ecological crises that we are facing today is very much related to the fact that our economy, our agriculture, and our technologies are out of scale with what the planet can support. When entities are out of scale, natural patterns in the landscape are disrupted. In fact, it is our advances in technology that have led to a lot of that destruction. For example, combine harvesters have allowed us to cultivate large monocultures that have led to soil erosion and topsoil depletion.
Advances in cell phones and computers, coupled with consumerism and a global economy, have not only mined the earth of natural resources, but have created tons of electronic waste that fill our landfills.
Understanding and using appropriate technology is about bringing things back into scale and applying the permaculture principle of using small and slow solutions.
As mentioned in the video, appropriate technology is technology that is suited to the social and economic conditions of a particular region in which it is to be applied, is ecologically sound, and promotes self-reliance on the part of those using it. It is:
Often labor-intensive but energy efficient.
Reducing our consumption first.
Before you think of applying appropriate technologies, think first about reducing your consumption. Though it’s heartening to see advances in alternative energy, such as solar and wind, it seems like many of these advances are designed to meet society’s current needs, without addressing our overconsumption.
For example, people choose to put solar panels on their roofs to power their TVs, dryers, multiple appliances, and possibly even multiple cars.
While it may be a step in the right direction, alternative energy technology often prevents us from taking a good look at our consumption. What’s more, these technologies contain a lot of embodied energy. From the extraction of the base materials to the manufacturing and the shipping, the energy involved in producing a product like a solar panel or a wind turbine is substantial.
Chances are that if you live in a developed nation, you are likely consuming at a level that is not sustainable for the rest of the planet. The challenge is not to find an energy source that will support that lifestyle, the solution first lies in our willingness to reduce our consumption.
Then, we can look at appropriate technologies to meet our reduced needs.
The most obvious way to reduce consumption is through growing your own food. Reducing our transportation miles from farm to table immediately reduces our impact.
Household strategies for reducing consumption.Simple strategies in your home can go a long way. For example, though we have a permaculture homestead, we do live in a conventional home. However, before putting solar panels on our roof, which is perfectly aspected for that technology and in a climate where it makes sense, I am going to look at ways to reduce our energy use first.
This is what we have done so far:
In the coming years, our plan is to attach a greenhouse to the front of the house. This will not only provide passive solar heating, which is key in our cold climate, but serves the additional function of growing more food and extending our short growing season. Only after we’ve added a greenhouse, will I then consider solar panels. However, I’ll evaluate our energy bills at that point, balancing the expense of the panels and their embodied energy versus the energy produced.
Again, using small and slow solutions that take minimal resources is your primary goal. Below is a checklist for easily reducing your household consumption in a conventional home.
Checklist for easily reducing household energy consumption in a conventional home.
Appropriate Technology For Cooking and Food Storage
Heating your home, cooking and food storage are some of the most consumptive ways in which we use energy. According to the aforementioned report, lighting and other appliances (e.g. toasters, ovens, blenders) comprise 30% of energy consumption in a home, and refrigeration accounts for 5%. In my video, I cover one simple and easy appropriate technology for cooking and food storage that you can start using within minutes, and touch briefly on several other technologies to consider.
Here is a link to the photo album on Facebook that I reference in the video. This will take you through the step-by-step process of building a cob oven.
Here’s some activities you could do to use what you’ve learned:
Make a blanket box for your household and cook something with it. If you need a reminder on how to make a blanket box, go back to the Appropriate Technology For Cooking and Food Storage video in this module. Make a note of how long it took your meal to cook and how much energy you saved.
Invite your friends over to share a blanket box meal and get them to commit to doing the same! During the dinner, share ways in which you will be using appropriate technology and reducing consumption around your home. Ask them to commit to one action.
This miniclass is excerpted from the Appropriate Technology module of our double-certificate design course, taught by Kareen Erbe.
Kareen Erbe is the owner of Broken Ground, a permaculture business in Bozeman, Montana, USA, that teaches people how to grow their own food and become more self-reliant. She has taught hundreds of students through her workshops, both live and online, and offers consultations and permaculture design services. She and her family live on a ¾ acre suburban homestead with large kitchen gardens, a food forest of fruit trees and berry bushes, a greenhouse, a pond, beehives as well as chickens and ducks. Kareen is a regular contributor to Rocky Mountain Gardening Magazine and can be reached through her website brokengroundpermaculture.com. She also has an online course platform at brokenground.teachable.com.
Further reading on this topic
Bubel, Nancy and Mike. Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 1991.
Kerr, Barbara. The Expanding World of Solar Box Cookers. Self-published. 1991. - A 79 page book with plans/diagrams for solar cookers. Here is a link to the text of the book and info about purchasing.
#appropriatetechnologyforcookingandfoodstorage #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #blanketbox #reduceconsumption
This article was originally published in The Healthy Planet Magazine
The Autumn Equinox sends a signal to the backyard gardeners’ cerebral cortex, gently reminding us that the harvest season has arrived and that now is the time to be preserving and putting up food for the winter. Within just a couple of short months, the garden will once again die off for the year, becoming dormant and barren, giving the soil a time to rest.
An avid gardener’s greatest bounty occurs at this time of year. The seasoned homesteaders and canners have it down to a science, putting up multiple jars of canned tomatoes, sauces, salsas, fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies. Hats off to those folks. Becoming skilled in this age old hobby requires knowledge of safety measures and temperature regulation to prevent risks of botulism and temperamental pressure canners. I would recommend taking a few classes through your local Extension Office before delving into the art of pressure canning. For beginners, it is best to stick to the basics such as hot water bath canning and freezing.
Preserve Your Autumn Harvest
Freezing is an underutilized and excellent way to preserve your garden bounty — and it’s virtually fool-proof. Below are 4 simple suggestions:For squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes or eggplant, fully cook or blanch and freeze them in a freezer bag for quick meal additions.
For vegetables such as peppers, corn or onions, just chop and freeze them to later add to omelettes, quiches, stir-fries, or other meals. This will make meal preparation more convenient too!
With your harvest, cook large batches of soups or stews and freeze in freezer bags to thaw and heat in any amount you desire.
Make batches of sauces or salsas and freeze in individual labeled freezer bags.
Grill a large quantity of veggies at a time, cut into strips, and freeze in labeled freezer bags to have the taste of summer any time of the year.
Herbs are one of those garden glories that often get overlooked during the frenzy of harvest and canning season. Culinary herbs are not only flavorful, but are very nutritious and often highly medicinal. Common herbs and spices contain a plethora of medicinal qualities including antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.
Fresh herbs of course should be properly identified and researched before being ingested medicinally. There are many contraindications such as during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Consult an herbalist to discover an herbal regimen that suits your needs.
In the meantime, start preserving your culinary herbs! Most of the herbs are at their prime right now. Don’t miss the chance to preserve that beautiful fresh herb flavor to use in all of your culinary creations throughout the winter months.
Here are some simple ways to preserve your autumn harvest of herbs:
Either hang bundled herbs upside down with a string in a dry place, or buy a food dehydrator. When the leaves are crisp and dry, remove from stems and store in labeled glass jars. Be sure to include the date. Once you have multiple dried herbs, you can create custom spice blends. Create a handmade label and give as gifts to friends and family.
One of the easiest ways to capture an herbs essence is to simply cut fresh herbs with a pair of scissors and freeze them in ice cube trays. Use fresh herbs. Cut the leaves from stems. Fill ice cube trays with water, and then place herbs into each cube space. Freeze overnight. Place frozen herb ice cubes in labeled freezer bags. These work well for adding to soups, stews or sauces.
Herbal Vinegars & Olive Oils
Simply place clean, dry herbs in a jar of either vinegar or extra virgin olive oil. Store in airtight, labeled jars. Hardy herbs such as rosemary and thyme may stay in the jars. Remove leafy herbs such as basil and parsley after 1–2 weeks of steeping. Be sure to include the date on your label. No need to refrigerate. Use within 6 months.
Pesto is a simple way to prolong the freshness of herbs. Pesto can be made with any leafy herb. The basic pesto recipe is:
2 cups of fresh herb (leaves only)
1/4 cup of nuts (any nuts will work.
You can also use sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup of olive oil.
A pinch of salt
A tablespoon of lemon juice to preserve freshness.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until you reach desired consistency.
Pesto can be made from basil, parsley, cilantro, chervil, dill, mint, lemon balm, as well as from lettuce, arugula, kale and chard. Pesto can also be made from wild edible weeds such as lambs quarters and chickweed. Freeze excess pesto in labeled freezer bags or in ice cube trays which can be stored in freezer bags when frozen.
Create your favorite herb combinations. Remove herb leaves from stems. (Use stems later in a broth.) Chop herbs finely. Melt a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté herbs gently and remove from heat. Pour the melted butter in baby food jars. Stir while the jar is cooling. Once the butter has cooled, place in the refrigerator. If you desire whipped butter, simply whip the melted herb butter in a food processor and store in baby food jars in the refrigerator.
#foodpreservation #herbs #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen
It’s not too late to join La Vista CSA Farm, just in time for Harvest Season! Prorated shares are still available. Convenient CSA pickup at Garden Heights Nursery 1605 South Big Bend Blvd. Visit www.lavistacsa.org to sign up or to find out more about Community Supported Agriculture.
Happy Harvesting & Preserving!
Subscribe to this blog via email and get fresh articles every week! This does not add you to other lists, but you can opt into those below.
You're good to go!
FREE yearlong permaculture course
Tiny classes delivered to your inbox every week for a year to guide you step by step through designing your ecological life and landscape.
Join the #freepermaculture public discussion group
Writers! Let's Crosspollinate!
We'd love to feature your article here and/or swap guest posts with you.
FREE Permaculture Coloring Book!
FREE Permaculture coloring book when you subscribe to our (monthly) email list.
We'll send you the info.