Bon Appetit - Just Plain Good Food
Tasty Fermented Foods
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
On weekends when my dad was home, he always made breakfast, and most of the time it was the same thing; Pancakes made with beer instead of buttermilk or water. Now this has nothing to do with my dislike of most breakfast foods – but when you’re a kid it doesn’t always help either. Dad always said it made them taste like sourdough, they just tasted like bad beer to me.
As I got older, my husband and I started playing with sourdough – some of the adventures with starter have remained permanent like the butterfly pattern on a sleeping bag, used to “keep safe” the glass jar of sourdough starter on one of our packhorse. When the crew made it to their campsite in the wilderness, and unrolled the sleeping bag, what they found was an alien life form all over the bag. Apparently, the motion of the horse was the right agitation to make the starter take off. We also found the motion of a motor home can also make starter come to life in new and exciting ways. The plumbing in the sink had to be replaced as the sourdough starter set up into a substance harder than concrete. I’m not sure what my dad got so excited about, after all I put it in the sink instead of on the floor….. just can’t please some folks.
Fall is once again here and I got the hankering to play with fermentation again, even though I’m gluten free. There are gluten free breads available and I thought well I can make that. Hummmm — famous last words, and the start of another miss adventure with guuuu.
All that aside – fermentation is making a big come back, artisan bread makers are developing their own strains of yeast, kombatchu makers are popping bottles of fizzy drinks at farmers markets and web sites are dedicated to specialty fermenting jars and gadgets. I have clients swapping kimchee and sauerkraut recipes like we used to do with the “banana bread sour dough starter” in years past. I’m not sure anyone ever made the banana bread – I think we just kept passing the jar of starter around hoping it would not swallow us in our sleep.
Health wise sourdough and fermenting are great ways to reintroduce natural probiotics back into the digestive system. This is the traditional and no cost way to prevent may illnesses relating to digestion. Every culture has some form of fermented food that is consumed almost daily. Here is one Finnish fermented food shared by a client in Washington.
Finnish Spring Mead
A lightly fermented lemonade. If you drink this sparkling beverage as soon as the raisins float, it’s fine to serve to the kids as well! But be warned—Sima transforms from being slightly bubbly to being very bubbly and slightly intoxicating the longer that it ferments.
1 1/4 gallon water (5 liters)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar plus sugar for the bottles
1/4 tsp. dry yeast
Peel lemons with a potato peeler, taking off just the rind. Remove the white pulp layer and toss it. Slice lemon and rind. Place lemon and sugar into a large, NON-METAL, bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour boiling water over the lemons and sugar. Let mixture cool until lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water for a few minutes. Add it to the lukewarm mixture. Stir it briefly. Let mixture ferment at room temperature overnight. (I covered mine with a lid.) Pour through a sieve and then bottle it. Put 4-5 raisins and a teaspoon of sugar into each bottle before closing. Keep bottles at room temperature for a few hours, and then store up right in a cool place, e.g pantry, for a couple of days. Then put it in the refrigerator and store it there. The drink is ready to serve in a few days, but is best in a week. Raisins float to top when it’s ready to taste.
The earlier you use it the more you can taste the lemon. We like it at least 7 days old – it becomes clear and more like a cider. Be sure to open over the sink if you hold it that long because it can come out of the bottle like champagne. Use glass bottles please.
Now is a great time to start planning those special gifts for friends and family – it may be you have a hand for making terrific fermented foods, be bold and give it a try, at the very least you will have fun stories to share.
To Your Good Health and Fermented foods.