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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall into Fermentation

Fall is a good time to try some fermentation, gardening chores are harder because of rain and cold, and  fewer vegetables are being harvested.  I've been making sauerkraut for a few years, I use quart wide-mouth canning jars.   I process 2 cabbages at once, slicing them into my food processor in batches.   I sprinkle them with several shakes of sea salt, then I was adding Acidophilus powder sprinkled out of capsules, 1/2 capsule per batch, with cabbage up to the tops of the processor blades.   But recently I started making kefir with raw goat's milk, so I drizzle on part of a teaspoon of kefir before processing instead of the powder.   I then pack the chopped cabbage into the jar in layers.  Two cabbages make around 3 quarts of sauerkraut. The sauerkraut starts getting that sour aroma sooner with the kefir and I have not had trouble with the top getting dry and molding (this used to happen occasionally and I simply removed the bad part at the top and added more salt water to cover, pushing the cabbage down with a spoon below the water).  I usually heat 2/3 of a cup of water with salt added in the microwave for a minute, cool in the freezer, and top off all the jars.   Be sure to leave perhaps an inch of header room since the 'kraut will start making air bubbles as it ferments and push the liquids in the jar up until they overflow.  Checking and pushing the 'kraut down with a spoon to get rid of bubbles and allowing enough head room can help.  If the top seems dry add more water as above.

Making kefir with raw milk is easy, you must avoid contact with metals, so glass containers, here I use pint wide-mouth canning jars, and plastic strainers and spoons are good.  Milk kefir grains can be found on ebay, craigslist, yahoo groups, Weston Price groups, Cultures For Health-  my source for dry starter from a local store, etc.  A lid could be used, or I usually cover with a paper towel held on with a rubber band.   Around a tablespoon of grains is used per cup of milk.  As they start multiplying after a few weeks you may need to remove some from time to time.  It takes about 24 hours for the kefir to ferment, it may separate a little into curds and whey.  I stir and then push it through a small nylon strainer. Some people use their fingers or a slotted spoon,   I add a teaspoon of frozen juice with no added sugar plus 1/4 tsp of Stevia.  I like it better chilled and I especially like it with ice crystals in the outer layers, which makes it taste like a slushy.  Kefir can also be aged for more fizz and vitamins by straining and keeping it in the refrigerator for another 1-2 days with a lid, which can make it more fizzy.

Here is one of my fall vegetables, a Black Spanish Radish.  I cooked the sliced but not peeled bulb and the greens, and served them on brown rice with a duck egg and some kefir or goat's cheese, and seasoned it with lemon pepper and my Turmeric spice blend with added dill, fennel, anise, caraway, ajowan, cumin, fenugreek, cardamom and coriander seeds ground in a coffee grinder, and threw in a few things I'm trying to use up, like lemon grass powder, thyme, and galangal powder.  Whatever you have on hand is good.  I also am cooking turnips daily and using them in the same way, in a pressure cooker or large pot.  Turnips and radishes are low in carbohydrates and can be used in place of potatoes and in many of the same recipes.

Here is the radish, sauerkraut, and kefir.

Bon Apetit!



  1. We love making kefir! We do a double ferment with orange, so, so good!!

    Kefir is an anaerobic ferment and should be an airtight container for best results and kefir grain growth. I would love to get a fermenting jar for my kefir grains but right now I just use a mason jar.

    1. I use the method from my supplier that says to cover the kefir with a towel or coffee filter for the first ferment. I do use a lid and refrigerate after straining for the second ferment.

      I had heard of using an airlock, I don't have a set-up for that yet, I have an airlock but not a lid like the pickl-it one, I would have to use a narrow-mouthed jar for the cork. Interesting, I'll have to look into it.