Traditionally Fermented Foods and Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond

Over the last couple of months I’ve done a poor job staying on top of the precarious stack of review copies teetering on my desk. In order to give these books the love they deserve, I’m planning on grouping them in sets of two or three (always trying to remain thematic) and blogging about those little collections throughout the next several weeks.

The first book in today’s pair is Traditionally Fermented Foods by Shannon Stonger. As you might guess from the title, the book focuses on a wide spectrum of classic fermented foods. It is divided into chapters that delve into the process of fermenting vegetables, grains, dairy, beverage, and condiments. As someone who recently revived a sourdough starter, I’m spending a lot of time with the grain section.

Shannon writes the blog Nourishing Days from her family’s small Texas farm and her book feels very much like an extension of her site. It’s friendly, helpful, and comes from a place of deep experience and expertise.

The second book in today’s short stack is Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond from Alex Lewin & Raquel Guajardo. Alex is the author of Real Food Fermentation and Raquel has a school in Monterray, Mexico where she teaches fermentation classes (among other things).

This book offers an array of approaches to fermented drinks. In 13 wide-ranging chapters, they hit on everything from kombucha to fermented cocktails. There are sodas, vegetable drinks, and even traditional Mexican fermented drinks that date back to the pre-Hispanic era. The recipes are relatively simple, intriguing, and entirely approachable.

I plan on starting with the salty lemonade on page 73, as it starts with salt-preserved lemons. I’ve got plenty of those in the back of the fridge!

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Fig Meyer Lemon Marmalade Recipe

This Fig Meyer Lemon Marmalade is a flavor combination made possible by California Figs and Lemon Ladies Orchard. While this isn’t a sponsored post, all the fruit was given to me by west coast friends.

Two stacked jars of fig meyer lemon marmalade

Back in early September, the folks from California Figs sent me some figs. And when I say some figs, I don’t mean they just sent a few. They sent me an abundance of figs. A delightment of figs. A true embarrassment of fig riches.

Sliced meyer lemons soaking in a bowl of water for fig meyer lemon marmalade

I took some to a friend’s party that was happening that very night. I packed up some and brought them with me to the Omega Institute for my weekend long canning workshop (we turned them into this Chunky Fig Jam). When I got back, I simmered and pureed a bunch into a version of the Gingery Fig Butter from my Naturally Sweet Food in Jars book (I used vanilla bean rather than ginger).

Sugared figs for fig meyer lemon marmalade

The remaining portion because this Fig Meyer Lemon Marmalade. Around the same time that these figs arrived, my friend Karen (owner of the Lemon Ladies Orchard) sent me a handful of late season lemons as encouragement to get well (I’d had a rotten cold and a bout of the flu in rapid succession).

Sliced lemons and figs ready to become fig meyer lemon marmalade

After making myself a series of bracing honey and lemon drinks to combat my various ailments, I had enough lemons to make this preserve. Much like the sweet cherry version I made earlier in the season, I approached this recipe over the course of a couple of days.

Finished fig meyer lemon marmalade in the pan

I sliced, deseeded, and soaked the lemons overnight at room temperature. I also quartered the figs, mixed them with sugar and let them macerate overnight in the fridge (it was still hot then and I didn’t want them to turn boozy while I slept).

Six jars of fig meyer lemon marmalade

The next day, I combined the soaked lemons (and their water), the figs, and the sugar and brought it to a rapid, rolling boil. After about 35 minutes of cooking and stirring, the marmalade was sheeting off the spoon nicely and was approaching the critical 220F.

Close-up of jars of fig meyer lemon marmalade

In the end, I was left with six half pints of marmalade that marries the qualities of the two fruits beautifully. The fig flavor sings and the lemons bring more than enough acid to supplement the figs lower levels. This is one that I am only sharing with my very favorite people and I’m doing my best to hold onto at least two jars (I tend to be quite generous with my preserves).

Should you find yourself with similar sets of ingredients (this may only be possible if you live in California), I highly encourage you to try a batch.

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Giveaway: Raw Rutes Yaozu 2 Liter Fermenting Crock

Longing for a mini fermenting crock to call your own? Read on to learn about a charming little fermentation vessel and enter for a chance to win one as well! (This is a sponsored post!)

When it comes to fermenting, small batch is the name of my game. As much as I admire the folks who make sauerkraut 25 pounds of cabbage at a time, my space constraints mean that my very largest batches of kraut, kimchi, or brined dilly beans top out at no more than five pounds of total ingredients (and often, much less than that!).

Over the years, this small batch approach has meant that mason jars have been my vessel of choice for fermentation. I do have a 10L crock that I was given years ago, but it’s just too darn big for my workflow (it sits next to my desk and holds my collection of airlocks and jar-sized pickle weights).

Still, I’ve often gazed upon the various large pickle crocks out there with a good deal of envy, wishing that there was one that would work for my small batch life. Amazingly, the folks at Raw Rutes sensed that I was pining for a petite pickling crock and created one (okay, so they didn’t make it just for me. But it’s the perfect size and is so adorable that it feels like the answer to my wish!).

The Raw Rutes Yaozu fermenting crock is small enough to fit on the counter of even the smallest kitchens. Made from natural clay and finished with food-safe white glaze, this little crock feels solid and is easy to use. It comes with a pair of clay weights and a built-in water channel (which means you don’t have to mess around with airlocks).

Best of all, this crocks holds the perfect amount for my household. When the fermentation phase is done, you’ve got between one and two quarts of tasty kraut, kosher dills, or sauerruben to decant into jars, tuck into the fridge, and fork up alongside any number of sandwiches, salads, and soups. As you can see in the picture below, it’s actually not even that much bigger than a quart jar!

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “This all sounds great, Marisa. But how do I get my hands on one of these sweet mini crocks?” You could either head over to the Raw Rutes website and get your order in before the rush. OR, you can take your chances and try to win one of two crocks I’m giving away this week!

Use the widget below to enter the blog giveaway and then head over to Instagram to enter the second giveaway I’m hosting over there. So many chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The folks at Raw Rutes have compensated me for my time and efforts. However, I only accept sponsored posts from businesses that jive with the mission of Food in Jars (to educate and inspire people to pickle, preserve, and cook from scratch) and Raw Rutes is most decidedly in line with that mission. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and entirely my own.

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Homemade Quark from Slow Cook Modern

About a month ago, I wrote about Liana Krissoff’s most excellent book, Slow Cook Modern. In that blog post, I promised to share the recipe it contained for homemade quark. I finally here to make good on my promise (I’m only a bit later than intended).

I know that some of you are probably reading this and are thinking, what exactly is quark? Well, it’s a soft set cheese of European origin that is made with acid rather than rennet. It has a bright, tangy flavor and can be cooked, baked, or spread on toast.

It’s also one of those things that seems like it should be quite complicated to make, but is quite easy (particularly if you have a slow cooker or Instant Pot handy).

You start with half a gallon of cultured buttermilk (this is the nice, thick stuff you buy at the store, not the liquid leftover from making butter). Once you’ve procured your buttermilk, you pour it into the vessel of your choosing.

I opted for my Instant Pot set to run on the yogurt setting (I borrowed a tip I spotted on the internet and ran the pot at high pressure for 1 minute with a little water in it before adding the buttermilk, to sterilize the pot and ensure that the quark turned out well). Once the buttermilk was in the pot, I set the yogurt setting to run for 8 hours and walked away.

When the time was up, it was time to separate the cheese curds from the remaining liquid. I lined a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth, perched it above a bowl, and used a slotted spoon to lift the solids out of the pot.

Once all the cheese solids were in the cheesecloth, I let it drain. It was evening when I started the draining process, so I ended up letting my quark sit and drain all night. I ended up with fairly dry cheese as a result. If you want something a bit more tender, shorten that draining process.

I ate the finished cheese on toasted rye bread, and heaped on slices of cucumber. It was a tasty treat that I will most certainly make again!

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Submit your October Mastery Challenge Here!

Hello Mastery Challenge participants! I know it seems a little strange that I’m posting this submission form right on the heels of the monthly intro. The truth of the matter is that because of my busy-ness, we’re well into October and I wanted to make sure the form was here for those folks who are more on top of things that I am!

This month, we’re focusing on both drying/dehydrating and pressure canning. You can choose one topic or tackle them both, depending on your time, equipment and motivation!

The reporting form is below! Deadline submission deadline is Monday, October 30 to be counted in the tally and included in the round-up.

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Dehydrating and Pressure Canning for the October Mastery Challenge

Happy October, folks! So sorry that it’s taken me a little bit to get this post up. I spent most of last week in Austin co-babysitting my nephews with my mom and I’m working on a new book, so my attention has been a bit splintered.

Like our challenge back in August, this month is two-pronged. We’re focusing on both drying/dehydrating and pressure canning. The reason for two topics this time around is that I didn’t want to have a whole month dedicated to something that required the purchase of a specialized piece of equipment.

Entry level pressure canners aren’t that expensive (the 16 quart Presto that I use is currently $72 on Amazon), but it’s still a cost. The barrier to entry just needed to be lower. And while lots of people have dedicated dehydrators, drying food is something that be done just about anywhere, with nothing more than a length of string or a rubber band with which to tie and hang a bundle of herbs. So here we are, with two topics.

To participate this month, you can pick just one of the skills, or if you have access to a pressure canner, can be bold and do both. Finally, remember that the goal of this challenge is to help you expand your skills while creating something that you’ll actually use. So choose accordingly.

Drying/Dehydrating

This is one of the oldest food preservation approaches known to humans. Since the dawn of time, we’ve been drying fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meats in order to make them last from one season to the next. In the past, we had nothing more than sun, wind, and smoke to effect drying. These days, we’ve added countertop dehydrators, microwave ovens, freeze dryers, and ovens with dedicated dehydrating settings to our toolbox.

For the purposes of this month’s challenge, any homemade dried food will count. I do ask that if you opt for making jerky that you take care and use proper food handling techniques to prevent spoilage (Hank Shaw is always my first stop for jerky info).

  • I am partial to these marinated and dried tomatoes, these dehydrated tiny tomatoes, and these sprouted and dried almonds.
  • For ease of prep and use, nothing beats these air dried lemon peel slices.
  • Making fruit leather with a jar of applesauce spiked with some elderly jam is always a nice way to go, particularly if you have kids with a fruit leather habit (though having just spent a week with a very picky three-year-old, I could see him turning up his nose at fruit leather without a wrapper. Your mileage will vary on that front).
  • This weekend, hit the farmers market and buy a few bundles of herbs. Tie them with string and hang them upside down someplace where they can just be for a week or two. When they’re dry, rub them, tuck them into a jar, and label them for winter cooking.
  • There’s also a bunch of good information on drying food on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website, should you need more detail.

Pressure Canning

Whereas drying has an element of the loosy-goosy about it, there’s no messing around with pressure canning (though truly, there’s nothing to be afraid of). The reason some foods needs to be canned with the help of a pressure canner is that they are low in acid. Without an ample volume of acid, there’s nothing to check the germination ability of any botulism spores that might be present and you could potentially end up with a jar full of danger. For more the role of acid in canning, read this post.

And so, whenever we want to preserve things like unpickled vegetables, meats, stocks and broths, and beans, we call on a pressure canner. A well-vented pressure canner typically reaches 250F, which is enough to kill botulism spores. The amount of time different foods are processed in a pressure canner is typically calculated based on the volume of the jar and the density of the food.

One thing to note is that when you start considering pressure canning, you will need to get your hands on a dedicated pressure canner. Consumer pressure cookers are not designed for pressure canning and cannot be used to preserve low acid foods. Additionally, no electric countertop pressure cooker has been approved for canning (no matter what the infomercials tell you).

For more detail on pressure canning, read the following posts:

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