A month or so ago, my friend Sarah convinced me to try a bite of her homemade lacto-fermented pineapple. I was a little afraid of it, and thought it tasted kind of crazy, but found myself wanting another bite a few minutes later. This led to me pulling out my copy of Nourishing Traditions the following week for the recipe so I could make some myself. The pineapple was a success. All my kids liked it, with the exception of my oldest, Seth. A couple weeks later, Sarah hosted a little sauerkraut making party at her house. I’d never tasted sauerkraut before, but I definitely wanted to make some. Sarah offered to let me taste hers while I was there, but I ever so politely declined. I planned to use the two weeks that my own jars of sauerkraut fermented to build up the courage to actually taste it. My two weeks was up this past weekend. I opened one of the jars and my kids and I smelled it. We all agreed that it smelled like sewage just before I screwed the lid back on and tucked both jars in the back of the fridge. We didn’t taste it. We were scared. But then Sunday we had friends over, friends who wanted to taste my sauerkraut. I warned my first victim: “This might be nasty. We haven’t actually tasted it.” He tried it and said it was good. “Oh! Well, then you should take it home with you.” I asked our other friend if he would like to taste it too, and he said that he loves sauerkraut. Perfect! I put some in a bowl for him and he liked it too! I gave him my other jar of it, because it would have most likely just sat in my fridge forever. Then Silas started asking for his own bowl of it, so I gave him a little. He ate a couple of bites and seemed to like it. About an hour later, sitting at the kitchen table with Jonny and our friends I boldly plucked one shred of the sauerkraut out of Silas’ bowl and tasted it. It tasted kind of good, but kind of weird, but not gross like I expected. I encouraged Jonny to taste a shred as well. We both agreed that it was edible. So, yes, sauerkraut. I made some, and I gave it away.
Far more fun though has been the chain reaction that the pineapple and sauerkraut party started in my kitchen. The same day Sarah taught me how to make sauerkraut, she sent me home with milk kefir and water kefir grains. I’ve long been acquainted with milk kefir, but had never made my own. Water kefir: I’d never heard of it. Now we’re drinking smoothies made with the milk kefir every day and playing with the water kefir too. It’s so much fun. I am a little hyper about it. I love straining out my grains and admiring them and carefully starting my fresh batches each day. Every other day I make the kefir lemonade–but not really lemonade. We use two quarts of water kefir combined with the juice of two oranges, two lemons, and one lime. It’s really good and everyone loves it.
But I couldn’t stop there. Sarah pointed me to the Cultures for Health website for instructions and recipes for the kefir, where I became intrigued by their other products. This is my absolute favorite website right now. There is so much good information there, and of course I ordered sourdough and yogurt starters! I tried making sourdough bread a few years ago using the method outlined in Nourishing Traditions for catching your own wild yeast. I think I was successful in catching the yeast, but I never made a decent loaf of bread. In fact, I am pretty sure I gave up after the first brick-like loaf of bread I made. My new spelt starter is happy and bubbling. We have already made these sourdough pancakes a couple of times and they are really good. I am planning to try baking my first sourdough loaves today, so we’ll see how it goes. Jonny and I watched the video on how to do so, so I think I’m ready. I know I’m really excited. I’ll have to post a bread report later today on Facebook.
I haven’t made up my mind about the homemade yogurt. I’m kind of attached to my thick store bought stuff.
Next up is kombucha, because obviously I don’t have enough to maintain in my kitchen yet. I’ve got a friend who is going to get me started. And that is part of what I love about all this fermented stuff, the way it gets shared and passed around, friend to friend.
The other reason I love this, is that I am excited about being in my kitchen for the first time in what feels like years. That’s a very good thing.
p.s. The adorable teensy dog in the last photo belongs to one of our friends whom we shared sauerkraut with, so that makes the photo related, right?
p.p.s. Please share any advice, your expertise, or favorite books on fermentation with me. I want to know. I already know that I need to save for some of these jars.
After reading this post, a friend mentioned that Cultures for Health has an affiliate program, and because I am really loving this company, I signed up. The links to Cultures for Health in this post are now affiliate links.