July 11, 2011
Naturally grown food for those dear
Before I get around to all the exciting live cultures getting jiggy in our crocks, some CSA news. The baskets are growing every week and we hope you’re all enjoying your vegetables. This week will include your first share of Benning’s Green Tint Patty Pan Squash and Romanesco Zucchini. The Mexican Sour Gherkin or Mouse Melon is also catching up to the cucumbers and ready for harvest. They look exactly like a watermelon for the mouse household but taste like a slightly sour cucumber. Broccoli is coming along nicely despite the heat. You may have noticed that the broccoli looks a bit different from what you’re used to! This is intentional. The variety is Piricicaba and is bred to produce many small, tender shoots. The standard supermarket broccoli head is bred for that one ginormous cutting. We have ceased including herbs such as dill and mint; we still have them available but will put them in baskets by request only. We also have horse radish available upon request.
Since I’ve gotten inquiries I’d like to let everyone know we have one available share left for the season. Distribution would begin the week of July 17th and run 14 weeks; at $25 per week that will make a total of $350. Let us know if you’re interested!
And now, onto fermentation! The pickles that we put in the CSA baskets last week were our first fermented food of the season. Fermented foods are basically any food that is flavored and preserved by some microorganism- in the case of our pickles, its mostly Lacto Bacillus, the same bacteria that makes yogurt out of milk. These bacteria are present everywhere; all you have to do is give them the right conditions, and they will culture the vegetables on their own.
Sandor Ellix Katz, who wrote our book on fermentation and live-cultured foods, says:
“Sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles will not cure every ailment, but they will contribute to overall well-being. Whether you are the healthiest person in the world, are facing a life-threatening health crisis, are living with a chronic disease, or are just aging like everyone else, live culture (unpasteurized) fermented foods improve digestion, absorption of nutrients (especially minerals), and immune function. Fermenting vegetables preserves them with their nutrients intact, “predigests” those nutrients into more accessible forms, and generates additional nutrients, both vitamins and obscure micronutrients only just beginning to be identified and understood.
Live ferments also contain lactobacilli and other related bacteria, which repopulate and diversify the intestinal microflora. . . Bacteria are not our enemies; however, our culture has declared a foolish all-out war on them, overdeploying antibiotic drugs, chlorinated water and antibacterial cleaning products. The war on bacteria is like the war on terror or the war on drugs: an unwinnable exercise in futility. . . Medical science has documented the healing power of live cultures in hundreds of controlled studies, and today probiotics are among the fastest-growing segments of the nutritional supplement market. But any nutrient you can obtain in a pill or a powder you can get better from a whole food. Fermenting with spontaneously occurring local organisms integrates us into the web of life of our environment and adapts us to the local microbial ecology.”
Rather than continuing to quote the whole book I’ll just highly recommend that you read both Wild Fermentation; The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved; Inside America’s Underground Food Movements because they are both invaluable to any conscious person. To sum it up; fermentation kicks ass! A process which transforms raw foods not only into something more delicious, but more nutritious! I tried my hands at sauerkraut for the first time last year, primarily because we had nearly 400 feet of cabbage ready to rot in the field and in desperate need of a cool shelf, or better yet, a salty crock. Long story short, with a mess of other veggies, we made some big crocks of beautiful lacto fermented sauerkraut, much to the appeal of the house and our market customers (my kraut actually got Josh and I lots of free chocolate and a joy ride on a small plane-no joke). This year we could hardly wait. Cabbages were literally the first seeds my hands put in the ground of Kentucky. That was in February, and two weeks ago I was finally able to get my hands tamping again. This first gorgeous batch is out and delectable. We have a limited supply – ten pints – since cabbage worms took their own CSA share. We’ll have a mid-summer kraut as well, but the real treat will be winter kraut and kimchi. After a few frosts we’ll be harvesting much happier cabbage, carrots, radishes and the like for slower, sweeter ferments.
And then we tried pickles. I, unfortunately, hate pickles. Dill makes me want to run, and pickles just make me want to run faster. However, I do love to make pickles, and Josh loves them enough for the both of us. Our first vat of these lovelies came out last week and were eaten up in no time. We held out enough to give all our CSA customers a jar to sample, and thus far the response has been wonderful. Josh filled a crock today with just three day’s worth of cucumbers so I can assure you there will be plenty available to purchase. Pickles are $5 a pint, sauerkraut, due to limited supply, is $7 a pint. $1 off your next pint of either if you bring your jar back!
There is no vinegar, sugar, pasteurization or adulterants in these products! Just organically grown produce, time and wild lacto bacilli came together to create these delicious and nutritious ferments. Sugar free, gluten free, worry free.
The ingredients are as follows:
Home grown ingredients: cucumbers, dill, garlic, wild grape leaves
Bought ingredients: kosher salt, black peppercorns
Home grown ingredients: cabbage, carrots, garlic, onions, radish pods, beets
Bought ingredients: caraway seed, celery seed, kosher salt, dried red pepper
Bri & Josh