The very first bundle!
I am so excited to be on this journey together. Exploring reciprocal exchange, community support, and sharing my love of microbes is my dream come true.
Thanks for joining me in it.
I am honored to share with you some of the little creations that the microbes and I have been collaborating on:
Golden Smokey Moon Sauerkraut
This organic green cabbage started its fermentation process on the eve of the lunar new year, Hilo moon. I used Maldon smoked sea salt for this batch, which comes through as a subtle smokey flavor. The star of the show is Hoʻoulu ʻĀina ʻōlena (turmeric) accompanied by cracked black pepper - which boosts the bioavailability of the curcumin compound in turmeric.
Nutty Purple Kraut
This sauerkraut recipe came in my new favorite cookbook, "Ferment Your Vegetables," by Phickle.com author Amanda Feifer. It was news to me that you can ferment nuts, and I had to try. The nuts included here are: macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, and pumpkin seeds, all raw. They combine with the organic red cabbage and give a nutty flavor throughout the kraut. This is a new taste for me!
Habanero Fire Kraut
This ferment was a request of Prentis', who was jonesing for something spicy. It immediately become a favorite in our household with its bright, tangy, spicy flavor - cool and hot at the same time.
Bitter Greens Ferment
Bitter is good for you! The greens in this ferment come from King Darla's garden at Hoʻoulu ʻĀina. She was replanting a pallet box bed and was ready to harvest the baby bok choys and arugula. I fermented them with a good amount of ginger from the garden, and they have a hearty medicinal bitterness and umami flavor that you can really feel healthy eating.
Tangerine Lemongrass Water Kefir
This water kefir was made with part coconut sugar, part organic cane sugar. The first ferment was done with a lemongrass tea made from the Reyna's gifted lemongrass. The second ferment included tangerine juice from the fruits Shelley shared at the HACBED gathering last weekend.
Tibicos and Water Kefir starter
Tibicos are a type of SCOBY (Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast) that consists mostly of lactic acid bacteria and some yeasts. The bacterium Lactobacillus hilgardii makes a polysaccharide gel the holds the community together - thus their gelatinous crystalline structure.
These tibicos have been living with me for a little over a month now, and they are happy little critters! I've been learning about water kefir from various sites online, and everyone has a slightly different process. I recently found and like the Nourished Kitchen explanation and recipe, though I've been doing something different myself so far.
The basic process I've been using goes like this:
1/4 cup tibicos (actually I've been using more because they've been replicating themselves, so they end up proliferating as they go - I notice the more tibicos you have the faster it ferments)
1/4 cup organic cane sugar and/or coconut sugar (there are a lot of sweetener options, and I've read that tibicos like to have extra minerals to eat, so I try to keep them happy with periodic tastes of coconut or other unrefined sweeteners - though I honestly don't like the caramel taste that it produces as much as just the straight organic sugar, which allows more of the flavor of whatever you add to it to come through, so I switch it up. they also seem to like the fructose in fruits so sometimes I'll add a slice of citrus or a date in there to keep them happy. They love ginger too. What you don't want to use for sweetener is honey, because of it's antimicrobial properties)
1 quart of water (filtered to make sure you get the chlorine out)
I've been dissolving the sugar/sweetener in a little bit of hot water and then cooling it down to room temperature with cold water to fill a quart jar. Then I pour this into the jar with the tibicos that I've strained out of the previous batch. You want to use a non-metal strainer for this. Leave about an inch of headroom at the top of the jar.
I've been capping my jar and letting it ferment on the counter for a day - though I read in the Nourished Kitchen and other places that they cover it with a cloth and let it breath for the first fermentation, so I'm trying that now. Sandor Katz says either way is ok, they can handle aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
After about a day you should see bubbles forming and the tibicos starting to dance in their jar. You can taste it at this point and see if you like the sweetness level - leave it longer if you want it less sweet and more tangy. Be careful if you keep your jar capped, as it is building pressure quickly, you may want to "burp" it every few hours to prevent risk of explosion.
When it's reached your preferred taste you can strain the tibicos out and pour the water kefir into a sealing jar or bottle. I add flavor in at this point. So far I've tried: frozen berries, fruit juices, blending fruit with the kefir, herbs, spices, and tea - get creative! The last couple days I've been experimenting with adding flavor at the first fermentation - not sure yet how it affects the tibicos to be in there with the flavoring, and if they retain that flavor for the next batch. I'll report back on that. What I do know is it's a pain to try to pick out the pieces of ginger or spice from the tibicos grains if you mix them together.
Leave the capped bottle/jar on the counter for a day for the second ferment - again, being careful with the pressure building in the bottle. I haven't had any explosions (knock on wood) but many people suggest bottling in plastic to reduce your risk of breakage. I just don't like plastic, so I'm taking my chances.
After a day on the counter, stick your bottle/jar in the fridge. It will keep fermenting, but slow down in there. I think the longer you leave it the more bubbly it gets - so be careful and open over a sink or open space as I have had a few champagne-like fountains come forth. You'll probably want to drink it (well, right away because it's delicious) but within a week or two. I'm not sure what happens after that since I haven't been able to hang on to any that long, but I imagine the bubbles get pretty intense.
Some sediment will form on the bottom of your bottle/jar, that's normal. It's remnants of the tibicos doing their thing.
Tibicos are pretty active little guys - and with such a fast fermentation process you really have to get into a regular rhythm with caring for them. I read that you can lull them to sleep by keeping them in the sugar water solution in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, though when I tasted my "sleep solution" after 5 days it was delicious and super bubbly so I brought them back out to keep up the good work :)
You do need to feed them regularly, they are voracious little eaters, and if you leave them fermenting too long their solution will get too acidic and they won't survive. You can dry them out in the sun or dehydrate them to store them for longer periods of time.
Some recipe ideas:
Mac and Cheese Kraut
Okay, so this is born of my bachelor lifestyle. While Prentis is away I've been trying to eat my way through the things in our cupboards. Some visiting friends of ours left us a box of Annie's mac and cheese, so one lonely night I cooked that up and spruced it up with some Golden Smokey Moon sauerkraut. The idea came from a recipe I've been dying to try - but haven't yet - in "Ferment Your Veggies" for Mac and Kim-cheese! That sounds delicious to me, so I tried kraut and mac and cheese and it's actually quite tasty! I ended up mixing them together after taking the photo.
Another go-to meal in my bachelor repertoire is tacos. Everything is good on a taco. I ran out of salsa the other day so I put the Habanero kraut on top of my taco and it was even better than salsa! It adds a great texture and crunch to the tacos and the flavor actually goes really nicely. These tacos also had some fermented jalapenos in them with homemade refried beans and MAʻO sassy salad.