Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Homemade, Fermented Mango-Peach Salsa

It is such a beautiful spring day!  Yes, I think spring is finally here in the mountains of Colorado- at least I hope so... :)
To celebrate warmer weather and greener things to come, I have made a delicious fermented treat- mango-peach salsa.  My youngest son LOVES this salsa, but mangoes are not a regular crop here- so I was so excited to find some organic mangoes in our local King Soopers.  If you've never had mangoes before, they compliment peaches so well!  Mangoes have a tropical, tangy flavor- sweet, but not pineapple sweet.  And, the color of the fruit is amazing- anywhere from yellow to dark orange. This recipe makes a colorful, happy salsa that tastes as good as it looks!

Here's what you'll need for your own salsa:

1 cup peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
2 med. tomatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 c red onion
3/8 cup citrus juice (lemon, lime or grapefruit)
5 mint leaves, chopped
1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
1 t red pepper flakes
1/8 t cayenne pepper (optional)
1 t sea salt

Mix all ingredients together and press into a quart canning jar.  Cap tightly for 3-5 days, then transfer to cold storage.  That's it!

The mangoes and peaches blend nicely!

What a colorful salsa!  And, so yummy!

The finished product.  This won't last long...

Enjoy a little bit of summer starting now!

This post was inspired by this recipe on, a wonderful place for all things fermented!  (No, I am not getting paid to say that :))

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homemade Orange-Ginger Carrot Kvass

All mixed up and ready to ferment!
I love beets, but I hate beet kvass.  There's no way to sugar coat it... I think it is too salty and tastes like dirt.  Period.  If you're like me, you love fermented drinks, but beet kvass is NOT on the menu. So, I discovered this recipe on the Cultures for Health  website and convinced myself to try kvass again... fingers crossed.

To make this beverage, you will need:

  • 6 carrots, sliced into thin coins
  • 2 T fresh ginger, chopped
  • 6 large strips orange zest (peel with potato peeler)
  • 4 t sea salt
  • About 1/2 gallon filtered, non-chlorinated water

I noticed bubbles after only 24 hours.

  • Place all ingredients in large glass container and stir to combine.  
  • Cover with a secured cloth and let ferment for 3-5 days.
  • Strain off liquid and bottle*- you can add a pinch of sweetener for added carbonation.
  • If doing a second ferment, let your sealed bottles sit on the counter for an additional 1-3 days.
  • Check for carbonation daily and move to cold storage before drinking.

Bottling day!  I added about 1 t honey per bottle for added carbonation.

*To make a second, weaker batch, leave 1 cup of liquid in your fermentation vessel with the remaining carrots, ginger and orange peel and re-fill with 1/2 gallon filtered water.  Leave to ferment for 3-5 days before bottling.  

I have to admit, this kvass is still salty.  It's not as "earthy" as the beet kvass, and I can drink it without making an "eww" face- but, I like bread kvass much better.  Experiement for yourself... which kvass is your favorite?  Whichever one you prefer, you are doing your tummy a favor by drinking this probiotic-rich beverage!  Enjoy!

My carrot kvass, ready for a second ferment!

Homemade, Traditional Rye Bread Kvass

Bread kvass has been a traditional drink in Eastern Europe for centuries.  The drink became popular in the XVI century but was around long before then; some say it has its roots in  IXth century Russia. Peasants and aristocrats alike drank this fermented beverage or made a soup with kvass as its base. Traditional kvass is made from dark rye bread, natural sourdough cultures and honey to sweeten. The word "kvass" comes from the Russian word for "leaven".

Just like many traditional drinks, commercial, high production versions are out there... unfortunately, when some former Soviet countries gained their freedom, Coca-cola and Pepsi entered the markets and made their own faux-kvass.   But, traditional kvass (or "gira"- with a hard "g"- in Lithuania) is still a popular drink in Eastern Europe and is making a comeback in many countries.
For more information on kvass, I recommend this website, written by a native Lithuanian :)

Here is my version of this bubbly, rich traditional drink:

1, 1 lb loaf dark/black rye bread (any loaf will do, but they traditionally used sourdough)
about one gallon filtered, non-chlorinated water
1/2 c organic sugar
4 T raw honey
1 T sourdough starter
mint sprigs, lemon slices, berries, or apples (optional- to taste)
1 raisin per bottle

I used black forest rye bread.  Dry it out until it is very crispy.
  • Slice bread into 1/2" slices (traditional kvass is made from stale bread) and dry out in the oven. I put my slices in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, until the bread breaks like a cracker.
  • When the bread is finished, bring the water to a boil.  Remove from heat.
  • Break up the bread with your hand and drop the pieces into the hot water. Let it steep, covered, for at least 4 hours to overnight (I let mine sit for 9 hours).
  • When done steeping, strain off the rye water into a fermenting crock or large glass container. Discard the soggy bread (squeeze bread gently in a cheesecloth to get as much of the liquid as possible).
  • To your rye water, add the sweeteners, fruit (if used) and sourdough starter (it does not have to be rye). Stir until combined and leave in a warm place, covered with cloth, for about 12 hours.
  • Check for bubbles after 12 hours and scoop off any foam that rises.  Wait another 12-24 hours before bottling. (if more foam rises, just scoop off before bottling)
  • You can add a raisin per bottle to help check the carbonation before drinking.  Place bottles in cold storage for 3 days to one month. 
Break the bread before adding it to very hot water.
Strain the soggy bread in cheese cloth after at least 4 hours.
The sourdough starter is beginning to consume the sugars!
Enjoy this beverage chilled, with a meal.  The natural probiotics it contains help with digestion, and the drink provides high levels of vitamin B.  It is also said to help with detox and accelerated healing.
Enjoy your traditional kvass!

Although the kvass seems a bit cloudy, the yeast will eventually drop out.  I made 5-16oz bottles from one loaf of bread!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Homemade, Cultured Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is amazing and perfect for those of you on the GAPS Diet!  Just as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome,  this soup is enhanced with probiotic food. Cultured cream is not only good for your digestive health, but it gives this soup an added richness.  Make this soup with homemade chicken broth and it's a perfect cold-weather meal, chock-full of nutrition!

I found some yummy organic butternut squash at my local grocery yesterday- on sale!  And since soup/stew is one of my favorite wintertime (or anytime) foods, I knew just what to do with it :)

Butter and season the squash before roasting.

To bring out the flavor of butternut squash, what better way to cook it than roasting it?  Before putting your soup together, this is what you need to do:
1. Cut a butternut squash in half, lengthwise. Discard seeds.
2. Place, open side up, onto baking sheet and smear with butter (about 1/2 T per half)
3. Season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Roast on 425 F for about an hour, until the skin is blistered and the open side is browned.

The squash browned nicely!

To make the soup, you will need:
1 butternut squash, roasted (directions above)
1 T butter, or ghee
1/2 granny smith apple,cut in small cubes
1/4 onion, minced
2 1/2 c homemade chicken stock
a large dollop cultured cream for each bowl
salt and pepper

Once the squash is roasted, set it aside to cool somewhat.  Melt 1 T butter in a heavy pan and sauté  the apple and onion until soft.  Scoop out meat from squash skins and add this to the apple/onion mixture.  Add in your homemade chicken stock and stir to combine.  Heat to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to your liking.  Using a stick blender, purée soup in the cooking pot until creamy.

Saute the apple and onion in butter or ghee.

Mix in the homemade chicken stock and roasted squash.

When the soup is done, let it cool to at least 117 F.  You don't want to kill all the good probiotics in your cultured cream.  Serve the soup with a dollop of cultured cream in each bowl.

The perfect cold-weather soup!

This soup was meant for a cold winter day!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Homemade Chicken Salad w/Yogurt Dressing

I am always looking for new flavors for lunches around here... since I am home most days, I can't eat the same thing every. single. day.  Sandwiches are NOT my thing, and I can't make a large meal for lunch then turn around and make another one for dinner.  My other responsibilities don't leave time for that.  So, when I find recipes that catch my interest, I try to make enough to last for a few meals- this is one that fits the bill- and it turned out to be full of wonderful new flavors!

I tweaked  this recipe from one in an old Southern Living magazine.  (Here's the original)

1 can organic garbanzo beans (drained and washed)
2 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 T lemon juice
5 T unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
about 4 cups shredded chicken
3/4 cup chopped radishes
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 pt grape tomatoes (halved or whole)
1 1/2 cups chopped Japanese cucumber (no need to peel)

Yogurt dressing:
1 cup plain yogurt
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
2 T chopped fresh dill
2 T lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

The original recipe called for you to mix this and let that sit... whatever :)  I just threw everything together and poured the dressing over it!  I made three meals out of this one recipe, and it was delish.
If you can, make it the night before you eat it to let the flavors combine.  I found it even tastier on days 2 and 3. Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Homemade Rough-Cut Pâté

Whenever I buy a whole chicken, I try to make sure it includes the giblets!  If you avoid them, you are really missing out on a delicious and nutritious snack:  pâté.  (Don't let the other organs go to waste!  Make gravy or stock with them!) .  

This is my go-to recipe for a quick and easy pâté- just 7 ingredients makes this treat a great way to take your organ meats, too!  Usually,  pâté is made with only livers, but I throw the heart in for added nutrients :)

Here's what you'll need to make a fast and tasty pâté:

From one  chicken with giblets:
chicken liver, de-veined with connective tissue cut off, chopped 
chicken heart, cleaned and chopped very fine

salt and pepper to taste
about 2 T minced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 T butter

Melt butter in a heavy skillet (I like cast iron)
Put chopped organ meats and onions in hot butter, brown
Just before taking the mixture off heat, add in the minced garlic- stir to heat briefly.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

To serve:  place the warm pâté on a toasted piece of homemade sourdough bread- YUM!!
If you are generous, feel free to cut the toast in half and share with a loved-one.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Homemade Tepache (Fermented Pineapple Drink)

I have to admit, I do miss some things about Florida, especially since I know my citrus trees are in full fruit and we cannot enjoy them.  And, we have gotten more snow here in the past week than I've seen in the past 20 years of my life!  Our friends down south have been enjoying 70-80 degree weather... Winter is definitely the time to visit south Florida, and I am coming to understand why all those snow birds travel so far!

But, I was so excited when I saw that another of my favorite tropical treats was on sale at my local King Soopers:  pineapples!  Right now, they are $1 apiece!   So, I am going to make a tropical drink called tepache that reminds me of warmer climates :) 

What you'll need for homemade tepache:

2 pineapple skins and cores, washed 
filtered, non-chlorinated water
1-2 cups sugar (depending on taste)
1 T powdered cinnamon (you could also add cloves)

Although pineapples are not one of the "dirty dozen" fruits, I am not taking any chances- I gave these babies a nice bath in water and white vinegar to rinse off any residual pesticides.  I will be using the skin to ferment this drink, much like homemade ACV.

Once the pineapples are washed thoroughly, I cut off the skin (and about 1/4-1/2" fruit).  Save the interior fruit for eating!

Put the skins (and cores) into a two-gallon fermenting crock or glass jar.  Just cover the skins with filtered, non-chlorinated water that has been sweetened with 1-2 cups sugar.  I also added a couple tablespoons ground cinnamon and 1/4 c whey.  Stir until everything is combined, then cover with a secured towel.

On day 3 (it will be a shorter period for warmer climates), you will notice a layer of bubbly scum on the surface of your brew.  Just skim this off and re-cover the fermentation vessel! You will need to check for scum on day 4 and 5, and skim off whatever comes to the surface...

Day 5:  Bottling Day!

Since I am in a colder climate, I let my tepache ferment for 5 days.  Bottle yours any time between the 3 and 5-day mark.  The earlier you bottle, the sweeter it will be.  I like tart drinks :)  If you bottle earlier, you will have a better chance at putting it away while still bubbly, although mine was still bubbly on day 5! 

I made just enough tepache to fill a one-gallon re-purposed cider jug.  It is still a touch sweet, so I am leaving mine out on the counter overnight.  This will help the good bacteria consume the remaining sugar.  

If you've never had tepache, it is very pineapple-y.  It is a tropical thirst-quencher and a bubbly treat (even on a cold winter day!).  

So, enjoy this tropical treat and think of warmer days to come!  
To view the the original, inspiring post on Cultures for Health, click here.