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Garden food – Wild Fermentation

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I grew up with a mum who often pickled vegetables and fruit to store over the winter, but wild fermentation is something completely new to me… I came across a very interesting book, read it and got hooked: Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2003. It’s so easy to ferment and you can really do it with almost anything! Lots of the things we have in our cupbords and pantries are actually fermented: yogurt, beer, wine, soya sauce and miso paste (it actually take about one year to ferment the soya beans into miso paste!)

This is my present fermenting project: I’m fermenting carrots! I wonder what they will taste like once they are finished. At the moment they are just very salty, but in time the salt will turn the sweet tasting carrots sour. Here is my very quick tutorial, remember to keep everything including hands very clean:

You need:

– a wide jar made of plastic, glass or clay and a cover (it needs to breath, but not let bugs or bacteria in)

– some kind of weight: a plate small enough to fit into the jar, but big enough to cover the vegetables, covered by a heavy (sterilised/ boiled) rock or a cup of water.

– vegetables (carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions …. anything will do really)

– sea salt

What to do:

– Clean and cut your vegetables into strips, slices, grind them or whatever you prefer.

– put them in the bowl and add some sea salt. For my test run I used about a table spoon of sea salt to three big carrots.

– add your weight and leave overnight.

– in the morning the salt will have let the liquids out of the vegetables enough to cover them (this is called “the brine”), if not, add cooled, boiled water until the water covers the vegetables.

– put the cover on and store the jar somewhere in reach. Check it every now and again and in a week or two taste them. You decide when they are ready. The longer you wait, the more sour they become.

Update 2015: Look at my new fermentation jar that my mother and father in law gave me for Christmas!!!!!! So much better. Can’t wait to use it 🙂

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Garden food – Dried apple rings

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Did you know that you easily can dry the edible produce that you find maybe in your garden and in the forest? It takes very little space and it will store for a very long time if stored the correct way. If you think about it, a lot of products in your pantry are actually dried: pasta, müsli, oats, flour, nuts, raisins, spices, rice etc. There are lots of different ways to dry products: in the oven on very low temperature, over a heat source, hung in a paper bag (best for herbs) or on a long string or wooden stick, which is what I’ll be telling you about today 🙂

 

DIY Dried apple rings (made into a decorative garland!) :

1. Gather your apples. Pick about 5-6 for this project and check them for worm holes, rot or small stains. Only pick the prettiest ones. You can peel the apples or leave the skin on. If you have kids and want to make them eat it, kids usually prefer peeled apple rings. Then, with a corer, remove the seeds, leaves and stems until they look like the apples in the picture.

 

3. Cut the apples into 2-3 mm wide rings, but throw away the top and bottom ring as they easily mould and are basically only skin anyway.

 

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4. Grab a 1metre long thread (strong enough to hold 6 apples!) and a needle. Pierce a few apples at a time and pull the thread through. I made a knot around apple number one to make sure they stayed on the thread and saved about 30 cm on the same side to be able to hang it.

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4. Between two securely attached nails, hang up the garland. Spread out the apples evenly on the thread and give the apples a week or two before eating or storing them. For storage information, see below. Good luck!

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Storage advice: Dried products must be protected from moisture, light, dust and excessive heat and the best storage place is a dark and dry place with a temperature of 10-20 degrees Celsius. Packaging materials are brown paper bags, plastic bags, cloth bags of dark and dense fabric, glass jars and wooden boxes. It’s good to write down the content and packaging date on all the packages, it’s so easy to forget 😉 Vegetables, berries, fruit and mushrooms can be packed tightly, but herbs are packed loosely. Brown glass jars can be store in the kitchen shelves, but transparent glass jars must be kept in a dark place, a cupboard for example.

 

Alternative drying method for a quick snack: Spread out the apple rings on an oven plate and dry them overnight on the lowest heat, at 50-100° C.

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Garden food – Apple sauce

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äppelmosss-3The apple tree in our garden is now full of nutritious and delicious apples. There are so many of them and although we’re eating all of the fallen fruit, there is still so much left and if I don’t figure out what to do with them soon, they will rot on the ground … So at the moment I’m trying to figure out the best ways to preserve them over the winter and here is one way: homemade Apple sauce! In our family we use this apple sauce for everything; at breakfast over oat porridge and milk, sprinkled with cinnamon or as a apple pie filling, or just plain (warmed up) with milk as a dinner dessert or as a after school snack. 1 kg gives about 1 litre of apple sauce to be stored in the freezer or in sterilised jars in a cool and dark place over the winter. This apple sauce is super easy to make too, and will even be cheaper than the cheapest apple sauces on the market. It is also a much healthier alternative than the store-bought ones.

Apple sauce (recipe inspired by Annas mat, Anna Bergenström, 1991)

1 kg apples

1,5 dl water

1 gram ascorbic acid

1 dl sugar

one tea towel

 

1. Start by washing the apples, peel them, remove stems and leaves and cut them into large cubes.

2. Add 1,5 dl water to a big pot, add the apple cubes and boil them for about 8-10 min while stirring occasionally.

3. Mash the apples with a potato masher or with a mixer for a smoother sauce.

4. Add the sugar and the ascorbic acid and stir thoroughly.

5. Freeze the apple sauce flat in zip bags (for an easy storage in the freezer) or in glass jars old fashion style (easier than you might think!)

 

To preserve in jars (IKEA‘s glass jars with a rubber lid is perfect for this, but any glass jar which has been sterilised will do fine):

1. Boil the glass jars and the rubber lids (or the metal lids) in some water in a big pot to sterilise them. 5 min will do 🙂 Save the water!

2. Add the apple sauce to the jars leaving about 2 cm of space left at the top. Put the rubber lids back on the glass jars while wet if you use rubber lid jars. If you use normal screw-on metal lids, just screw them on as tightly as possible.

3. Fold the tea towel in two and add it on the bottom of the pot in which you sterilised the jars. Put the glass jars on the tea towel and slowly bring the water to boil. Leave it boiling for about 20 min. This will make the lids stick to the glass jar, creating a vacuum and store well over the winter. Store the jars in the fridge or in a cool and dry place.