Other Fermented Food Goodness

Fermented Bell Peppers

Before modern refrigeration, food was fermented as a way to preserve it. A couple of weeks ago, I was about to toss some bell peppers that I had bought for a recipe that I never ended up making. But instead of throwing them in the garbage, I decided I would try fermenting them. One of the things I love about fermenting is that it's ridiculously easy! Although, it does require patience but the benefits your body reaps from eating fermented foods is worth the wait.

Next time you find yourself about to toss some unused veggies, consider fermenting them to see what magic happens!

Fermented Bell Peppers
Where possible, use organic ingredients

  • Bell peppers cut into long strips (I used one green, one yellow, one red)
  • Jalapeño diced (remove the seeds)
  • Heaping spoon of minced garlic (cloves would also work)
  • 1 tsp (or more) of natural sea salt (when fermenting, unrefined natural salt is best)

Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and massage the veggies to start the breakdown process. You'll start to see juice release from the veggies and gather at the bottom of the bowl. After a few minutes (or when your arms get tired), place a towel over the bowl and let it sit for 45'ish minutes. Move the veggies to a jar, packing them down. Use a weight to keep the veggies submerged below their natural juices. I use a ziplock bag filled with some water. Cover the top of the jar with breathable fabric (coffee filter, paper towel, cloth napkin) and secure with a rubber band. Keep the veggies out of direct sunlight. Check on them occasionally to make sure they remain submerged. After about 5 days, you can taste them to see if you like them. I let mine go 2 weeks. When you are satisfied with the flavor, transfer them to a clean jar with a lid, place in the fridge, and enjoy!

Kombucha Brewing

‘Booch Brewing FAQs

How to make Kombucha is no secret. If you do a quick google search, you'll come across many recipes. You should see many similarities between them, with some variations. Everyone makes 'booch a little different. That is the beauty of Kombucha!

I receive a lot of questions on Instagram about brewing. I thought I'd share some of the most common questions here. My answers are based on how I brew 'booch. Others may answer the questions differently and that's quite alright!

  1. What kind of tea do you use? When I started brewing, I started with organic green tea. I then tried organic black tea. And then I bought organic Oolong tea. Today, my brews consist mostly of 50% green tea and 50% black tea and I have one Oolong batch (which has the prettiest SCOBYs!). I prefer the 50/50 blend because I found black tea to be a little too strong and green tea to be a little too light.
  2. How long do you ferment your 'booch? When I started, I did the first ferment (sweet tea and SCOBY) for one week and the second ferment (bottled with fruit) for about 3 days. As I added more batches, I was able to extend my fermentation cycles. I currently go 2 weeks for first ferment and about 4-5 days for second ferment.
  3. What kind of bottles do you use? When I started, I collected and reused store bought Kombucha bottles. Some brands resealed better than others. I then found a local beer brewer supply store and ventured into swing top bottles. I like swing tops but I find them hard to wash and sanitize sometimes. I then moved to 1/2 gallon and gallon growlers with poly seal lids. I love the growlers. They seal well for carbonation. They are easy to clean (I use a baby bottle brush to get to hard to reach places) and I find it easier to make larger batches of flavors vs many individual 16 oz bottles.
  4. Do you remove the fruit after second fermentation? Usually, I do not remove the fruit. I think the 'booch flavors continue to marinate in the fridge so I prefer to leave the fruit in. We then filter (a fork works fine!) as we drink the 'booch. Although our 8 year old daughter prefers to eat the fruit after she drinks her 'booch!
  5. Do you use fresh or frozen fruit? I use both, depending on what's fresh and organic at our local grocery store.
  6. Do you defrost the frozen fruit? I only defrost the fruit enough so that I can easily cut it (if necessary). Otherwise, it's still somewhat frozen when it goes in the 'booch. I've been asked if it waters down the 'booch. I honestly have not noticed a difference.
  7. Do you use juice? I have only used juice when I've done grape flavoring. Otherwise I use fresh or frozen fruit. I know many others who use juice. I'd just caution about added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients (of course there's many brands that don't add sugar and other stuff).
  8. How do you get carbonation in your 'booch? When you flavor your 'booch for second fermentation, you have an opportunity to create carbonation as the bottle is sealed and the sugars from your flavorings are converted into CO2. Some of my batches come out super carbonated, others do not. I think it comes down to your flavorings. Some brewers add sugar, raisins, etc. to create carbonation. I do not. I let science do its thing. If it comes out carbonated, great! If it doesn't, that's ok too.
  9. How do you prevent your bottles from exploding? To date, I have not had a bottle explode during second fermentation (knock on wood). In hopes of avoiding an explosion, I carefully burp my bottles at least once a day. By burping, I mean I slowly loosen the lids to relieve built up pressure. I also keep our house at about 80 degrees or below (we live in Phoenix and we have animals in the house all day long). If your home is warmer, it will speed up fermentation.
  10. Is that mold on my SCOBY? I've honestly not personally experienced mold on my SCOBYs so I don't feel like an adequate judge. If you think you might have mold, do a quick google search. Many have posted pictures of mold on SCOBYs. To prevent mold, securely cover your 'booch during the first ferment. I use cloth napkins, secured with rubber bands. Do not use cheese cloth or other loose covers. It's an invite for mold and fruit flies!

I hope you found these FAQs helpful. Happy brewing!

Other Fermented Food Goodness

A Shot of Beet Kvass a Day, Makes the Sweet Tooth Go Away

In my younger years, I never cared too much about sweets. In fact, one of my best friends growing up had a major sweet tooth and I never understood it until I got pregnant. Not only did my pregnancy give me my first daughter, but it also gave me a sweet tooth! For the past 11 years, I have craved sweets after lunch and dinner. Causing me to bum sweets off my coworkers when my sweet tooth kicked in, usually in the afternoon.

Earlier this year, in March, I went to the local farmer's market to restock my fermented veggies. I noticed the beet kvass and inquired about it. The representative at Garden Goddess Ferments shared how kvass helped kill her sweet tooth. She explained how kvass is a blood tonic, helping create red blood cells and alkalizing the blood, not to mentioned it's fermented so it's full of probiotic goodness! After hearing how it helped her, I decided to give it a try.

For the next few weeks, I took a shot in the morning and one in the afternoon. I would say within 2-3 days, I started to notice a difference. We were on vacation, the first week of taking kvass, and I had no desire to indulge in sweets at Disneyland. Say what?!

Fast forward to four months later, my sweet tooth is still dead. I do not crave sweets. I have no interest in sweets. And if I happen to take a bite of a dessert, I usually find that it's too sweet to eat. I shared this experience with some coworkers. They gave it a try and had the same results!

Who knows. It might be in our heads but it worked for us. If you are looking to kill your sweet tooth, you may want to give beet kvass a try and see if it works for you. You can make it or find it from a local company like I did.

May the kvass be with you.

Fermented Kraut

Fermented Kraut – Version 3.0

You'd think my next post would be about 'booch but as timing has it – it's about my fermented kraut version 3.0!

A few months ago, I bought Shockey & Shockey's Fermented Vegetables book and attempted my first fermented kraut, following their Simple Kraut recipe (cabbage, beets, and unrefined sea salt). I let the kraut ferment for 2 weeks. It came out delish!

A couple of weeks ago, I made version 2.0 by adding sliced Granny Smith Apples and diced jalapeño. This time I only let it go 1 week because I really liked the flavor when I tested it!

And that brings us to today with version 3.0! This version has fermented for 2 weeks. A small batch is going home with my parents today. They really like the taste. I'm going to let the rest ferment for just a bit longer before I dig in!

As you read this post, you may be asking yourself "but why fermented vegetables?!" Just like 'booch, fermented veggies are loaded with probiotics. And according to Shockey & Shockey, other benefits include preserving and enhancing B and C vitamins, aiding in digestion, supporting the immune system, and making nutrients more readily available.

I like to put my kraut on tacos, eggs, poke bowls, and to just eat it plain! Below is my recipe if you choose to venture into fermented kraut!

Fermented Kraut V 3.0

• shred/thinly slice one small head of organic cabbage (save a couple of the whole outer leaves)

• thinly slice 1 small organic beet (I highly recommend wearing gloves!)

• one diced organic green apple (I actually used 2 small crab apples because I was gifted a ton from a friend)

• diced jalapeño (I only used 1/2 a pepper but use as much as you like!)

• a healthy pinch of freshly grated ginger (I grated the ginger for booch so I didn't have a ton to spare, I also was not sure how strong it would be)

• 1 tbs minced garlic (I questioned this decision after I added the garlic – apples and garlic?!)

• 1 tbs Ancient Sea Salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. With gloves on (unless you want purple stained hands!), gently massage the veggies. You'll start to see them break down and juice will start to collect in the bottom of the bowl. After a few minutes (or until your arms are sore!), cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit for ~45 minutes.

Pack the veggies into a glass vessel (I use large mason jars and spaghetti sauce jars). Be sure to leave some head space (2-3 inches). Place the cabbage leaves on top to cover the shredded veggies. Take a zip lock bag, place in the vessel, and fill with some water so that it covers the top of the veggies (this is called a water weight, it's supposed to keep the veggies submerged and protect the kraut from mold). Place the vessel in a bowel or on a baking dish (just in case there is any overflow). Cover with a cloth napkin or paper towel, secure with a rubber band, and let it sit at room temperature for 1-2+ weeks on the counter or in a cabinet (out of the sunlight). Do not use cheese cloth. It's too loose and may invite bugs into your kraut! Check on it every day to make sure the veggies stay submerged. If you see bubbles, that's good! Bubbles are a sign of the fermentation process. You can start tasting it at the 5 day mark. It's done when you are satisfied with the taste. When you are ready to call it good, seal it with a lid and place in the fridge. It should be good for months… if you don't eat it all before like me!

 

 

Kombucha Brewing

What exactly is “‘booch”?!

If we are going to have a blog about 'booch, we should probably have a post that explains 'booch. Seems to make sense, right?

As I shared in my first post, when we won our 'booch starter kit, we didn't know much about what we had gotten ourselves into! Earlier in the year, we had started eating fermented veggies,  from the local farmer's market, to help our digestion. So we had a basic understanding of probiotics. Also, when our youngest daughter was a toddler, she was having non-stop earaches to the point we made an appointment for tubes, when my sister-in-law suggested probiotics. We put our daughter on chewable probiotics for kids and we were able to cancel her appointment for tubes! She hasn't had an earache since! So up to this point, we knew that probiotics were good for your tummy and helped replenish the good bacteria that antibiotics kills (from having earaches) and that's about it!

Queue Kombucha entering our lives…. Kombucha is a fermented tea that some say dates back to 221 BCE in China. But you are probably not looking for a history lesson and we aren't going to give one! We'll also skip the science lesson about fermentation and probiotics (for now).

Kombucha is an acquired taste. Raw 'booch tastes like apple cider vinegar (but don't let that scare you away!). Kombucha is loaded with probiotics – the good bacteria you want in your body! Probiotics are key to a healthy gut and there is a belief that a healthy gut is the key to a healthy mind and body. Probiotics are believed to help with digestion, detox your liver, boost your metabolism, create an overall balanced ecosystem in your body, and the list goes on!

Personally speaking, 'booch helps us digest our food and alcohol, especially when we've overindulged. 'Booch has helped reduce heart burn. 'Booch keeps us regular (sorry, you can't talk about probiotics without talking about #2 ;). 'Booch gives us a pick-me-up when we feel drained. And let's not forget, probiotics helped us avoid putting tubes in our baby girl's ears. And gosh darn it, 'booch is just good!

Of course, everyone has a different experience and has different results from probiotics/booch and we are only speaking from personal experience.

With all of the toxins in our lives, we feel like any help we can get to battle or offset the effects is worth a shot. Plus, we love the taste of our 'booch!

 

 

Kombucha Brewing

Welcome to All About The ‘Booch!

My husband and I won a Kombucha starter kit at our girls’ school’s PTO parent mixer last fall (2016). I had heard about Kombucha (or ‘booch) and generally knew that it was good for you. But that was about the extent of my knowledge! Neither of us had even tasted ‘booch before!

Fast forward to summer of 2017… I am brewing about 10 gallons of ‘booch. I have an Instagram account, which hit 400 followers today – yay! I make and sell ‘booch inspired t-shirts (click here to check them out). And, I am toying with the idea of going commercial – eek! But before I get too carried away (although maybe I have passed that point?!), I figured I should start a blog where I can share our adventures in ‘booch making and other fun fermented foods.

I hope you choose to follow us and watch us grow!

Thanks for visiting.