Lacto-Fermented Carrots

This lacto-fermented carrot recipe is a yearly go-to in our kitchen. It can be whipped up in very little time and is a family favorite with the adults and kids in the Fagan house. The carrots stay crispy, can be as tangy as you wish, all while giving your body the fermented bacterial goodness that we all need during this crazy health crisis. And the best part: It’s incredibly cheap to make!

This year I planted Dragon and Scarlet Nantes carrots in the garden and both varieties seem to work great in this particular ferment. But in all honesty, I have never had a carrot that did not work great in this recipe, so any fresh carrots will do!

Making of a Home Lacto-Fermented Carrots

1 pound fresh carrots

4 garlic cloves

2 cups of warm water

2 tablespoons sea salt (be sure your salt contains no added fillers or anti-caking agents)

1 cabbage or collard green leaf

1 glass quart-sized canning jar

Peel your garlic cloves and place them in the bottom of your jar. Next, place your trimmed carrots vertically in the glass jar, nestling them in there nice and snug. Continue to pack your jar until you have an inch of headspace remaining.

Mix together your warm water and salt until the salt is dissolved. Then pour this mixture over the top of your carrots and garlic.

Finally, take your cabbage or collard leaf and tuck it into the jar, helping to keep all of those cute little carrot tops submerged under the brine mixture. Tightly cap your jar.

Allow your jar to sit on your counter at room temperature to ferment for 6 – 10 days, depending upon how tangy you would like your ferment to taste. ***In the beginning stages of fermentation (the first 2-3 days), you will have to “burp” your jars to allow some of the carbon dioxide to escape. If you don’t “burp” your jars, there is a chance your jars could explode.

Once your ferment reaches your desired “funk” level, place it in the refrigerator. Your fermented carrots can remain in your fridge, unopened for up to 6 months.

Rhubarb Sourdough Sweet Rolls

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Our rhubarb crop is thriving right now, and I have been in the kitchen testing out some new recipes that showcase this first-of-the-season gem.  I recently fell down the sourdough rabbit hole and have been in love with all things sourdough, so this recipe features a bit of that fermentation love as well.  I hope you enjoy!

Rhubarb Sourdough Sweet Rolls

In a stand mixer bowl, mix the following:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 cups flour

After the ingredients are thoroughly combined, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and add the following to the mixture:

  • 6 tablespoons melted salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Attach the bowl to a stand mixer and mix with a dough hook for 1 minute.

Slowly add 2 additional cups of flour, while continuing to run the mixer on low speed. Once all the flour has been added, continue to mix on low speed for 3 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly for about 3 minutes.  Then form a ball with the dough, place it into a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Uncover and stretch and fold the dough in a circular fashion until all of the dough has been stretched and folded.  Again, cover the bowl and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.  Repeat this process a total of 3 times. (Your total rest time for this step will be three hours.)

During this resting period, heat the following in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat:

  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/ teaspoon cinnamon

Continue to cook the mixture until the rhubarb becomes tender, then remove from the heat.  Once removed from the heat, add 1 teaspoon almond extract. Allow the mixture to fully cool.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into the shape of a large rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick.

Next spread the rhubarb mixture over the entire rectangle-shaped dough.

Roll the dough, starting at one of the long ends, until you have one long roll.

Next cut the roll into 2 inch pieces.  Place the pieces snuggly into a greased cast-iron skillet or greased 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

An hour before baking, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and uncover them.  Allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.

Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the rolls become golden brown on top.

Serve and enjoy!

Makin’ Kraut

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I love cabbage in an obsessive, kind-of-creepy way.  I adore it raw in salads, sautéed in butter, and cooked down alongside a big ole’ roast in a low and slow oven.  But perhaps my favorite way to enjoy this curciferous comestible is in its fermented form as sauerkraut.

I have been starry-eyed about kraut my entire life.  In elementary school, I was the kid ordering ruebens with extra sauerkraut.  In high school, I could be found asking for sauerkraut as a pizza topping.  And when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, sauerkraut was one of the few foods I could eat while battling morning sickness.

Beginning to make sauerkraut at home has only increased my passion for this food.  The taste and texture of home-fermented kraut is unmatched, and the nutritional value is even more unfathomable.  Loaded with literally millions of healthy bacteria, homemade sauerkraut is one of the healthiest foods you can consume.  And, one of the easiest to make.

Here’s how we do our kraut:

Step 1:  Thinly chop up a head of cabbage (green or red).

Step 2:  Spread a layer of chopped cabbage in the bottom of a glass jar or crock, sprinkle with some salt, and bash away at it with a wooden spoon.  (This will break down the membranes of the cabbage, allow the salt in, and pull water out.)

Step 3:  Continue the layering process (cabbage, salt, bash) until you have used all your cabbage and there is enough water to cover the cabbage leaves.  (You may need to add a bit of unchlorinated water.)

Step 4:  Use a plate or glass to weight down the cabbage so that every tiny piece is submerged beneath the surface of the water.  (This is very important because any cabbage leaves exposed to oxygen will grow mold.)

Step 5:  Allow to sit on your counter or in your basement.

Step 6:  Check on your kraut every couple of days until it reaches the tartness and funkiness of your liking 🙂

Craft and Science

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img_3209 img_3212img_3233 img_3303 img_3302 img_3272Last Sunday, we gathered with friends in our late summer garden for some fermentation fun.  My husband (and his trusty brewmaster side kick) concocted a nice autumnal nut brown ale, while I worked with some of the other littles on cabbage sauerkraut.

I just love the craft and science behind fermentation.  I love the look of amazement that crosses their faces when I tell kids they are working with millions of living organisms when they ferment.  I also adore the slow and deliberate pace of fermenting.  The fact that the process cannot be rushed is what pulls me in the most to this craft.  We are all so rushed in our daily lives, that at times it is just so therapeutic to slow down, gather with friends, and enjoy that slow gait together.

Happy Honeymooning

This past weekend, our family attended the wedding of a dear friend.  It is on these special occasions that I am reminded of just how lucky we are to be surrounded by such amazing family and friends.  It makes for such a full, rich life of which we are truly blessed.

To honor this very exceptional couple, we decided to create a “Honeymoon Basket” for them to enjoy.  My contribution to the basket was a hand-made quilt.  I love giving handcrafted gifts because there is so much thought that goes into the making of these items.  With each clip of the scissors and each stitch of the fabric, I thought of this fabulous couple and the amazing life they were about to begin.

Now, my hubby’s contribution to the basket was much more exciting.  His recent fervor for fermentation has led him to the history behind the fermented beverage of mead, and its connection to the honeymoon.  So, he brewed a special batch of mead for the newlyweds, complete with an explanation of its relation to the honeymoon.

“Predating all other forms of concentrated sugars, honey, diluted to honey water, was in all probability one of the first fermented beverages ever concocted by man.  With its fermentation came the alcoholic drink we know as mead.

Mead is the beverage of love.  The drinking of mead has been held responsible for fertility and the birth of sons.  This is where the tradition of the honeymoon got its start.  If mead were consumed for one month (one moon) after a wedding, then in nine months a son would be born and the mead maker congratulated.  The custom of drinking mead at weddings and for one month after initiated our present-day custom of the honeymoon.”  ~Papazian, Charlie.  Joy of Home Brewing

Fermentation Frenzy

Ever since my husband received The Art of Fermentation for his birthday, it has been a fermentation frenzy in our house.  Today I present to you a bit of a photo journey through our fermentation experimentation…

…a little beer…

…and mead (a.k.a honey wine)…

…and sauerkraut.