Is This Normal, Part 2

Water Kefir - Is this normal?
In our last episode of Is This Normal, we learned about bubbly/foamy water kefir, sinking and floating grains, the range in color of water kefir grains, sediment that can occur, that water kefir is sweet and that it won’t be carbonated without a second ferment.

In this episode of Is This Normal? there is more to learn!… 

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Bonni

Bonni

Bonni started on the cultured foods path quite few years ago, beginning with sauerkraut. Since then, she has cultured yogurt, milk kefir, water kefir, kombucha, a variety of veggies, sour cream and gluten-free sourdough. She is a busy homeschool mom to her daughter, so is always looking for the most efficient and least time consuming ways to manage all of her culturing.

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Water Kefir Flavor Experiments

Water Kefir Experiments

If you’ve read any of my posts before you know I don’t like to change my routine. When I find something I like I stick to it. And, I admit, I’m lazy when it comes to fermenting. That’s why for the past few years I’ve flavored my water kefir with lemon juice and maybe a few berries. It’s yummy, it gets fizzy, and my kiddo likes it so why change? Well this year I’ve been hankering for something a bit different so I decided to experiment a bit…. 

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Suzanne

Suzanne

Suzanne is into gardening, real food, and treading lightly. Her favorite cultured foods include Matsoni yogurt, which tastes just like the yogurt her Armenian grandmother used to make; sauerkraut, which she used to dip out of a barrel each week at her favorite little shop in Germany; and dill pickles, which she used to eat straight from the big jar on the counter of her Grandpa’s general store.

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Starting Water Kefir In Our New Kitchen: Ferment Seasonality

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Do you change your ferments to match the seasons? I do, but I didn’t really think about it too much until we moved off-grid and began to experience a closeness to the elements we never had before.

I bake sourdough much more in the fall and winter. Milk kefir is generally a three season thing as summers here just don’t make for good milk kefir. Vegetable ferments are all year except the three hottest months of summer. Kombucha can happen all year, if I’m on the ball about taking care of it in more extreme periods. And then there’s that beloved water kefir, especially refreshing on triple digit days.

So, with summer approaching and the construction on our off-grid kitchen nearing completion, I’m starting up the water kefir again.

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Shannon

Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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Culturing with Honey

Culturing with Honey

Honey is wonderful, golden nectar. It can be stored indefinitely. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and local pollen. The flavor complements a wide range of foods and has been used for everything from beverages to skin care.

One common belief about honey is that it is antimicrobial. While plain honey does not spoil, that may largely be due to the balance of sugar and humidity. When combined with other ingredients, honey ferments beautifully and can be a wonderful addition to your fermented foods.

Since honey is a natural sugar that requires no refining to enjoy, it is the base of perhaps the very first wines. Mead is made simply from honey, water and yeast. For those of you who have been enjoying fermenting at home for long, you probably know that yeasts are everywhere! I promise to write more about mead later. For now, let’s talk about some of the ways you can use honey in ferments already brewing in your kitchen.

Yogurt: Honey is our family go-to sweetener for yogurt. There is something soothing about the flavor and meditative about stirring it in. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for the perfect, simple snack.

Sourdough: I nearly always add honey to my baking. A tablespoon or so of honey in a loaf of bread improves the flavor, speeds up the rise time (but only a little) and creates a golden-brown crust. My favorite part about adding honey to my bread? It’s a natural humectant. That means it pulls water to the bread. Instead of my bread drying out, it stays moist for days. This is even more helpful in gluten free breads.

Water kefir: Making up a batch of water kefir with honey is quite a treat. The honey doesn’t kill the grains due to antimicrobial action, though it will eventually kill the grains. The real reason is two-fold: Honey is fructose and water kefir grains must have glucose. It’s also high in minerals. While water kefir does need minerals, too many will turn the grains to a slimey, sad mush. Make sure to use very active grains, and ones that can be spared. They don’t always recover after fermenting honey.

Sour cream or soft cheese: For an elegant, simple dessert that will amaze your lucky guests whip sour cream or a soft cheese (ricotta or marscapone work well) with just enough honey to sweeten. Fold in fresh berries and serve in small dishes. Yes, of course I licked my dish when no one was looking!

Kombucha: Jun has become quite popular and we are often asked if we carry it. Sadly, it’s a tough culture to grow, but you can replicate it at home. Use an extra scoby (remember the warning about the water kefir?) and follow the directions for making kombucha with the following adjustments: Use green tea and ¼ less honey than sugar called for. So if you are making 1 gallon, use ¾ cups honey in place of the sugar. The green tea and honey mixture will ferment much faster than kombucha, so watch it closely, especially in warm weather. You can reuse the scoby as long as it looks healthy, stays firm, and there are no signs of mold or decay.

I’m sure there are as many ways to use honey in ferments as there are ferments. How do you use honey?

Sarah

Sarah

I live in Oregon with my 4 kids. I hop between my kitchen and sewing room. As the daughter of a ranch-girl turned County Extension Agent, I really believe that with enough ingenuity and know-how, anything can be made. I try to keep some cultured vegetables and condiments on hand, as well as a robust supply of yogurt. What really excites me though is finding old ways of culturing foods from around the world and making it work in my life. “I wonder” is a phrase I utter a lot, and can make my kids nervous! I love to learn and share what I’ve discovered.

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