Revolutionizing Root Vegetables!

What is it that you think when you see root vegetables laying on the farmers market tables, wrapped in bundles and tied up by their green tops? It’s okay; you can be honest. Hairy? Intimidating? Don’t know where to begin? I agree, some of them look a little frightening, but that doesn’t mean they aren't delicious and good for you. It might not be as simple as chopping greens or slicing tomatoes, but these root vegetables are worth the extra couple minutes in the kitchen to prepare. Why do I bring this up? Even in the Farmstead Ferments kitchen, we take the extra time to peel and chop a variety of delicious root vegetables because they are delicious, healthy and simply wonderful. We love our root crops!

Beets, yams, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, ginger, turmeric, carrots, onions, yucca, garlic, celery, horseradish, daikon, artichokes, radishes, and kohlrabi are all considered root vegetables. Although each root vegetable contains its own set of health benefits, they are all some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables in the world. Because root crops grow underneath the ground, they absorb the most amounts of nutrients from the soil than any other vegetable. They have a high concentration in antioxidants, Vitamins C, B, A, and iron. They are also filled with slow-burning carbohydrates and fiber that help to keep you feeling full and help to regulate your blood sugar and digestive system.

Roots tend to grow best from fall to spring but they really can make it through the whole year. Unlike fruit, you are looking for HARD root vegetables when you do your shopping and don’t be intimidated by the greens, cut them off and steam them up. They are just as great for you as any other green. In fact, sweet potato greens are one of my all-time favorite greens! I won’t spoil the surprise- just try them!

Let me tell you a few fun facts about the roots that we use in our krauts:

Beets- deemed as a superfood, beets are among the healthiest food in the world. They’re full of beta-carotene and betalains, which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory.  The sweet flavor of beets has been a great contrasting flavor in our ferments and the color is always fun and exciting!

Turnips- moderate in flavor, these roots go great with more bold tasting veggies and dishes. They are great roasted or thrown into something tomato-y and soupy.

Ginger- another powerhouse of a root due to its anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. Ginger can be used in a number of food dishes and drinks. Primarily used in Asian dishes or in different tea concoctions, you can’t go wrong incorporating this root into a stir-fry.

Lookout for these delicious root vegetables in our Turnip the Beet Kraut, Kimchi, BoknBroc Kraut, Fire Cider Kraut, and our Spicy Napa Kimchi. We love our roots! 

Aronia Berry- A Treasured Water Kefir Soda Flavor

Have you ever heard the golden secret of Aronia Berries? A native to Virginia, this berry can be spotted all around us. Maybe it will be our next trademark. These beneficial berries are also known as choke berries because of the biting pucker you might experience when eating these berries fresh.  The berries are most commonly used in wines, jellies, and juices. Although they may be sweet too!  They are easy to grow, resist pests and disease and are cold hearty. That’s right- an east coasters favorite type of plant.

Aronia berries are extremely high in antioxidants and many phytonutrients, and have the highest anthocyanin concentration than any other commercially grown berry. In fact, scientists have done a lot of research on these berries because of their high levels of polyphenols. Aronia berry is known to reduce blood pressure, weight gain, inflammation, and chance of heart attack, eye inflammation and blood pressure. It also is know to regulate blood sugar and reduce muscle recovery time after workouts.

The aronia berry plant (aronia melanocarpa) has creamy white, decorative flowers in the spring, followed by ink-black berries in the fall. Fall foliage changes from a smooth green to a vibrant, red color, making the aronia berry bush a seasonal eye catcher. 

DRINK UP!

 

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A LESSON LEARNED FROM THE REAL REUBEN SANDWICH

A true Reuben sandwich consists of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between two slices of rye bread. Nothing more, nothing less. Simple and delicious.  If you have not yet made this classic at home, NOW IS THE TIME! Why? Well, because you have the most crisp and flavor- balanced sauerkraut to smother into that Swiss cheese and Russian dressing (yes, I am talking about our beloved Farmstead Ferments kraut).

 

There are a few different variations out there of how the Reuben sandwich was invented. I mean, every family is looking for their claim to fame right? The most believable and popular story of the history of the Reuben sandwich began with a grandfather in Omaha, Nebraska who owned a chain of hotels. He had four sons, all of whom he wanted to have trained in some aspect of the business. In 1927 Bernard Schimmel was sent off to Switzerland to learn to be a chef. When he finished his training he came back to Omaha to work at a hotel called Blackstone.  His dad always played late night poker at this hotel and him and his friends would always ordered nighttime “munchie” snacks. One of the dad’s friends, Reuben Kulakofsky, asked for a sandwich with corned beef and sauerkraut.  He had been a grocery store owner before the store had gone down in family lore. Bernard has been trying to perfect his sauces lately and immediately went into the kitchen to thin slice some corned beef and Swiss cheese. He had drained the sauerkraut juice and mixed it with Thousand Island dressing. His notes had called for it to be served with a sliced kosher dill pickle. The sandwich was a hit and immediately after the friends started raging about it, it stayed on the Blackstone Hotel’s café menu and a few years later the sandwich won in a contest and, really, the rest is history!

 

What I want to point out in the story is not just HOW amazing sauerkraut makes a sandwich, but also that KRAUT JUICE that was used. That tanginess mixed with the sweetness of Thousand-Island dressing makes a killer combination. When you finish that jar of sauerkraut and don’t know what to do with that extra juice in the bottom quarter, use it in your cooking, mix it with your mayo for a sandwich, throw it in a stir-fry.  Why not boost your meal with probiotics AND flavor right?

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Omega Kraut Overload!


We have let our creative juices flow and out nutritional knowledge empower our krauts. We got a little funky in the kitchen this week with a purslane, lemon cucumber, shiso, dill seed, OMEGA kraut!

Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) — also known as duckweed, fatweed, pursley, pussley, verdolagas and wild portulaca — is the most frequently reported “weed” species in the world. It can grow anywhere that has at least a two-month growing season. Purslane possesses more omega-3 fatty acids that any other leafy vegetable plant, and more than even some fish oils.

Purslane is widely grown in many Asian and European regions as a staple leafy vegetable. Its leaves appear thick, and have a slightly sour and salty taste. It also provides some of the highest amounts of Vitamin A than any other vegetable, as well as high amounts of Vitamin C, B-complex, and six times for Vitamin E than spinach.

While most people in other parts of the world just eat it like any other green, we thought, “why not ferment it?!” So that’s exactly what we did. Some people like to substitute these greens for watercress or spinach as well

With a splash of yellow from our lemon cucumbers, a swirl of shiso mint, and a dash of dill seed, this kraut will be cranking in FLAVOR, and OMEGA’s! 


Sauerkraut Pierogies- A Polish Tradition

Ingredients

SAUERKRAUT FILLING

3 cups sauerkraut (or more)

1 medium shallot or onion (chopped fine)

4 Tbsp. bacon fat, duck fat or butter

2 Tbsp. sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

 

FOR THE PEROGIE

4 c all purpose flour

1 tsp. butter

1 1/2 cup warm water

1 tsp. salt

 

Directions

Step-By-Step

1 FOR THE SAUERKRAUT FILLING:

Note: You can fry your onions and bacon ahead of time.

2 You actually are going to want to drain your kraut a bit (but save that yummy juice for your probiotic shot the next morning!)

3 Cook the onion or shallot in fat or butter until tender and the flavors are blended.

4 Add the sour cream to the sauerkraut, season with salt and pepper.

5 Cook in a saucepan on low for 15 minutes until the sauerkraut is tender. Do not over cook this!

6 Chill in the fridge until cold and then fill the perogies.

 

1 FOR THE PIEROGIES

2 Put the flour, butter and salt into the food processor with the lid on and turn on the machine. Put the water through the feeding tube in a stream. Let this process until a ball of dough is formed. Let the dough sit for a half hour and it will be easier to work with. I put mine in a plastic bag on the counter.

3 Once the dough has set and the sauerkraut is chilled roll out the dough and use a 4" round cookie cutter, or just a knife to cut out your perogies. Fill each being careful not to get any on the edges. Seal shut tightly.

4 Place the perogies on a floured surface so they won't stick. Cover with a tea towel.

5 Drop the perogies into a large pot of boiling water. When they float up to the surface they are done. Don't put too many in the pot at once, maybe 6 at the most; otherwise this will cool your water down too much.

6 Melt some butter and put it into the bottom of an ovenproof dish/casserole dish and add your first layer of perogies. Layer the perogies with fried bacon and onions and more butter. These stick easily so make sure you have enough butter on them.

7 Place in the oven and keep warm until you're ready to eat. A dollop of sour cream on the side is delicious!

Adapted From: justapinch.com

 

WHAT TO DO WITH THAT LEFTOVER PICKLE JUICE!

 

When you finish your pickles do you bid farewell to that leftover juice and watch in run down he sink? Or perhaps leave it in the jar for a month in the fridge; trying to think of ways you can use it? Well do not fret! We have come up with some delicious and FUN ways you can use that juice! Especially with the brine from Farmstead Ferments, it is full of probiotics and all sorts of good enzymes so incorporating it in other aspects of your cooking is just as beneficial as eating our kraut or our pickles.

1)         Salad Dressings- Follow the recipe in the blog below for a yummy salad dressing and simply replace the kraut juice with pickle juice.

2)       Pickle other things- there is no better way to pickle your veggies than with old, existing brine. If it’s not enough simple add more saltwater brine or save a couple jars with and combine them.

3)        Cocktails and Bloody Mary’s- looking to get funky on a Friday night? Through in some of that pickle juice into your martini.

4)      Marinades- the acidity of a pickle juice is great for marinating meat because it helps to break the toughness down.

5)        Sunburn remedy- believe it! Pickle and kraut juice is not just a great remedy for sunburns; it’s good for your skin in general. So don’t let the smell leave you wondering, just slather some on!

6)      Summertime salads- potato salad, tuna salad, chicken salad. Moisten those salads up with some scrumptious pickle juice.

 

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WHAT IS FERMENTATION?

My Webster’s Dictionary describes fermentation as,  “the breakdown of complex molecules, caused by the influence of a ferment. An enzymatically controlled transformation of an organic product.”  (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 4th Edition). Fermentation is much so much more though. Allow me to dive into it!

Diving into the wonderful world of ferments is just as new to me as it is many of you and recently I’ve been obsessed with understanding the microflora in my gut and the bacteria in my colon.  Meat and fat is processed early down the digestive line, but plant matter, especially uncooked and raw, tends to have a lot of toxins and it’s up to the bacteria in your colon to complete the cycle of digestion.

Whether your diet is majority plant matter or majority meat, it is crucial to give your body the bacteria it needs to digest all the crazy toxins we put in out bodies! As innocent as plants may seem, they protect their foliage, roots, and seeds with natural insecticides and bitter toxins. Lacto-fermented vegetables provide your body with the bacteria that effectively deactivate these irritants.

Microbial bacteria not only act as a detoxifying agent, but it can use its enzyme power to manufacture all the vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids, etc., free up minerals and literally fight for our lives!

The most widely known, “good” bacteria are the wonderfully famous, PROBIOTICS.  While detoxifying our intestines and aiding digestion, they also look out for the bad bacteria, the pathogens. We all know what E. Coli is and let’s be honest, are a bit fearful of our spinach after we hear a strain of some terrible, deadly bacteria is found on it. Feed your body the good bacteria it needs, and allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases can be prevented.

Thanks to the cavemen and our ancestors who had to actually fight for survival and figure out ways to keep their crops that were harvested once a season, good for the whole year, we can now sprinkle a little salt onto some shredded veggies, leave it to rest and call it a day. How neat is that?! Although we tend to think of bacteria as an enemy, something bad in our food, civilization owes much to these contaminants.

 

Delicious Ferments on Display at Bellair Farm for a Pickling Workshop

Delicious Ferments on Display at Bellair Farm for a Pickling Workshop





Kraut Juice Vinaigrette for Bountiful Spring Salads!

Spring salad greens are filling up the farmer's market booths and our gardens are poppin' with all kinds of greens, both wild and cultivated. Wild greens we love for salads include lamb's quarters (also known as wild spinach), chickweed, dandelion greens, and violet leaf. We've also planted many different kinds of salad greens, including spinach, baby pac choi and tat soi, lettuce, baby kales & chard....ahhh, there's so many! And with edible flowers & garden herbs, the local flora is shouting "MAKE ME INTO A SALAD!" 

Yes, we will.

Kraut Juice Vinaigrette!

Kraut Juice Vinaigrette!

All of us here at Farmstead Ferments are wild about incorporating our fermented foods into everything we eat. They are so good for you and make every plate more delicious that we can't help but experiment. And while we do experiment quite a bit, we also love the classic salads and the good ol' KRAUT JUICE VINAIGRETTE which has been a stand by since we all started making kraut years ago.

A vinaigrette is a basically just oil & vinegar emulsified. I love playing around with vinaigrettes, they're fun and forgiving. As long as you have some kind of oil (olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, etc.) and some kind of vinegar (apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, herbal or fruit infused vinegar, etc.), you've got vinaigrette potential. Once you have the basics, you can play around with it from there, adding fruits, garlic, mustards, honey, maple syrup, herbs and.... KRAUT JUICE! 

Kraut Juice is the live and naturally fermented brine from our krauts, we have many different flavors - correlating to the krauts we offer. 

Here's a wonderful recipe for a KIMCHI Kraut Juice Vinaigrette. Please feel free to take this recipe and run with it, adding whatever ingredients you have in the kitchen & whatever excites you at the time. 

Kraut Juice Vinaigrette

1/3 cup Farmstead Ferments KIMCHI Kraut Juice

1/3 cup Virginia Vinegar Works White Wine Vinegar

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Squeeze of one orange plus zest

Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix all together in a medium sized bowl except for olive oil. Whisk in olive oil slowly, to emulsify.

Enjoy over spring greens! Add additional salad ingredients if you wish, but it's pretty perfect on it's own.

**Kraut is an incredible salad ingredient!** 

 

Peace, Love & Sauerkraut

in Joy,

The Farmstead Ferments Family

 

The time has come for.... Spring Tonic Kraut !!!

Spring is in full swing here in the Piedmont region of Virginia. Here at the Farmstead Ferments' headquarters, we always know when spring hits once all the ingredients for the Spring Tonic Kraut are ready for harvest.

All of the wild-foraged ingredients for the Spring Tonic Kraut...from left clockwise: Stinging Nettles, Dandelion flowers, chickweed, spring onion, violet leaf & flower, red buds

All of the wild-foraged ingredients for the Spring Tonic Kraut...from left clockwise: Stinging Nettles, Dandelion flowers, chickweed, spring onion, violet leaf & flower, red buds

Our Spring Tonic Kraut is an incredible blend of last fall's Shenandoah Valley grown green cabbage and wild-foraged ingredients: red bud blossoms, stinging nettles, violet leaf & flower, chickweed, dandelion flowers & spring onion.

Stinging Nettles, Urtica Dioica - after being harvested 

Stinging Nettles, Urtica Dioica - after being harvested 

We call this kraut the Spring Tonic Kraut because it's filled with wild herbs that come up early in spring and are known for their healing & medicinal qualities. These plants are considered weeds to most gardeners but we love them for their high levels of minerals, nutrients and amino acids. They are also highly nourishing and detoxifying. Not to mention beautiful and delicious.

Wild Violets in the garden before being harvested

Wild Violets in the garden before being harvested

We've been foraging for the ingredients for this kraut for the past couple days - always being sure to thank the plants for their incredible gifts. It's been such a treat to be outside.

This special, limited edition kraut will be available in stores in Early May. Keep your eyes peeled for it on the shelves of your local market! Happy Spring everyone, enjoy the bounty and get out there and eat some wild foods!