Cranberries! Try this Fermented Lemon Cranberry Relish for Thanksgiving!

Do your local grocery stores have fresh cranberries yet? If so, snatch them up while you can. I’ve made this fermented Lemon Cranberry Honey the last couple of years and realized last year that I didn’t make nearly enough last time. So I upped my game and instead of the two jars I made last year, this year I made six! One bag of cranberries will yield about three cups worth of relish. Hopefully this will last us through till next year when I can get fresh cranberries again. I tell you there is nothing better on toast in the morning and it makes whipping up a batch of lemon cranberry scones a cinch!

It couldn’t be easier, chop the cranberries in your food processor, put them in a jar, add some lemon peel, cover them with honey, and put on the lid. Let it sit on the counter for a couple of weeks agitating the jar a little each day and then move to cold storage. I’ve had a forgotten jar last nearly a year and it was still delicious.

Fermented Cherry Tomatoes

We finally had cherry tomatoes begin to ripen after a long, cool spring, and the hottest, driest summer I can remember. And they are ripening just as it’s beginning to hit the 30’s at night, so I’m trying to bring them in as soon as there is a hint of yellow.

Of course, there are too many to eat fresh, even with a tomato loving six year old, so I have to do something with the extras.

So I made a batch of fermented garlic Basil tomatoes which I’ll probably blend up later on to use as a pasta sauce. After it ferments I’ll strain it and blend it all together in the food processor adding little bits of the fermenting liquid until I like the texture, and then pour over and toss with cooked pasta.

If you want to try your own, take fill a quart size jar with cherry tomatoes to about 1/2” below the shoulder. Add 2 1/2 tsp of salt, a few basil leaves if desired, and 1-2 cloves of garlic (also optional). Cover with filtered or distilled water. Weight down and cover with a glass weight, clean onion skin, or zip-lock baggie filled with a bit of water. Your goal here is to keep all the food particles under the liquid so that they are not exposed to oxygen so that they will not mold.

Loosely screw on your lid, and you’re done! That was easy wasn’t it? Let it sit for 2-3 weeks until it hits a flavor profile that you like, and when it does, move it to cold storage in the fridge. Fell free to open your jar to taste the tomatoes after the first week to see how they are progressing so that you can learn what flavors you like and when to stop the fermenting process by moving it to cold storage. But, each time you open the jar be sure that you settle everything back under the liquid and your weight or follower as fermenting weights are called.

You may notice that the jar I am using is not a regular mason jar. Any glass jar that you have will do. I have used canning jars, old jelly jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc. as long as it is clean and you have a way to keep the contents submerged, you’re good to go! But these Weck jars are my new favorite jars for fermenting. Why? Well, they are very pretty, but the main reason is that they have glass lids that clip on. This means that I can grab a lid from a jar that is the next smallest size down and use that lid as my weight. It’s so easy and it fits perfectly! I love it! And they don’t need to be burped because the lids clip on. They will release the pressure on their own or you can just give the little tab on the sealing ring a pull if you want to and you never have to remove the lid until it’s ready to be eaten. Plus, if you are a canner, they work for that too. The rings can even be reused. So they are very versatile. They can be pricey if purchased new, but last a long while if cared for well, and I have even found some at thrift stores before and I definitely snatched them up!

Weck Small Batch Preserving (affiliate link) is a great book if you’d like to investigate using Weck jars further for either canning or fermenting. It’s available through most libraries as an e-book, which is how I discovered it. And if you are new to fermenting, the Fearless Fermenting workshop (affiliate link) by Carolyn at Homesteading Family is a great course to get you started.

Hope you get to concoct something fun and yummy in your kitchen soon! 😊

Homemade Citrus Scrap Vinegar

I’ve been experimenting with making citrus scrap vinegar this summer and I must say that I am hooked!

Pictured here is a batch of lemon grapefruit vinegar and it couldn’t be easier to make your own. And the best part is, it’s a great way to use up all the rinds from oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, or whatever citrus you have on hand. Just keep the rinds in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks until you accumulate enough to make a batch.

So far I’ve tried lemon, lime (my favorite so far – the flavors are complex and delicious!), orange, orange with blood orange, orange and lemon, and now grapefruit and lemon, and they are all great!

To make a batch first collect your jar of rinds, add some sugar, add some just boiled water, cover with a coffee filter kept on the jar with a rubber band, and stir daily for 4-5 days. You will see it start tomorrow bubble. When the bubbling slows down, add more sugar and stir for another week. Strain out the fruit scraps pour back into a clean jar, cover again with the coffee filter and let it sit for a month. If a opaque film develops on the surface, don’t worry, that is the vinegar mother and a good thing.

For a 1/2 gallon jar of citrus peels add 1/3 cup sugar at the first mixing, and then another 1/4 cup somewhere around day 5 or once the bubbling settles down.

For a quart jar of citrus peels add 2 tbsp sugar at the first mixing, and then another 2 tsp somewhere around day 5 or once the bubbling settles down.

After a month can test the acidity of your vinegar if you like to be sure it is acidic enough (4-5 on the pH scale) using paper test strips, or you can just taste it. If it tastes like vinegar, then it’s done! You can store it in the fridge to age and mellow it if you want or keep it in a cool, dark cupboard or your pantry as you would your other vinegars.

You can really make vinegar out of almost anything with fruit or some level of sugar content. I’ve been really enjoying this book if you want to learn more. Kirsten does a great job of explaining it ALL!

Homebrewed Vinegar by Kirsten Shockey (affiliate link)

Fermented Chard, Jalapeño, and Onion Relish

It may sound strange, and I’m not sure what to name it (comment if you have suggestions), but it is beautiful, delicious, and easy to make.

I saved my stems from my red Swiss Chard, chopped them, added some chopped onions, and a few slices of a chopped Jalapeño, added sea salt and mixed until it tasted pleasantly salty, covered with water and a follower (in this case a zip lock baggie with water), let it sit for 2-3 days on the counter and Voilà! I have a delicious, beautiful, probiotic rich relish that livens up any meal. I’ve added it to dinners, topped my lunches with it, and even added it to my fried egg with breakfast.

For other fermented vegetables ideas try some of these recipes:

Mexican Cole Slaw

Three New Ferments in my Kitchen

Fermented Lemon Cranberry Honey

Fermented Cherry Tomatoes (scroll to the bottom)

Visit the Pantry and the Cellar for more discussions on ferments.

Nectarine Jalapeño Kombucha

Who doesn’t like a little spice in life? I know I do.

I was bottling up some kombucha for a second ferment tonight planning to add some strawberries. But alas, the strawberries had gotten pushed to the back of thr fridge and when I finally found them they were moldy. 🫤

But there’s always some fruit around here that is on the edge needing to be used up, so nectarines to the rescue. I sliced up some white nectaries that were over ripe which makes them perfect for this use as there will be lots of good sugars to feed the bacteria, and while I was slicing them I noticed half of a Jalepeno on the counter from dinner.

🤔 My wheels started turning and I got to wondering how that would go with the nectarines. I think it might be pretty good. I’ve never made a spicy kombucha before, so I decided to add a couple slices to one bottle and see how it turns out. At the very least, this will ensure that I’ll get a bottle to myself before the kids drink up the other two. 😂

Playing with flavors can be fun, and I’ll be sure to edit this post and let you all know how it turns out. To see my other favorite kombucha flavors visit this post on Flavored Kombucha.

And if you like spice, stay tuned for a post later in the week on my new favorite spicy fermented relish. 😁

Happy brewing!

Free Traditional Skills Summit!

Many of you know that I’m a big fan of Carolyn Thomas and her Homemaking masterclasses over at Homesteading Family. I love her classes on breadmaking, fermenting, herbal medicine, homemade dairy, and I’ve just recently gotten into her canning class. Well, she is participating in a collaboration that I thought you might be interested in.

The School of Traditional Skills brings together experts in homemaking, homesteading, gardening, and real food topics. September 12-15 you have the chance to attend an amazing and FREE Summit featuring the following speakers:

Joel Salatin on Reclaiming Pasture

Justin Rhodes on Raising Pastured Chickens

Melissa K Norris on Garden Season Extension

Paul Gautschi on his Back to Eden Garden method

Carolyn Thomas on Pressure Canning (Yay!!!)

Sally Fallon on Traditional Bone Broths (Who doesn’t have Nourishing Traditions on their shelf yet?)

Lisa Bass on Vegetable Fermentation

Anne of All Trades on Milk Goats

Brandon Sheard on Traditional Salt Curing of Pork

Brian Lowell on Raised Bed Gardens

Maureen Diaz on Sour Dough Bread (I love my sourdough you know!)

Harvey Ussery on Homestead Egg Laying Chickens

If any of these topics peaks your interest check it out! Live sessions will be available for replay so you won’t have to worry about missing out on your favorite topic.

Note: This post contains affiliate links from School of Traditional Skills, Homesteading Family, and Amazon.

Ferments on the Road

Meet my favorite ferments.

From left to right….

My wheat sourdough starter (half all purpose and half whole wheat), my delicious fermented cranberry lemon honey, my gluten-free sourdough starter, and my homemade wild sour cream.

My family and I hit the road this summer for a 3,000 mile road trip to visit family, and these little guys came along for the ride.

I packed them carefully in my electric cooler and at each place we stay I’ve been able to bake bread for my family, cranberry lemon scones for the aunts, uncles, and cousins, GF bread for my SIL, and most importantly, I can keep my clabber culture going so that I can make cheese once we get home. It needs to be fed weekly and would have certainly died while we were away if I had left it at home.

Ferments can behave differently during the summer. Changes in temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, elevation, all affect how your cultures perform and you need to know them well enough to adjust your technique accordingly. At the lake where we are at a higher elevation than at home in New York, my sourdough and yeast breads rise faster, and my clabber takes longer to culture because of the cooler temperatures. Each ferment has a personality. You have to get to know it and adjust how you use it accordingly. For example, I have to watch the rise on my breads much more closely and reduce the amount of yeast that I use. I have to allow more time for my clabber to set up for fresh homemade sour cream.

I plan to start some new cheeses when I get home. And you’ll probably see some new fermented vegetables on my counter once I get back to my garden.

What’s bubbling in your kitchen this summer?

Need some ideas for what to ferment first? Or do ferments intimidate you and you don’t know where to start? Homesteading Family has some great courses to get your creative juices flowing and things bubbling in your kitchen. Check out their courses on The Art of Homemade Bread which includes sourdough, Fearless Fermenting, and Practical Homemade Dairy (affiliate links).

Wild Milk, Clabber, and Cheese

I have a wild clabber culture that I have kept going this last year with one batch of raw milk that my in-laws were able to bring me. I make a little batch of wild sour cream with it every week. If we don’t eat the sour cream, I use it up in baking to keep the culture going. I even travelled with my culture while we were away this summer to try and keep it alive since it needs to be cultured weekly.

My summer goal is to use this wild culture to make hard cheese for my son. If I had a regular source for raw milk, this would be easy. But I don’t. So my aim is to use store bought milk and my wild culture to achieve a cheese that my son can eat since store bought cultured dairy products and cheese brother him. Yet he does well on raw milk and my wild clabber culture.

We’ve done without cheese for so long, I’m really hoping that I can develop a successful recipe using my wild culture and store milk so that we can add back in some of our favorite family recipes. Let’s face it, pizza and enchiladas just aren’t the same without cheese.

So stay tuned as I post my progress. And I’m the meantime, if you’d like to delve into the world of homemade dairy, check out Homesteading Family’s Homemade Dairy Masterclass (affiliate link). It’s how I’ve learned and you definitely don’t have to have a milk animal to make all the recipes in the class. Everything I’ve made so far – butter, dairy creamer, sour cream, wild buttermilk, feta, ricotta, hard cheese, have been made all using store bought milk. And there are so many recipes that I haven’t tried yet. It’s definitely chock full of content.

And if you see this post before July 27, 2022, be sure to register for a free Practical Homemade Dairy Webinar (affiliate link) if you want to get your feet wet and see if the Masterclass is right for you.

I’m excited to make some cheese! Who wants to join me?

Coffee Cake Sourdough Batter Bread

This is soft and moist and cinnamony.

Coffee Cake Batter Bread:

2 cups sourdough starter

1.5 cups of water

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

Mix the above.

Gradually add…

2-4 cups of all purpose or whole wheat flour

1.5 tsp baking soda

1.5 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

Mix the above adding flour gradually until the texture of the dough is like a thick cream cheese frosting.

Prepare Topping/Filling:

Combine…

1/2 cup flour

6 tbsp cold butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1.5 tsp cinnamon

Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to combine the butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon until the mixture is crumbly or the butter is pea size.

Loosely mix 1/3 of the amount of your filling into your batter. Reserve the rest.

Prepare your pans:

Grease your pan(s) and fill halfway with batter. Sprinkle 1/3 more of the prepared topping/filling on top of the batter. Fill with more batter until the pan(s) are 2/3 full. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the topping on the top and use your fingers to poke some down into the batter like you would if denting focaccia bread.

Rise:

Cover with a lid or a damp tea towel. Let the bread rise for 1-4 hours until 1/2 inch from the top of the pan.

Bake:

Bake covered if you have a lidded pan or baking dish for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, and 20-30 minutes more uncovered at 350 until the internal temp measures 190 degrees.

Cool and enjoy.

Makes 1 large 5×13” Pullman style loaf, or two 9×5” loaf pan loaves.

Flavored Kombucha

Who makes kombucha? 🙋🏻‍♀️

Did you know that you can set your kombucha up for a second ferment to add flavor and fizz?

I just poured up a new batch tonight into these flip top bottles and added blood oranges. I let it sit for 2-3 more days until the orange is infused and it becomes this beautiful pink color. It will also become fuzzy and carbonate which can be quite refreshing.

If you decide to try a second ferment, use glass bottles with flip top lids or plastic bottles. Don’t use a glass container with tight fitting lids as it will continue to ferment and build up pressure and jars have been know to break from the pressure build up. It’s a good idea to burp your container once or twice a day.

What flavor will you try? Some of my favorites are….

Blackberry Lime – add fresh or frozen berries and lime slices or zest.

Blueberry Lemon – add fresh or frozen blueberries and lemon slices or zest.

Raspberry – add fresh or frozen raspberries.

Strawberry Basil – add fresh or frozen strawberries and fresh basil.

Mango – add fresh or frozen mango. (Watch out! The sugars in this one cause it to ferment fast.)

Orange – add fresh orange slices with the rind. I like blood oranges, as you can see.

Cranberry Ginger – add fresh or dried cranberries and grated ginger root.

Or come up with your own combo. Use what you have or whatever yummy flavors strike your fancy.

Happy brewing!

Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Batter Bread

Makes a great cinnamon raisin toast with breakfast.

Cinnamon Raisin Batter Bread:

3 cups sourdough starter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

2 cups milk or water

Mix together, then add….

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

All purpose or whole wheat flour until the texture of the batter is like a thick butter cream icing or soft cream cheese texture.

1 cup raisins

Pour into greased loaf pans. Let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until the batter is about 1 inch from the top of the pan.

Bake 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean or the internal temp reaches 190 degrees.

Makes 3 loaves.

Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Batter Bread

Unfortunately, we ate this bread up and I neglected to get a picture of it baked. It was good though! 😊

Chocolate Cherry Batter Bread:

3 cups sourdough starter (fed or unfed)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup water

1/2 cup honey 

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all of the above together and then add…

1 – 32 oz can of cherry pie filling

Add…

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1-3 cups whole wheat or whole grain spelt flour. Add 1/2 cup at a time until the batter is about the texture of softened cream cheese.

Pour into greased loaf pans.

Cover and let it rise for about an hour or until it almost reaches the top of the pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Internal temp should register 190 degrees.

Freeze or eat within 3 days. The addition of the fruit will cause it to spoil more quickly.