Friday, August 21, 2015

Intro to Fermented Veggies with Stephanie Zydenbos-Heino, Ferminista & Owner of Micro Mama's

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist
At our Intro to Fermented Veggies class with Stephanie Zydenbos-Heino, Ferminista & Owner of Micro Mama's, Stephanie shared her tricks on how to make amazing, health-promoting lacto-fermented veggies that are loaded with beneficial bacteria! She showed us how to make a great kraut with nothing but cabbage and salt and gave us ideas on how to zip things up with different veggies and spices. In this hands on workshop, we all took home a mason jar to finish fermenting.
It really was a hands on class as Stephanie had everyone give their hands a good wash with hot water (apparently soap can contaminate your fermented veggies and they will pick up the taste of soap, yech!) and start prepping carrots and cabbage. We used peeled and cut carrots to weigh down the cabbage, these were picked from the organic Shaker Gardens by Co-op Organic Garden Manager Stacey.
Then we had to shred or slice the cabbage. Stephanie brought in her mandolin slicer to help speed the process along while others sliced and diced with knives.
Once the cabbage was all shredded Stephanie showed us how to "massage" the cabbage with a high quality salt from high altitudes.
Next she started to massage the cabbage and slowly add salt. When she started to massage the shredded cabbage with salt it began to get very watery and bubbly, perfect to start the fermenting process.
There really wasn't much more to it besides making sure the ratio of salt to cabbage was ok for the temperature that the jars will be stored.
So after the cabbage was well massaged it was time to start packing in into jars. Stephanie suggests using glass jars as there is less risk of anything leaking into your fermented veggies, unlike plastic jars. She did recommend using a plastic lid as the ph level of the fermented veggies can rust the metal lids affecting the taste and quality of your finished product. The reason Stephanies products in the store have metal lids is that she fermented her veggies is large ceramic or glass jars and then repacks into the smaller jars for retail. There is less time and risk that these lids will rust.
I guess this was time for the fun and messy part as we grabbed handfuls of cabbage and pushed it in tight, trying to get all the air out to avoid our jars overflowing during storage. The tighter we packed it down the cloudier the mixture looked as more and more juices started to bubble within and this is totally normal, Stephanie assured us.
So once we had packed the cabbage in tight, we pushed in carrots to help keep the cabbage under the liquid. The carrots will also ferment and be delicious when we are ready to open our jars!
It is a relatively messy process, but very rewarding when after a minimum of 7 days you could open your jar to enjoy, but Stephanie suggested waiting 30 days to let more of the good probiotics grow and give you the best bang for your buck!

If you are interested in upcoming Co-op health and wellness classes, check out our website...

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Making Wild Blueberry Jam with Alice Mullen, MS, RD, LD, UNH Cooperative Extension Specialist

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Co-op Marketing Specialist

The Co-op is a great resource for low-cost and free wellness and food education classes. Last night the Co-op hosted a small group for a hands-on class "Home Canning & Preserving Your Harvest: The Basics of Preserving Food Safely" with Alice Mullen, MS, RD, LD, UNH Cooperative Extension Specialist.
Alice gave us a great introduction explaining the importance of following USDA tested recipes for safety and also great taste! So once we all understood the process and chemistry to creating blueberry jam we got to roll-up our sleeves, wash our hands and start cooking!
Alice had picked for us some delicious wild blueberries near Newfound Lake. So the first step was to mash them up. This was really easy, we just used a potato masher in a big pot and did it in small batches.
Then we stirred in the sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice before placing the pot on the stove top on a medium heat. We took a few turns stirring continuously to make sure the mixture doesn't burn until it started to boil and expand.
Once it had boiled for one minute we added the pectin to speed the process along. You can make jam without pectin but you will need to boil it a lot longer. Once the mixture came back to a boil it was another minute then off the stove and start to place it in the jars we had prepared.
To prepare the jars we boiled them in the canning pot and placed the new lids in a pot of warm water to help soften the rubber gasket so they will seal completely.
Then the fun part begins, scooping our jam into the jars! Alice explained to leave a 1/4 inch head space for the best results and to also wipe clean the top of the jar before placing the lids down to create a tight seal.
To create the seal the jars go back into the canning pot with at least an inch of water covering the top, brought back to the boil and then wait five minutes. Once it has boiled for five minutes Alice suggested we wait another five minutes to let the water and the jam in the jars settle as they cool then take them out of the pot.
We carefully removed the jars and placed them on a terry towel to cool down. As we finished up we could hear the seals "popping" and we knew we had a successful class! Making jam is easy and rewarding! We all got to take a jar or two home with us to enjoy. I can't wait to get some fresh local bread and open my jar!

The recipe we used:
  • 4-1/2 cups mashed berries (buy or pick about 6 cups blueberries)
Bring to full rolling boil on high heat; cook 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in liquid pectin. Stir and skim foam for 5 min. to prevent fruit from floating to surface.
Pour immediately into warm sterilized jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of rims. Cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set.

To read more about classes at Concord Food Co-op or to register, click here!