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Cheese Making Supplies Now Available!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted but we’ve been busy expanding our product selection and working on a new version of our website.

First, the expanded product selection.  I am excited to report that we’ve added 36 new products!  I’ll be posting about all of them over the next week or so but let’s start with the fantastic cheese making supplies.  Making cheese is a wonderful skill and an easy one to learn.  We now have a selection of cheese making supplies including:

  • Starter Kits
  • Starter Cultures
  • Rennet (organic vegetable and animal-based options)
  • Other important ingredients like citric acid
  • Cheese shaping molds in various shapes
  • Supplies such as cheesecloth, thermometers
  • A great home cheese making book

I’d like to particularly highlight our starter kits which make getting started making cheese super easy.  In particular, the 30 minute Mozzarella and Ricotta kit is a great way to launch into cheese making.

I’ll post more over the next few days about the other new products we have available.

We’ve also been working hard on a new website.  We hope to launch it in the next week or two…stay tuned!

How to Make Sauerkraut

Making sauerkraut is very easy!  Check out this basic recipe:

Sauerkraut Recipe

1 cabbage

1 t. salt

Chop or shred the cabbage.  Sprinkle with salt.  Work the cabbage with your hands until it’s mushy and there is plenty of liquid.  I generally find this process takes approximately 10 minutes.  Stuff the cabbage is a glass jar with the liquid.  Push the cabbage down so the liquid covers the cabbage.  Cover the jar with a lid that includes an airlock system (alternatively you could use a plastic bag which is weighted down).  Allow the cabbage to ferment to taste (I generally give it at least a few weeks).

Making Sauerkraut Can be Easier!

Click here to check out our Fermented Vegetable Masters which include an airlock system for making sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented vegetables.  An airlock system is easy to use and allows for gas to escape the vegetables while fermenting but while also keeping out air and bad bacteria which contribute to mold.  Making sauerkraut (or pickles, etc.) couldn’t be easier!  This simple, affordable jar and airlock system is all you need.  We also carry lids equipped with airlocks for wide-mouth canning jars.

We also carry the fabulous book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.  A great resource for fermenting vegetables at home.

How to Make Fermented Green Beans

In celebration of our newest product line: Fermented Vegetable Masters which make fermenting vegetables such as sauerkraut and pickles so incredibly easy…I wanted to share my favorite fermented vegetable recipe: Fermented Green Beans.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Green Beans (if you can find them, Dragon Tongue Beans are particularly delicious!)

3 qt. Water (approximate)

1/4 c. Salt

A few cloves of garlic, chopped

A few red pepper flakes (to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh or Dried Dill Weed (I use about a tablespoon of dried)

Dissolve the salt in the water and allow the mixture to cool.  Place 1/2 the green beans in a half-gallon jar.  Add half the garlic and other spices.  Place the second 1/2 of the green beans in the jar and top with the other half of the garlic and other spices.  Pour the water over the green beans and spices.  The salt water should cover the beans.  Place a lid with an airlock system on the jar (alternatively you could use a plastic bag weighed down with the salt water brine).  Allow the beans to ferment for 2 weeks then place in the fridge.

I’m particularly fond of fermented green beans because they not only taste fantastic but they are also an easy finger food.  Just munch on a bean or two (or more!) at a time.  I generally try to eat a bean or two before each meal.

For more information on fermenting vegetables including our selection of Fermented Vegetable Masters, wide mouth canning lids equipped with airlocks and the fantastic book Wild Fermentation, please check out our website.

Using an Airlock System to make Sauerkraut, Pickles and other Fermented Vegetables

Fermented Foods such as fermented vegetables (e.g. sauerkraut, pickles, etc.) are so good for us but I have such a hard time making them.  It’s not that adding salt (or whey) to vegetables is hard, it’s getting together the right container, figuring out a way to weight down the veggies and battling mold that drives me nuts!

But I have a solution!  We now carry Fermented Vegetable Masters, a glass jar equipped with an airlock system.  The air lock allow the gas created during the fermentation process to escape while keeping out air and unwanted bad bacteria.  Now I just prepare my vegetables, put them in the jar, let them ferment and when it’s done, put the fermented vegetables in a jar in the fridge.  So easy!  No rock to find (if you’ve read Wild Fermentation, you know what I’m talking about) or a plastic bag filled with water to weigh down the veggies.  Now making sauerkraut, pickles and my personal favorite, fermented green beans, is easy!

Click here to check out our Fermented Vegetable Masters, both gallon and half-gallon sizes are available.  We also carry just half-gallon wide mouth jar lids equipped with airlocks.  This is a great choice for your own wide mouth canning jars.  Of course don’t forget to check out the best book on vegetable fermentation: Wild Fermentation.  Sandor Katz is amazing and an inspiration!

Sprouting Supplies Now Available!

Cultures for Health is now offering a selection of sprouting supplies including Sprout Seeds, Sprouting Starter Kits, Sprout Jar Lids and even a book on Sprouting.

We have three types of Sprout Seeds available: A 3-part Salad Mix, Alfalfa Seeds and a Protein Blend consisting of Adzuki, Garbonzo, Mung and Green Pea seeds.  All of our Sprout Seeds are certified organic.

We have two types of Sprouting Starter Kits available: Our 3-Tray Stackable Sprout Garden makes sprouting so easy!  It includes everything you need to get started including three sprouting trays, 2 oz. organic alfalfa sprout seeds and an instruction booklet.  We also have a Sprout Sack Combo Kit which includes a Sprout Sack, instructions and 8 oz. each of Green Pea and Mung Bean sprout seeds.  Sprout sacks are easy to use as you simply dip the sack in water to rinse and then hang the sack to dry.

Our Sprouting Jar Lids are made of plastic.  Although we normally dislike promoting plastic items, we have found that the plastic sprouting jar lids don’t rust the way the metal variety do.  Also, the edges on the metal variety tend to be very sharp!

For more information, check out our Sprouting Supplies or visit our website.

Sustainable Living on a Budget Retreat

If you happen to live in the Portland Metro Area, Monique Dupre of Sustainable Living on a Budget is holding a weekend retreat.  SLB classes are an amazing resource!

Sustainable Living on a Budget Retreat

Come and join us for a weekend of food preparation classes and delicious meals taught by Monique Dupre of Sustainable Living on a Budget.

The classes being taught will be:

Whole Grains and Meal Planning

Homemade Dairy Products

Ancient Food Preservation and Condiment Making

Whole Grain Bread Baking

Lunch will be provided both days featuring food from local farms. Also offered will be complimentary chair massage and personal health consultations by holistic health coach Tracy Schmidt.

When: October 24th and 25th from 10-4pm

Where: SE Portland near Mirador

Reserve your spot now at:

http://www.sustainablebudget.com/?page_id=32

Removing Milk Kefir Grains from Finished Kefir

Q. How do I safely remove my milk kefir grains from the finished kefir?

A. There are three primary methods for removing milk kefir grains from finished kefir:

  1. Use a plastic mesh strainer.  Since milk kefir (aka dairy kefir) tends to be a bit thick, you may need to use your fingers (in a swirling motion) to help work the kefir through the strainer but this method will leave you with a uniform consistency for the kefir as well as safely securing the kefir grains in the strainer so they can be added to fresh milk.  Check out the set of plastic mesh strainers available on our website.
  2. Use a cotton muslin bag to secure the milk kefir grains.  You will want to be sure the bag is secured at the top so the kefir grains don’t escape as well as big enough to allow for some growth from the grains.  Place the bag containing the grains in the milk and allow to culture as normal.  We have two sizes of cotton muslin bags available on our website.
  3. Use your fingers.  As your milk kefir grains grow in size, you can often use your hand to remove the kefir grains quickly.  Make sure your hands are very clean though or you risk contaminating your kefir and the kefir grains.

For more information on milk kefir, please visit our website.

Benefits of Culturing Your Own Dairy: Make healthy yogurt, buttermilk and kefir!

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits to making your own healthy yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, etc. is the ability to control the ingredients you use.

Use a natural/traditional starter culture: Using a traditional (non-manufactured) starter culture is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to culture your own healthy yogurt, buttermilk and kefir.  Traditional starter cultures (such as those available on our website) not only contain live active bacteria, they can be serial-cultured, that is used repeatedly to create cultured dairy products.  With care, traditional starter cultures will keep making healthy yogurt, buttermilk or kefir for many years to come without having to buy more starter culture.  Also, you get the benefit of knowing you are using a truly natural culture versus one created in a laboratory.

Use high quality milk: Culturing your own dairy products makes is much more affordable to use high quality milk.  For example, organic yogurt in the grocery store generally costs $.09-$.19 oz. but when you only need to buy the milk (once you have the starter culture), you can take the cost of organic yogurt down to $.04 oz.  A huge savings! It only takes a few batches of yogurt to completely recoup the cost of the starter culture.  The savings for buttermilk and kefir can be even more dramatic!  In addition, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find healthy yogurt, buttermilk and kefir made with the type of milk you might prefer (non-homogenized, locally sourced, raw, etc.) so making your own dairy products allows you much more freedom to choose the quality of your milk across several dimensions.

Leave out the additives and stabilizers: Most commercial dairy products contain additives and stabilizers to thicken the product, change the texture or sweeten the product.  Most of these additives and stabilizers are chemical based and even those that are not (sugar and powdered milk) aren’t particularly good for you.  Making truly natural and healthy yogurt, buttermilk and kefir allows you to consume these products without all the unhealthy extras.

For more information on our collection of healthy yogurt starters, buttermilk starter and kefir grains, please visit our website.

Using an Established Sourdough Starter vs. Making Sourdough Starter from Scratch

There are many recipes and methods for making a sourdough starter from scratch available online or in popular books (i.e. Nourishing Traditions).  Although creating a sourdough bread starter from scratch can be an interesting process, there are several advantages to using an established sourdough starter.

  • It’s easier. Creating a sourdough bread starter from scratch involves a lot of effort over a 7-day period (feeding the starter each day, switching containers each day, etc.).  With an established sourdough starter, the process is more straight forward.  You simply add the sourdough starter to a container, mix it with flour and water and then feed the starter (mixing in more flour and water) each day for 1-4 days (depending on whether you are using a fresh or dried sourdough starter culture).  No need to switch containers.  Ultimately this process is also faster than creating a sourdough starter from scratch particularly if you are using a fresh sourdough starter culture.
  • It’s more reliable. Using an established sourdough starter will ultimately produce more reliable results.  All of our sourdough starter cultures contain active yeast that has been perpetuated over a long period of time.  They are stable, active and resilient.
  • Ensure pleasant tasting sourdough. With an established sourdough starter you can be assured that your sourdough bread and other baked goods will have a pleasant taste.  Not all wild yeast is created equal and we don’t all live somewhere with pleasant tasting sourdough yeast so capturing wild yeast where you live may not yield the desired effects.  Many people have gone through the process of creating a sourdough starter from scratch only to find it tastes and/or smells unpleasant.

Our website has the largest selection of sourdough starter cultures available online–17 varieties from all over the world.  Click here to learn about our selection of sourdough starters.