July 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

The fermentation of cabbage is a very ancient chinese tradition that is believed to have come to Europe with the nomadic Tartars. So whilst we usually associate Sauerkraut with Germany, it is really only the name that bares its origin there. The French on the other hand call it ‘choukrout’.

Interestingly the fermentation of sauerkraut takes place with 3 different microorganisms in different successional stages of the process determined by increasing acidity. However when making sauerkraut you don’t have to worry about this, the microorganisms will take care of themselves wonderfully. What you will have to do is very very simple.

I find it so satisfying and a little bit magical harnessing the bacteria from the air to transform food. As you will probably come to know, fermentation is one of my most favourite things.  On this matter, sauerkraut is a very good place to start, as it is really very very easy.

This recipe comes from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions.

1 medium organic cabbage, cored and shredded (use half red and half green and end up with a beautiful pink sauerkraut)
1 Tbsp sea salt
4 Tbsp whey (alternatively use an additional 1 Tbsp salt)

Shred the cabbage and combine in a bowl with the salt and whey.

Pound with a wooden pounder, or anything similar you can get your hands on. I usually use  a metal potato masher. Keep this up for about ten minutes to release the juices.

Place in a large wide mouthed and steralised glass jar. Press down firmly with pounder  or potato masher until the juices rise above the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch bellow the jars mouth. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for approximately 3 days before transferring to the fridge. It is then ready to but will improve with age.


jerusalem artichoke and leek soup

July 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Its cold again. Winds carrying a deep bite. The chill sinking into all the corners of the city, making its way up my street, into my house and crawling up through my toes and fingertips.  Still, not so bad that it can’t be fixed with a steaming bowl of soup, a hot water bottle tied to my kidneys and a woolen blanket wrapped around my waist. It does require a waddle rather than a walk, but somehow the heater alternative is only reserved for very special occasions. A hard-line habit, that I’m telling you, a part of me is looking forward to the day I grow out of.

But winter also comes with so many wonderful and soothing vegetables. I talked about kale before – with its leaves of grandma skin. And in following that thought, its only fair I offer you a recipe from the wizened old Jerusalem artichoke – wrinkled like grandpa memories.

Simple and good, a bowl of this soup on a cold winters day is sure to make you delighted! And like all the best recipes, it starts with butter!

40 g butter
2 cloves garlic
1 large leek
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
600 g Jerusalem artichoke
200 g potatoes
750 ml stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C /390°F

Roast the artichokes and potatoes in the oven along with a dash of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste until cooked through (about 45 minutes).

Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the garlic and leek. Fry until soft.  Add all the remaining ingredients including the roasted vegetables and bring to the boil.  Puree. Add salt and pepper to taste and  serve with crusty bread.

lilly pilly

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Lilly Pilly has become a somewhat popular garden ornamental here in Melbourne. A beautiful dense green rainforest tree native to coastal Australia with white flowers that turn into deep pink berries. It was with little surprise that a friend and I spotted a heavy laden tree on the side of the road on an afternoon walk. A convenient plastic bag stuffed in a pocket for just such an occasion made a perfect vessel to carry the fruits home once picked.

We ventured to make Lilly Pilly Jam. I have to say the end result left much to be desired. I think this is mainly because we didn’t have enough pectin and ended up boiling and boiling it to try to get it to set… as a result it ended up tasting more of sugar than anything else. Next time I think adding some apple and more lemon seeds might be a good idea to help it set. And perhaps the laborious task of de-seeding each berry might be worthwhile too.

What we did

Washed the liily pilly fruits and removed any stalks etc
Placed them in a saucepan with enough water to just cover the berries (next time I think I would add less water)
Allowed to boil for about half an hour
Strained, and returned the liquid to the saucepan, adding 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup liquid
Added juice of 1 lemon to every 4 cups liquid and tied the seeds up in a cloth and placed in the saucepan
Gently boiled until set when tested on a spoon in the fridge
Transferred into sterilised jars

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