Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lacto-fermented dilly beans

What is lacto fermenting?

Well, according to Wikipedia, Lactic acid fermentation is a biological process by which sugars such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose, are converted into cellular energy and the metabolic byproduct lactate. It is an anaerobic fermentation reaction that occurs in some bacteria and animal cells, such as muscle cells, in the absence of oxygen.

Lactobacillus is the most common bacteria used to make commercially cultured food, and is the also produced through lactic acid fermentation.  The most common fermented foods you have probably eaten are yogurt and sauerkraut. However, there are many other types of bacteria that are involved in culturing food.

Part of the reason lacto-fermenting works to keep vegetables is when the fermenting is taking place the pH changes and the food becomes more acidic preventing and even killing harmful bacteria.

Cultured foods are also super good for you! They add enzymes (made by the bacteria) and probiotics to your diet and make the food you are eating easier to digest. They also save you money on probiotics and keep your food from going to waste. Plus they taste good. It's really a win win situation. If you haven't cultured your own food yet I suggest you try it, especially now in the warm weather. Having a warm kitchen will give you the best results.

Other benefits of probiotics:

  • Supports your immune system
  • Helps eliminate waste/harmful bacteria
  • assistance in producing vitamin B and K (formed in the gut)
  • help digesting complex carbs
  • Lowers the incidence of allergies
  • Inhibits candida yeast growth
  • helps with digestive issues

How do you know if your culture went bad/ or didn't work? Generally by taste/smell. I haven't had anything I cultured go bad yet, which is making me feel safer to experiment more. Basically if it smells bad don't eat it is the rule of thumb. If it gets moldy it also didn't turn out right. However if you don't have a proper closure on your fermented food it can get a layer of mold on the top. Sauerkraut traditionally fermented for long periods of time, does tend to get a layer of mold on top that is then removed. However, with things more liquid like pickles/ dilly beans I do not think I would still consume it if it had a layer of mold on the top. But if you do it right you should not get any mold.

Mold on the top is different from a thin film. Cultured foods do get film on the top sometimes. This wont effect the finished product but from what I have read if your product is doing this just scrape it off each day.
Lacto-fermented Dilly Beans

You need

1 quart jar
1-2 T Sea Salt
3 Tablespoons Whey (optional)
Green Beans, enough to fill the jar
1 T dill fresh or dried, use more if fresh
2 cloves of garlic, chopped into pieces (or more to taste)
filtered water (must be filtered! Chlorine inhibits the growth of bacteria)

you can add other herbs/spices to taste as well. Hot peppers would be good.

1. Slice your green beans into jar sized pieces. Leave them big or small. Put them in the jar.

2. In another container mix whey, 1 tablespoon Sea salt, or use two tablespoons salt if not using whey. You will get better results with whey as it is a starter culture. Add 1 cup or so of filtered water and stir to mostly dissolve the sea salt.

3. Add dill and garlic to green beans in the jar.

4. Poor salt water over beans. Add more filtered water to fill jar but leave an inch of room at the top (important for expanding fermentation).

5. Put lid on jar and shake around a bit to get all mixed up. Leave on your counter, at room temp, for several days. I put mine out for three days then put in the fridge, thought that wasn't long enough, them took them back out and on the counter to ferment more. I then looked up more recipes and saw that a lot people fermented dilly beans for 2 weeks! So, leave them out between 3 days and two weeks. Taste every so often to see when they are ready. They should still be crunchy and when you take the lid off you will see bubbles rise to the surface.

TIP: Your beans need to stay under the water to not get moldy. If they float to the top what you can do is take a plastic baggie, fill it with salt water brine and put it in the jar to weight the beans down. This will keep everything under water. You wont need a lid on them if you do that, but may want to cover with a towel to ensure bugs and such stay out.

Once your beans are done put them in your fridge or cellar. They will keep for about 6 months! Note that this recipe also works well for carrot sticks too. You can ferment all kinds of things. More recipes to come!

This post part of traditional tuesdays blog hop hosted by

This post also linked to Kelly the kitchen Kop Real food Wednesday

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grain free Blueberry coconut pancakes

Pancakes have to be Leo's favorite breakfast. When we were picking strawberries a few weeks ago and I asked him what we were going to do with them he said "make pancakes!"

I've been delving a bit into GAPS and learning about the potential benefits of being grain free. Surprisingly, you can still eat lots of yummy things on a grain free diet. Including these coconut blueberry pancakes. I got the recipe from and changed it slightly; using keifer instead of milk, lowering the amount of baking soda and adding blueberries which are very abundant right now!

I've been making my own keifer. When I started I felt pretty unsure about it, but now I  love it. It's great to have around for cooking and the keifer eats all the lactose in milk so I find myself using keifer for all my baking needs instead of milk-substitutes. Don't get me wrong, I do love hemp milk and even soy milk, but they aren't the freshest foods to be eating. When you buy them boxed they are heated to a pretty high temp to stay good in there and not go bad. I tried making my own hemp milk a few times but it wasn't very good. Plus regular milk is just more nutrient dense, and keifer is full of probiotics!

Here is the pancake recipe, but note if you don't have access to keifer use yogurt. Otherwise you can use milk or a milk substitute.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup Keifer
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBS honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (yes that's all you need!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Butter/ coconut oil for frying
  • Blueberries! (optional)

  • Mix liquid ingredients together well (eggs, keifer, vanilla, honey). Make sure the eggs are well combined and frothy.
  • In a separate bowl mix coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Combine
Your best bet for success in this recipe is to use cast iron. I use an enamel covered cast iron pan.

Heat your grill with coconut oil or butter until hot over medium heat.

Once hot add your batter. Note this recipe will cook different then regular pancakes! It feels more like cooking eggs. Make the pancakes small but thick. Use the back of a spoon to spread them out. If using blueberries, add them now by pressing them into the cooking pancakes.

Make sure the pancakes are well cooked on one side before flipping or you will have a mess! Once you flip your pancakes cook just a few minutes more and enjoy with your favorite pancake toppings. This is one of my favorite pancake recipes. Great to try even if you aren't grain free! Plus with all the eggs they are quite high in protein. I feel a lot fuller eating these pancakes than traditional ones.  The leftovers also make great toddler snacks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lima bean Succotash

A succotash in usually a dish containing Lima beans, or beans, and corn. I didn't use corn for this recipe. This recipe in general is a bit strange for this site because it includes meat. I've recently started adding meat into my diet. Still adjusting to how I feel about that since I have been a strict vegetarian since the age of 14. I will be turning 30 next month.

There is a large variety of reasons that have pushed me in the direction of eating meat again. So far I have been eating fish and chicken/turkey. Red meat feels like a whole different step.

Alot of it comes down to the importance of lots and lots of minerals we need for our bodies and the best source of that is simply meat. I have also been reading the GAPS diet book, and How to Cute tooth decay. Both of these books talk about the importance of a grain free diet for health. Grains are a large staple of the vegetarian diet. They also talk about the importance of meat as a health food.

Soy is also an issue. 91% of soy we eat is genetically modified. I want to avoid GM foods as much as possible and avoiding soy helps. There has a lot been a lot of recent research on how soy causes its own array of health problems. I think soy can still be healthy, however, but in it's traditional fermented forms such as tempeh, natto, and miso. All excellent health foods if not eaten too much.

Lima beans themselves are a bit interesting. I hadn't eaten them in many years and for one reason or another I started to crave them. They are very rich in minerals! Here is a great link to the health benefits of the Lima Bean.

This meal is best planned ahead.

You will need:

1 cup Lima Beans
1 small zucchini
1 stalk celery
1/2 green bell pepper
2 chicken or pork sausages that are nitrate free (or use Tempeh)(I used Italian flavored with fennel)
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp sea salt

Step one:

Soak 1 cup of Lima beans over night in water

When ready to make your dish, cook Lima beans by draining off soaking water and rinsing beans.

Cook Lima beans in three cups of water over medium heat. When it comes to a boil lower heat to low and cover for about an hour. Meanwhile:

Dice the following:

One Onion
One celery stalk
One half of a green bell pepper
One small zucchini

Over medium heat cook the onion first in coconut oil, butter, or lard until soft. Then add the other vegetables and cook until soft.

In another pan cook two sausages. I used chicken sausage.

After sausage is cooked chop and add to vegetables. Add cooked Lima beans. Mix together and add 2 teaspoons of thyme and 2 teaspoons of sea salt.