The Preservation of food Part 1: Lacto-fermented Carrot

A few months ago we started participating in a food share program called Feed My Sheep. Once a month I pack up the van with a bunch of laundry baskets and some dear friends and we drive about 45 minuets to a little country church to pick up a few shares of food, and lets be honest, a little mom sanity time!

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This program works for our family for a number of reasons.

  1. The food we get is mostly fresh produce and with a family that can not eat a lot of processed, prepackaged and glutenous foods this works great.
  2.  Mike is on board. We are a team on this one. It just wouldn’t work for me to cart the girls with and then have to come home and clean, chop and process all that food with out his help. Just one more example of how amazing my husband is!
  3. The processing…The food we receive from this program is usually past its prime or a bit unsightly, and it often needs to be eaten or processed relatively quickly. We have been able to make use of most of the food because I have learned how to preserve food in a variety of helpful ways.

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This post on lacto-fermentation will be the fist of a series on food preservation focused around the items we receive from Feed my Sheep as well as from the abundance of our garden. If you keep a garden you know there comes a time when you are racking your brain for another way to use those zucchinis or, if you live in MN, the frost comes before all of your tomatoes have ripened….what on earth are you going to do with a gallon bucket of green tomatoes? Well, I have a few ideas that I am happy to share with you.

The last time we picked up a few shares of food we received a laundry basket full of organic carrots. They are beautiful! Amazing and crisp, but what do you do with 20+ bags of carrots? Some will be used for soups and broth as well as every day munchies, but that amounts to 1/3 at most, so fermenting it is. Carrots can also be blanched and frozen or fully canned, but my family LOVES ‘spicy carrots’ as the girls have named them and I am long over due for a batch (or 5).

If you are still reading I promise I’m getting to the actual work of fermenting the carrots, but I am sure some people are a bit curious about what lacto-fermentation is. Just about every time I talk about it someone asks a really good question, so let me direct you to This link for a bit more clarity. It is worth the read and Cultures for Health is a wonderful page to explore. There are more recipe ideas there as well. Now on to my carrot project!

Lacto Carrots

Items you will need

  • Jars with Lids
  • Filtered Water
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ginger root (if desired)
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Dill (if desired)
  • Cabbage Leaves

Directions

  1. Choose your jars/ lids and make sure they are clean. I use mason Jars mostly quart sized and then pint sized for the extra carrot bits.
  2. Clean and prep your carrots. I just scrubbed mine well, but you may also peel them if you desire to. cut them into sticks and trim them so that there is about 1-2 inches of head room in your jar. (you are going to want that space later)
  3. 1-2 Tbs of sea salt in each jar.
  4. 1/2-1 clove of slightly crushed garlic per jar
  5. A few sprigs of dill and (or) a bit of peeled ginger root slightly crushed in each jar. This just totally depends on your personal taste. you can omit this step if you do not like  (or have) ginger or dill.
  6. At this point you are ready to pack your jars. place the carrot sticks in the jars vertically as tightly as possible.
  7. Pour water into your jars covering the sticks while still leaving some head space.
  8. Place a cabbage leaf on top of your carrot sticks but below the water. The leaf helps to keep everything submerged so make sure it is snug. It is important to keep everything below the waterline. I have made these carrots without the cabbage, but it is helpful for peace of mind.
  9. The jars should sit at room temperature to culture for a few days until your carrots reach a flavor that you are happy with. **Burp your jars at least 1-2 times a day **  Gasses are expelled during this time so you don’t want an explosion. This is where you will be thankful for that head space. It is not uncommon to have an overflow while you burp your jars so watch them carefully.
  10. Move your jars to cold storage. we keep ours in the basement. With lacto-fermented foods you will KNOW if something has spoiled so there is little danger of harm from the food going bad. We typically keep our ferments for about 6 months.

That’s about it for the Lacto-fermented carrots that we make. I do just want to make a note that when it comes to food preservation make sure to do your research! I have come to the methods I use after lots of time on web pages and with book that I trust. There are years of trial and error that have gone into this process for me…don’t let this page be your only resource and don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t work the first time. Try it again…and tweak ideas (where safety permits) to make them your own.

 

Happy Preserving!

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That Gluten Free Pie Crust I picked up someplace….

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I keep meaning to post the pie crust and pastry blend that I use. I haven’t taken photos yet, but hope to soon…with the holidays just around the corner I am sure to have plenty of opportunities to take a few quick shots while I bake.

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This is a two part instructional. Part 1 is the flour blend for the pastry crust. This blend makes a lot of flour and I just keep it in the refrigerator until I am ready to make pies. It blends up easily and stores nicely. Part 2 is the actual recipe for the pie crust. Each pie crust recipe will make anywhere from 2-3 crusts (says my mom! I can never get a third one out of it…)

Part 1 The Flour Blend: Mix together and refrigerate the following

  • 2 Cups Tapioca Flour
  • 2 Cups Cornstarch
  • 1 Cup Potato Starch Flour
  • 4 Cups Sweet Rice Flour (I have subbed white rice with no problem)
  • 4 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar

Part 2 The Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour Blend
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 Egg (cold)
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Ice Water

Place the flour mix in a bowl and cut in the butter. Mix with your hands until you have a consistency similar to Lima beans NOT cornmeal! Set aside.

Beat the egg with a fork. Mix in the vinegar and half of the water. Work this into your flour mix with your hands. Add the remainder of the water to the mix and form into 2-3 balls and refrigerate for an hour.

I have found that rolling the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap works the best for me. put down one piece of wrap and then place your dough in the middle. (if your pie will be larger place two pieces of wrap down next to each other) Then place another layer of wrap on top. Roll out the dough between the layers of plastic wrap. When the dough is the size and thickness you desire take the top layer of wrap off and turn it upside-down into the prepared pie plate. (so the side with the plastic wrap still on it is facing up) Press the dough into the plate and remove the last layer of wrap.

Single Crust: Prick the pastry with a fork on the sides and bottom and cook at 450 for 10-12 min. until the crust is slightly brown. Allow the crust to cool. Then fill the pie and cook per your pies directions.

Double Crust: Roll out both crusts as directed above and place bottom crust into the pan and prick sides and bottom. Add the pie filling and place top crust on as you would with any normal pie, and bake.

That Paleo Cake…

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We often choose to have couples over for a late meal rather than going out to eat. This allows us to stay at home with two, somewhat, stinkery 5 year olds and save on a sitter…it also frees us up to spend a little more to make a special meal that will bless the other couple joining us. We love to cook, we also like feeling good after we have eaten and cooking at home ensures that we know what is in what we eat!

I’ve been on the look out for a ‘go to’ for dessert. I have ALWAYS loved a rich dark chocolate cake with a good red wine…well….I’ve found it! It’s amazing and simple and oh so good! A number of friends have asked for the recipe and I am donating some to this weekend’s bake sale (raising money for a children’s play center and to help a few families in the process of adoption) so I thought this would be a great time to get it up on the blog….

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Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo Chocolate Cake

1 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil

2/3 Cup Honey

1 Cup Cocoa Powder

4 teaspoons Vanilla

1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt

6 eggs

Directions:

Heat the oven to 300 and Grease a 9″ spring form pan (I have used other sizes with no issue, just watch your cook time). Then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. In a pot melt together the Coconut oil and honey. WHen they are melted remove the pot from heat and mix in the cocoa powder, vanilla and sea salt. pour into your stand mixer (or use beaters) and beat while adding the eggs. the mixture will be a bit bubbly. When all is well mixed pout into your prepared pan and bake for 40-45 min. The middle should seem a bit damp when you pull it out. The length of cook time will be something you get a feel for the more you make the cake. if you like it on the fudgey side then cook it less…if you want it set cook it a bit longer.

Enjoy! A good red wine is a MUST!!

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Another take on that Gluten Free French Bread….

We have a Gluten Free home. 3 of the 4 people that live at The Ebed House do not eat Gluten and we try to keep our dairy to a minimum. The one outlier is Mike….daddy and husband! There is just something wrong about asking the man who ‘brings home the bacon’ to eat gluten free food that, let’s face it, half the time just doesn’t taste right.

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Born out of love for my family I’ve been on the hunt for a good bread….one that is easy to make and versatile. With a little help from my friends I found it! yep! a stunning french bread that is easy to make and takes a little more then an hour start to finish. If you have been eating gluten free and doing your own baking you have likely come across this wonderful bread already. If you have not HERE is the link.

One of the great things about this bread is that I have been able to adapt it to create a few other family favorites. I’ve been making pizza crust and will post another entry about that the next time we make it and I can get some photos! Today I want to share my ‘caramel roll’ adaptation. Caramel rolls have a long standing history on my side of the family…my father has often shared his deep love and longing for his mother’s caramel rolls…..a family treat we have not enjoyed in years. So daddy….and Mike….this one’s for you!

Gluten Free ‘Caramel Rolls’

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Ingredient list for the caramel
1 1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Butter or butter sub.
4 Tablespoons Corn-syrup (I would love to get some ideas on a sub for this so let me know if you think of some!)

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I start by mixing the dry ingredients for the bread
2 Cups Brown rice flour
1 Cup Tapioca flour
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
(I have planned to add cinnamon but haven’t yet…this is where I would add it)

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While the dry items are mixing for the bread I melt the brown sugar, butter and corn-syrup. (I didn’t have brown sugar so I subbed standard sugar and molasses.)

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When the items have all been melted down I transfer the caramel to a 9×13 pan and set it aside.
Then I return to the bread
Dissolve 2 Tablespoons Sugar in 1 1/2 C. Warm water. Dissolve 2 Tablespoons of yeast in the water and sugar mix. Add the yeast mix to the dry mix along with 3 egg whites, 2 Tablespoons melted butter and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

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It really helps to have wet hands when you work with gluten free breads. So, with damp hands I parcel out rolls into the 9×13 pan.

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Preheat the oven to 400 and cover them allowing the bread to rise for about 20 min.

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Bake for around 25 min and check the bread. Make sure to check the bottom to see if the rolls have fully cooked. If they have not continue to bake a bit more.

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When the rolls come out turn them over onto a cookie sheet. And allow them to cool.

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And that’s it! Yum! They are sooooo good!