Managing Ferments: Cold-Fermenting Milk Kefir

2018-02-21_Milk_Kefir-01Perhaps you’ve heard of milk kefir? It’s a mesophilic culture that eats milk sugar (lactose) to produce a delicious, creamy cultured beverage that’s full of probiotic goodness. What’s mesophilic? It just means that the culture works best at a moderate temperature, like room temperature. Yogurt, on the other hand, is a thermophilic culture, meaning that it needs higher temperatures to work properly – which is why the milk is used in yogurt is heated. While milk kefir may look and taste somewhat similar to yogurt, I believe that the ease in making milk kefir gives it a major advantage over making yogurt. In addition, I’ve found that cold fermenting it can produce a wonderful product that’s superior to room-temperature culturing and that will allow you to keep milk kefir production manageable. Continue reading “Managing Ferments: Cold-Fermenting Milk Kefir”

Audrey Tales: Misbehaving Sourdough

2018-02-19_Sourdough-01If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve already met Audrey, our sourdough starter. With her assistance, we (and by “we”, I mean “he” because he’s the baker and I’m the fermenter..though, technically, sourdough is a ferment, too) have delicious, fresh, additive-free loaves of bread for our morning toast+cream cheese+alfalfa sprouts and our meatloaf sandwiches. We consider Audrey a treasured pet, and we try to ensure her health and happiness so she’ll continue to help us make great bread.

Sometimes, however, Audrey is unhappy. Not “hooch on top because she hasn’t been fed” unhappy, but more of the “I don’t like the flour you’re feeding me” unhappy or “it’s too cold in here so I’m slowing down” unhappy. We have pretty extreme fluctuations in temperature where we live, and Audrey is sensitive to it. Continue reading “Audrey Tales: Misbehaving Sourdough”

Wine Chronicles: Blueberry Mead (Melomel)

2018-02-18_BlueberryMelomel-01So are you saying to yourself “what, pray tell, is a melomel”? Melomel is mead (a type of wine made from honey) plus fruit – and, more specifically, blueberry mead is a “bilbemel”. We’re big mead fans: Sky River Meadery (http://www.skyriverbrewing.com) in Washington state produces some exceptionally fine mead that tastes like bright, fresh honey – with a delicious fruity note, similar to the fragrance of a juicy concord grape – in a glass. It’s crisp, slightly sweet, and it captures the essence of perfect summer days and industrious bees collecting wild pollen. In short, it’s spectacular. We have yet to find a comparable mead available locally, so we’re taking mead-making into our own hands. Continue reading “Wine Chronicles: Blueberry Mead (Melomel)”

Ferment This: Easy, Exotic Tepache

2018-02-15_Tepache_01

Have you heard of Tepache? It’s a probiotic beverage that’s made from the “waste” parts of fresh pineapple: the rinds and core. And, if you have chickens and/or ducks like we do, it’s zero waste!

To make Tepache, simply rinse a medium-sized pineapple and cut it up as you normally would, reserving the fruit inside for other fabulous ferments like pineapple water kefir. Chop the rinds and core up into large pieces and place the pieces into a gallon jar. Add 3/4 cup brown sugar, a cinnamon stick, and a few whole cloves. I don’t usually have cinnamon sticks or whole cloves on hand – a generous shake of both spices in ground form also works, but will result in spice “sediment” in your finished beverage. Continue reading “Ferment This: Easy, Exotic Tepache”

Wine Chronicles: Cara Cara Orange Wine

Valencia Orange Country Wine in GlassesOne of my go-to sources for recipes as a starting point for many of my homemade country wines is the little purple book that came with my winemaking equipment starter kit: Raymond Massaccesi’s “Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook”. Typically, when I try a new recipe, I follow it exactly as it is written; the next time around, all bets are off! One of the first recipes I tried was for Orange Wine…oranges are delicious as flavoring for secondary ferments, so I guessed that the wine would also be a winner. And it was. It turned out almost cordial-like: a beautiful amber color reminiscent of sherry, with a pleasing warmth and complex flavor. It didn’t scream “orange”, but the mystery of it made it even more enjoyable. Continue reading “Wine Chronicles: Cara Cara Orange Wine”

Hello, Audrey: Making Homemade Sourdough Bread

You may already have met Audrey the sourdough starter (technically, Audrey II, mother to Audrey III – Audrey III lives with cool folks on a homestead in Australia!). She’s the key to the delicious loaves of bread we eat with our homemade soup, meatloaf sandwiches, and our incredible egg (thanks, ladies!) breakfasts.

Sourdough lends itself to beautiful boules, perhaps the most recognized shape for sourdough loaves, but we typically bake ours in a loaf pan so that we can easily make sandwiches. Making bread doesn’t have to take long or require herculean efforts, but the payoff is substantial: additive and preservative-free bread with simple ingredients, and in the case of sourdough, it’s a low glycemic index food. Sourdough bread is also acidic, so it doesn’t mold as quickly as other bread products. Interested in making your own? A simple recipe and instructions follow. Continue reading “Hello, Audrey: Making Homemade Sourdough Bread”