As mid-summer approaches, and more and more produce becomes available, we may wish to start preserving some of today’s harvest for another day. There are multiple methods for preserving food and some that actually improve the flavor and health benefits. Fermentation is a great example of this and can extend the life of certain foods for months – or even years – while providing a strong dose of probiotics and antioxidant properties. It’s easier than ever to ferment food at home and you can even do it right on your kitchen counter. All vegetables can be fermented and if you’re new to fermenting, cabbage is a great place to start. Two of my most favorite ferments are sauerkraut and kimchi. They can sometimes last over a year in the refrigerator and the flavors just keep getting better with time!
If you’re new to fermentation, there are some really great new products that make fermenting your veggies easier than ever. Possibly the most notable are Masontops, which turn a wide-mouth mason jar into an easy countertop fermentation vessel. These silicon BPA-free airlocks fit right inside the ring of a mason jar lid and screw snuggly onto the jar, creating an air-tight vessel in which carbon dioxide created from the fermentation process can escape, but air and bacteria can’t get in. For the beginner, these are a wonderful way to try small batches of ferments and explore the world of fermented foods. For the practiced fermenter, they can provide a wide pallet of flavors to select from at any time.
This little video explains how Masontops work and what to expect:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fim8-TbSulo&t=185s I also recommend the fermentation pebbles, which are basically just glass weights the width of a mason jar that keep your ferment submerged under the brine, although a small plastic baggie filled with water can accomplish the same thing.
If you are interested in digging deeper into fermentation, I would suggest Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. This is a great introduction with lots of fun and easy recipes to try, and some that are more advanced too, including methods for making large batches of fermented foods.
Let us know if you have a favorite ferment or fermentation recipe in the comments, below!
This week in Local Choice CSA
Valley Pasture Farm – Eggs and ½ chicken
Bifrost Farms – Salzkase (Feta)
Towering Heights Farm – Ground Beef, Round Steak and Garlic Scapes
Winnowburrow Farm – Basil (Genovese and Mammoth), Parsley (flat leaf and curly) and Shelling Peas
Hexagon Projects Farm – Collard Greens, Salad Mix, Summer Squash, Scallions
Essence Homestead – Cabbage, Sugar Melting Peas, Baby Carrots, Kohlrabi
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Raspberries and Black Currants
Farmer to Farmer – Whole Bean Coffee Sample
Did you know that Local Choice is now offering a sample share? For four weeks you or someone you know can try out our CSA to see if it’s a good fit for next season. Just follow this link for more info!
Digging deeper into nutrition with Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Cabbage is the world’s most popular vegetable, although it ranks seventh in the U.S. It is full of vitamin K and anthocyanins that help with mental function and concentration. These nutrients also prevent nerve damage, improving your defense against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Cabbage becomes more bitter as it cooks. It also begins to produce hydrogen sulfide, a foul-smelling gas similar to rotten eggs. Although there are many folk methods of reducing the smell of cooked cabbage, the best way is to steam it for five minutes or less. In order for it to be done in five minutes though, bring the water in the pot to a rapid boil before adding the vegetable-filled steamer basket.
Edible pod peas such as snap peas and snow peas are actually more nutritious than the old-fashioned shell peas because the pods have more antioxidants and fiber than the peas themselves. It can be fun though to shell peas as a family activity, so Local Choice offers both types. Both are more nutritious than their frozen or canned counterparts at the supermarket. Freezing destroys about 25% and canning destroys about 50% of the antioxidant content of peas. So enjoy all the nutritional value of fresh peas.
Unlike well-marbled steaks, round steaks are lean and much less expensive. They come from the “round” or rear leg of the cow. The muscles in this area are used for movement, so the beef is leaner and less tender. They take well to tenderizing marinades and flavorful slow braises. Round Steaks are a budget- and family-friendly cut of beef.
This is a small round steak which is perfect for thin slicing and marinating to make a Stir-Fry. It is from a 100% grass-fed beef raised without the synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and questionable additives found in conventionally raised animals on pastures free of herbicides and pesticides.
This week’s meal plans provided by Meg Wittenmyer of Bifrost Farms
Meal #1 – Beef and Veggie Stir Fry
STIR FRY SAUCE *
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp sriracha
- 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 head green cabbage
- 2 carrots
- 3 green onions
- Garlic Scapes
- 1/2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
- 1/2 lb. lean ground beef or cubed round steak
- 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
- Pinch of salt and pepper
Prepare the stir fry sauce first. * Or use a premade bottled sauce. In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sriracha, and brown sugar. Set the sauce aside. Shred the vegetables so they are ready to go when you need them.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot add the cooking oil, ground beef, garlic scapes, ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the beef until browned (about five minutes). Add the cabbage and carrots to the skillet and continue to stir and cook until the cabbage is slightly wilted (or fully wilted, if you prefer). Stir in the prepared sauce and the green onions. May be served over riced Kohlrabi.
Meal #2 – Creamy Chicken, Squash and Peas
Chicken, boned and skinless
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour of choice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
4 small yellow squash, chopped bite-size
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut, or olive oil
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
2 cups fresh greens
Chopped parsley and basil, for garnish
Heat 2 Tbsps oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken pieces and dredge in the flour, pressing lightly to coat. Place the chicken in the hot skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside.
In the same pan, heat 1 tsp oil then add onions, peas, squash and greens. Saute about 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Turn the heat to medium-low. Add broth & cream. Bring the sauce to a boil and return to medium-low heat. Add chicken back into the pan along with all of the pre-cooked veggies. Combine gently, cover and let rest (with the heat off for about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and/or basil.
As always, thanks for checking out the Local Choice newsletter blog. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, feel free to leave comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org