Sourdough Starter Troubleshooting

When it comes to the livelihood of my starter babies, trust me, I’ve had my fair share of “omfg” moments . 9 out of 10 times it’s benign, and well, 10 out of 10 times I’m panicking.

For what it’s worth, #1 thing I’ve learned is that it usually looks worse than it is, and that the smell of the starter is a major indicator. I’ve put together a quick list of what’s worked for me + tips from the pros, check them out!

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Water Kefir 101

No secret- sugary, processed foods, stress and antibiotics all contributes to a leaky gut. leaky gut can cause inflammation, which can often become systemic and affect the health of the brain.[1] Signs and symptoms of a bad gut can range from eczema, food allergies, excessive sugar cravings, down to your mood (70% of your body’s serotonin levels are found within your gut!). 

So the cure? Probiotics! Inoculating foods and bevies with the good bacteria deters wild strains of bad bacteria from growing. Fermented foods and drinks can be more effective than a probiotic supplement as they also contain “food” for the microflora to help promote their growth. Another advantage, ferments introduce a variety of bacteria species, whereas a probiotic supplement has only a limited number of the species. We love variety around here!

This beverage is by far the easiest, fastest way to supplement heaps of probiotics. It also contains unique peptides with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune regulating effects. Not to mention, it’s friggen delicious! Some history, how-to and troubleshooting Water Kefir after the jump

 

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Aging & Flavoring Dairy-Free Cheese

In cheesemaking, moisture controls the texture, specifically the firmness in the end product. It’s no different here!

After the desired days of fermentation, outer layer will be crusty and hard, but the cheese under should still have the consistency of a thick spread. There are several ways of drying, or “aging” the cultured product to manipulate its texture, flavour, and shape. This is the crucial step in mimicking certain characteristics of some of your favorite dairy cheeses.

Check out my previous post on how to create the base for an aged dairy-free cheese, or jump back to more info on dairy-free cheese

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Kombucha 101

I remember learning about Kombucha online and then immediately finding a SCOBY @ Harvest Community Foods, literally steps away from my apartment. The bright-eyed clerk behind the counter set me up with the same enthusiasm I now understand and share today. It was a validating “yes, stars are aligning” moment  – what a genuine display of the fermentation culture! Bewitched by the slice of symbiotic culture swimming in it’s own juices, I knew then I was on the road to experimentation and discovery

Blast from the past: 2014, when all my friends refused to try the weird things from my kitchen. Oh, some things just don’t change!

….That was circa 2014. Fast forward, after a few accidents and 100s of batches, I now love sharing my booch story, how easy it really is and have become your local SCOBY/Booch pusher. Kombucha was sort of the “gateway” ferment that opened a whole world of gut promoting elixirs and homemades  – methods predating any pre-packaged goods. Working with nature, a delicious batch of booch is a fine reward all on its own, but it is in the process where empowerment lies! I apply the same precautions with all ferments: start with quality ingredients, stay clean but not sterile and always reserve surplus/a backup.

So, get your hands dirty (figuratively!!) and try making your own kombucha at home. Check out some tips and a simple recipe after the jump!

UPDATE: I now have SCOBYs to share, if you are in 604 / 778 give me a shout 
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Simple Cashew Cheese

Top view of cultured cashew cheese at 2 day mark.

Feeling more confident now that you understand how dairy-free cheese is made? It’s seriously simpler than you think! This particular method only requires 3 key components: a base, a culture starter and salt.

In this recipe, a quinoa rejuvelac acts as the culture starter.

*What? You don’t have rejuvelac handy or have any idea what it even is? Head here to learn more about this probiotic beverage and make your own.

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Lacto-Fermentation 101

Traditionally, fermentation is used to preserve harvest. Every culture has it’s own version of ferments like pickles, kimchi, dairy, sauerkraut, fish or grains – fermentation is deeply ingrained with our growth as a species. Methods, ingredients and flavours became an identity over the years, extremely rich in history and health benefits.

It’s no secret, there’s an abundance of benefits that comes with naturally fermenting your foods, such as adding nutrients (enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids and various strains of probiotics), eliminating toxins (like phytic acid) and it even breaks down the food so it is more accessible. Vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains undergone a “Lacto-fermentation” become fully optimized foods that help cleanse our bodies.

But, what exactly happens during lacto-fermentation?

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Lacto-fermented Pickles

I first heard about probiotics when I was struggling with skin problems about 6 years ago. I had really sensitive skin, mild inflammation and sometimes annoying acne. Incorporating store bought probiotics was the first step to my recovery. My skin was noticeably better within two weeks, I felt more buoyant and clear. Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria or yeast that helps with protecting and maintaining the digestive tract. When something disrupts the balance of bacteria in your gut, you’re going to have fatigue, poor digestion/absorption, inflammation, skin problems, poor immune system and so on.  Probiotics slowly heals and rebuilds your intestine tracks and maintains it!

Naturally, I was extremely excited about this finding and shortly after, I started to integrate probiotic rich foods into my diet at home. Pickles are not only one of the easiest, but super fun to make.  Check out my go-to recipe + how to keep em’ crunchy after the jump!  Continue reading “Lacto-fermented Pickles”

Orange Rhubarb Kimchi

Same family as buckwheat and sorrel, rhubarb is a tough and resilient perennial plant. Although a vegetable, it’s ruby red stalks are often treated as a fruit. The oxalic acid is the magical tang in this fun summer ingredient.

My love for rhubarb pairings run deep!  From compote to pies, I haven’t come across a bad mix. This recipe though, is a complete 180! Spicy, sweet, acidic and robust – this ferment takes traditional kimchi flavours to another level. The sour from the rhubarb works so well with the heat from the chillies and the depth from the garlic and spring greens. It was definitely, an “Ah-ha!” moment! Continue reading “Orange Rhubarb Kimchi”