Lacto-Fermented Jalapeno's

I have a serious addiction to spicy. A story my family loves to tell about my addiction dates back to when I was an infant, not yet one with a pacifier in my mouth. Sitting in a famous Mexican restaurant in Dallas my mother had taken the chip bowl away from me to ensure I would eat whatever mess, rice and beans I’m sure, they were about to spoon feed me. But tiny me didn’t get a rats backside about the chips, I just wanted the salsa. If they had really been paying attention they would have noticed I wasn’t really eating the chips anyway. I continued to dip the same chip into the salsa bowl until rendered soggy and useless. Upon taking the chips, I proceeded to use my pacifier as a vessel for shoveling the spiciest salsa on the table into my tiny mouth. They all laughed, so I’m told, and let me do my thing. No one was stopping this Texas born baby from getting her fix.

Still to this day I want to feel the burn, sweat, contemplate if this will be my last meal because it’s just too much to handle. When I order at Thai and Indian restaurants I usually get blown off when I request they use the traditional amount of heat when preparing the dish I’ve ordered. And then there are the restaurants that know me and know this lil white girl can absolutely handle her spice just fine.

Bless you kind humans.

Jalapenos aren’t particularly spicy to me, but I add them to just about everything in an attempt to bump up the heat level of whatever I’m eating. I throw it on my breakfasts, chili, salads; if I’m eating the jar of jalapenos is probably close by.

Once I began my fermentation journey, I realized I could procure a jar of the goods as long as I had fresh jalapenos, a jar, and salt around.

It’s that simple.

And the best part is, you can keep the recipe as simple, or complicate it, as you like. Over the years I’ve played around with adding different flavors to it just to make them even more delectable. Now a days I pretty much stick to the same recipe, or same ingredients, because I’m fermenting jalapenos regularly. About twice a month to be exact.

Ingredients

Fresh Jalapenos ( as little or as much as you want)

Good Salt (real salt or celtic grey is fine)

Fresh rough chopped onion or dried onion flakes

Fresh crushed garlic

Filtered water

A glass container large enough to hold however much you’re fermenting

Directions

  • Slice fresh jalapenos (I like mine pretty thin. Just remember, the thinner they are the faster they will ferment and that’s not always the best thing)

  • Rough chop onion and crush garlic if using fresh

  • Place your fresh ingredients in a glass jar of your choosing, packing things in decently but not too tight

  • Fill jar with your brine (traditional fermentation brine is 1-3T of good salt dissolved in 1 qt of water, I like my jalapeno brine on the saltier side so using the full 3T per qt of water)

  • Seal to finger tight and label with the day you set it up.

  • Burp 1-2 times a day so your jar doesn’t explode.

  • Ferment as long as you like. My home ferments ferment rather quickly 3-4 days usually.

Told ya’ll. All ferments are just about that simple. Not to mention you just upped the enzyme level, nutrient bioavailability, wild crafted probiotics from your own home environment, and have a quick and tasty pickled jalapeno! You can practically smell the enthusiasm I have for fermenting ha. I really do love it and hope you do too! If you haven’t tried to do one yet, get on it!

Enjoy friends,

~ Hippie Hayden

How to Grow Your Own SCOBY | Kombucha

I went to an itty bitty VERY Baptist college when I first ventured into kombucha. Did I mention it was small and Baptist? If you know anything about the Baptist faith, because yes it is it’s own religion entirely, you know that they’re tee-totaler’s. I, however, was the ugly duckling of campus as a reformed Presbyterian; man oh man did my theology professors love me. Not. We were required to live on campus all four years which included, for many of us, our twenty-first year of life. I was a good little Presbyterian and obeyed their rules. I didn’t bring or hide alcohol in my townhome……like the majority of my Baptist counterparts. I swear there was enough booze hidden in most peoples homes to pickle the entire campus. But I digress. When I first ventured into my home fermentation journey, I started with Kombucha and naturally wanted to grow my own SCOBY. Bottled kombucha at Whole Paycheck was just that, my whole paycheck; so brewing my own appealed to me to save a lot of money as well. My very Baptist, very prudish roommates were convinced I was brewing satan’s liquor in our kitchen as I found out by being informed, mid class, that apartment life was in the middle of raiding my home on the hunt for this home brewed booze. Needless to say, they found nothing and soon were educated that the round, rubbery, slimy, disk thing sitting in a jar on the counter was nothing more than tea, sugar, and water. No alcohol content is present at the end of kombucha fermenting, or most lacto fermented beverages for that matter. Definitely one of my fondest memories from my college experience. It’ll make a great story for the kids one day. The time when mom was raided by apartment life and campus police for having………tea.

For those of you who aren’t submersed into the world of fermentation, SCOBY stand for: Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s a pretty generic term for the powerhouse that is a SCOBY. When I dove head first into the home fermentation world there wasn’t much on the internet at the time, especially about growing your own SCOBY. If anything, there were more words of caution that growing your own was nigh impossible and you might as well buy one on the internet or get one from a friend if they happened to have extras. It was a little mysterious as to how SCOBY’s came about exactly, kind of like kefir grains. Needless to say, I ignored the nay sayers and took a giant leap of fermentation faith. I formulated this recipe entirely on my own with a little college ingenuity thinking this must be how it worked. So I bought a bottle of plain kombucha that had a decent amount of yeast on the bottle, brought it home, and put on my thinking cap.

After having done this a few different times in my life, I can attest that you don’t need a plain kombucha flavor to make this successful. If you have some that does happened to be second fermented with a different flavor, it will work just as well and it won’t make your batches from here on out that same flavor. I will caution you not to use any flavors that might have straight up pureed fruit in them, like the GT Mystic Mango; that might not yield the best of results. I probably also wouldn’t use any of the chlorophyll ones either, unless you want a green SCOBY ha.

These are the only things you need to grow your own SCOBY for home kombucha brew.

Ingredients:

1 Bottle of kombucha with a decent amount of yeast at the bottom (plain if you have it but any other clear flavors will work)

1 Bag of plain black tea and plain green tea (no earl grey, the oils will mess up the SCOBY formation)

1 C filtered water (Chlorine free if you can and not tap)

1/4 C Organic sugar

1 Wide mouth quart mason jar

Directions:

  • Bring the water to a boil

  • Pour into the quart mason jar, careful not to shatter the glass, and dissolve the sugar into the hot water

  • Add the two tea bags and let the tea mixture sit out till room temp. I mean it when I say room temp. Let it sit all day if you have too.

  • Once the tea is room temp add the bottom half of your kombucha (roughly 8oz) to the jar and mix it a round a bit.

  • Cover the jar with cheese cloth, a dishtowel, or coffee filter and secure.

  • Let it sit out and grow.

It’s really is as simple as that. I’ve never had a failure in ten years of growing my own SCOBY’s and brewing my own kombucha. Ideally you’ll only have to do this once, but I’ve had to grow a few new ones over the years with moves or long breaks in brewing (although you can absolutely store them to use later). You’ll want to let it get about 1.5-2” in thickness before you take it out and move it into a larger vessel for brewing. And it will duplicate pretty much every time you brew a batch of kombucha. Before long you’ll have more SCOBY’s than you know what to do with and then I’ll teach ya’ll have to make dog treats with your hotel of SCOBY’s.

It will take about two weeks for it to grow. Sometimes less, depending on how much natural yeast is in the air of your home. Once it’s strong and fully grown it will be ready for it’s first feeding. I do this by simply making a normal gallon of kombucha brew tea and sticking the new SCOBY in that tea mixture. You can drink what brews or pitch it and drink the next batch, totally up to you. I usually drink the first batch as it’s never not been strong normal komobucha for me.

If you want to find all of my favorite jars and other brewing equipment (although you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen) check our my “favorites” tab and find everything there!

Alrighty ya’ll, this is part one! So go grow some SCOBY’s and check back here for a post on how to brew your first batch of kombucha! After that we’ll talk all about second fermentation and different flavors!

Tell me if you’ve done this before and how it’s worked out for you; if you’ve done anything different etc! And let me know if you’re just jumping into the world of home brewing and taking a stab at growing your own SCOBY! I promise it really is this simple!

Enjoy, friends

~ Hippie Hayden

Simple Sauerkraut

sauerkraut.jpeg

I think sauerkraut is one of the more difficult ferments (great way to start off a recipe eh?) and that’s saying a lot because overall, fermenting veggies or fruits is nothing more than salt, water, whey (if you want) and the veggie or fruit in question. If you want to get real fancy you can season your ferment with different spices making it extra tasty. But, today I’m keeping it simple. Sauerkraut is nothing more than shredded cabbage and salt. That’s it. It’s incredibly cheap and incredibly effective. I find myself dipping into this exact jar a few times a day with meals or as a quick snack while I do things like plan recipes and write for the website. I’m not going to dive into a full blown lecture on why homemade ferments need to find a place in you and your families life, just know that they absolutely do and your digestive system will be the better for it.

Two ingredients, that’s it:

1 head of cabbage

1-2 T of salt

Equipment:

1 relatively airtight container (glass or pottery only, no metal or plastic)

Some sort of weight to ensure the cabbage stays submerged under it’s liquid (you can buy a pickle puck on amazon, or use a shot glass, disinfected rocks etc.)

A large bowl to squeeze the cabbage in

1 ferment mallet (optional, I use my hands)

Directions:

  1. Shred the cabbage fine. Either with a knife, a mandolin, or food processor. I like mine pretty fine and shredded. *Save the outer layer leaves of the cabbage for the very end, set aside.

  2. Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl and add 1T of salt. Mix it up a bit and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to get a little soft before you start the pounding process.

  3. After the cabbage has sat out, begin pounding or squeezing extracting as much of the cabbage’s natural liquid as possible. This part can take some considerable time.

  4. Once your cabbage has been worked down and is roughly 1/3 it’s original volume you can begin packing it into your container for fermentation.

  5. Pack into your container of choice in layers pounding down the layers as you go making sure there are no air bubbles.

  6. Once your container is completely packed, top it off with any excess cabbage liquid and get the outer layer leaves of the cabbage you set aside in the beginning

  7. Take the outer cabbage leaves and use them to “tuck down” the packed cabbage as a sort of extra security that it stays submerged below it’s liquid.

  8. Once your cabbage leaves are in place securely, you can grab your weight of choice and place on top to keep your hard work submerged completely while it ferments.

  9. Depending on the container you’ve chosen to ferment with you’ll want to close it somewhat or at least cover the top of your container with secured cheese cloth, a coffee filter, or a hand towel etc The jar I have pictured is perfect for the amount I ferment since it’s just the two of us at home. It fits one head of cabbage snuggly with all the excess cabbage liquid and a shot glass which I shut the lid on top of after taking the rubbing ring off so it’s not completely air tight. I don’t recommend closing anything completely lest it explode in the fermentation process. This is where a super duper fermentation crock comes in handy.

  10. Once your relatively sure that your cabbage will stay completely submerged place it on a tray or in a bowl while it sits to ferment. Depending on how packed your jar is, most likely some liquid will overflow out. It is quite the mess to wake up too, especially if you use purple cabbage, like me, which has an affinity for staining anything it so much as thinks about touching. So do yourself a favor and make sure it’s in some kind of vessel to catch liquid spillage.

  11. Now you wait. Sauerkraut takes a bit longer to ferment if you want it to really develop that signature sauerkraut flavor, witch I do. In total I probably let mine sit out for two ish weeks. That’s all it took for this amount of cabbage to get the really pungent flavor I was going for. Technically veggies don’t need more than about 4-5 days, at the absolute max, to ferment completely. It does depend on a few thing much like sourdough starter. The temp of your kitchen, how much you’re fermenting etc.

  12. Once it’s at the flavor and fermentation stage you prefer, it’s ready to move to long term storage. A fridge, cellar, or basement will do just fine. It will keep indefinitely as long as no mold appears. (mold is fuzzy, grey scum is not mold and can be scraped off the top and discarded)

TROUBLESHOOTING

The only thing that can make your sauerkraut fail is if the presence of oxygen gets into the actual ferment itself. That doesn’t mean that your ferment needs a lid, or needs to be in a airtight container. The only part that needs to be in an “anaerobic” environment is what all resides under the liquid, the actual sauerkraut. That’s the way it is with any ferment. What can end up spoiling your ferment is if there are too many air bubbles that didn’t get let out during the packing process, cabbage rises to the top of the liquid it should be submerged under, or any other way oxygen could possibly get into your ferment. There is a possibility that you could pack the kraut too tight, it expands, and then spoils because it’s no longer under liquid. So keep your eye on it the first few hours/days of fermentation to make sure you did the job just right. I like to leave a decent amount of head-space in my jars to account for the pack settling/shifting once I put it up to ferment. I also mess with it a few times to make sure it stays under it’s liquid. (can you tell I’m paranoid about my kraut staying under it’s liquid lol)

If you see anything floating on top it’s fine so long as it isn’t fuzzy. Grey scum is totally normal with kraut. Just scrape it off the top, discard, and continue on your merry way. But if you see fuzz, pitch it.

If you’re fermenting more than one thing in your kitchen/home, make sure your ferments aren’t fermenting congregated in the same space. This can actually cause them to spoil and/or mold. So if you come over to my home at a time where I’m fermenting multiple things, you may see beet kvass in the living room, sauerkraut in the kitchen, kombucha in my office, and ginger carrots in the bedroom. It doesn’t need to be that extreme, you can usually get away with just putting them in separate places about the kitchen, I just prefer to remain captain of “team no chances.” So different rooms they go.

It really is simple. Yes, sauerkraut is the more testy of home fermented foods, but it only has two technical ingredients. So doable, and so economical! There are many things that can be done to spice it up and make it a little more pizazzy, if you so desire. I really do like the old world flavor of just salt and cabbage sauerkraut, but I do have a few fun sauerkraut recipes to share with ya’ll here in the near future. For now, go grab the well intended cabbage you bought that’s somewhere deep in your crisper, good quality salt, and a crock. Master this basic and the possibilities are truly endless!

* If you would like to see all of my fermenting favorites, including fermenting crocks, weights, jars, and my favorite books on fermentation, check out the favorites tab in the website navigation bar. *

Enjoy, friends!

~Hippie Hayden