I pulled my batch of kimchi I started last month. It taste great. Not as spicy as I like it but it will work.
Up next.... Brussel Sprouts sauerkraut. I picked up two stalks of brussel sprouts from the farmers market in Albany last Wednesday.
I quartered the sprouts and then put them in the fermented with some brine (as described in my Kimchi blog). It’s bubbling away! The issue with sauerkraut is it can a bit stinky in the beginning.
I plan on doing garlic next but who knows what make come up before then.
I just pulled another batch of dill pickles from the fermenter so it’s on to kimchi. We eat kimchi as a side dish, mixed with scrambled eggs, or with rice and fish in a rice bowl. My version uses what I have on hand so it changes every time. A head of cabbage, a few tbl spoons of thin sliced ginger, Tbl spoon of anchovy paste, and hot pepper to taste are the base ingredients.
This batch uses onions and red peppers from the garden and some shredded carrots. I have used radishes, garlic scapes, and green beans in the past.
I typically just eyeball everything so there is no real recipe to follow. I will start with a head of cabbage and add other ingredients until it looks good. I will add about 5 tables spoons of kosher salt to the mixture. I mix well and then taste it. It should be salty but not over powering.
Fill the fermenter, add the weights and let the bacteria do the work. After a day I will check the level of the liquid in mix. If there is not liquid covering the top I will add brine to cover. The brine is 1 tbl to a pint of water. I let the sit until the bubbling slows. You could just leave it in there for storage but I usually have something else to go in. When it’s done I put in quart canning jars and store in the refrigerator.
I went to my deer hunting spot in the Southern Tier (where I grew up) today to check my tree stand in preparation for the upcoming hunting season. After clearing some branches I worked my way out of the woods hunting mushrooms. As I approached the edge of the woods I checked a standing dead tree and low and behold there were two bear's head tooth mushrooms (Hericium americanum) and as I circled the tree I found three Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms! Can't wait for the meal!
This is a frame of honey from one of the boxes I pulled from my hives. Capped honey is ready to bottle as opposed to uncapped nectar that contains too much water and will ferment. Of course if you're making mead that's ok (yes there is a plan to make some), not so much if you're bottling honey.
I use the "crush and strain method" to extract honey. I cut the honeycomb from the frames and the use a potato masher to crush it to release the honey. This method is much cheaper than buying a centrifugal extractor, it just take a little more time. After crushing, I scoop the honey and wax mix into a food grade bucket to let it settle. The wax will float to the top over a couple days. I then take out as much wax as I can and the pour the honey into another bucket. This time I put a strainer across the bucket to get any last bits of wax or bee parts out. This frame has dark honey. I'm guessing it is from purple loosestrife, an invasive plant, that the bees do not mind much because it's a great source of late summer into fall nectar.
One deep box off the hive yields about 5 gallons or about 50lbs of honey and wax.
That's a sticky situation! The white frame has plastic foundation. Most of the frames I use are foundationless. Meaning I let the bees create what ever sized comb they want. For the foundationless frames I simple cut out the whole comb, leaving a narrow band of cells at the top for the bees to start on next year.
When done, I put the sticky, empty frames in the lawn away from the hives. There were two bees on it within seconds! I place the frames away from the hives because the feeding frenzy that ensues can set up robbing of honey stores from the hives. Also, I will stand among to sea of bees to figure out where they are going. Bees travel in a straight "bee line" from the food source to their hive. I noticed one group of bees traveling towards my neighbor's woods, opposite my hives. I will investigate if these bees are from a kept hive or feral colony in the woods.
Finally some raw, unfiltered honey from my treatment-free bees. Raw means I did not heat the honey. This keeps the enzymes in the honey intact for added health benefit. The strainer I use allows pollen and some propolis to remain in the honey, again this adds to the benefits of honey. Usually supermarket honey is heated to pasteurize and help it flow easier into bottles. It is also filtered to remove all the pollen to prevent crystallization. My honey will crystallize and that is perfectly fine. The reason to prevent the honey from crystallizing is purely cosmetic. I do not treat my bees with any antibiotics or chemical fumigants. I use other techniques to help the bees deal with mite pest and disease. More on that later...
For a month or so we have been visited by a bobwhite quail. My neighbor said he had seen a covey of about a dozen earlier in the summer while making hay. I have heard two different quail and routinely see one. While feeding the chickens last evening this one was chilling inside the fence with the broiler chickens. Can you see it?
It has been a little over 3 weeks and the fermentation has basically stopped. I ended up getting into the crock twice to check the progress when the bubbling stopped. Some of the larger cucumbers were still white the first time but full green the next. I put them in quart jars with fresh brine and dill. They taste great. Sour and salty, the garlic and dill set it off.
There is a small brush pile in my chicken run that filled in with weeds and one of said weeds was mustard! The bees love it! I sampled a few leaves and seeds for the fun of it. The leaves are too strong but not surprising in the heat. In a couple months they will be more palatable. The seed on the other hand were remarkably French's yellow mustard like so I thought why not try to make mustard.
I harvested the plants and put them in the garage on a sheet. After a couple weeks they were dry enough to thresh. Mustard is much easier that other grains to separate. The pods chatter easily. After winnowing the seed and chaff in the wind for a while I got a bowl of seeds.
After searching around online the simplest recipe was from Kitchen 101 How to make mustard at home on YouTube. It's equal parts seeds, cider vinegar, and water. Soak seeds over night. I used 2/3 cup of each.
Drain, reserving the liquid, blend until the desired consistency. Add salt to taste. I ended up putting all the reserved liquid back in about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of turmeric. I used Kelly's Magic Bullet blender.
Final product! It taste great but holy cow is it spicy!!! A little goes a long way.
Today I got around to cleaning the garlic harvest. Overall the harvest was a little light. My guess is because of the mildish winter allowing the bulbs to sprout early. Who knows for sure? Regardless I got about 20 pounds total cleaned between the German red and Northern white varieties, not counting the heads I will save for seed. My soft neck, silver white variety, did not do well with only a few surviving. I will save all I have harvested for seed this fall.
Finally got around to making a beer can chicken so the following is the recipe/pictorial journey.
Start the charcoal! If you have gas the ideal is a three burner so the middle can be low with the outside hot.
Prep the bird. I just use salt and pepper. Season liberally.
I use a beer can holder but instead of a beer can I use a half pint mason jar with water.
Next up... truss the chicken. Use about 3 feet of butchers twine. I secure the legs first then bring the twine up to the back, tucking in the flap of skin then crossing the front. Tucking in the skin seals the top trapping the moisture in the bird. Jacque Pepin has some great videos on YouTube showing how to truss a bird.
On the grill... Arrange the coals in a circle around where the bird goes. I put two coals directly under the bird to help the water in the jar heat up for steam. Watch closely for the first 1/2 hour to make sure the skin doesn't burn. Move coals in or out to adjust the heat.
I put a thermometer in the thigh. I find that beer can chicken can be a little under cooked in the thigh even if the breast is done. I cook to 175.
I check the chicken every 20 minutes or so to make sure the skin is not burning. The beauty of charcoal is the temperature slowly decreases slowing the cooking process. I pull the chicken off when it hits 175 in the thigh. Check the breast to be sure (165). Usually 1 1/2 - 2 hours. I rest the bird in a tent of foil for 10 minutes. Then cut up and enjoy!
I have been making sauerkraut and Kimchi for some time now in my fermenting crock I received as a gift from Kelly some years ago. She picked it up at the Rutland farmers market from Maya Zelkin Pottery . Last fall I fermented garlic and it turned out great so this year I'm trying dill pickles. I have made pickles via boiling water processingwitg sugar, salt, and vinegar, usually dills, bread and butters, and my version of gherkins. So let the experiment begin.
When searching recipes online I will typical go with Epicurious, Slended Table or Americas Test Kitchen. Branching out to others I will look at a few different recipes to find the common points among each and use these commonalities as a base to start from. This recipe is a combination from Cultures of Health, Makesauerkraut!, and Wild Fermentation.
My fermenter is about one gallon.
3 quarts of water with 7 tablespoons of kosher salt dissolved
a gallon of cucumbers washed to remove spines and dirt
6 cloves of sliced garlic
half dozen grape leaves
half a jar of picking spices
handful of dill leaves and flowers
Layer the crock with grape leaves, cukes, garlic, spices, dill then repeat to the top. I ended with a leaf on top. The. Fill with brine.
If I keep the trough filled I generally don't have to worry about the "scum" that can form in the crock.
Now just wait. I'll check the pickles until they are done then store in jars in the refrigerator.