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Fermenting With a reCAP and Mason Jar

sauerkraut_recap

I’ve been on a fermenting hiatus. I reached my fermentation/sprouting breaking point one day about a year ago when I was attempting to cook a meal that was becoming increasingly frustrating due to shrinking horizontal prep space. I stopped cold turkey. At the time, I had numerous projects underway including mead, wine, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, and half a dozen varieties of sprouts – most in 2 gallon buckets or 1 gallon carboys. I didn’t feel like I was gaining health in my endeavors, only losing control of my surroundings, in particular, my counter space. The balance had tipped from fun-with-fermenting to high-maintenance-chaotic-experimentation.

Now that I’ve been away form it, I find myself once again seeking to get back on track with a traditional and ancestral-esque style of eating and living. Wanting to keep my counters less cluttered (I live in a 750 sq. ft. home, so there isn’t much room elsewhere for these projects) I started thinking about reintroducing some ferments, but keeping them to a manageable one quart size. I also wanted to shift from doing some ferments in open containers (plate on top, submerged with brine, etc.) to closed containers. Voila! The Recap on a mason jar with an airlock was born. Who knew that a #6 rubber stopper would fit in the Recap hole? Genius.

Simple Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

Supplies:

  • wide-mouth quart mason jar
  • wide-mouth reCAP lid (we sell these at the Seaside Farmers Market & will soon be adding them to our online store)
  • #6 rubber stopper (bung) – available at a home brew store and sometimes hardware stores
  • an airlock – available at a home brew store and sometimes hardware stores

Ingredients:

  • one cabbage head – I used a savoy cabbage. Napa works great as does just regular ol’ cabbage.
  • 1-3 tablespoons of sea salt – I used a Kosher sea salt
  • a few sprigs of fresh dill – may substitute other herbs or go without
  • several whole peppercorns – not necessary

Shred the cabbage with a processor or simply cut it into 1/4″ wide strips. Layer the cabbage in the mason jar and sprinkle with a little salt. Using a heavy glass, wooden muddler, or your fingers, press the cabbage down into the jar. Add the dill and peppercorns randomly in the layers. Repeat this process until the jar is full, leaving 1″ of head space at the top. Pressing the cabbage and the addition of salt releases the juices of the cabbage. The cabbage should eventually be submerged in its own brine. I usually come back and press it a few times through the course of the first few hours to help it along. If it doesn’t have enough of its own juice to cover the cabbage, top it off with a little filtered water. In this batch, I got a whole cabbage in the jar. It’s probably a little too compact, but that’s okay. We started nibbling on it within a few days.

Screw the lid on tight. Before making the sauerkraut, check to be sure that your reCAP and your mason jar are air tight. Put the airlock in the bung (I’m using a 3-piece airlock) and the bung in the reCAP hole. Make sure it’s all tight. Put water in the airlock. In a few hours, you should see the middle piece of the airlock start to push against the top of the airlock. That will indicate that your sauerkraut is starting to ferment and the set-up is indeed air tight. You can start eating your sauerkraut within a couple of days, though ideally, let it ferment for a few weeks before moving to cold storage.

 

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Seed and Planter Giveaway

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GIVEAWAY!
My sister, Dara Hartman owner of Dara Hartman Ceramics, and I are planning to do a combined giveaway for the holidays.  One lucky person will win a beautiful handmade ceramic planter by Dara Hartman Ceramics and five packs (your choice) of heirloom seeds from Moonlight Micro-Farm.  What a great combination and it will make a wonderful addition to your garden!

DETAILS
To enter: “Like” both Dara Hartman Ceramics and Moonlight Micro-Farm on Facebook. Then leave a comment on Dara’s website letting us know what your favorite item is from either of our shops.
Deadline: Giveaway ends Sunday, December 9th at midnight, MST. The winner will be drawn at random and announced on Monday, December 10th.

Additional ways to enter:
Share on Facebook: Post or share this Giveaway announcement on your facebook page.  Then leave a comment on Dara’s website letting us know you did so.

or

Twitter: Tweet the giveaway info below and leave a comment on Dara’s website letting us know you did so:
Giveaway! Enter to win a planter from @DAHceramics and heirloom seeds from @moonmicrofarm!  Details at http://www.darahartman.com/news/ (Ends 12/9)

 

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Seed Sale on Etsy

Today is the last day to save 50% on all seeds at our Etsy shop. Stop by and take a look before midnight central time. The sale includes all our open pollinated (non-GMO) seeds and organic sprouting seeds. Please enjoy and thanks for all your support throughout the year!

 

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Seed Germination Test

Let me first say, I have no idea how to accurately perform a proper germination test. I’m totally wingin’ it here. I’ve tested tiny quantities of seed for viability prior to planting in my personal garden, though this is my first attempt at testing germination on seeds I intend to sell. I figured that I would simulate the damp-paper-towel-in-a-plastic-bag process, but on a larger scale. Looks like the test was a success except for a couple of varieties that probably need more time.

Which seed was the first to germinate? Red Velvet Okra. Almost all the okra seeds germinated within 24 hours.

Which seed performed the best? It is a tie between the Red Velvet Okra, Herman’s Little Yeller Tomatoes, and the Sesame. All three were just a couple of seeds shy of 100% germination.

Which seed lagged behind? Afula Sunflower and Malabar Spinach both need more time to germinate.

Which seed performed satisfactorily? Luffa and Seminole Pumpkin were both slower to germinate, though as time went by, more seeds germinated.

How did I perform the germination test? Start with a 10″x20″ nursery flat without holes. Soak a piece of Sure to Grow mat in water, gently wring and place in nursery flat. Select a minimum of 20-50 seeds of each variety to test and place them in marked rows on the mat. Gently spray the seeds with a water bottle and cover the whole tray with plastic wrap. Place tray on heated mat for several days. Calculate germination based on which seeds germinated divided by the total amount of seeds.

 

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The Fall Seed Harvest

This is what the fall harvest table looks like at our house. Beginning in September, small plates, bowls, racks, and ramekins filled with seeds and other garden finds start to collect on every horizontal surface. This photo is actually a pared-down visual compared to just weeks before the folks visited in early October. Everything was tucked away before they arrived, but no sooner had they left, the little bowls and trays started appearing again. Depending on the temperature and humidity, seeds and such are shuffled from the screen porch table, to inside, and sometimes through the dehydrator for short periods of time.

I’m excited to announce that this coming season will mark the first time, since the beginning of Moonlight Micro-Farm, that we will be able to offer several varieties of seed that have been grown and harvested here in the Gulf Coast region. A few local farmers and gardeners have provided us with seed including: Dragonfly Fields, Henderson’s Farm, Greenman’s Garden, and Artzi Vegetables. In addition, I’ve grown out a few varieties in my own garden and was given fruit grown from our seeds that we subsequently harvested the seeds from. Next week, I’ll start doing germination tests on all the seed before we offer them to you. My hope is that this is the beginning of a shift to bringing more bioregionally adapted non-GMO seed to growers in our area. How many times can I type ‘seed’ in one paragraph? :)

What’s in the photo?

Starting with quart mason jar and going clockwise: mason jar terrarium (nothing edible there), two luffa gourds, a bunch of panang basil racemes, bowl of soaking Seminole pumpkin guts, plate of poblano seeds, plate of orange bell pepper seeds, dish of red velvet okra seeds, cayenne peppers, red velvet okra pods, jack-be-little pumpkins, rooting sprigs of Mexican tarragon and Tagetes lemonii, mason jar votives, and a blue bowl of harvested sesame pods.

 

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Simple Sprouting Recipes eBook

Looking for ways to enjoy your sprouts? Need direction on how to grow your sprouts? Our new e-Book, Simple Sprouting Recipes is now available as a downloadable PDF. Our recipe book features 15 sprout recipes and directions for growing all types of sprouts from greens to beans. Visit our website to download your copy today.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Cooking and Gardening, Sprouts & Micro-greens

 

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Easy Fall Plantings

Dwarf Blue Scotch Kale

Dwarf Blue Scotch Kale

At the farmers market, I’m often asked, “What’s the easiest thing to plant?”. This is usually from someone who is new to gardening, new to gardening in Florida, or hasn’t had much gardening success. If you want to get started in gardening and are asking the same thing, you’re not alone.

Living in Florida, I love to recommend that new gardeners start in the fall. Planting the right crops in the right season will increase your success rate exponentially and once you have a few growing achievements behind you, you’re more likely to keep at it. Fall is a great time to garden because the weather turns cooler as the season progresses. Bugs and diseases become less of an issue.

The other great thing about fall is the type of crops that can be grown. Most gardeners want to grow tomatoes, peppers, and squash, but the easiest crops to grow are greens. You’re basically eating greens once they pop out of the ground. No waiting for the fruit that can be susceptible to attack by all manner of diseases and critters. Greens grow best in cooler weather. In fact, they thrive when the temperature starts to drop. And although we all love our summer ripened heirloom tomatoes, greens are super nutritious and something we all could eat more often.

Try planting kale, arugula, mustard, lettuce, and Swiss chard. I start from seeds because these are easy to grow and it’s not always easy to find starts this time of year. Greens can be planted successively over the next couple of months. Sow a few seeds now, then again in a week, then the next week, and so forth. This will give you a nice steady supply going into the winter months. These crops are also easy to grow in containers, if you have limited space. You’ll need to keep seeds and soil moist until they have germinated and also keep in mind that the days are getting shorter. Be sure to plant your seeds in a sunny spot.

Get those seeds started now and you’ll be eating your own delicious greens in just a few weeks.

What are you planting this fall?

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Cooking and Gardening, Heirloom Garden Seeds

 

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