Fermentation Fun

I recently said I was learning a bit of Fermenting but wasn’t quite ready to jump on the Kombucha train. Well, never say never because I can see I am working my way down that path. Let me say first, that I am not the only one who tried one Ferment and then turned their kitchen into a secret lab of bubbling bottles. It starts with Sauerkraut. The mushy Sauerkraut that comes out of a bag is all I’d really known till now. Yes, technically Sauerkraut from a bag or homemade are the same thing but only in the same way that a Lion and a barn Kitten are both cats. They are that different. I also love the process. No more frustrating appliances to slice it in mere minutes. A knife and a cutting board is all I use, I am not looking to be efficient with time here, I enjoy the process. It then goes into a large stainless bowl where it gets salted and sits, waiting for it’s massage;) Once the salt starts drawing liquid out of the Cabbage it gets a good massage, and it softens a little. It is then packed by heaping handfuls into wide mouth jars. It gets packed in with a wooden tool and then the waiting  begins. It’s very pretty to watch it change over time.

kraut done

Here is a beautiful bowl of Sauerkraut, that is amazingly crunchy and so delicious. I had to wait 3 weeks for this pretty bowl. It is said that for the best probiotic effect to wait 4-6 weeks or even more, but I couldn’t it just looked too good!

This is the thing about making Sauerkraut, once you start you have can’t stop. Sauerkraut is the gateway vegetable to full blown Fermentation Frenzy! I keep trying new things. I did discover that Brussels Sprouts pickled, are a bit intense when you smell the jar after opening it. I have gotten a bit of complaint from Hubby on that one. I learned that the brussels sprouts jar I did with radishes was more smelly, but still tasted very good, and the one I did with just carrots and dill and Brussels Sprouts was much less so, but also very good. I think of it in the way great cheeses are smelly! My Great Grandmother used to make pickled Brussels Sprouts and so I like them because they taste good, and because they make me think of her.

What else am I fermenting?


These jars were newly set up in this photo. The left one is mixed veggies with Beauty Heart Radishes, Green Peppers, Red Peppers, Cauliflower, a few Thai Chili Peppers, Garlic and Dill. The one on the right is Sauerkraut, or will be in a few weeks.

veggie ferm done

This jar is the veggie jar on the left side of the above photo, but it was 3 weeks later. The veggies are crunchy as can be, a little salty, a little sour, and a lot delicious, similar to a Kosher Dill Pickle. The Brine is also delicious, but, not surprising, because I am that girl who sneaking hits of green olive brine while pregnant!

veggie ferm served

Here is what the veggies look like served up, I had to take the picture fast because they lasted only a couple of minutes!


The secret lab is growing. The Raspberry Honey Wine continues to bubble, the Kimchi was doing it’s thing (my version of Kimchee that is), and the middle jar is filled with a variety of hot Peppers, garlic, onions, and dehydrated tomatoes. This jar after about 3 weeks got strained, and the veggies got pureed, and it made…

hot sauce

THIS HOT SAUCE! I personally am scared of it, but will use it as a base to make several types of sauces. I will be cooking all my tomatoes down after Thanksgiving and will be using this in combination with the tomato sauce.


This is a variety of goodies. 2 kinds of Kraut juice, vinegar pickled green tomatoes and cukes, and fermented sauerkraut, pickled beets and mixed veggies. I love them all.

Baking, winning and selling. A good week.

IMG_5683 - Version 2

My favorite little neighbors came over for our bi-annual cookie baking! This year their skills really hiked it up a few notches. Then we experimented with some mini caramel apples.



It was a fun, but rather sticky afternoon. Perhaps not the healthiest of fair, but the kiddos, my daughter and I all had gooey good fun!


In other news, I WON this! $100 of local foods!!! This was super fun, all such good food, all so healthy and delicious. I answered a question on the Co-op’s Facebook page and names were drawn. How did I get this lucky?! All local, all wonderful!


Another unusual thing that week was that hubby decided to part with his 1949 International Pick up truck. I listed it on our local buy and sell Facebook page and in 4 hours there was guy here with a big stack of hundred dollar bills. The money comes at a good time, since we have money tied up in a house flip and we are waiting on the sale. So in the last few weeks, I have sold 159 pounds of Mangel beets, a pick up truck and a 1 year old Highland. I am definitely on a roll!


Oh yes, and I additionally sold our first 4 chickens! Sold them off the farm, and it felt really good to know we raised it from a chick, and sold it to someone who understands the care and work that went into them and bought them for her dinner table. November 4th we have our first beef going in and will be loading the beef into our freezer in mid November. All of this is very exciting and bringing us to a whole new place. It’s been three years since we started our mini herd, and now we will have beef each Fall.


These are tiny GOJI BERRIES! I didn’t think I would see one this year. We planted 2 Elderberries, 2 Red Currants, 2 Plum trees and one Goji Berry this past Spring. I am hoping that next year we will have lots of blossoms on all of them. Not really sure what we will think of the taste of Goji berries or not, but my goal this past Spring was to add more fruit to our farm. Fruit in the Midwest is a very limited engagement and so stocking the freezer with enough fruit is harder for us. This year in the freezer we have local blueberries, local strawberries, our rhubarb, peaches from a couple hours north of us and loads of applesauce and plenty of apple cider, although we wished we had done more cider. This was our first year doing it and hoping next year for a whole lot more! It is delicious. We did a wild apple cider with mixed wild apples and then one with our pears in it. Oh and in the pantry we have lots of dried apples, some dried peaches, dried watermelon and dried pears.


WE GOT OUR FIRST EGGS FROM OUR NEW LAYERS!!!!! So proud of the little girls.

A little less kitchen, and a little more garden…

The garden is really looking like Fall. The tomatoes are wrapping up with a handful of cherry tomatoes and a few San Marzano’s each day.

fall garden


No matter how much Parsley I dry, I can’t keep up, lol!


I did manage to accumulate enough for two more trays of roasted tomatoes with garlic, basil and olive oil. This time though I pureed them and, because of the skins being in it, it made it super thick and it could be sauce for a pizza or a when cold it is thick enough for to be a roasted tomatoes ketchup. I have 12 small jars of this in the freezer, not bad seeing how I thought the tomatoes were almost done! The dill shown above will all get dried into dill seed and dill weed. My dehydrator has gotten little rest this season.

red beet mangels

This was cool! We grew these Red Beet Mangels for our Pigs we were getting in May. Ummm then we didn’t get Pigs this year after all. We had enough going on this year! So what to do with the Mangels. Each one weighs close to, or more than a pound! I decided to get in touch with my friend who raises goats. When I can get over there I barter with her for milk and eggs too, while our girls are in their molt. I asked if she was interested in some Winter feed for her goats. She said she really did need fresh feed for them for the Winter, apparently you can bury them and cover them with loads of straw and they last through the winter. She came over and we dug up loads and loads and stuffed boxes of them into her small Toyota and off she went. I was left with 3 dozen eggs, 1 gallon of goat milk and a giant credit for milk and soap. It was a win-win-win. The third win was for the goats!


Here are some of her beautiful eggs that Hubby was cooking up with some chives. There really is a remarkable difference between farm eggs and store eggs. :-)

As long as I seem to have found my way back to the kitchen I will show off my exciting new venture into fermenting. I have made kimchi a few times but now I have these awesome fermenting jars!


On the left is Sauerkraut and on the right is Kimchi. I can’t wait to taste these. I also made some vinegar pickled Kohlrabi and beets shown below.

pickled kohlrabi:beets

soap dishes

Finally, I finished this tiny little project that I started forever ago. These are my new soap dishes for my goat soap. I cut it into chunks and will put one by each sink in the house. When the jars get soapy and messy then I just rinse them clean. Hubby drilled the holes, in the wood, I didn’t trust myself to learn how to use a new tool on something that was so small and could so easily split!

High Bush Cranberry Jelly – It’s definitely Fall


I watched these beautiful High Bush Cranberries change all summer, from green to yellow to orange and finally this beautiful color red. It is finally time to make jelly, and this year there were a lot more berries than last year! I picked them in the evening, and it got dark quickly. I came in and made the juice and I thought I had picked them all but the next day I saw a section I missed, so I had even more juice than I thought.


hbc jelly

I read that Cranberries are one of the higher pectin fruits so I thought I would skip the pectin. I ended up with lovely syrup, so I processed again and used some pectin but not much. Then it became the consistency of honey. So it is messy on toast but delicious and will be great on French Toast. When I made the next batch I figured I’d just make actual syrup for mixing in sparkling water, for homemade soda or to compliment a cocktail, but ironically this set beautifully and is not jelly but thick jam. The flavor is magically delicious, and forget any notions of a cereal eating leprechaun, this is actually magically delicious, unlike that little fellow’s cereal.

going as a guest

Hubby was helping our daughter do some back splash tiling in her kitchen and we had a collaborative meal and BBQ’d on her patio. I took one of my corn relish jars out of the pantry and mixed it with some pinto beans and a few tablespoons of fresh salsa for a cold salad. The other dish I brought was simply green beans sauteed with re-hydrated Shiitake Mushrooms. I brought her some of the apple pear cider we made as she and her other half were here helping with it earlier that day. The cherry tomatoes were just to share, they have helped in the garden and are the lucky recipients of garden grabs when they are here.

The next day we had company so I made the corn salad again, and here were other appetizers and salads, all homemade: fresh pico de gallo, a cucumber tomato salad, a tomato bruschetta, dilly beans and some salmon from a local fishery and this became a spread for crackers with a bit of mayo, lots of lemon juice and dill.


I purchased some local beef (counting the weeks till we have our own first beef, which will be in mid November) and we had mini burgers on some very small buns that I made. All in all a tasty meal and nice to see some friends we had not seen in years!


We have been enjoying so many wonderful veggies, well technically I enjoyed the Zucchini pancakes above, I didn’t bother making those when Hubby was around, Zucchini and Hubby are not friends.


Although this veggie dish looks like it has pasta in it, those are actually Zucchini noodles:)

pot pie prep

It was time to use our last stewing bird from last year. This was stage two of my first chicken pot pie from scratch. I started by putting the whole bird in the crock pot with water and once it was cooked I had a lot of chicken meat and loads of broth. The veggies above went into the pie with the thickened broth. I used our mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic to fill the pie, along with all the chicken.

pot pie

This was delicious!!! Once the chicken was cooked, hubby got a sandwich out of it, then the next night we ate the pie, the next day we had it again for lunch and then we had yet another lunch out of it when I turned the broth into a chicken veggie soup, and served it with grilled cheese for both of us. The one bird served us each a dinner and each two lunches, plus an extra lunch for hubby. It’s amazing how many meals can come from one bird!


It sure is looking like Fall is setting in, at this point. This morning it was 45 when I went to let the birds out. It seems too soon for a fire in the house, so as I sit in the cool kitchen (63 degrees) with a sweatshirt and a hat on, with my favorite radio programming, I am keeping warm with lots of coffee.

morning coffee

48 birds in the freezer, and loads of veggie processing going on…


We got it done. Hubby returned from his week away and the following weekend we got all the birds done in one day. We were only able to do that many in a day because a kind friend loaned us his chicken plucker, and this was no Whiz Bang, this was The Featherman and boy did we get lucky, up until now we have plucked all the birds ourselves. In 6-7 hours we were all done and then it was just mop up work. We did find that although the Featherman did an awesome job plucking the chickens we still had to pluck the Featherman of all it’s downy feathers that got stuck under the projections in the tub. Once we stopped trying to pick them out and got the power sprayer on it, it went much quicker!! The process though does continue, as the outside stuff all has to be cleaned, the stainless table returned to the neighbor and then inside after the birds had rested in the fridge for almost two days, they were checked over carefully, each one, to remove any rogue feathers and then they went in the freezer. Then I went through all the livers, removing some fat and bagging them into 6 different bags. It was amazing to have that work done. Funny, we have one chicken left from last year, so I’d say we made it all year on last year’s Chickens which was my hope!


My good friend came over and we did our annual corn thing. It was very hot out so we shucked the corn on the floor rather than doing it outside. We ended up with about 30 bags of corn, roughly, for each us to put into our freezers. Later that week, I made and canned corn relish, which my friend recommended can be combined with black beans for a great salad. I am checking corn off my list at this point, any corn we get now will be eaten in it’s summer goodness.


Right now, it’s everything tomato!! I have 14 gallons of tomatoes in the freezer waiting for a cold day to make bbq sauce, tomato sauce, and ketchup. It’s a nice way to warm up the house when on the edge of the heating season.

I’ve been drying lots of the cherry tomatoes. They are great to toss into soups, but mostly hubby just loves snacking on them.


When done they look like this.


These here will become roasted tomatoes, with garlic and basil.


When done they look like this and were delicious on this very oddly shaped…


Pizza!!! I love my Pizza stone, it makes the best crust ever!

I’ve also been making loads of salsa. I canned about 12 cans, but last year I read about the freezer salsa method and it worked great. We used the freezer salsa first and then went to the jars. The taste of freezer salsa is great, the taste is halfway between fresh and canned. When you thaw it, you have to strain it, as when it thaws a lot of liquid forms. This is great for putting in bloody mary’s!


Yummy Salsa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This is my 12 pound cabbage, the apple, which is a good sized apple is there to give some perspective to this amazing Cabbage. I see coleslaw, sauerkraut and kimchi in my future!! I ordered two special wide mouth jars with fermenting accessories, and when they arrive this week I will be putting sauerkraut in one and kimchi in the other. I am excited for my package to arrive!


The Italian Frying Peppers have been beyond awesome this year. I cut them in strips and laid them out on a cookie sheet and froze them. I’ve done this several times already. I bag them and put them in the freezer, then I will be able to have red peppers all year to toss into soups, stews or other things.


I now have a Winter’s worth of Spaghetti in my freezer! I love the taste of pasta with sauce, but don’t like how full I feel afterwards, nor do I appreciate the calorie load, so my answer is Zucchini Spaghetti. It is delicious!! It is also very easy to cut on my Mandolin, or as dear hubby called it, a banjo:)


Still working on pickles…the one on the left, are sweet with onions in them – Hubby’s favorite – and the others are extra dill slices. This week I will be getting 10 pounds of pickling cukes from our neighbor, and will make enough dill relish for the year. I like it for adding to potato salad, and coleslaw, and also to use as a relish.


We’ve had a great mushroom year! I have about 8 quarts of dried mushrooms and a variety too, Chicken of the Woods, Pheasant backs, Morels and then the Shiitakes that we grew. I love having mushrooms to add to soups, and to hydrate for adding to other dishes, but my favorite is mushrooms and eggs.


Yesterday was a big day. We sold our first cow. It was great to have the Cattle earn their first cash and since the person buying her has a trailer, I asked them if I lowered the price some, if they would be willing to load our cattle in November and get them to the meat locker, and she said YES! Selling this little girl solved a lot of problems. We no longer have to worry that her Daddy, our only bull, would try to impregnate her next year, and we got one cow off our grass, which we are always a bit tight on, and we solved our loading problem. All these things are awesome. The icing on the cake? Hubby’s load out facility worked perfectly! It does need a couple of tweaks but it went super well, she loaded right up and was off on her way. The woman who picked her up told her husband that she might not be back till after dark, because you never know how loading will go, but she was in and out of here in 15 minutes! A great night, and a cattle success under our belts.

No day 7 – but a week in review.

I didn’t write a day 7, but thought instead I would look back at the week and see what I actually did that I planned and what I added that I didn’t plan…

I canned Dilly Beans, and froze lots of greens, and green beans, I made refrigerator pickles, (lots of them) and a cucumber and onion relish that hubby loves. I dried Dill, and Basil and finally rendered Lard for the first time. I didn’t eat dinner at dinner time and I didn’t eat food that would qualify as dinner to hubby or most men. I ate fruits and veggies till I thought I might pop and I did read part of my Hunter Safety PDF. Oh and I canned Peach Jam which I didn’t expect to do that week, but MIL gave me some wonderful looking peaches. What I didn’t do but wanted to do was to play guitar, clarinet or piano, or knit or get out my 35mm camera that I love. I guess my list is set for my next window of spare time..


This is something I have wanted to do for a while. I’ve haphazardly thrown herbs into bags before but I always wanted to have them in labeled jars. While I could have collected much more so far this year, I am still going to try to add to these. The labels when I saw them seemed a little frilly and unnecessary but these labels, unlike stickers, actually wash off, and so I decided it would be nice to have them done. Ok I have to admit, they look pretty cute;)


We are getting ready for Chicken day. We experimented with 10 birds free ranging this year, and only lost one after weeks of having them out. Now we have them in, since butchering is so soon, I don’t want to lose another. There is a lot of feed $ that goes into a full size bird, so I can’t take any chances at this point. This weekend we will process the 9 free rangers and then we will thin out the “mega roo” coop by 16 birds. The next week we will process another 24 birds and then will be done with processing till our new hens start laying and we process our current layers. That would be in about late October/early November. Tomorrow I will plan out the line so we have a good set up for working. I will also gather fans for us to have near by since it will unfortunately be 90 degrees! It will be nice to have the meat birds in the freezer. They were frankly a lot of work this year, and we are trying to figure out a lower maintenance way of raising birds next year. I am going to look into the Freedom Ranger, (a heritage breed) for next year but I will need convincing. They grow out in 8 weeks instead of 12-14 weeks like ours, but I am concerned about that rapid growth. It will be Winter reading for me. It would be nice to be done raising them by July instead of August.


Although this looks like we are drowning in tomatoes, we really are not. They have been extremely slow this year. This was gathered over a few days. Last year at this time, I had a counters worth! I am not complaining though, they are delicious! I will soon take out the large piece of Jowl Bacon from last Fall’s pigs and we will have BLT’s. We have saved it since Fall just for Summer Tomatoes! Since there are not enough to sauce at this point, but too many to eat, I have been making salads with many of them with lots of cucumbers and onions.


I also cooked them with garlic and olive oil with Basil and this can be used on a toasted slice of bread, or over pasta or…


…just out of the jar. They are delicious.

Now this is exciting!


I had to thin a few of our carrots, and quite honestly I have never grown a carrot successfully, but this year my daughter did! Maybe she has broken the carrot curse. If these look like this just when thinning them early, I think in the Fall we will have beautiful big carrots!!! Yay!


No it is not Apple season here yet, although I am really excited for the season. We have our new cider press to use this year, so that is going to be really fun to try. These apples were given to me the other day. Talk about windfall apples! I was given a 40 pound case for free! I have 7 shelves like these in the dehydrator and…


…a crockpot full of Applesauce. I still have about 25 apples left and I will probably dry all those. I want to increase our dried fruits and veggies this year.

I’ve decided that it’s time to add some new incremental steps this year. I have definitely learned more and done more each year since we started this almost 3 years ago. It is time to take more steps. I am going to learn how to make Laundry Soap. I have seen many recipes, but I have a FB group who I will check in with and ask them all to post their favorite recipes. Other things I want to add include learning to do more fermenting. I’ve loved the Kimchi so far, but there are so many things that can be fermented, and it is so, so healthy to eat fermented foods. Yesterday I took a try at making fermented pickles and fermented beets as opposed to Vinegar pickles. I’m excited to see how they will turn out. I also want to try making Sauerkraut. Hold on to your hat, I might even try making Kombucha?! I never thought I would say that!


Pickled Beets the old fashioned way. I hope they turn out good!


These last two weeks have been very, very dry! This is the first rain we had in weeks. What you see is what there was, it didn’t even get the whole deck wet. It looks like next week we may finally get some rain, keeping fingers crossed!

It was a fantastic week. It was also great to have Hubby back home again.

Day 6 – My Solo Farm Week

So today was the last full day of my solo staycation on the farm. It’s been wonderful. I spent this last day…finishing cleaning the garage, (so that I can have them out to license the freezer) worked in the garden quite a bit and picked more beans, kale, collards, beet greens, some tomatoes (they have not hit the explosion yet, we are just getting a small bowl each day) and some of the mangel greens, that we had planted for the pigs, that turned out to be tasty. While this isn’t for everyone, I rendered the leaf lard from last Fall’s Pigs yesterday and today. I used the crock pot and it was pretty effortless.


rendering 2

This is what it looked like when it cooled. I hear that this makes the best pie crust ever!


I dug these pretty potatoes up today. I will roast some of them with Hubby’s welcome home dinner tomorrow night. There’s about 12 pounds of them, they are not for storing, we will use these up by Fall and that is when we will tap into our storage potatoes that our wonderful organic gardener neighbor will score for us from his farm or some of his friends farms. He gets great deals and then stores them for us all Winter in his walk in cooler.


The cattle were oddly restless today. Our Bull was feeling lets say, rather amorous and the date he picked was not interested at all. He was relentless, I’ve never actually seen him that way! I was glad she wouldn’t “stand” for him, as we really don’t need to increase our herd size! Every time she rebuffed him, everyone would start shoving in their pecking order. It was interesting to watch. I climbed up on something higher to get this picture. They were all looking at me so I thought, why not?!


I also spent time reading my hunter safety class. Boy oh boy is it detailed. I shall be very well informed when I am done!

The other thing I did was get everything mowed, because I knew Hubby would love to see that when he drove up. It feels good to be able to use the four wheeler and the mower without feeling like I won’t be able to get them started or that they will die and I won’t know what to do. I feel much more comfortable with them now.

On a whole other note, I saw this on Facebook and it screamed to me. Not sure about the s’mores since we eat them at campfires in the Summer, but I am totally on board with the hoodies and pumpkins, and lovely cool Fall temps!


Getting very excited for this!