Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homemade Cream Cheese and Lacto-fermented vegetables

I finally uploaded the pictures from my weekend cooking experiments. I am very happy to report all three projects were successful.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I read Nourishing Traditions, and loved it. One of the things this book talks about is the benefits of lacto-fermented vegetables. Basically they are preserves which have been preserved through the process of lacto-fermentation rather than by canning with heat or pressure. The way it works is by adding salt and/or whey to the vegetables you keep them from spoiling long enough for the natural acidic quality in the veggies to preserve them. You can read more about it in Nourishing Traditions or by googling lacto-fermented vegetables. I was really nervous to try this because it sounded difficult and scary. But I’m happy to report it was easy, albeit a little time consuming, and successful.

First you need to make whey. You can make lacto-fermented vegetables without whey but using whey ensures successful lacto-fermentation so I decided to use whey. You cannot use commercial dehydrated whey powder. You must make your own. Luckily this is really easy. Whey is a bi-product of making cheese. The easiest way to get there is to make cream cheese using yogurt. The cream cheese is delicious (says Mr. P, I have not tried it) and easy.

To Make Cream Cheese and whey you will need:

1 quart of high quality plain whole milk yogurt (you can not use low fat or no fat)
1 medium size bowl
1 large bowl or glass pitcher with a very wide brim
1 cheese cloth
1 wire mesh strainer
1 jar (to keep whey in)

The first time I did this I used plain Greek yogurt which seemed to work fine but my husband said it had more of a yogurt taste than a cream cheese taste because it wasn’t salty. So this time around I used Nancy’s whole milk plain yogurt and added a teaspoon of sea salt to the yogurt before I started.

Step 1: Place strainer over bowl. Line strainer with cheese cloth and dump whole quart of yogurt into cheese cloth. Make sure there is room between strainer and bottom of bowl for whey to drip out. Leave out on counter for 5-6 hours. You may need to empty whey into jar periodically depending on how deep your bowl is.
here is they whey
Step 2: After 5-6 hours tie the corners of your cheesecloth over a wooden spoon. Place the cheesecloth bundle that is hanging on wooden spoon over a larger bowl or a deep pitcher with a wide rim. Leave out until stops dripping. If it’s still dripping when you are ready to go to bed just stick it all in the fridge overnight and in the morning it will be ready.

Step 3: Pour all whey into jar and date the jar. The whey will keep for 6 months in the fridge. Place the cream cheese in a covered glass container in fridge. It will keep for one month.

To Make Lacto-Fermented Vegetables:

There are many different lacto-fermented vegetables you can make. In fact they aren’t even all vegetables. You can make sour kraut, pickles, kimchi, chutney, pickled beets, pickled garlic, preserved lemon, orange marmalade, relishes and salsa. I decided to start with salsa and corn relish. This is mostly because my grandmother deposited 20-some tomatoes, onions, 10 ears of corn, and a ton of other produce from her garden at my house last week.

For Salsa you need:

2 wide mouthed pint jars or 1 wide mouth quart jar
4 tomatoes
1 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
¾ cup chili peppers (bell or jalapeno whatever you want)
1 tsp oregano
Chili powder (optional)
Juice of two lemons
1 bunch of cilantro
¼ cup filtered water (I just used tap water)
4 Tb whey
1 Tb Sea salt

Step 1: sterilize your jars. I just brought a stock pot full of water to boil then took it off the heat, added my jars and lids and let them sit while I was preparing the salsa

Step 2: boil tomatoes 5-10 seconds each, peel, seed and chop. Place tomatoes in bowl

Step 3: add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Step 4: dry off jars with clean towel and fill with salsa. As you fill pound the salsa down into jar. You can do this with a water glass or a meat mallet. The veggies should be smashed down under the liquid. If there isn’t enough liquid you can add a little water. There doesn’t have to be a lot of liquid over the veggies they should just barely be covered. Make sure you leave an inch from top of salsa to top of jar because it will expand as it is fermenting. Seal tightly and leave on counter at room temp for two days. After two days open them and smell. If it worked they will smell like salsa if it didn’t work they will smell so badly you will not want to eat them. If they smell okay then taste. Store on TOP shelf of fridge for up to two months. You can eat right away or let the flavors meld a little longer in fridge.

To make Corn relish:

Process is pretty much the same. Ingredients are different.

3 cups fresh corn slice off cob
1 med onion
½ red bell pepper
2 TB cilantro
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
½ tsp of red pepper flakes
4 TB whey
¼ cup filtered water
1 TB sea salt

Again make sure you pound down mixture as your filling jar to release juices.
These you keep out for three days then open them up and smell them. They smell a little vinegary which is good. Then place on top shelf of fridge and they are good for three months.

One final note the jars may bubble up and fizz a little. In fact when I opened the corn relish it was bubbling and making noise. This is okay it’s just part of the process.

Next I’m going to try gingered carrots, peach chutney and pickled beets.

1 comment:

  1. This would have been an amazing "science experiment" from the sounds of it, expecially the fizzing & bubbling corn relish! I love the pictures!