Sunday, October 16, 2011

fermented: Autumn Harvest Fruit Scrap Vinegar ~ with grapes, apples, blackberries, and pears!

oh! The kitchen is alive and vibrating with bounty at harvest time! I feel so fortunate to have arrived in Oregon at this time of year. As soon as we plopped the moving boxes in the middle of the room and assembled the bed, the pots and crocks and kettles have been a-bubbling and brewing ever since. Abundance. Vitality found at the end of a wooden spatula shared with friends.

I started a post weeks ago which attempted to quickly run through all the fermented preservation I've been up to, but guess what? I'm too busy preserving! :-) Many are clearly experiments. A few are clearly delicious. That brings me to quite possibly my favorite ferment, besides just good ol' plain ol' cabbage sauerkraut: fruit scrap vinegar. With Mother Nature, truly there is no "waste." That's what I love about making vinegar from fruit scraps: the parts that would usually get tossed to the compost pile have one more step of utility to us first. I have realized this is my passion ~ making useful beautiful things out of stuff that most people in our culture nowadays consider "waste." I make clothing and other useful items from second hand fabric (if only I could unearth the machine from the boxes!), make broth from onion peels, carrot stubs, etc., and bones (which I by no means consider scrap, but instead highly valuable, however most Americans do consider these rubbish). And vinegar from fruit scraps! Ding ding ding! I win!

Ha ha. Well, it's obvious I'm passionate. ;-)

I'm thrilled to be transplanted from the city to the country. And thrilled that we have overflowing fruits for the taking right here on the rental property. This vinegar exemplifies that sweet harvest with apple, pear, blackberry and concord grape! If I had thought to add wild rose hip (oo! that's an idea!), it would almost be showing off. Though I have made luscious fruit scrap vinegars in the past ~ Rainier cherry, and ripest Kashiwase Farm nectarine from Bay Area farmers' markets come to mind, this is the most beautiful fruit scrap vinegar I may ever assemble. I mean. Just look at it.

sweet and ripe apple, pear, blackberry, and concord grape fruit scrap vinegar peeks out from its bonnet.
This is a gallon jar, by the way.

I got the idea originally from everyone's favorite Fermentation Guru-Nextdoor, Sandor Katz (featured prominently to the right), in his must-have Wild Fermentation, with the ratio for added sugar to water being 1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart water. In the past I have tried honey, and Sucanat, and probably organic white sugar. Right now I'm using some organic palm sugar that I hoarded away years ago and have since never touched. One of the things I appreciate about Sandor and his truth of fermentation is ~ use what you have, and what motivates you. The "recipes" are mostly just guidelines; you can use your imagination and what's around you to fill in the rest.
Fruit Scrap Vinegar
~Pile the fruit scraps in a clean glass vessel (I give it a good scrubbing and then fill it with boiling water beforehand, which I pour out after a few minutes).
~Fill up the empty space with the sugar water.
~Cover with a clean towel or napkin secured with a rubberband to keep the flies away.
~Let sit until the water is sufficiently cloudy ~ a week or more.
~Then strain out the solids for the compost, and pour the liquid back into the well-ventilated vessel and re-cover.
~Let it sit till the smell turns from sweet to vinegar-y.

A cloudy or fuzzy membrane might form over the top. That's ok; just use a spoon to pull it off.

This vinegar can be used in any way that you use other tasty vinegars ~ in cooking, on salads, and even just to drink, like a tasty kombucha. Yum!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Good News: Citizens Take Food Sovereignty into Their Own Hands

Haha! I've had that gloomy post at the top of this page long enough. I strongly believe in focusing on what you want instead of on what you don't want.

Cheers to folks standing up for their freedom to choose the foods they want to nourish their bodies, and to farmers standing up to sell wholesome food to folks who want to buy it!

And this is one city of a few US cities who have taken this step. Exciting!