Saturday ended up being a big kitchen projects day for us this weekend. Hubby had a four day weekend and I had him all to myself all day on Saturday (except for the waiting time when he went off to play video games). So we made full use of it and did lots of projects.
First thing in the morning, though, we went out to the Pomona farmer’s market. Its a little one, but they have some good stuff. A couple produce stands, including one for Amy’s Farm, which is an adorable little farm down the road from us. We’ve been there a few times for produce, and they’ve always got some good stuff. I’ve thought about joining their CSA, but haven’t yet found myself to be reliable in getting their on a weekly basis. We started looking for farmer’s markets, because I’d like to find one where I can get pastured eggs (preferably organic-fed with no soy in the feed). Pomona was close to us, so the other weekend, we went to check it out. Its very small, but has some good stuff. Aside from the three veggie stands (one of which has fabulous organic strawberries!), there is also a fruit stand, a nursery dude, a bread stand, a snack stand (nuts and treats and stuff), a flower stand, a tamales stand, and another stand selling jewelry and whatnot.
Saturday when we went, we grabbed some general produce – onions, celery, zucchini, radishes, carrots, as well as strawberries. From the fruit stand, we grabbed a pound of cherries and some apples (biggest apples, but last of the season – boo). Also a couple things from the bread stand, which has excellent prices and interesting variations.
The awesome thing was, the day before, we had been talking about maraschino cherries, and how terribly those are made, and how brandied cherries are so much better anyway and we could make our own. And then the fruit stand HAD CHERRIES! So we grabbed some. That was our first kitchen project of the day. So brandy and sugar went into a pot, and cherries got pitted. Once the brandy mix was cooled, it got poured over the cherries in a jar, and in about 4 weeks, we shall have a wonderful garnish for drinks.
Next up on the list, I wanted to try making pickles. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE pickles, but hubby hates them. Like REALLY hates them. But he was kind enough to help me in my endeavors, and I greatly appreciate that. Now, most of the recipes I found for making pickles said to look for actual pickling cucumbers and preferably organic. What I was able to find was organic Persian cucumbers at Trader Joe’s. They looked to be a good size, so I went with those. We (hubby) cut them up into spears, and we added the spears, dill, peppercorns, garlic, and salt water to the jar. I also added a little veggie culture starter to give it a headstart, as well as two leaves from our grape vine, which is supposed to keep the pickles crunchy. Up into a cupboard the pickle jar went for 2 days. I tasted them yesterday to see where they were at, and I was happy with the flavor, the smell, and the crunchiness, so I stuck them in the fridge. Attempt #1 seems to be a success. So now I plan to make a couple more batches – one for father-in-law, one for a friend, and another one for me.
With my newfound obsession for cultured/fermented traditional foods, I also wanted to try making kombucha. I had ordered a kombucha scoby from Kombucha Kamp, and needed to get that going. I followed the directions that came with my scoby and got that put together in a jar/pitcher that I had found at WalMart for $8 that had a spigot at the bottom. This way I can do a continuous brew on it, and be able to easily taste a little each day to determine where I want the sweet/sour balance to be.
After just two days, I checked it last night, and there is already a film forming over the top which will be my new baby scoby! I was so excited to see that! I think that’s an excellent sign that the conditions are good, so I must have done something right. Who would have ever thought I would get so excited over scum? 🙂
Next up on the list was a naturally fermented strawberry soda. This utilized my ginger bug that I’d been working on for the last week. I used this recipe from Holistic Squid for Cultured Strawberry Soda. The process was fairly straight forward, though it did take forever for the wort to get down to around 75 degrees, and we actually ended up setting the pan in a sink of cold water to cool it quicker. This was towards the end of the day, and we were just ready to be done with our projects. Once it was cool enough, we got the strawberry soda bottled and capped.
Hubby made these fabulous labels for me with the label maker I had asked him for at Christmas (but never set up and used until this weekend – such a procrastinator!).
I only let it sit out at room temperature for a day, because I am super paranoid about the stories I’ve read about exploding bottles when the pressure builds too much. I have no idea how to know when it is getting too pressurized, and did not like the idea of glass and soda going everywhere in my kitchen. So after a day, I went ahead and stuck them in the refrigerator. Yesterday, we went ahead and cracked one open to see how it tasted and how fizzy it was. I was imagining soda foaming everywhere when the lid was opened, but it did not do that. It really didn’t foam at all, until we poured it into a glass of ice.
Then we got some nice fizziness going on. It was pretty tasty, though there was a little bit of funkiness in the smell of it. I would imagine that is because it is a naturally fermented product, rather than a crappy-ingredient-filled soda. It was still pretty sweet, which works well for hubby. But for me, I’d probably leave it out at room temp for 2 days next time, and maybe have it be less sweet and have eaten more of the sugar. But all in all, I would call that a success as well.