Fermented Food

Fermented Ramsons Flower Buds

Fermented Ramson Flower Buds on Almost Bananas

I love spring in the area of Slovakia where I live, in the Malé Karpaty. The forest bursts into life, with bird song and greenery (post coming soon on the amazing flower explosion in spring).

Ramsons, or bear garlic, is a wild garlic related to the North American ramps. I haven’t actually tasted ramps, but I’ve heard that they are stronger than ramsons. They carpet the forest floor (like here), verdant and lush.  Click to continue reading

Kapustnica: Slovak Sauerkraut Soup

Kapustnica Slovak Sauerkraut Soup - Almost Bananas
A Bowl of Comfort: Slovak Soups & Stews Book

I’m sharing another part of  chapter from my book, A Bowl of Comfort: Slovak Soups & Stews.

This is the last chance to get the book at the launch price before the price goes up!

With 26 recipes, cultural stories, and in-depth health info on traditional cooking practices, there is so much more than I’ve shared here!

Here I’m sharing about the batch style cooking of the old world, food that took minimum active time, as well as the recipe for kapustnica, Slovak sauerkraut soup. A hearty soup, it is often served when needed to fit a crowd.

 

Have you heard of batch cooking? With batch cooking, you prepare all your meals for, say, a month at a time on one day, then freeze the meals. Then for dinners every day, you only have to pull a bag out of the freezer to prepare. It saves a lot of time and decision-making, as well as the what-are-we-going-to-have-for-supper stress.

Slovaks once had that method down pat. Before the advent of fridges and freezers, food had to be preserved, which made cooking with it that much faster the day it was eaten.  Click to continue reading

9 Tips to Save Time Cooking Real Food

9 tips to save time cooking real food - Almost Bananas

Even if you like to cook, nobody wants to spend all day every day in the kitchen. With a family to feed, it can start to feel like a downright chore that never ends.

Ever been scrambling for a last minute meal as the whining level increases with the kids’ hunger, as tempers flare and dinner is late which means that kid bedtime is late which means that mama is grumpy which means she stays up later to get some quiet time which means that she regrets staying up the next morning? Maybe I’m the only one…

I’ve compiled a list of ways that help me save time cooking real food. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that even though I know what I ought to do, I don’t always do it. But I’ve realized these help, and try to implement them as much as I can. Click to continue reading

Vianočná kapustnica: Slovak Christmas Sauerkraut Soup (vegetarian version)

Slovak Christmas Sauerkraut Soup (vegetarian version) - Almost Bananas

All over Slovakia, Christmas Eve dinner consists of fish and potato salad (read more about Slovak Christmas traditions). Families, influenced by the area they have come from, have different preceding soups, however. My husband’s family makes Cream of Lentil Soup with prunes and thus so do we.

Many families make Vianočná kapustnica, a Christmas sauerkraut soup, but what exactly that soup consists of depends from family to family: some make it without meat, some with; often with prunes and mushrooms, but not always; prunes added at the end, prunes left to cook awhile and infuse the broth; with cream or without.

One friend even told me her mother always made two versions of sauerkraut soup, vegetarian for Christmas Eve and meaty for Christmas day.  One upon a time, Catholics didn’t eat meat on Christmas Eve and although that is no longer done, the meatless version of kapustnica remained as a tradition for many. Click to continue reading

Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

If you’ve been around Almost Bananas for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of fermented foods. All the probiotics are beneficial for your health in so many ways, confirmed by science. Fermenting preserves food, and tastes amazing while it’s making us healthier.

Fermenting food is kind of like having a running science experiment in your kitchen. Jars full of bubbling mixes, smells that we are no longer used to. Guests will wonder what on earth is going on in your kitchen.

Once upon a time these were normal foods. And now, we often have to accustom our taste buds to fermented foods, as many grow up without tasting them at all.

Here in Slovakia an old and common ferment is cabbage stuffed peppers. It’s warm enough here to grow peppers and this is a great way to preserve them for the winter. Click to continue reading

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut seems to be all the rage in healthy food circles recently. Fermented sauerkraut is full of probiotic and other benefits, as opposed to the canned vinegar variety which might taste alright but does not have the same health impact.

It’s easy to get excited about eating sauerkraut, but then when sometimes I’m at loss as to what to actually do with it. Just put in on the table in a dish for a condiment?

Yes, you can do that, but there are so many more options! Below are over 25 ideas and recipes for using sauerkraut. Some of the recipes may need some adjusting to fit your idea of healthy. Click to continue reading

Creamy Sauerkraut Stew (Slovak Segedinsky Gulash)

Creamy Sauerkraut Stew (Slovak Segedinsky Gulas)

 

Sometimes it’s easy to get enthusiastic about fermenting, and then not know what to do with the work of your hands.

“Yes! Probiotics are healthy! Let’s make super easy sauerkraut! Oh, wait…how am I going to eat all this?”

Fortunately vegetable ferments stay good for a long time. In the fridge, sauerkraut can keep for years even, although it will continue to sour.

I’ll have a post with more recipes for eating sauerkraut soon, right now I have a Slovak stew that uses sauerkraut. Sauerkraut in soups or stews was totally new to me when I came to Slovakia, but they quickly became some of my favourites.  Click to continue reading

Super Easy Sauerkraut

I’m a huge fan of fermenting foods, for probiotics benefits and more, but I’m an even bigger fan of healthy being simple and easy. This method of making sauerkraut utilizes time in place of work, making health and food preservation that much easier.

Lazy Sauerkraut

So, I totally and completely blew my 31 Days of Probiotics and Fermenting. It wasn’t for lack of ideas. I had more than 31 ideas of both information and recipes.

I was unrealistically enthusiastic. I forgot that I have kids, and that time management is still an area where I have room for much improvement. I still want to write on both topics though, so I’ll continue to update that page as an index.

Right now I have a recipe for super easy sauerkraut. If you have a food processor, you could even call it 5 min sauerkraut, because that’s about how much active time is involved. I don’t have a food processor, therefore cutting all those strands by hand takes a little more time (aren’t they lovely and thin strands?).

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Fermented Red Onion

 

Fermented Red Onions

 

As a ‘real foodie’, I have this idea that I should therefore like all real foods. I have a confession to make; I don’t like raw onions. Cooked onions are wonderful. In the winter, I go through kilos of onions in soups and stir fries. Caramelized onions, yummm. But raw? Nope. Only if they’ve been marinated for a very long time.

My oldest daughter, on the other hand, loves raw onions. She will voluntarily ask for raw onions on buttered (sourdough) bread, a very Slovak thing to eat. I gladly prepare it for her, because onions are healthy and all that. “Yumm, Mom, this is SO good! Have a bite.” Er…no thanks dear, I’ll let you enjoy it.

But then I came across the idea of Lactofermented Red Onions over at Delicious Obsessions and thought I’d try it.

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Baek (White) Kimchi

Kimchi, a Korean fermented pickle, is well known for it’s red colour and spicey flavour. This version of kimchi, baek means white, is actually probably older than the better known version, but just as delicious.

kimchi text

In my hometown in Canada, there has been a Korean restaurant or two at all times in the last 15 years or so. Buses full of Koreans come on tours through the Rocky Mountains, and they stop at the Korean restaurants, keeping the business running in a small town. These restaurants were my first introduction to metal chopsticks (harder than wood), lettuce rice wraps (so good), and sweet potato noodles (love. miss.).

My parents knew the owner of one of the restaurants, and my father called  her  up when we went there once as a family on one of my visits home. For us, she cooked real Korean food as opposed to the versions made for an American palate. What. A. Feast. Little dishes of various condiments, marinated beef still on the hot plate, dandelion kimchi, and those amazing noodles. The table was covered with various dishes that we shared. I rarely go to restaurants and am even more rarely impressed, but I still have visions about that meal.

Kimchi is a staple in Korea and I think it’s the cat’s meow that a fermented veggie is a national staple. According to a video I watched, 94% of Koreans have it every day, and 96% make it themselves instead of buying it in a store.

(What if 96% of North Americans and Europeans made their own yogurt? Or sauerkraut? Dreaming…but I digress.)

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