DIY Cultured Cashew Cheese

Hi everyone – its been a while since I blogged. The busy-ness of life has got in the way. A few months ago I tracked down Reece  – a member of our food coop – as he had published this amazing recipe for cultured cheese in our local co-op magazine. Reece is a hard core fermenter who does all sorts of very cool stuff with lactic acid bacteria and its my honour to have him as a guest blogger here. As a bonus – there are some cool other links to pursue at the end. 

Burns

First of all, thanks to Burns for inviting me to write a guest post on his blog. My name is Reece. I’m a college librarian, cooking, baking, and fermenting/brewing enthusiast, and a fan of listening to podcasts and audiobooks on long walks. I met Burns through Karma Food Co-op in Toronto, and occasionally write a zine, and on my blog peakes.wordpress.com.
I’ve been making cultured cashew cheeses for a few years now, and appreciate this type of fermentation for the ease of achieving really tasty, quick (for a fermentation), and varied results with easily available ingredients.
Cashew cheese, actually a fermented nut paté, is dairy-free and simple to make at home with natural ingredients and basic kitchen equipment. Culturing the cheese increases the nutritional value of the raw ingredients, adding probiotics to your diet, and adds complexity to the flavour.
The instructions below provide the basics for making a spreadable cashew cheese. It’s just a beginning, though: by adjusting the recipe and adding ingredients, you can make a wide variety of cashew cheeses. By changing the nuts, you can get an even wider variety of nut cheeses. You can also air dry cashew cheese to make a sharp, hard, salty block. More about ways to be creative with this recipe at the end.

Materials Required

  • Large wide-mouth jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Elastic band that will fit around jar mouth (a wide elastic will hold the cheesecloth best)
  • Food processor or powerful blender
  • A container/containers with lid(s). These will be your cheese molds – choose plastic, silicone, or glass. If using the latter, it’s easiest to remove the cheese from the mold if you line it with plastic wrap or parchment paper first.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-8 hours
  • ⅔ cup nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
  • ½ cup rejuvelac (see instructions on making rejuvelac below): requires ¼ C dry whole raw grain or pseudograin
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Make Rejuvelac (Days 1-6)

Rejuvelac is a cultured sprouted grain beverage that is used to provide beneficial bacteria to the cheese (the miso does as well). If you have sprouted grains, seeds, or legumes before you may already have a process for sprouting – feel free to use that method for the first part of the rejuvelac-making process. My method is below. This makes enough rejuvelac for several batches of cheese, and it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for months at a time.

Rejuvelac

Ingredients

¼ cup dry whole raw grains or pseudo grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, spelt groats, millet)

Water

  • Put the grain in your wide mouth jar and fill the jar up to the top with water. Cut a 2-layer piece of cheesecloth big enough to cover the mouth of your jar and use the elastic band to secure it in place. Let the grain soak over night.
  • In the morning pour the water out of the jar through the cheesecloth. Then rinse the grain by filling the jar up with fresh water and dumping it out a couple of times. This prevents the grain from going moldy. Set the jar upside but on an angle so that excess water can drain out. A dish rack works well for this.

Rejuvelac2

  • Repeat step 2 two-three times per day until the grain begins to sprout (about 3 days). For some grains you must look closely to see the tiny white tails begin to emerge. Grains will sprout more quickly when it’s warm, and need to be rinsed more regularly in very hot weather.
  • After the grains have sprouted, add 1.5 cups water to your jar. Set the jar aside at room temperature for 3 days, keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from sources of high heat. After 3 days, the water should be somewhat cloudy, and smell a little earthy. It may taste tart as well. Now you have rejuvelac! Compost the grains (their nutrients have leached into the water), and save the liquid.

Step 2: Combine Ingredients (Day 7)

  • Add all ingredients to your food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides a few times.
  • and cover. Now the fermenting process continues!

Step 3: Fermentation (Days 7-9/10)

  • Leave your covered container(s) of cheese in a warm area for 2-3 days. Sample the cheese as time goes by, if you like. After maximum 3 days transfer to the fridge, and let firm for 6 hours before eating. The cheese will continue to slowly sharpen in the fridge. It will last in the fridge for a few weeks, or in the freezer for months.

Get Creative

There is no reason to stick to this exact recipe – I’m offering it for guidance, and to get you started. Get creative by replacing the cashews with hemp seeds, or add sun-dried tomatoes or fresh or dried herbs to the cheese. Sage, smoked paprika, chives, peppercorns, etc. are all great options, just add to taste. A small amount of additional cultured food will also enhance your cheese and make the flavour more complex – try sauerkraut, brine of kraut or pickles, kimchi, additional miso, or yogurt (dairy or non). Just make sure to check and see that what you are adding is unpasteurized, live cultured and contains no preservatives, sulphites, etc. (which could prevent the cheese from fermenting). Enjoy, and feel free to contact me at reeceaxl@gmail.com.

 

More Information

Wild Fermentation http://www.wildfermentation.com This site is full of information on making and using all sorts of fermented foods, and on the benefits of fermented foods.

Punk Domestics http://www.punkdomestics.com A site of recipes for fermented foods, including dairy and cashew cheese.

Fermented Vegan Cheese http://fermentedvegancheese.blogspot.ca A blog of fermented cashew cheese instructions and a cheesecake recipe. Includes information on making harder cheeses in molds.

Post-Punk Kitchen http://www.theppk.com If you don’t have time to make fermented cheese, the recipe section of this site offers several non-fermented nut and seed cheese dishes.

Cranberries!

I’ve updated the blog – the results of my cranberry ferments.

homecookexplorer

Note: the November 22 entry refers to recipes and events in the October 8 entry below it.

November 22

Its been a while since I last blogged. I blame getting an unusual number of students in the online courses I teach. I was expecting a handful. I got 42.

But a response (below) asking what happened makes me put the course aside for a moment and do an update.

So essentially I made our usual (Canadian) thanksgiving cranberry relish the way I always have done it (not fermented) and I made a fermented version. I also tried the cranberry chutney noted below – a honey ferment. So here is what happened to these various experiments:

  • whole cranberries in a brine: These have lasted fine and continue to ferment although the fermentation is not nearly as vigorous as what I am used to. I don’t get much of a strong LAB…

View original post 1,082 more words

So you want to make your own delicious homemade tomato sauce…

This blog post is a supplement to my previous blog documenting my own personal process. The purpose is to help the reader sort out how they can best do canned tomatoes. You may be doing it for the first time, or it could be something you have tried before. This article is intended to help you plan it out.

How much you do depends largely on the equipment you have, what your needs are, and to a lesser extent how much you want to spend.

Here in  Ontario, Canada, you should be able to buy conventional tomatoes for about $20 (cdn) per bushel and about $40 for organic, if you can get them. One bushel yields between 18-22 L, depending on the juciness and how much you have reduced them.  Flats are about  half a bushel, or approximately 10 Litres. Add in the costs of garlic, onions, herbs and spices, and propane/electricity, and you are making a litre of homemade organic tomato sauce for approximately $1.50 a jar for conventional tomatoes, $3.50/jar for organic.

The next consideration is the equipment. If you decide to put up multiple bushels such as is described here, you are going to need some specialized equipment. If you are doing a single flat – 10 or so jars, you could do this with your biggest pot, no specialized equipment, and in your (albeit hot) kitchen.  You may wish to consider doing this with  friends, where each of you purchases the burners, presses, and large pots.

Alternatives to a tomato press

Tomato presses separate the seeds and skin from the flesh of the tomato. If you think about great tomato sauces you have tasted, you may recall there are no seeds or skin bits floating around in the mix. If you are trying this for the first time and unsure about the investment, one alternative is to blanch each tomato to loosen the skins, manually take each off, and then once the sauce is cooking, put it through a strainer. As you can imagine this is going to be a thankless task. You could also put up with the seeds and skins in your mix. If you go in this direction, I’d suggest pureeing the tomatoes before cooking them. If you wish to invest in a press, check out cooking equipment stores or hardware stores in neighbourhoods where preserving is part of life.

Alternatives to the burners:

I use a 60k btu outdoor propane burner . Its a massive unit that puts out a lot of heat. You could use it for other purposes – a huge stew for 20 people, a community corn roast – but most of us don’t need this, nor have the space to store it. I started with one, moved to 2 and recently got a third. If you are doing lesser quantities and have a BBQ with a side burner, you can use the side burner to boil the jars, and remove the grills and use the BBQ to boil the sauce. You could also do it inside …… which could work for a single flat, but would get tedious beyond that.

Recipes:

Here are 3 recipes – the only difference being their volume. The process remains the same for each, so its noted only once.

One flat (approximately 10L)

  • 1 flat of tomatoes
  • 10 medium large onions, cut fine
  • 2 garlic bulbs, minced
  • 50g salt (and taste for more before you can them)
  • ¼ tsp pepper (& to taste)
  • 1 tbs each basil, oregano, and thyme (& to taste)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • enough oil to cook the mash

Bushel (2 flats yields @20L)

  • 1 bushel (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 2 pints large onions
  • 3-4 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 2tbs each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 5-6 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a 1/4 cup or so.
  • 3/4 tbs pepper
  • 100g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later (+1 tbs/bushel at end of cooking)

4 bushels

  • 4 bushels (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 8 pints large onions
  • 10 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 1/2 cup each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 20 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a cup or so.
  • 2 tbs pepper
  • 400g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later

Equipment needed

  • a good food processor
  • 2-3 full bbq tanks
  • 1-2 large boiling pots
  • 1-2 large cooking pots
  • 2-3 outdoor 60k btu burners
  • 2 -3 small tables
  • containers to transport finished sauce
  • 1 large spoon (i.e. 1m in length)
  • 80 L of jars – 1 L, 1.5 l sizes
  • 2 tongs – canning tongs and bbq tongs
  • 4 l measuring cup
  • sharp knife
  • breadboard
  • hose and water
  • metal collander
  • oven mits
  • matches or BBQ lighter
  • tomato press
  • canning funnel

METHOD

  • Cut onions, garlic  – food processor with slicing attachment used
  • Add in spices and oil
  • Cook mash until onions are translucent
  • Divide mash into bowls according to how many batches of sauce  you have
  • Set up: make sure the grinding operation and  burners form a triangle around you.
  • The grinder must be on a firm surface with space. There needs to be a place for the seeds to fall, and a surface for the sauce to drop. There needs to be a place for the breadboard and knife to the right of the grinder, a pot of rinse water beside it, and a platform for the bushel basket to sit on above the pot.
  • Fill the canning pot half way up with water, heat it up until boiling
  • Prepare jars, separating lids, tops and jars. Discard any questionable lids. Place lids in a collander that can be easily inserted then removed from boiling water.
  • Pour one batch of herb mash in the cooking pot, and begin grinding the tomatoes, adding to the mash. Light the burner once the first bowl of tomato juice has been prepared. Keep on a high boil, stirring frequently. (This is the key to a thick and reduced sauce). Once the bushel has been ground and is cooking, taste and adjust for salt.
  • Reduce the sauce  – full boil while stirring for about 30 minutes
  • Shortly before canning, put the bottles and lids in the waterbath for a few minutes. Remove them and set yourself up for filling: lids and caps separate, canning funnel and pouring jar ready.
  • Taste to see if you need more salt
  • Fill leaving 1/4″ at top. Tighten the lids before immersing them in the waterbath. (If you need to add more water, DO NOT add cold water if the jars are already in the waterbath. They will crack and break – guaranteed. Take all the jars out, add the water, put the hot jars back in.)
  • Put on a rolling boil for 25 minutes.
  • Let cool, make sure all the lids have popped down. Lids that have not popped down indicate an air leak. Use these jars first, and refrigerate them until use.

Good luck! I hope you do feel inspired to do this. You will never look back!

Tomato Sauce: The yearly ritual

I have been making my own tomato sauce for over 25 years.

It all started when I was living in the Dundas/Bathurst area of Toronto – at that point a community that was 1/3 Portuguese, 1/3 Chinese, and 1/3 Anglo & others. There was a corner hardware store right at Dundas and Palmerston – and like all good Portuguese hardware stores of the time, it brought in tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and grapes in bushel baskets for the intense canning and wine making in the neighbourhood.

A friend at work suggested I get into it, and I thought it a good idea.

Needless to say Luisa at the hardware store was more than willing to help out me getting started. I still have the 2 50K BTU burners, still the original press, still the same 100L & 150 L pot from way back then.

Nowadays, I keep it all up at our cottage  – by far a nicer environment to do the canning.

And – I do it outside.

Interesting doing your cooking outside – without a nice hard, clean floor beneath you – on the ground. Dealing with tomatoes that themselves may have dirt and sand on them  – and one has to get it into the pots and then the jars cleanly – no dirt, only food. Like anything else one devises ones methods. Mine involves a hose, lots of water, 2 white plastic restaurant bus bins, a sharp knife, and temporary ergonomically suitable platforms and clamps for the equipment  – as you can see in the picture.

My tomato grinding set up - temporary 2-by-x and posts to hold the grinder and bin in place.

My tomato grinding set up – temporary 2-by-x and posts to hold the grinder and bin in place.

But lets get to the recipe. 1 bushel of Romas makes 20 litres. This includes 1 medium onion per litre, a couple of cloves of garlic, and (this is all approximate) 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp ea of basil, thyme, oregano, and a bay leaf. And oil. Enough to cook the onions and spices in beforehand. Usually a couple of cups for the 4 bushels I make with my cottage neighbour, L. I’m sorry I can’t be more exact – but the recipe is fairly forgiving – except where the salt and pepper are concerned. Less is better – you can add more when a batch has all come together.

The day before I do our 4 bushels we cut the onions and garlic – definitely a tedious job – and best done outside with a glass of wine on the side in eager anticipation of the treat to follow the next day. I do ALL of the onions, garlic, herbs and spices  – mix them all together. First thing next morning I cook them up in the pot, covered, low flame, stirring frequently until the onions are cooked. They are then separated into 3 bowls to be added to each batch of tomatoes as they are ground.

So for each bushel  – one grinds, pours into the cooking pot, add the onion and herb mash,  work at the grinding until the bushel is done, reduce the sauce (when the pot is full you can boil the hell out of it as long as you stir occasionally.

Meanwhile heat up our litre jars in another  – larger (120L or so) pot on another burner  – once you are near to the sauce being done, remove them, fill them with sauce, and can them – I do 25 minutes on a rolling boil. Remove, inspect, store.

The first bushel has been processed and is cooking down. To the left is the pot for boiling the jars.

The first bushel has been processed and is cooking down. To the left is the pot for boiling the jars.

That is basically it. It takes all day for a couple of us to put up our 4 bushels. Make sure you have nothing else going on!

The day before I prepare the setup  – burners, propane, grinding stand. 

Tomato sauce

Ingredients for 80 litres (Adjust as needed for the quantity you have!)

  • 4 bushels (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 8 pints large onions
  • 10 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 1/2 cup each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 20 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a cup or so.
  • 2 tbs pepper
  • 400g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later

And  – I’m guessing for most starting out that 1 bushel will be challenge enough. Here are the proportions for a batch of 20L:

  • 1 bushel (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 2 pints large onions
  • 3-4 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 2tbs each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 5-6 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a 1/4 cup or so.
  • 3/4 tbs pepper
  • 100g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later (+1 tbs/bushel at end of cooking)

Other stuff needed

  • a good food processor
  • 2-3 full bbq tanks
  • 1-2 large boiling pots
  • 1-2 large cooking pots
  • 2-3 outdoor 50k btu burners
  • 2 -3 small tables
  • containers to transport finished sauce
  • 1 large spoon (i.e. 1m in length)
  • 80 L of jars – 1 L, 1.5 l sizes
  • 2 tongs – canning tongs and bbq tongs
  • 4 l measuring cups
  • sharp knife
  • breadboard
  • hose and water
  • collander
  • oven mits
  • matches
  • tomato press

METHOD

  • (the night before) Cut onions, garlic  – food processor with slicing attachment used
  • Prepare jars, separating lids, tops and jars. Discard any questionable lids. Place lids in a collander that can be easily inserted then removed from boiling water.
  • Add in spices and oil
  • Cook mash until onions are translucent
First step - cook up the mash!

First step – cook up the mash!

  • Divide mash into bowls according to how many bushels you have
  • Set up: make sure the grinding operation and 2 burners form a triangle around you – about 1.5 metres apart
  • The grinder must be on a firm surface with space. There needs to be a place for the seeds to fall, and a surface for the sauce to drop. There needs a place for the breadboard and knife to the right of the grinder, a pot of rinse water beside it, and a platform for the bushel basket to sit on above the pot.

The set up

  • Fill the canning pot half way up with water, and put in the jars.
  • Pour one patch of herb mash in the cooking pot, and begin grinding the tomatoes, adding to the mash. Light the burner once the first bowl of tomato juice has been prepared. Keep on a high boil, stirring frequently. (This is the key to a thick and reduced sauce). Once the bushel has been ground and is cooking, taste and adjust for salt.
  • Reduce the sauce  – full boil while stirring for about 30 minutes
  • Remove heated jars and lids from the canning pot and fill leaving 1/4″ at top
  • Place caps on, boil for 25 minutes. Let cool, make sure all the lids have popped down.
On the shelf!

On the shelf!

Fermented vegetables #2: wild onions

A brief note: I first drafted this blog entry in May 2015, though the posting of it comes in August 2015. Its been a busy time for me and the blog seems to be the first thing that goes in the general triage of life.

I’ve decided to keep it unchanged as its a great reflection of my very initial understanding and approach to fermented vegetables at that point.

 

Ever gone foraging for wild onions? A wonderful experience. The earthy smell of spring as the early green of buds is on the trees, the promise of a rich summer to come. The reaping of the year’s first crop.

We were at our place up north first week of May at the height of the wild onion season. This is nature’s  yearly event where all the wild onions are up – their earthy garlicy pungent air – both sublime and yet not so subtle either.  

I picked what I could but for the short term I really had too much and I did not want to throw any of it away. I knew those lovely leaves probably had about a week in the fridge before they were compost material.  I did not want them to go to ruin. What to do? I wondered about making them into a fermented vegetable product.  I had heard about this that very day at the market. One of the vendors was selling a fermented vegetable condiment.

I thought, “Let’s check this out” and looked on the web. Essentially the process involves soaking the vegetable in a brine,  leaving it out of the fridge for 3 days and then putting it into the fridge for 3 weeks. That seems simple enough.

Here then is the recipe

Ingredients:

wild onion leaves

salt

water

a large leaf of a tough vegetable like kale or cabbage

Equipment needed

2 pots: 1 large pot and a smaller one to prepare the brine

a couple of jars. I use a 500ml widemouth mason jar

A rock that will fit inside your jar

A pestle to pack down the leaves.

Method

The leaves before processing

The leaves before processing

  1. Identify the jar and rock to weigh things down
  2. sterilize jar, rock and pestle.
  3. make a brine: 1litre of water, 50g salt. (20:1 solution) Heat the water and add the salt until the salt is dissolved. Take off the stove and let cool. The instructions that I saw gave volume measurements but I’ve made a ‘typical’ 20:1 brine 1 liter of water: 50g salt.
  4. Clean and cut the leaves. I decided to cut them very small because it would be likely I’m using this as a condiment so I’d want it in very small bits – almost a paste.
  5. Place the leaves in a very clean jar  – in my case a wide mouth 1L mason jar and crush/mash them with a pestle.  

    After cutting them, they are crushed with a pestle.

    After cutting them, they are crushed with a pestle.

  6. Take a large leaf of cabbage or kale as an additional barrier between the wild onion leaves and the air. NONE of the leaves can be in contact with the air and at this stage they need to be pressed down. For this purpose I used a combination of a small mason jar lid and a rock (I I subsequently realized that a small mason jar lid with a 250 ml mason jar filled with water acts as an effective press for such a little amount.)
The brine added, they will be pushed belwo the surface with the weight of the rock (or jar of water.

The brine added, they will be pushed below the surface with the weight of the rock (or jar of water.

  1. Leave the jar at room temperature for  3 days and then refrigerate for 3 weeks although it  could be eaten at this point.

What to do with it?

  • Think Umeboshi plum paste: as an addition to a rice or vegetable dish
  • Mustard flavoring – either subtle or not so subtle
  • a condiment on the side – be careful – its strong!
  • as part of the flavor palette of a viniagrette
  • a BBQ rub in place of garlic
  • a flavoring ingredient in a sauce.

In retrospect, and several months into fermenting,  I would not change a lot about this. I would add a little salt and massage the leaves before cutting them to bruise the leaves and begin the fermentation process, but I still think its a vegetable that needs the brine liquid added to it (as opposed to only massaging with salt). The 20:1 (5%) brine is, I believe correct  – but who am I to say?  

Fermented vegetables part 1

brined slaw (1)

A brined slaw I’m fermenting

20150815_105032

My new crock pot. I’m so excited!

 

Eric Satie, that eccentric Parisian who penned a couple of our most haunting tunes once said, “Show me something new and I’ll start all over.” I feel a little like that concerning fermented   – or cultured – vegetables.

Its now been several months that I’ve been experimenting with  cultured vegetables. Its high time I chronicled it all on the blog. But so much has happened that I’ve decided to break it down into more ‘digestible’ chunks.

It all started this spring……and the annual wild onion harvest…. Vegetable fermentation had been on my back burner for several years. Michael Pollan’s chapter in Cooked still unread, a friend at my coop who said she’d show  me not yet called. A combination of wondering what to do with an immense pile of wild onion leaves, and my butcher’s first release of cultured veggies got my ball finally rolling on this.

I thought I’d start off with how fermentation works with vegetables and why these things are good for you. I’ll credit the sources as I go.

The fermentation process

All vegetables have small amounts of lactobacillus bacteria – among many others. Once exposed to water, they begin to feed on the sugars and starches on the vegetables, and do as all living things do: reproduce and excrete. In this case, they produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide. They are also very tolerant to salt – which is good, because the harmful bacteria which would lead to molds and spoilage, really can’t tolerate a high acid, high salt environment.

In making fermented vegetables,  you are either going to add a brine (2-5% salt per weight of water) or add salt (2-4% by vegetable weight) then massage and pack down the vegetables, ensuring they are fully covered in the brine juice, then leave them at room temperature for a few days. That’s it, basically.

But not quite – though you don’t need to do much else. In the fermentation process, 3 different species of lactobacillus eat, reproduce, release and finally die off. They succeed each other as the acid level rises and they can no longer live in that environment.The first lactobacillus that goes to work is Leuconostoc mesenteroides. Once it raises the acidity to .3% it dies off and in its place, Lactobacillus plantarum  carries acidity to 2%. Finally Lactobacillus brevis kicks in until its final acidity level of between 2.5%-3.4%. It would carry on fermenting and developing stronger and stronger tastes – so this is when it goes into the fridge to slow it all down to a more dormant state.

What happens when it hits your tummy: You are what you eat

Our stomachs – indeed our whole digestive system  – functions as a microbiome that is home to thousands of microbial species. Many of them are in the lactobacillus genus and are responsible for secreting chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine which affect our moods, appetite, sense of fullness and well being. Clearly what we introduce into our digestive biome is going to affect and alter it – for better or worse.

In the case of our fermented vegetables, its for the better. The lactobacillus interact with and complement the digestive work of our own bacteria – improving digestion, regulating mood, and generally getting our whole system in balance. Claims  have been made that fermented vegetables help with conditions such as diarrhea, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, colitis, food addictions, autism, and addictions.

The expert resources

This has been but a very brief layman’s overview, and does not truly do it justice. I would strongly recommend reading these sources for more detailed and expert information:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/wild-fermentation/how-vegetable-fermentation-works-/10151520254610369

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/03/fermenting-veggies-at-home-follow-food-safety-abcs/#.VdXW-vlVhBd

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-790-lactobacillus.aspx?activeingredientid=790&activeingredientname=lactobacillus

http://www.wildfermentation.com/whats-so-wild-about-fermentation/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=1

Also check out the Wild Fermentation Facebook page – its very active and has a mine of information. https://www.facebook.com/groups/WlidFermentation/

And… Definitely buy Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation book

My thanks!

To a couple of market vendors who got me really rolling on this journey. These weren’t really long conversations – but enough to get my own internal fermentation going on this.

  • Cathy at http://www.countrymeadowmeats.com/ who rolled out her first cultured vegetables the same weekend I did my first go at fermented wild onion leaves. If you are up in Owen Sound – definitely visit them.
  • Dina who runs Mighty Fine Brine who turned me on to brined pickles, and to the wild fermentation facebook page!

The ultimate ‘from scratch’ burger

This blog is all about how to make your own homemade burgers. I don’t only mean the meat part. I mean everything that goes into them: the condiments and the buns as well.  Well,  maybe not the cheese, and you may be buying your own tomatoes and onions too. Nor is there a beer recipe for an accompanying brew.  This is  about everything else: the pattie, the bun, the condiments.

I know that can sound a little silly given what most people do:  head down to the store, grab some buns and some patties, cut up a few tomatoes and cheese. Barbeque. Dollop store bought  ketchup, mustard, and relish on them.

This blog is for those who want to kick up their culinary game and  do it all from scratch. So if you crave the adulation of your foodie friends impressed with your culinary DIY wizardry, then read on. In addition to the meat, I’m including a lentil burger recipe for all the wonderful vegans and vegetarians out there. I’m also covering mayo and dijon mustard, as I know lots of you like those on your burgers too.

It may seem quite daunting but really, its not. Everything except the buns are all made ahead of time. I’ve got other blogs where this is all referenced. However, I’m putting up the recipes here so you can stay on this page and make a batch of 6 burgers plus all the trimmings from what’s here and have a great time. You can dig into my other blogs for more details and refinements.  So let’s go into each of these pieces that makes up the quintessential American burger and look at how each one is done.

Before we start… know this…. I use a weigh scale and everything here is expressed in grams….

The buns (2 hours total time, 20 minutes of hands on time)

Let’s start with the buns because the buns are the only thing you need to really think about the day of. After all, if you’re going to all this trouble, why ruin it with buns a day or two old?  I’ll assume that you’re somewhat familiar with baking but if you’re not that’s okay too. I’ll separate this into a note for those of you comfortable with making breads and another for those of you not so familiar: A fail safe bun recipe. The quickie recipe may be a good option for those of you ‘already bakers’ but pressed for time.

You are already a bread baker

Familiar with bread already? Make up your basic bread dough – whether its yeast, sourdough or something hybrid. Prepare your dough as you usually do. When it comes time to shape, cut the dough into 110g or so chunks and let them rest while you get other things ready. Prepare a cookie sheet big enough to handle your buns. Line it with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Pour out a mound of sesame seed on the counter. Gradually press out the burger bun into the sesame seed and gently press them out until they have reached the desired burger shape. Egg white wash is optional, as is a brushing of oil on the top. Cover with a damp cloth until they have risen  – as you would for your usual bread. Bake for 12 minutes at 450 – you may need to adjust this depending on your local situation, but the buns should register beyond 190 degrees when done.

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Baking is new for you

Basic bun recipe: For 6 burgers, and using instant yeast, do as follows: (total time: 2 hrs from “OK lets do this! to “Wow! They look amazing!” ‘Hands on’ time – about 30 minutes )

Ingredients

  • 250 ml tepid or room temperature water
  • 10g instant bread yeast
  • 390g flour
  • 8g salt

Method

  1. Mix 10g instant bread yeast with 250g of tepid water. (You can use a lot less yeast too – like 3g -, and it will yield a more complex and tasty result, and take a lot longer to rise – like 8 or more hours.)
  2. While the yeast begins to develop, mix the dry ingredients: 390g flour (all purpose, whole wheat, a combination – your choice), 7g salt.
  3. Combine the water/yeast with the flour/salt and knead for about 5 minutes. Cover with a damp towel and leave to rise until it is clearly rising. This will be approximately 45  minutes to an hour depending on the room temperature: the warmer the room, the faster the rise.
  4. Gently remove the dough and knead by stretching the dough and folding over itself. (View this video between the 4:50 and 5:30 mark to see the technique) Do this about 2-3 times, until the dough tightens up. Divide the dough into 6 even pieces and let it rest. Prepare a couple of baking sheets: either oil the pan or use parchment paper.
  5. Pour out a generous quantity of sesame seeds or what ever else you want to have appear on the outside of your burger.
  6. For each pattie, do a final stretch and fold, roll into a ball, press into the sesame seeds, gradually working the pattie until it assumes the size and shape of your ideal burger pattie. An egg white wash or brush with oil is optional and will result in a glistening top.  Place on the cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel. Turn on the oven to 450.
  7. Once they are all on the sheet, leave about 20 minutes with a damp towel on top (for this quantity of yeast. If you decided to go with a lot less yeast and a longer rising time, plan on up to an hour).
  8. Bake at 450 for 12 or so minutes. Do check the buns after 10 minutes as the time will change according to both your oven and how many buns you cook at once. They should register at least 190 degrees when done.
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Buns on parchment paper about to go in oven

The burgers (30  minutes if you are using mince; about 60 minutes if you are grinding raw meat yourself)

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The ‘burger factory’

Burgers are  really  sausages without skins. There are a lot of burger recipes out there that involve bread crumbs, flour, eggs and the like, but when you approach it like a sausage you get a really rich tasting and satisfying burger. I follow Michael Rulhman’s sausage recipe in Ratio as a base. If you use my sausage calculator  – see my blog on sausages – you can use it to adjust your ingredients and quantities. Here is a recipe for 6 x 100g patties:

Mix together:

  • 425g mince
  • 65g fat (i.e. total of 980g that is a combination of meat and fat. This can be bacon grease you have saved, chicken fat from soups, suet, even butter or coconut oil, though meat fats are preferable. Keep in mind there will be some fat already in the mince.)
  • 25g very finely diced onion (about a quarter of a small onion)
  • 8g salt
  • 1g (about 1/8 tsp) pepper
  • 13g pressed garlic (about 1 clove. More can be added.)
  • 60g red wine (about ¼  cup). Beer would work too – maybe a nice porter.

Mix thoroughly.

These quantities assume it’s according to taste and preference.  Typically, patties weigh in around 100g  which is slightly less than a quarter pound. But doing it yourself means that you can do whatever you want – though if you make them too thick and big you may have logistical issues with your bun, and risk them being uncooked on the inside and charred on the outside. I probably wouldn’t go less than 90g nor more than 150g. That all said, a 50g pattie makes a great breakfast sandwich slider, with eggs and cheese.

If you wish to get more creative or change up quantities, check out my sausage calculator

To freeze, shape the mix into patties, individually wrap in wax paper, put in freezer bag and then into the freezer. To defreeze, microwave to raw (1 minute for 1st pattie, 20-30 secs for each additional pattie,  spread out on a plate). AAAND they’re ready for the  bbq.

To serve fresh, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Lentil Burgers (about 1 hr, 40 minutes hands on)

For all the vegans in the crowd, my lentil burger recipe. This is based on a Chef Michael Smith recipe I have messed with, but its definitely different enough for me to call it my own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • hot sauce/pepper/ to taste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • optional: salsa to taste
  • Method
  1. cook lentils with 2 cups of water and a little salt
  2. cut and dice onion, saute in oil with a little salt and the herbs/spices
  3. grate 1 large carrot
  4. combine cooked lentils with carrots and onions and simmer, boiling down the extra liquid
  5. add other ingredients and keep simmering until oats have disintegrated and the mix is getting thick and sticky. ALWAYS keep stirring to prevent burning. The idea is to achieve the thick stickiness needed to hold the pattie together when cooking.
  6. shape into patties and refrigerate or freeze, or leave as a mix and form into patties right before cooking.

Freezing tip for burgers  – and anything else like this:

You know how frustrating it is to extract just one frozen pattie, or piece of fish, or bun or what have you from the package in the freezer? Here’s how to avoid that. Spread the wrapped  patties on a baking sheet and put that in the freezer for an hour, then bag them in sealed plastic bags. They will freeze in such a way that they will not stick together when you retrieve them.

Tomato ketchup (20 minutes)

Tomato ketchup is pretty easy.  It’s essentially tomato paste + vinegars, salts, sugars and flavorings. I usually make a batch of green tomato chutney each year, at the height of the green tomato season and for my ketchup I use a cup of that plus a  small 125 ml can of tomato paste. My blog on the chutney describes that preserve, and what I have done here is to distill that recipe so that you have measurements for 1 250 ml jar that you would combine with a single can of tomato paste.

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setting up for green tomato chutney

Green tomato chutney: 1 single jar (the calculated weight is given, along with an approximation of how much of the fruit)

Ingredients

  • half a green or a fairly dry tomato (93g)
  • ¼ onion (46g)
  • ½  tart apple  – like a granny smith (46g)
  • 1 tbs raisins or currants (5g)
  • 1 clove of garlic mashed and pressed
  • 1 tsp of finely minced fresh ginger (1g). (really fresh good quality garlic and ginger powder can also be  used)
  • 5g salt
  • a pinch each of cloves & turmeric
  • 23g brown sugar
  • 28g vinegar

Method

If you want a jar of chutney, roughly chop the tomatoes, onion and apple using the pulse function of a food processor until they are the size and consistency you like. Add in the other ingredients. Leaving it for a week or two will help meld the flavors.

For the ketchup, puree all the fruit and vegetables, then add and mix in the sugar, vinegar, spices and a small 125ml can of tomato paste.

Relish (10 minutes)

Relish essentially is pureed pickles plus sugar. If you taste commercial relish you will see the truth of that very quickly. It’s also salty so there’s sweet, salt and vinegar and that’s why we love it so much.

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Pickles & sugar is all you need.

To prepare the relish, weigh out the pickles and then add 10% of the pickle  weight  in sugar and 10% of the pickle weight in the pickle vinegar brine.  Although there is already salt in the brine, I suggest adding a little more – to taste: 3% of the pickle weight. Using the pulse of your food processor, chop until it is the desired consistency. You can experiment with other additions: garlic, spices, apple come to mind.

An example of this would be: 300g pickles, 30g sugar, 30g pickle brine, 9g salt.

Mustard

Hot dog mustard – AKA yellow mustard (20 minutes)

I’ve been having a lot of fun with mustard lately as you can see in some of my other blogs. Recently I came across a recipe for hot dog mustard by Joshua Bousel. He has you mix yellow mustard powder with water, and add  salt, vinegar and some turmeric and garlic, then cook it briefly for about 5 minutes. The recipe here gives you almost a cup and it’s also weighed in grams which is the way I like to do business.

Ingredients (Joshua’s recipe with metric weights yielding a cup of mustard)

  • 150ml water
  • 35g dry ground mustard
  • 60g white distilled vinegar
  • 2g all purpose flour
  • 4g kosher salt
  • Large pinch turmeric
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of paprika

Method

  1. Place water, mustard, vinegar, flour, salt, turmeric, garlic powder, and paprika in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk until smooth.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Allow mustard to cool, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Dijon mustard (10 minutes, but it should have a week or two for the flavours to meld)

My standby basic Dijon mustard is as follows – but check my blog for other options

Ingredients

  • 75g (combination of) yellow mustard powder, crushed yellow mustard seed, crushed brown mustard seed. (I keep a coffee grinder for grinding spices and nothing else)
  • 75g apple juice
  • 75g apple cider vinegar
  • 3g salt

Method

Mix these together to yield a 250ml jar. It will be quite hot. If you want it calmer, put the mix in a pot and heat it up, tasting until the heat is at a level you prefer. Leave it at least overnight for the mustard to absorb the liquid.

Mayonnaise (10-20 minutes depending on how much persuasion the emulsion takes)

Some people love mayo on their burgers. For you, here’s mayo. This is Michael Ruhlman’s take on it, as described in his inspirational Ratio book.

This will yield 1 cup of mayo, so I usually double it as it is tricky and labour intense. You spend the same time and labour making a double batch.

Ingredients (1 cup mayo)

  • Beat in this exact order.
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt (but taste at the end)
  • 1 cup oil: You want a really mild almost tasteless oil, as it will impart whatever flavour it has to the mayo. DO NOT therefore use cheap, harsh  olive oil. My preference is grapeseed oil.

Method

Start with the largest bowl in your possession and a good big wisk. Have all ingredients prepared beforehand as once you start whisking you are committed to the end. Also strategize and position the bowl so that it is held in place while one hand whisks while the other pours. Some ideas about this are: sitting and wedging the bowl between your tummy and the table edge, or using a rolled towel to sit the bowl in.

Whisk until emulsified:

  • 1 large egg yolk at room temperature with 1 tsp water at room temperature. The successful beating of the water and egg yolk is critical to everything else that happens. If this does not emulsify, the rest of it won’t either. If this is proving difficult, make sure your egg is relatively fresh, and also that everything is at room temperature.
  • Keep whisking and add in this order:
  • lemon juice, vinegar, salt. Add these slowly, making sure your emulsion holds. (I like using both lemon juice and vinegar. It wants the lemony taste, but with a little vinegar kick. )
  • Add the oil in a slow stream to the whisk.
  • Optional: 1 tsp – or 2 of Dijon mustard. Indeed you can add whatever you like at this point to make your own unique artisan mayo.

If you mess it up, and it breaks, pour all the mayo into the oil cup, and start over. Add a teaspoon of water and another yolk and try again, whisking until emulsified. Slowly add in the broken mayo, whisking continuously.

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The assembly

Burger all done!

The reward

Well – That’s it. Sure it would be a massive undertaking to do all of this on one day. And you are also likely to be serving other stuff as well  -snacks, dips,  salads , desserts, etc. Just keep in mind that everything but the bread can – indeed should be – easily be prepared ahead of time, and the buns can be done while you are doing other mealtime prep.

Enjoy your burgers and all the praise & awe from your gathered friends!