Monday, June 29, 2009

Get Cultured!

Listen to my soundbite about the benefits of cultured and fermented foods. I have many recipes to make yogurts, vegetable pickles, and dishes that use miso in The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. Here are a couple of recipes:

Cashew Yogurt

This creamy, nondairy yogurt just takes a few seconds to mix up. The incubation period is 8 to 24 hours depending how warm you keep it.

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup water

Place cashews in blender and grind to a coarse powder. Add water and blend until smooth. It should have a consistency of heavy cream. Pour mixture into a jar and place in warm location (70ºF to 100ºF). Cover with a light towel or napkin. Start checking the yogurt after 6 hours. First you should notice bubbles forming. When it has formed thick curd with a layer of liquid (whey) on the bottom, cover and transfer to refrigerator. Chill for at least one hour. When ready to eat, stir the whey and yogurt together. Add a little honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses, fruit, or jam if desired. Yogurt will keep refrigerated up to a week.

Makes 2 cups

Note: Choose a place where the temperature will remain constant to incubate your yogurt. I like to fill a small cooler with warm water and place the jar in the water (make sure the water is below the level of the jar). Another good place is on top of the pilot light in a gas stove. As long as the temperature in your house is at least 70ºF, you can place the jar anywhere. Keep in mind, the lower the temperature, the longer the incubation. At 70ºF, it will take about 20 hours.


This is one of the most active and easy to digest of the fermented foods because it is mostly water. It has a strong, lemony taste that is similar to lemonade. The ginger is good for digestion and gives it a little extra zing. If the taste is too strong, use rejuvelac to replace part of the liquid in a smoothie.

1/2 cup soft wheat berries

1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger root, sliced (optional)

7 cups water

Sprout wheat for 3 days as follows: Soak berries in 2 cups water for 12 hours. Drain. Place berries in quart-size jar. Cover jar with cheesecloth and secure with rubber band. Rinse soaked seeds by filling the jar with water and inverting it to drain through cheesecloth. Position the jar at approximately a 45-degree angle, mouth side down, to allow excess moisture to drain. Place jar out of direct sunlight. Rinse sprouts at least twice daily to provide them with water and wash away by-products of growth.

After 3 days, or when sprouts are about as long as the seeds, remove sprouts and place them in a blender along with the ginger and 3 cups of water. Blend for about 10 seconds, just enough to open the sprouts up a bit. Pour the mixture into a half-gallon jar. Fill the jar with the remaining water. Cover the jar with cheesecloth or a dish towel and let it sit for 3 days in a shady spot. Stir the mixture twice daily to keep the enzymes and live organisms mixed. Smell the rejuvelac each day to monitor its progress. It should have a fresh smell like lemons or sauerkraut. If it smells bad, discard it and start again.

After 3 days, or when it tastes and smells strongly like lemons or sauerkraut, stir the mixture one final time and pour through a strainer. Keep rejuvelac refrigerated in a covered jar but be sure to open the jar every few days to release gasses that will build up. It will last for at least one month.

Sip rejuvelac slowly. If you are not used to eating fermented foods, start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup per day. After a couple of weeks, gradually increase to one cup a day.

Makes 2 quarts

Note: The strained pulp can be used to start another batch. Place pulp in clean half-gallon jar and fill with water. Stir and cover with cheesecloth and ferment as previous batch. It will mature faster – probably in two days. Discard pulp after second batch.

Check out these books which also have great info and recipes:

“Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz

“Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook” by Steve Meyerowitz


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