DIY Sauerkraut Recipe
Fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut are essential to gut health. Commercial brands are
pasteurized, which kills the probiotic microbes. In less than 30 minutes, you can make a supply
that lasts up to six months.
You will need a ceramic crock and a pestle. The inside of a slow cooker or Dutch oven can be
used as a crock. A heavy meat hammer can serve as the pestle. Shred or finely chop three large
or four small green cabbage heads for a two-gallon batch. Add two inches of cabbage to the
crock. Sprinkle the layer with two pinches of sea salt and one pinch of caraway seeds. Massage thoroughly,
then smash with the pestle until the leaves are covered in their own juices. Repeat with additional layers.
Churn with your hands and cover with several layers of wrap. Churn and re-seal every few days.
It is essential to keep the kraut sealed during fermentation. (Oxygen rots the cabbage.) Use
several layers of plastic wrap and a rubber band to secure the top seal. Some recipes say to wait
a month before eating. I found it edible (and belly-friendly) within 7-10 days. I eat a few bites
medicinally every day and encourage my family to do the same. If it starts to rot, it’s obvious. If
you wonder if it’s bad, then it probably is.
Soaking raw nuts and seeds before processing or cooking is beneficial. Thinking ahead and optimally preparing will reap exponential health benefits and dynamic flavor that makes a difference.
Why? Because as raw nuts /seeds are biologically designed to germinate and grow into a plant, many of the healthy enzymes potentially available remain locked until ideal conditions activate their release. Also, as they absorb water, they become softer, and easier to digest, which maximizes nutrient absorption in your body.
If you want to take it a step further, allow raw nuts and seeds to sprout by placing them in a glass jar in the refrigerator for about 2 days. Sprouting releases a fat-burning enzyme called lipase which means sprouted nuts and seeds are even sweeter…no added sugar required!
Almond milk is the easiest of all the plant milks to make. And honestly, it’s my favorite. No tedious advance preparations are necessary, though *soaking is beneficial. The flavor is so good it needs no additional ingredients.
Directions for homemade almond milk:
Take 1 cup of raw, organic almonds. Soak as/if desired. (If you need milk fast, just skip this. It’s ok! You’re already a winner in the nutrition game!)
3-5 cups water (no harm in making it go farther!)
Add almonds and water to high speed blender. I use a Vitamix. Blend on maximum for 2-3 minutes.
If desired, strain the milk using a nut bag or cheesecloth. Or ditch the nut bag and grab an old pair of nylons. The remaining pulp can be used in okara recipes for pancakes, cookies and more.
*Soaking any tree nut or seed is beneficial. As nuts /seeds are biologically designed to germinate and grow into a plant, many of the healthy enzymes potentially available remain locked until ideal conditions activate their release. Also, as they absorb water, they become softer, and easier to digest, which maximizes nutrient absorption in your body. If you want to take it a step further, allow the almonds to sprout by placing the soaked almonds in a glass jar in the refrigerator for about 2 days. Sprouting releases a fat-burning enzyme called lipase AND sprouted nuts and seeds are even sweeter…no added sugar required!
Tell me, how do you like your almond milk?
Learning how to make homemade soy milk is simple, and easily lends itself to a “system”. Whether you drink it daily or use it occasionally for baking, spending $2+/box is not necessary. Just stock dried organic soy beans in your pantry, and you can have as much as you need whenever you need it. I purchased a 25# of organic soybeans on Amazon, and I must admit that it will last me a LONG time. But that translates to about $.80 for 8 cups. Store brands run at least four times that. And this is organic, which is non-negotiable when it comes to soy because over 90 percent of US crops contain GMOs. No. And Thank you.
How to make homemade soy milk:
Soak 1 cup dried soybeans in water for 3-4 hours. (Overnight is fine.) Drain. Cover with water in a sauce pan and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse. Notice the shell pods that float to the top. Scoop to remove. (You don’t need to get them all, just grab the majority.)
Place soybeans in a Vitamix or high speed blender. Cover with water to the 8 cup mark. Puree on high for 3 minutes. Add 1-2 tsp vanilla and 1-2 tsp sugar if desired.
Now, here’s where you can benefit from my learning curve. After you blend, other recipes will tell you to pour into a nut bag or strain thru a cheese cloth. And I can tell you, this is a DEAL BREAKER for me. In my initial attempts at this, I felt like I was back in the 1800s, doing laundry on a wash board. Kneeding and pressing and crying in angst as my hands cramped and I made a big Huge CRAZY mess all over my kitchen as it spilled and slopped and took forever and then still never seemed to strain all the way. I just gave up.
But as a woman born in the seventies, when Wonder Woman wore a cape and Farrah Fawcet drove race cars, defeat is not something I take lightly. Besides, I had bought 25 POUNDS of soybeans. I was not throwing that way. And yet. FOR SURE. I was not squeezing it through a nut bag.
As I was researching various alternatives such as commercial grade sieves, strainers and cheese presses to make this job a little more 2012, I ran across one word of inspiration: nylon.
Today, I’m happy to have Spanx to make it all look smooth. But as a former wannabe Charlie’s Angel, I do own a pair of control top panty hose.
I keep them in the same drawer as the leg warmers and wrist bands. You know, just in case.
So instead of a nut bag, I use control top nylons. Because nothing beats a great pair or L’eggs like a delicious glass of soy milk. Read more about how you can “Ditch the Nutbag“
Recipe for homemade soy milk:
1/2 cup dried soy beans
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
Remove any soy beans that look bad. Soak soy beans for 4-8 hours. Drain, add new water and boil soy beans for 15-20 minutes. Drain.
Place soy beans and 3 cups of water into Vitamix, high speed blender or food processor. Blend for one minute. Pour through nut bag or nylon. Collect milk. Add leftover pulp (okara) to blender. Add 2 cups of water and blend for 1 minute. Strain again.
Collect the leftover pulp, and use it for pancakes or cookies.(I am working on a recipe, so if those words aren’t linked yet, bookmark this and check back next week…I’m working on it!)
When it’s time to turn those fall decorations into something useful, many of us feel “pumpkin’d out”. There are many awesome ways to use the squash, and pumpkin recipes are plentiful. But it’s easy to store, as well. Make a pumpkin puree and store the excess for months in the freezer!
Make a Pumpkin Puree:
1) Clean out your pumpkin of all of the pulp. Save the pumpkin seeds for roasting, slather some pumpkin guts on your face for a pumpkin facial, get messy!
2) Make a happy Jack-o-lantern if you wish, or just plop the pumpkin on a baking sheet and roast in 350 degree oven for about an hour, until outside is squishy to the touch.
3) Allow the roasted pumpkin/Jack-o-lantern to cool.
4) When pumpkin is cool, peel off the skin
5) Place cooked pumpkin flesh in a food processor or high speed mixer. Process until desired pureed consistency.*
*Note: If you are too lazy to wash another appliance, you can skip this step and just transfer cooked pumpkin flesh to freezer-safte containers.
Oh, the potential!!!
Make Your Own Plant Milk: Homemade Coconut Milk
Making homemade plant milk is easy. Coconut milk is my favorite to cook with. It is creamy and rich. Making it from scratch is simple and fast.
The only issue to note is that it does have the distinctively delicious, sweet, coconut flavor. The unsweetened store-bought variety carries better in things like mashed potatoes and homemade vegan butter. But any recipe where the mild coconut flavor simply accentuates the intricate undertones, perfect for an Indian dish such as black rice lentil curry or desserts such as pumpkin pie with whipped cream, it is the ideal way to go back to basics. Oh, and it’s way cheaper.
How to make coconut milk: Since most of us don’t live in tropical locations where coconuts grow on trees, use raw organic shredded coconut.
I use an 8 ounce package. Place in a bowl, and cover with an equivalent amount of water. Allow it to hydrate for at least an hour.
Put hydrated coconut into Vitamix or high speed food processor. Add water that is double the coconut. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just eyeball it.
Blend for 3 minutes. Strain through a nut bag or ditch the nut bag and try a nylon alternative.
Add a tsp of vanilla and a tbsp of sugar. Or not. Shake well before use, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Maybe it’s just me (entirely possible), but making my own plant milks has been the biggest challenge in the quest for self-sufficiency. Here’s my truth: the nut bag is stupid. Human civilization is advanced, productive and intelligent-ish. So spending hours working myself into a sweat as I kneed and squeeze the stupid nut bag, spilling half of it in the process and turning my kitchen into a crime scene is not a sustainable procedure. There’s got to be an app for that.
While I appreciate modern convenience, our family goes through boxes of soy, almond and rice milk like it’s free. Only it’s not. At price points of $2-4 each, this is an easy category to target when budget cuts are necessary. I push water as often as possible, but I’ll agree that it doesn’t really work for cereal.
When I purchased my Vitamix for $450, I vowed to reach a break-even point as quickly as possible. So, following my personal financial principal of “spend money to make money”, I purchased bulk quantities of organic soy beans, oat grouts, shredded coconut, almonds, rice and hulled hemp, and began to search for the perfect recipes. I bought Rubbermaid containers that fit in my refrigerator door, and ordered the nut bag that was required in every recipe.
I was excited to get started. This was going to be awesome, for sure. Each recipe was a little different, but they all had one thing in common.
No matter which milk you are preparing, it will need to be strained. And every recipe I read calls for using a nut bag. And they all produce happy people drinking delicious milk made from whole ingredients in an easy process.
Either I’m doing it wrong (likely) or they left out the part where working the milk through the nut bag is akin to doing laundry on a wash board down in the creek.
I tried so many times. Soy, almond, rice, oat, hemp and coconut milk alike. I’d pour it into the nut bag and it would just….sit there. Gentle coaxing, full out beating, tears and bad words were employed. Nope.
I even attempted to construct a homemade vice, considered purchasing a cheese press for $200, and tried to get smart with a spaghetti squash.
After deciding that a commercial grade sieve was the answer, an out-dated word in the product description caught my eye. It was a simple word that is no longer tossed around at parties. Because it’s 2012. But back when Def Leppard ruled rock n’ roll, and before Spanx and spray tans made mini skirts an option for women over 30, nothing beat a great pair of L’eggs like control top NYLONs…
In a far away drawer, tucked in between a pair of leg warmers and the last can of Aqua Net, I have a pair of pantyhose saved for emergency use only.
Who would have guessed that making my own soy milk would constitute an emergency of such drastic proportion?
I got the nylons. I cut them up. I poured the milk into the pouch and held my breath.
It was perfect. Painless. In less than a minute, I was squeezing the last of the liquid and dreaming up other recipes for the leftover okara (pulp).
I have tried it with every kind of milk. Many times each. (I’ve been working on this for months!) Almond, soy, rice, coconut, oat and hemp.
The only one that I didn’t love was the hemp. It is grassy and bitter. But it tastes the same in the nut bag too. I threw away the rest of the hemp and called it a success. I’ll take 5 out of 6. And they are fabulous!