Monday, May 24, 2010

Flavored Water Kefir : Rhubarb-Rose Petal

I love the taste of plain and simple water kefir made with water kefir culture, sugar, water, raisins and lemon. Now, I'm starting to experiment with flavored water kefir using a second ferment after the first water kefir ferment is complete. I've read about people doing second ferments with fruit juice, fruit, coconut water, and ginger for a sweet soda-like drink. I'm looking for something with a bit of a bite:

Rhubarb Rose Petal Water Kefir

1 stalk of raw rhubarb
20 rose petals from beach roses
2 sprigs of lemon balm
1 horseradish leaf,
1 1-inch hunk of ginger root
5 raisins

Pour slightly less than a quart of fresh water kefir into a quart jar.
To get more flavor I chopped the rhubarb into 2 inch long pieces and split them down the middle. I also sliced the hunk of ginger so that lots of ginger was exposed.

Put all the ingredients into the jar of water kefir.
Push it under the water kefir, cap it and set it on the counter.
Let it ferment for 24 hours and then refrigerate it.
I'll keep my eye on it during those 24 hours to make sure there isn't too much carbonation build up and if there seems to be I'll open the cap to release it.

Some people like a strong carbonation but I like just a little.
Tomorrow I'll taste it but I'll probably let it steep in the fridge for a few days before officially drinking it.
I'll report back about it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Can One Overdose on Onions?

Today I had 3 forms of onions in one meal. Walking Onion flower stalks, Green Garlic stalks and Fermented Walking Onion greens. I wondered if it was possible to eat too much onion but went ahead and ate them anyway.

I have been harvesting onion greens since the early spring emergence of my perennial Walking Onions. I eat them raw, snipped in salads and stop eating them this way when they get too tough or to hot.

Last week I experimented with a few thick handfuls of Walking Onion greens by putting them in the blender with a little salt water brine until they became mush. I jarred them and fermented them on the counter for 3 days and stored them in the fridge for the rest of the week.

As I prepared to make dinner I went out to the garden to harvest what was available, which was very little because it’s only May 16 and I live in New England.
Since I had been chipping away at the Walking Onion greens I decided to harvest some of the plants whose greens were already eaten but were sporting thick flower stalks. I pulled out entire plants including the small onion bulb as the plot needed to be thinned a bit, anyway.

I also harvested some of that Green Garlic I spoke about in my last post.

Heading back to the kitchen I started peeling, chopping, cleaning and sautéing the Green Garlic and Walking Onion stalks in olive oil. I added sliced chunks of swordfish to the mix.

For salad I harvested various lettuces, escarole, a lone asparagus stalk, and small but potent radishes.

I sampled the Fermented Walking Onion greens and found a pleasant aroma upon opening the jar. They tasted sweet, sour, salty, delicate and like nothing I ever had before.
I added some fermented Walking Onion greens on top of the salad as a condiment.

Dinner was fantastic and all the veggies were from the garden!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Green Garlic Patch

I continue to ponder Garlic Leeks which I recently realized are conventionally known as Green Garlic. My husband is the official vegetable gardener in our family. He treats everything with proper care: weeding, mulching, feeding, watering. I on the other hand am more of a throw-it-in-and-see-what-you-get type of gardener. If it can survive in my garden, I know it's strong.

In my last post, Garlic Leeks, I wrote about eating the stalks of garlic bulbs that were missed in the harvest. They were really superb! And so much more to eat than in a clove.

Last fall after we planted a bed of garlic I decided to plant a bed for myself using some of the previous year's garlic bulbs that we never got to eat. They were getting soft and drying out but some were sprouting. I separated most of them and planted them in close rows in my herb patch. A few bulbs were tiny and not having the patience to separate them, I just planted the whole bulb.

I wanted to see if they would grow at all. This spring I have a healthy patch of garlic plants, certainly not of the size and caliber of the plants in the official, well-taken-care-of bed, but certainly good enough size to eat as stalks sauteed with other veggies. The tiny whole bulbs that I planted are a cluster of skinny greens that I will separate and replant when I have a minute.

Another benefit of these stalks is that we can eat them so early in the season because they've wintered over and sprout early in the spring. We've been eating them for about 3 weeks and it's only early May! For New England that's almost a miracle! I'm curious to see how long they will stay tender.

I like the idea of having a garlic patch for stalk eating and another patch for bulbs to cure for the fall and winter. It seems to me to be a good use of space yielding more food in the end.