Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy New Year - Classes, Classes and Lots of Sauerkraut - Weekly Email

Greetings and Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and new year!

Did you notice that food preservation was actually represented on one of the Rose Parade floats this year?

Discover's float, "A State Fair to Remember," represented many of the activities of a state fair; rides, pie-eating contests, and livestock judging. They also had some award-winning pies and preserves made from flowers. On the right side of the float, just behind the pies, is a blue-ribbon jar of preserves, which is mostly blocking a view of some canned pickles:

I was pretty excited about that. But then, I get excited about food preservation fairly easily.

Speaking of state and county fairs, it is never too early to start canning and making preserves for the LA County Fair ... don't wait until the last minute ... start making some of those marmalades, pickles and jellies now from in-season fruit. This year's forms aren't up yet, but they probably won't change all that much from last year's. Check out the rules for all their culinary contests here:

I'm hoping to be involved in the judging this year.

Of course, maybe you want to learn a little more about canning before entering a contest. In that case, I've got several classes coming up.

This Saturday, the 15th, I will be teaching a class on pickling basics at the Farmer's Kitchen in Hollywood from 9am-1pm:

Sour, crunchy, spicy, tart, sweet, and aromatic, pickles bring exciting seasoning, piquancy, nutrition and interest to our meals. They are a flavor counterpoint; harmonically interdependent with the aroma and taste of the main elements of a dish. Eating would be much less interesting without pickles, chutneys, relishes, salsas and other such condiments. Of course, pickling is not only a means of creating flavor, but also of preserving food.

Learn food safety and pickle basics in this small, hands-on class featuring recipes using fresh food from the farmer's market.

Space is limited. Participants will take home one or more jars of what we preserve.

Cost: $75.00 (pay when you arrive)

Registration deadline is 1/14/2011 8:00 p.m..

You can register here:

The Saturday after next, on the 22nd from 11am-2pm, I will be teaching a class on citrus and marmalades at Delilah Snell's Road Less Traveled Store in Santa Ana.

Learn about some of the more obscure citrus available to us in California (yuzu, calamansi, and buddha's hand, among others) and a couple of techniques for turning them into delicious marmalade.

Cost: $50.00

You can register here:

On February 5th, I will be teaching a class on fermentation (yogurt, vinegar and kombucha) at the Road Less Traveled Store and on February 12th, I'll be doing another hands-on workshop at the Farmer's Kitchen in Hollywood in anticipation of Valentine's Day "Food Preservation for Your Sweetheart." More information on those classes in a future newsletter.

I've been keeping my food preservation externs busy at the Farmer's Kitchen. We've been making lots of sauerkraut as Tutti Frutti Farms keeps providing us with plenty of cabbage. We made 36 pounds of what I consider a spectacular red cabbage kraut that kept its' beautiful color with fantastic flavor. We canned 25 pints and served the rest as fried sauerkraut and eggs on our breakfast menu. I like the dish, a lot. The saltiness and tartness of the kraut pair wonderfully with the richness of the egg yolk. Even though I like the dish a lot, I was surprised when it sold out within a few hours. Don't worry if you
missed it, though, we've got a lot more sauerkraut on the way for future breakfasts, and we'll probably be making an egg Reuben with our kraut for the lunch menu.

One of the reasons I put the sauerkraut with eggs on the menu was to get people to think of kraut in new and different ways. It is culinarily versatile and darn healthy. Like many fermented foods, we should probably be eating more. Those visiting the Farmer's Kitchen should expect to see a number of different and interesting recipes using kraut for the near future.

I'm very happy with the flavor of the kraut we made, so I'm keeping the left over brine as a starter. One of our guests this Sunday liked our sauerkraut so much that they purchased some of our brine to use as a starter to make their own kraut.

You can, of course, purchase starters online, but I'm not that big a fan of those for this type of fermentation. The reason is that, though the starters will work well initially, over time natural bacterial flora will tend to take over anyway. That is why you can't make San Francisco sourdough outside of San Francisco. Boudin, for example, has bakeries in Southern California, but they ship in new mother culture to their bakeries every month to keep the bacteria strain pure and not taken over by local Southern California flora. So, rather, than purchase a starter for sauerkraut online, I prefer to make my own. When I do find a local, natural culture that works well, then I will keep that strain as a starter.

We've also been making lots of grape jelly from MB Farms grapes. The regular jelly is fantastic, but we've also been making flavor variations, such as Cinnamon-Grape, Ginger-Grape, and a favorite of mine, Rosemary-Grape. More on flavor variations in a future email.

That's it for this week - I look forward to seeing some of you at my classes and at the Farmer's Kitchen.

As usual, if you have any questions about canning, pressure canning, fermentation, dehydration, freezing, pickling, curing, smoking or brewing, feel free to email me at
ernest.miller @ gmail.com.

Be sure to check out the blog, which hasn't been updated in awhile, but I plan to do some updating (probably):

And/or join the Facebook group: