Feb
05
2009
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Be a Sour Belly

Light Wheat Flour Sourdough

Light Wheat Flour Sourdough

When German settlers crossed the Great Plains into the Wild West they did it often with a small sack of fermenting sourdough tucked near their tummies. In this way they could keep their beloved sourdough just at the right temperature for the healthy and tasty cultures in the sourdough to stay alive. As a result of this cultural habit that they could not leave behind, they became known as the Sour Bellies. Since then, the world has fallen in love with sourdough breads. Particularly in the northern parts of Scandinavia and Finland, dark rye sourdough is a favorite.

Why use sourdough in bread baking? Not only does the bread take on that great, tangy flavor, but you can use less yeast which frequently can give bread an unpleasant, overbearing flavor. From a health point of view, breads using sourdough cultures are better for your digestion than breads that do not use it. If you are using rye or whole grains to make the bread then there are all of the heart and digestive benefits of using those ingredients.

Making and maintaining a sourdough culture is the easiest thing you can imagine if you keep a few basic principles in mind. 1) Sourdough doesn’t like drastic changes of temperature (although it should be stored in the refrigerator once prepared). Keep it at an even temperature in your kitchen. 2) “Feed” your sourdough with new flour and water once a week. If you don’t, the culture you have created in the sourdough cannot survive. 3) Keep your sourdough in a clean, sealed container. If it begins to look discolored, do not use it.

Most of the time, I have both lighter wheat flour and darker rye flour sourdoughs on the go in my kitchen form making lighter and darker breads. Here is how to make them:

Light Wheat Flour Sourdough

Day 1:
2.5 dl or 1 cup white flour
2 dl or 3/4 cups water
1 tbsp grated apple
Blend in a clean glass container. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand somewhere warm in your kitchen (e.g. above your refrigerator, near your stove) for two days.

Day 3:
1.5 dl or 1/2 cup white flour
1 dl or 1/3 cup water
Add these ingredients to your sourdough which should already be bubbling with microbes. Cover once again and place as before.

Day 4:
Repeat as for Day 3.

Day 5:
Ready to use for baking. The sourdough should be something like the consistency of waffle batter. Once you have used some of the sourdough in your bread recipe, replenish the sourdough culture with flour and water  as for days 3 and 4, above. Keep refrigerated.

Dark Rye Sourdough

Day 1:
2.5 dl or 1 cup rye flour
2 dl or 3/4 cup water
1 tbsp grated apple
Blend and handle as for light wheat sourdough.

Day 3:
1 dl or 1/3 cup rye flour
1 dl or 1/3 cup water
Blend and handle as for light wheat sourdough.

Day 4:
1 dl or 1/3 cup rye flour
1 dl or 1/3 cup water
Blend and handle as for light wheat sourdough.

Day 5:
Your rye sourdough is ready for use. It should be a slightly thicker consistency than the light wheat sourdough. Use, store and maintain as for light wheat sourdough.

Now I’m off to bake some sourdough bread. So, prepare these sourdough cultures during the coming days and return to my kitchen after that to pick up some of my very best sourdough bread recipes which I will be entering shortly.

Oct
22
2008
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The Rotten Cookbook for Good Health

Yummy Vegetables!

Tummy Trim Vegetables!

Oh dear. “What is she thinking now?”, you might wonder. Isn’t a title like “The Rotten Cookbook for Good Health” just naturalness gone too far? No, not really although I do agree that a book with that title might not make the bestseller lists.

This was just my crazy little way of calling your attention to the value of controlled fermentation in the kitchen for good health. Cultivating good bacteria in order to mature foods in ways that are good for our stomachs and that appeal to our palates is a very old art used in many parts of the world, including in the Nordic region. Lactic fermentation of root vegetables and cabbages is one good example. This technique was originally a means of preserving the vital nutrients that these vegetables could provide until the next warm season could deliver new nutrients. What is lactic fermentation? It means using the watery liquid (the whey) that is left when you drain out the creamy part of yogurt or other forms of ‘live’ dairy product. What is a ‘live’ dairy product? It is one that contains live bacteria good for maintaining your digestive flora (check the labels!).

When I thought of “The Rotten Cookbook for Good Health”, I thought of a whole host of foods that would fit in. All kinds of interesting combinations of tasty vegetables that could be fermented and bottled, wonderful sourdough breads, home-made yogurts and more. The idea just gets bigger all the time!

Now let’s get down to practicals. During the past days, I have made classic Nordic fermented root vegetables. A serving of this a day is guaranteed to keep your digestion in good form! Here is the basic recipe:

Tummy Trim Vegetables
(makes 3 liters or 3 quarts)

2 kg or 4.4 lbs root vegetables and cabbages of your choice (I used white cabbage, swede, carrots and turnip) roughly chopped
1 liter or 1 quart yogurt or buttermilk (filmjölk in Swedish) drained through a cheesecloth overnight
Salt
Water

Place the chopped vegetables into a large clean glass or ceramic container that can be sealed. Pour over the whey (the milky liquid) that has been separated from the cream. Mix the vegetables into this liquid and place a heavy weight on them (I use my limestone rock paper-weight) so that they are compressed and just covered with the liquid. Seal and leave to ferment in a warm place in the house for 12 hours. Open and add salt water if the vegetables are not covered in liquid. The recipe for salt water is 3 tsps to one liter or quart of water. Place the weight on the vegetables again and seal. Leave in the same place to ferment for 3 days this time. After this time you can bottle the vegetables and liquid as you like and refrigerate or keep in a cool place. In contrast to most foods, these just improve with time! Consume as a side dish with almost anything. For extra seasoning, add in paprikas, onions and your favorite herbs such as rosemary or dill on the first day of fermentation. This makes a mean “rotten” side salad!

Visit The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for a further selection of great recipes!

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