Lacto Fermented Oatmeal

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Well, it did to me when research about fermented oatmeal lead me to try something different with our breakfast cereal.


Two years ago when we found out Frank needed a double bypass, research about natural ways to lower cholesterol and blood pressure went into high gear. The soluble fiber found in oatmeal, as well as apples, carrots, flax and a number of other foods, is thought to help lower the LDL, or bad cholesterol, in the bloodstream. The initial blood work indicated Frank’s cholesterol was within the recommended overall level, but his LDL was 142. The doctors recommended 100 or below, so I went to work on our diet.

Initially, we ate regular oatmeal with a little goat milk, sea salt and water, brought to a boil, removed from the heat, covered and let sit for about 5-10 minutes for absorption. A small pat of butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few berries, finished off the bowl when served. We also cut out bacon from our breakfast at this time. For a number of years we had a strip of bacon, two eggs and berries for breakfast as part of our low carbohydrate diet.

The change in diet lowered Frank’s LDL from 142 to 103 in about three months. The doctor was very impressed, but still wanted him to take statins, which he did not, and still doesn’t, take. The side effects of many of the medications they wanted Frank to take for the rest of his life were many and wide ranging. Now, two years later, his LDL is 98 with diet alone. Of course, now the doctors recommend it be 70 or lower because of his bypass. The numbers are ever changing to benefit the medical industry, in our opinion.

Jar on the left is 48 hours old, jar on the right is 24 hours old.


All of this leads us to the research on fermented oatmeal. The addition of a carbohydrate heavy item to our breakfast was impacting the scale and waistline a little so I wondered if we could still reap the benefits of oatmeal, yet decrease the carb load through fermenting like we do wheat for our sourdough bread. That lead me to this site, which in turn, lead me this one that incorporated yogurt into the regimen.


Now we don’t strictly follow either of the routines depicted at these sites, but over time, this is what we have ended up doing.

In a quart jar I add:
About 1 cup of filtered water
2/3 cup regular oats
Approximately 1-2 tbsp. kefir

This jar will sit on the counter for 48 hours, swished around a couple of times a day, before we have it for breakfast. There is no cooking required by this time, the oats have softened, so it takes little time too heat. After I pour it in the saucepan, a good sprinkle of sea salt is added. It will thicken and bubble when it reaches a certain temperature, then the burner is turned off, the pan is covered and allowed to sit for a few minutes while the eggs are cooking.

This old broken spatula came from my Mom’s house when she went in the nursing home.

We serve the oatmeal with a small amount of butter, sprinkle of cinnamon and a few berries. No sweetener. It’s different. The kefir adds a different flavor which takes a little getting used to, but it’s good. By the way, I didn’t tell you the kefir I use has been strained and flavored with juice from the berries, cinnamon and honey, allowed to continue fermenting on the counter for a few hours before refrigeration to consume some of the carbs in the fruit juice and honey. I don’t really measure it out anymore either, I just pour some into the oatmeal jar.

Oat husks


 

I have discovered after everything is put in the jar and stirred up, the few oat husks there are float to the top of the liquid, so I fish them out with a spoon. A side benefit of fermenting.


Another benefit to fermenting the oats is adding another form of probiotics to our diet. Since Frank and I are retired, we don’t go much. This prevents exposure to the many germs, viruses and illnesses out in the general population, but we have also discovered that we don’t get sick near as often as many people we know. There is no way to tell how much may be lack of exposure and how much is diet and life style, it’s probably a combination of both.

Please share your experiences and ideas. There are medications Frank & I do take that we need, and are grateful for, but it’s our choice what we put in our bodies, as it is for you.


Until next time – Fern

P.S. Please enjoy this beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton.

For Our Health

We thought we would give you an update on some of the ways we have tried to improve our health in the last year or so. We have intentionally eliminated a number of things from our bodies and feel we are much healthier because of those choices.

In March, 2014, I decided to stop using commercial hair care products. I am happy to report that I am still very satisfied with my routine of baking soda and water for shampoo, with apple cider vinegar and water for a rinse and conditioner 17 months later. 

We still use baking soda for toothpaste, and make our own simple lotion and lip balm. By the way, that small batch of lip balm we made one year ago today is not gone yet. We would have used many tubes of commercial lip balm by this time. It truly is amazing.

Lip balm

I still use the same reusable food wraps and panty liners we wrote about last year. There are so many simple things we can make for ourselves that are less expensive, last longer and eliminate more chemicals from our bodies.

We told you about Frank’s difficulty getting off of Zyrtec, and recently we weaned ourselves off of low dose aspirin as well. The more we learn about how synthetically made ingredients affect our bodies, the less likely we are to consume them.

 

We have added fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and peppers to our diet. We continue to make sourdough bread with our fresh ground whole wheat flour, but we have eliminated all white flour and sugar. Our diet consists of foods high in nutrients, low in carbohydrates along with quality protein and fats. We continue to

make and consume kefir everyday, even though Frank would tell you he could go the rest of his life without kefir. We feel the probiotics we get from the fermentation process in making sauerkraut, sourdough and kefir help our bodies absorb and use nutrients in a much more efficient and effective way.

A little over a year ago, Frank and I chose to change our lives by changing the way we eat. In doing so, we have now each lost over 50 pounds. We are definitely healthier and accomplish much more than we ever did while carrying around the equivalent of a sack of animal feed all the time.

Something we have not done yet, but will someday, hopefully soon, is make lye soap. We have everything we need, but have yet to carve out the time to do it. Our friend, Grace has made her first batch of soap, so now it is our turn.

The older we get, the more we learn about natural ways to care for our bodies. Our modern world has much to offer in the way of conveniences and comfort, but what it has to offer is not always the best thing for our health, in fact, some of what it has to offer is down right deadly. A new year has dawned, make the most of it. Take care of your health, for you will need it to be ready for what is coming.

Until next time – Fern

Books Are Amazing Tools

Some of this article was originally written on September 20, 2013, only four months after we started this blog and had a very small readership. I thought about doing a whole new article, then I thought about adding some things here and there to the original article, but what I’ve decided to do is use the old one as a base for a new article. We still use the books I talked about then, but now we have quite a few more as well. If you want to read the original unedited version, it is here, You Can NEVER Have Too Many Books.

I have been a reader all of my life and it’s true. You can never, never have too many books. I know, I know. What about your Kindle, or Nook, or iPhone, or laptop, or computer? What about when the power goes down, and stays down? What if you could never read an electronic version of anything again? We have bought ebooks, and now own a Kindle with a number of books on it. Quite some time ago we bought all of the past issues of Mother Earth News on CD and downloaded them on our computers, which has provided us a great wealth of information. Even if we had a solar panel system that would keep our computers charged and running, it would be a waste of energy to do so. Printed material is a necessity for information preservation and a tool that will prove invaluable when the internet goes down for good. I have to tell you, Frank and I will really, really miss the internet. It is a tremendous wealth of information, right at our fingertips. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be having this ‘conversation’ if it weren’t for the internet. We wouldn’t have ‘met’ you and been able to share information, ideas and experiences if it weren’t for the electronic super highway. And sad as it may seem, I do believe that one day information will be passed by word of mouth again for a long, long time. I wonder how many old type set printing presses will be available to create books if we come to the point of TEOTWAWKI? I would surmise not many. And so I would encourage you to obtain or maintain a print copy of the information you frequently use. 

Here is a glimpse of a wall in our living room. It is my favorite wall. Frank built this bookshelf just for me and I love it. After we put most of our books on it there was a lot of extra space, not anymore. Back then I told him, “You know what that means? We need more books!” So we got some, then some more and still some more. After a while, we had to have the floor leveled and  reinforced which was a worthwhile investment. By the way, this is the wall where most people would expect to see the big screen television. Not in our house. You will not find one television here. Computers, yes, televisions, no. An aside. We were listening to someone talking on the local repeater the other day, and this gentleman spoke of his seven televisions. SEVEN? Why in the world would anyone need SEVEN televisions? It’s beyond me to see any value in one, let alone seven. Okay, back to books.

A friend of mine, I have mentioned her several times, I told her the next time I mentioned her [back in 2013] I was going to give her a pseudonym. 

Grace, for by the grace of God we met and have become friends. Grace has laughed and told me I am her only friend that has a ‘bug book’. We have talked many times about needing to know how to do things for ourselves in the case of a collapse or downturn in the quality of life in our country. When she has asked me about a variety of

topics, my answer is often, get a book about it. We have been trying to stock our library with many useful reference books over the past few years and continue to do so to this day. By the way, you can never have too many Bibles.

These two belonged to my mother when she was a young woman.

Patrice Lewis at Rural Revolution recently [September 18, 2013] reminded us in, A project’s that never done, that having our important information on an electronic device may not always be a dependable medium. She has printed out and organized her important information so it will not be lost if she can no longer access it on her computer or online. It is still a great idea.

We would like to share some of the many books we use as resources, and some we have read for knowledge and ideas, as well as entertainment. Here are some of our favorites by category and in no particular order.

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The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible – great general information

The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening – We have a very old version that is literally falling apart at the seams. Tons of great, fairly detailed information.

Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver – Good book. All kinds of plant and pest information.

Carrots Love Tomatoes has taught me a great deal about companion planting. I have changed my garden planting patterns with the help of this book.

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control is my favorite bug book and the one Grace was talking about.

The Seed-Starter’s Handbook is not only good at helping me get my seeds started, I use it for information on how to save seeds as well. It is an old book (1978), but one of my favorites. 
The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food is one  from Backwoods Home.

I have several new and old reference books I use as well. I have begun keeping my annual garden ‘map’ of where I plant things in a binder to make sure I rotate crops and don’t plant a new crop where it will not thrive because of the last occupant.

Recently Leigh from 5 Acres & A Dream wrote an article about the book One Straw Revolution and how she was trying to increase her food production year round. Frank read this book before we were married. His copy is dated 1978. 

 

Leigh has also written a book about the adventure she and her husband have had in the process of developing a homestead titled, 5 Acres & A Dream The Book.

There are so many different resources that can be used in many different ways to increase food production. That’s what we’re trying to do with the greenhouse, so I will be revisiting the three books that we have dealing with year round food and greenhouse production, The Winter Harvest Handbook, Backyard Winter Gardening and Gardening in Your Greenhouse.

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Food Preservation

Stocking Up – the old and new version. This is a great book. It covers canning, freezing, drying and storing. It has things other books don’t. By the way, all of the recipes use honey, no sugar in this book.

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a book I use every time I can something.

I have half a dozen other canning books including Jackie Clay’s book Growing and Canning Your Own Food. It is a great book and full of a lot of information besides canning and preserving.

A book I have had for a while and just started using [now I use it each time] with my dehydrator is Making and Using Dried Foods. After I bought the dehydrator, I was surprised that it didn’t come with more instructions. Then I got to thinking…… don’t I have a book about that? Sure enough, I did.

Another new adventure we have embarked on is making and eating fermented foods. This, of course, has necessitated a few more books. Do you get the feeling that I really love books? Yep. I really do. Some of the ‘same’ recipes in these books are quite different which I find very interesting. A little confusing sometimes when I’m trying to learn something new, but interesting never the less. Here they are: How to Ferment Vegetables, Real Food Fermentation, Making Sauerkraut, and Wild Fermentation.

Along the same lines of fermenting foods, we have added sourdough to our menu since the first writing of this article. The first few sourdough cookbooks I bought were a disappointment to me since they dealt mostly with fancy, elegant breads. This book, Baking with Natural Yeast has just the recipes and ideas for me.


Two more books that I have not put to good use yet, but I’m glad we have them are Apple Cider Vinegar and Vinegar. I finally found a recipe for simple, plain vinegar.

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Cheese Making

I have several books, but the only one I have ever used is Mary Jane Toth’s  Goats Produce Too! The Udder Real Thing. I have found recipes that work great for chevre, mozzarella and cheddar in this book and still haven’t tried any of the others. I will be branching out and trying a different cottage cheese recipe before long, though, and I’ll let you know which book it comes out of.

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Herbs 

Our book collection about herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes started many years ago. This is a mixture of old and new that I use most often now. The Herbal Antibiotics book is from Backwoods Home

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies both have a great deal of information about how to use plants medicinally, but little to none about how to grow and harvest them.

One of my older books Growing and Using Healing Herbs has great information about planting, harvesting, preserving and using herbs.

But the best one I found for information about growing and harvesting herbs is Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. 

When I was researching sources of perennial vegetables that I could get established here I ran across Perennial Vegetables, which has proven to be a good resource.

Here are two new medicinal herb books we have added to our collection, Healing Herbs and The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook. I like to compare notes between all of the different books if I am researching a new way to use an herb, or looking for a remedy.

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Animals

When we got our first Great Pyrenees to guard our goats, we wanted to make sure it was a successful venture. We had read enough to know that training a livestock guardian is not like training the Labrador Retrievers we used to raise. We found that Livestock Protection Dogs gave us very valuable information, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have kept Pearl. She has a very different temperament, and has turned out to be an excellent dog.

We have a number of books about goats, which I call my goat book collection. If something comes up, like an abscess, I look in all of my books and compare the information I find. I feel much better informed this way because not all authors have the same opinions or give the same advice for a particular situation.

All About Goats has some good basic information.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats is a good beginners book with fairly thorough information.

Raising Milk Goats Successfully and How To Raise Dairy Goats are very similar and have good basic information.

Natural Goat Care is by far my favorite book. It raised my learning curve on the natural needs and health of goats. I would highly recommend it.

We have other reference books for animals which include The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable and The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. I have begun to use the Farm and Stable book a little more, when researching natural solutions to our animals needs.

Now that we’ve added pigs to the homestead, we’ve also added pig books. So far, these are our two references, Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs and Free Range Pig Farming, along with another one we have on our Kindle called Raising Pastured Pigs.

 
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Resource Books

We have a variety of books that we have not and may not ever use. They are for references when and if the need ever arises for the topics they cover, such as, establishing a black smith shop, how to train oxen, small scale grain raising, cooking on a wood stove, building small tools or equipment, and more. 

Grace and I have been doing some bartering for eggs [until she got her own chickens]. One of the things she brought was this Chicken Health Handbook which is another good reference book. Books that will add to your peace of mind are also an important part of a good library. The Simplicity Primer from Patrice Lewis is one of many. We read the Little House on the Prairie series last summer [2012]. They are a great resource of information for living without electricity and growing or raising what you eat, or how to do without. There are many books that can help us in our quest to learn how to do things without the help of all of the modern conveniences. I was able to acquire an old set of Cyclopedias. I didn’t even know cyclopedia was a word until I saw these books that were published in 1913. I have looked through some of them, but haven’t sat down and read through any of them.

One thing I ran across dealt with why a war had started. I wonder if the perspective of someone from that time is different from the prevailing opinions of today. Why did I bring these books home? They may be a good resource for how to do things without all of the modern conveniences we are accustomed to these days.

 



 

So, to go back to the [original] title I truly do believe you can never have too many books. Printed information may one day be in very short supply. Electronic media may one day be a thing of the past. As memories age, they don’t keep details stored as well either. I have felt a strong need to include a plethora of books as a very important part of our preparations. 

We have even stored more than one copy of some books to share with others if the opportunity arises. Books such as James Wesley Rawles How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It and The Ball Book of Complete Home Preserving. James Wesley Rawles’ book is what got Frank started in radio. It was the first place he read about MURS radio frequencies. You never know when that little bit of information can revolutionize a person’s perspective and greatly increase their ability to be self-sufficient and provide for their families.

Frank has added a number of books on radio communications, along with some programming discs to our bookcase collections.

We have a small, older collection of children’s readers. As a teacher these books appealed to me. Now I see them as resources when we no longer have schools for children to attend. 



There are several survival/preparedness novel series we have read over the last few years that we have not only enjoyed, but learned from as well. A. American has an interesting series that starts out with an EMP and a long trip home to family. Glen Tate has the 199 Days series that begins with the drive to prepare for the collapse of society and ends with rebuilding a portion of the country. It’s a very interesting series that gives you some things to think about along the way.

We have a number of medical resource books on our shelves. We truly hope there does not come a day when we will need to rely on ourselves, the knowledge we have and the information found in these books. But if we do, I know we will be extremely grateful they are here.

And to top it off, two of these references were a recent gift. You can’t beat that.

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The printed word may be a very valuable commodity in the days, weeks, months and years to come. When a society depends upon something as fragile as a bunch of ‘0’s and ‘1’s to maintain  the vast wealth of knowledge we have come to expect to be accessible at our fingertips, they are bound to be disappointed. Sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes for up to a minute, or even a few minutes. What will happen when we no longer have access to electronic data? Period? So much knowledge will be lost and probably lost for good. If there is something you truly value and want to insure your accessibility to it in the future, get it in writing. Something you can hold in your hand. Yes, there are some disasters that will even take your books from you, and we can’t insure against all possibilities, but we can at least try. And besides all that, I love books!

Until next time – Fern

Adjusting to Fermented Vegetables

We wrote about our adventure with making sauerkraut back in March. I’m happy to say that this adventure continues on a daily basis. We have since made a third batch of kraut using a little of the juice from the second batch as an inoculate. We also shredded the cabbage this time instead of chopping it. I think the texture is better shredded. But this article isn’t really about how we made sauerkraut, it’s about how we have adjusted to eating it on a daily basis.

About two days after we started eating the sauerkraut, my knees were really hurting. I mean really hurting. Now, I have had arthritis for many years and am used to my joints flaring up, getting red, hurting for a while, then calming down. This has happened too many times to count over the years. And no, I don’t take any medication at all for it. I take ginger capsules, Cod Liver Oil and Glucosamine. 

But this time the pain in my knees was different, and the onset was rather sudden. I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary or anything strenuous that would have instigated one of my typical flare ups. As I thought about it, the only thing I could think of that was different was we had begun to ingest a naturally fermented vegetable. We already eat sourdough bread about three to four days a week and drink milk kefir everyday, so it’s not like our bodies were totally unaccustomed to fermented foods.

When my deductions came down to the possibility of the pain being caused by the sauerkraut, I went to the internet for some research. Here is what I found. This is a very lengthy article and contains some very good information about the need for fermented foods for a healthy life.

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At Mercola.com in Fermented Foods Contain 100 TIMES More Probiotics than a Supplement, “There is one precaution that needs to be discussed here, and that is the potential for a so-called healing crisis, or what Dr. McBride refers to as a die-off reaction, provoked by the massive die-off of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other harmful pathogens by the reintroduction of massive quantities of probiotics. It can significantly worsen whatever health problem you’re experiencing, before you get better.

The reason for this is because when the probiotics kill off the pathogens, those pathogenic microbes release toxins. These toxins are what’s causing your problem to begin with; be it depression, panic attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or any other symptom. When a large amount of toxin is suddenly released, your symptoms will also suddenly increase.”

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From Gaps.me I found, You’ll meet people who will tell you that they “cannot tolerate” fermented foods: the reason is that they suddenly had a sizeable helping of a fermented food and got a serious “die-off reaction”. Never start from more than 1 teaspoon of any probiotic food per day. Depending on the severity of the condition, different people can introduce fermented foods quicker or slower. If on 1 teaspoon per day your patient gets a “die-off reaction”, let him or her settle for a few days or longer, then increase the amount to 2 teaspoons per day. Once 2 teaspoons are well tolerated, add another teaspoon. Continue increasing the daily amount of the fermented food gradually keeping the “die-off reaction” under control.”

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After I read this, I realized that I was probably having a reaction to the ‘die off’ in my gut caused by eating the homemade sauerkraut. Painful, but interesting. We continue to eat a small serving of our kraut everyday. I think we missed one day since March 11th, a little over a month ago. Since that time, I think we have gradually repopulated our digestive tracts with healthy bacteria.

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I found an example of this at Breaking Muscle in The Real Reasons Your Guts Need Fermented Foods.Some of the important health benefits of fermentation:

  • Fermentation is the only type of preparation of foods that cannot destroy certain nutrients, will creates more nutrients and enhances others.
  • It removes toxins and harmful bacteria found in many foods.
  • It will improve your digestion, especially when consumed before your meal and also allows for your nutrients to be absorbed properly.
  • It aids in the preservation and creation of important enzymes.
  • Fermentation is a huge supporter to your immune function. It increases your B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid that fight off harmful bacteria.”

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We are very pleased that we have been able to add fermented vegetables to our diet. I think over time, it will continue to add to our overall health, and especially our digestive health. My arthritis appears to have gone back to ‘normal’, although my hands seem to hurt more than they usually do. I can’t say that I think it is a reaction to our continued consumption of sauerkraut, though. We have gradually increased the size of our portions to about two tablespoons per day. 

As the garden grows and we produce more fresh vegetables, we will be trying a number of different vegetable combinations. I also plan to try fermenting our pickles and jalapeno slices this year instead of canning them. I think that will be a fascinating experience. I truly hope to have a section of jars on the shelf that contain vegetables we grew in our garden with no pesticides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers, that have been fermented using whey from the cheese we made. I think that will be really neat.

As I served another portion of sauerkraut the other day, Frank took a bite and said, “This even tastes like regular sauerkraut. It’s pretty good.”  I asked Frank recently if he ever thought his wife would be making cheese, waxing cheese, growing a garden, fermenting vegetables or even milking goats. He said no, and I agreed. Sometimes our life seems like a dream. And it is. It is a dream come true. Make yours the same.

Until next time – Fern

Low Carb Fried Chicken

I think I have made a great discovery. Frank loves fried chicken, well, we both do. After we changed our diets to accommodate a low carbohydrate intake, I no longer fried chicken. But I have only found so many ways to bake or saute chicken that meets our dietary requirements and supports our weight loss.

As I was pondering new and delicious ways to fix chicken, I ran across some information about sourdough starter and it’s carbohydrate content. As the starter ferments it predigests, or consumes much of the carbohydrates in flour. When sourdough bread is made and left to proof, or ferment, the starter will consume much of the carbohydrates in the wheat, creating a bread that is lower in carbohydrates compared to yeast made breads. This got me to thinking about different ways I can use my sourdough starter. I am very interested in what you think about this information. Here are some of the things I have read.
 
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From Cultures for Health: Low Carb Fermented Foods 

“One of the beauties of the fermentation process is that it actually lowers the carbohydrate count of the food you are fermenting.

Fermentation occurs when bacteria feasts off of the carbohydrates found in a food. In making kombucha that food is the sugar. In making sourdough bread that food is the flour. In making sauerkraut that food is the carbohydrates in the cabbage. In making yogurt that food is the lactose naturally occurring in milk.

In fermentation, the sugars and starches are eaten up by the bacteria cultures, and converted to lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and more bacteria. So, by definition, fermentation is a process one could use to lower the dietary carbohydrate levels found in various foods.

It is difficult to know the exact carbohydrate count of a fermented food, but there is one principle to keep in mind if you are concerned about the carbohydrates in your fermented foods:

The longer the fermentation time, the more carbohydrates eaten up by the organisms, the more sour the ferment, the lower the dietary carbohydrate count.

So by controlling the culturing, you control the carbohydrates found in fermented foods and in this way you can eat low-carb and enjoy many fermented foods.”

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From Daniel Reed: Sourdough Bread and Health

“Researchers in Sweden at Lund University have noted that the fermentation process that’s involved in the creation of sourdough utilizes carbohydrates, lowering the carbohydrate level in the dough as it’s transformed to lactic acid. The result of this process means that sourdough bread can aid in ensuring that your blood glucose level remains in line, helping to guard against various diseases especially diabetes.”

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With this information in hand, the question then became how many carbohydrates that are contained in fresh ground whole wheat flour are ‘consumed’ during the fermentation process? There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the numbers. If you look up the number of carbs in whole wheat flour, you will find that a bag of whole wheat flour at the store, and flour you just made from grinding up wheat berries appear to have a different carb counts, and quite a different amount of nutritional value. 

Nutrition Data indicates that 1 cup of whole wheat flour has 87g of carbs and 15g of fiber. Subtracting the fiber from the carb count gives a total of 72g of carbs. It doesn’t indicate whether this is store bought flour or fresh ground whole wheat flour.

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The Whole Truth has an article that says, When wheat is ground for commercial flour sales, the bran is first removed and the germ and oil in particular are separated out, since these spoil in a short period of time. The remaining endosperm is then finely ground, leaving white flour. In order to market “whole-wheat flour,” a small percentage of the bran is returned to the product, yet it still lacks the germ and thus is far from being “WHOLE” wheat flour.”

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There are a few opinions out there about how many carbs are consumed during the fermentation process, but most indicate it would depend upon the length of time the flour is allowed to ferment. There are several forums that discuss possible numbers like this one. I have done some thinking on this. The starter itself should not be high carb if you consider the example of wine. One bottle of wine contains approximately 2.6 lbs of grapes. That would make the carb load 468 grams. However we know that there only remain around 30g of carbs in a bottle. Hence we know how much the beasties eat. Essentially we are left with 7 % of the original carb count. Two problems with this. Wine ferments on average for 2 weeks. This starter takes 4 days. Second, we cannot automatically assume that the uptake of carbohydrates is the same with flour as with grape juice. If I was to make this I would assume 20% of carbs remaining to be on the safe side.”

 
So, if I take the 72g of carbs in 1 cup of commercial whole wheat flour, add it to the sourdough starter and let it ferment all day, or a minimum of 8 hours, and multiply that by 20%, I get 14.4 carbs. 

Now, what does all of this have to do with fried chicken? I started all of this research to try to get a reasonable estimate of how many carbohydrates would be in 1/2 cup of our whole wheat sourdough starter. After all of this reading, I determined that 1/2 cup of starter should, could or probably contains about 7 or 8 grams of carbohydrates. That is doable for us on the amount of carbohydrates we are limiting ourselves to during this phase of our diet.

I mixed 1/2 cup of starter that had not been fed for over 8 hours, with one egg, cut up the chicken (which we raised; it doesn’t have skin), dipped each piece in the batter, shook off any excess, and fried it up. I realized after we were eating that I hadn’t thought to put any salt and pepper in the batter which would have made the chicken better. But, you know what? It was really good. Like I said before, we both like fried chicken and we hadn’t had any for over four months.

When figuring our carb count for the chicken in this meal, I count it at 6g of carbs per person. That is probably higher than it actually is, but I would rather error on the high side than the low side. We only have a meal like this about once a week or less, but it does add a tasty alternative to the way we have changed our eating style.

My question for you is this. Do you think I am close to accurate in my assessment of the carbohydrate contents of the sourdough starter? I don’t want to try to kid myself into thinking I am fixing a low carb meal if I’m really not. I know there are many differences between sourdough starters that are fed all purpose white flours instead of only fresh ground whole wheat. But if this really is a decent low carb way to fry chicken, then I am happy to provide an occasional tasty meal for my husband. 

Until next time – Fern
 

What’s Happening

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Last week we had an exceptional amount of snow and ice for this area. This week we’ve had rain just about every day. But the good news is, next week, we have a day and a half that is forecast to be partly sunny. Then the weather forecast shows us going back into another rainy period for the foreseeable future. 

Needless to say the garden has not been worked, and it will probably will not be worked for at least two weeks. We had planned on having seedlings in the ground a week or so back. Things like cabbage, broccoli, cole type crops. But that’s just not going to happen any time in the immediate future. Where I’m going with this line of thought, is that outside of planning and getting a varied assortment of seeds up to the sprout and seedling stage, there’s just not much happening in the garden.

Our baby goats are doing good, they’re out grazing with the big girls now. They’re eating grain and seem to enjoy it greatly. For the most part we don’t have to chase them down to go into the pen at night any more. I think the grain has a lot to do with that. 
 

First mozzarella of the season


We’re getting about three quarts of milk a day, from only milking once a day right now. With the babies penned up overnight, we take all of the available milk before they get their breakfast. 

Our three first fresheners are coming along well. We’re expecting their babies around April 2nd. That will also be about the same time that we wean the current batch of babies. So, that’s the update for the goats.

Our chickens are doing good for the most part. We need to get rid of a couple of roosters. There is a good chance one of them may grace us at our dinner table tomorrow night. We’re still not getting the egg production we want. We have 19 hens, and we’re probably getting on average about 12 eggs a day. That’s just not quite enough for our needs. But we are giving thought to what we’re going to hatch around June 1st, so we can start that 6, 12, 18 month cycle. This will provide us with friers and replacement hens for the flock. So, that cycle continues also. I just wish we were getting more eggs. You see we feed the eggs to not only us, but to the dog and the cats.

The kittens are healthy and it’s about time to get them spayed and neutered. And it’s also time to ban the little boy goats. You probably remember them as Breakfast and Lunch.

We’ve been working on getting our garage cleaned out and organized. It just seems like every time you clear out an empty space, there is always something to take it’s place.

We tried some fermented cabbage the other day, and we’ve been having a couple of bites of it each day for the last two or three days. For us it is definitely, let me say that again, definitely, an acquired taste. So, we’ll have to wait and see how the fermented cabbage works out.

There’s not much going on around the farm except everyday business as usual stuff. Our taxes are completed for the year. We have plans to butcher a couple of our older wethers, and tomorrow we’re going to make some fresh pressed herb cheese. Or, we could go out in the garden and make mud angels. Now wouldn’t that be fun? I’ve only put to or three loads of goat and chicken manure on the garden this year. Nah, we’re not going to be making any mud angels. That’s a tad bit immature. How about if we make mud pies and give them to our neighbors? Nah, because then they would expect pies every year. Well, as you can tell, things are a little slow around here right now. Hope you’re having a good day. Take care. Bye-bye.

We’ll talk more later, Frank
 

Homemade Sauerkraut

We finally took the initiative to learn how to make fermented vegetables. I have read about it for years. The more I read, the more I realized how good this process is for your health, and it is another way to preserve foods. This is our first, well second, but I’ll get to that in a minute, batch of fermented cabbage. Let me back up and start with the books I have acquired so far. Here is the beginning of the story.

A few years back, I got this book. I had read little bits here and there over the years about fermented foods, but what I really wanted to be able to do is make a crunchy pickle. How are these two related? Well, I looked up how to brine pickles, and that led to pickle crocks, which led to other things to do with crocks, which led to sauerkraut and fermenting cabbage. So here we are, trying out our first home made sauerkraut. We bought the cabbage since ours is still in the seedling stage. But let me get back to this book and several others that I have bought recently, which include Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods and Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen.

The more I read about fermented vegetables and their health benefits, the more interested I became in trying them. Then after we changed our eating habits to include less carbohydrates, more nutritional vegetables and better protein sources, I learned more about how fermenting foods such as kefir, sourdough and sauerkraut lowers the carbohydrate content of foods. Thus, the motivation for learning how to ferment vegetables increased even more. An article over at Cultures for Health describes some of these benefits in this article: Low Carb Fermented Foods.Fermentation occurs when bacteria feasts off of the carbohydrates found in a food. In making kombucha that food is the sugar. In making sourdough bread that food is the flour. In making sauerkraut that food is the carbohydrates in the cabbage. In making yogurt that food is the lactose naturally occurring in milk.”

All of my reading and research lead me to use a crock made for fermenting. Some of my fermenting books indicate that there is no need for a special crock, while others recommend it. I chose this kind of crock so I wouldn’t have to deal with the scum, or bloom, that typically grows on top of a crock of vegetables and has to be removed periodically. Or that is what I have read anyway. I didn’t want to have to guess whether it was the good scum or the bad scum. I was leery enough as it was without wondering if what I had perking away in the crock would make us sick. I liked the idea of having the crock closed. 

A side note here. I found out the hard way to keep sourdough and kefir across the room from each other so their yeasts and bacteria don’t have a little competition. The sourdough won at that time, and the kefir just about quit working all together. That meant that a week or so ago when I had all three out ‘working’, I placed them at the farthest three points on my cabinet that I could. The sourdough ended up stuck in the corner on top of the chicken scrap bucket, but it seemed to work and they all kept perking along.

We have hesitantly wanted to try fermenting vegetables for quite some time. I say hesitantly, because like anything, you have to be careful to produce a healthy instead of a deadly product. There are guidelines to follow when fermenting anything to make sure your finished product is edible, not something that will cause food poisoning. Neither one of us has ever eaten fermented vegetables before, and don’t know anyone that does, except through things we have read both in books and on the internet. That goes back to why this isn’t the first batch of cabbage we fermented.

 The first batch I started went like this. Chop up the cabbage very fine. Put in a the crock in layers, sprinkling it with salt, and pounding it down to compact it and release some of the juices in the cabbage. I used one full head of cabbage. The crock will hold much more, but it was an experiment, so I didn’t want to over do it. I followed the directions in one of the books that said to wait 24 hours, then check and see if the cabbage juices had covered the cabbage and the stones used to weigh it down. There wasn’t enough juice, so I added some filtered water, then let it sit and do it’s thing for several weeks. The problem I ran into was having baby goats and getting busy with other things. This allowed the

water in the ‘moat’ to evaporate, thus allowing oxygen to enter the crock. When this happens, as it would if you used an open crock, scum or bloom as some folks call it, forms on top of the liquid. As long as this bloom is white, it is supposed to be okay. You can skim it off and let the cabbage continue to ferment. Well……… I just couldn’t bring myself to trust that this was healthy instead of unhealthy bloom. Even though when I opened the crock, outside since I didn’t know if the smell would knock me down or smell good, it had a nice tangy smell, we still didn’t eat it. I just dumped it out in the garden. Nothing else ate it either, it just sat there.

Then I started another batch of cabbage. This time, after I chopped it up, I put a little in a large stainless steel bowl, sprinkled it with sea salt and pounded the whey out of it with a wooden pestle. I used the pestle the first time, too, but didn’t pound it near has hard since I didn’t want to break the crock. After 24 hours I was rewarded with a good amount of cabbage juice, but not enough to quite cover everything, so I added some filtered water. Surprisingly to me, it takes about a month for the cabbage to develop a sauerkraut kind of flavor.


We had our first, small helping today. It doesn’t taste like sauerkraut you buy in the store since it hasn’t been heat treated. Frank said it doesn’t taste bad, but it doesn’t taste good either. I thought it was pretty good. Crunchy, which I wasn’t expecting, tangy, and different, but good. Since our bodies are not used to consuming fermented vegetables, we will go easy on it at first, so we will have time to adjust. I dipped out about a quart for us to eat on, and left the rest in the crock to continue fermenting. This was a recommendation in the books. Since it takes about a month to get to this point, I think I will start a second crock. That will give us a perpetual supply. For now, we will stick to cabbage. Before long though, we will be trying other vegetables as well, things such as turnips, carrots, cucumbers, okra and beets.


This is yet another new food adventure we have embarked on. I’m not sure how successful or long-term it will be, but it is something I thought was worth a try. It is another way to preserve food in a very healthy way. Fermented foods can be kept for years in a cool place according to my research. If this is something we can produce in the summer, when the garden is going great guns, then it will be yet another source of very good nutrition. If you have any information or recommendations for us, we would love to hear them. We learn a great deal from our friends out there in blog world, and appreciate all you regularly share with us. 

Until next time – Fern