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

Homestead News, Volume 6

The days have been so full, Frank’s Tuesday night radio class seems like more than a week ago. It is going very well, good attendance, with more questions coming up all the time. One of his students came by to discuss antennas and towers yesterday morning while I got started on an all day canning spree. We continue to be very encouraged by the interest folks from around our small area are expressing about being able to stay in touch with each other by radio should an emergency arise, short term or long term.

The day before yesterday I harvested all I could from the garden. The tomatoes are finally ripening and taste really good. We don’t have enough to can yet, but we will. The canning spree yesterday included 16 pints of yellow squash in the first canner. It filled up both layers in our canner with some left over that made it into another batch with one pint of green beans and two pints of cowpeas.

After I got that started, I worked over the plums that our friend Grace gave me. They are very sweet and a pretty, dark red. I canned five pints leaving plenty of room for water to make a nutritious juice to drink along with the fruit. 

 

Next came some minced garlic. I bought nine pounds of peeled garlic. I haven’t harvested ours yet, it’s out there, I just didn’t get to it. Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution has a tutorial on canning minced garlic and I wanted to give it a try. I have been using dried minced garlic for years, but wanted to switch to fresh. The problem is I never take the time to peel and chop garlic for our meals, dried was always easier. The house REALLY smelled like garlic last night, so much so that Frank wondered aloud whether people would shy away from us today because we smelled like garlic. Well, no one turned up their noses at us, but we didn’t ask how we smelled either. 

The garlic turned green on top when we added the boiling water to it, but when it came out of the canner it was brown, which concerns me. I had added a quarter teaspoon of citric acid powder to each jar. I read in my canning books that when you can onions they darken and get soft. I hope that is the case with this garlic. We had a little left over that is in the frig which we will use first before we open one of these jars. We’ll let you know how it tastes.

We’ve had another rainy spell with a little over three inches in the last few days, but it looks like we’re in for a hot dry spell for a while. The humidity and heat index have been pretty high and look to go even higher next week. We will have to be extra cautious when we’re working outside.

I’m having a time battling the squash bugs and haven’t spent enough time on my efforts lately. We have lost some plants and if I don’t get out there and fight them some more, we may lose them all. This is another instance of not enough hours in the day.

I have started my mulching project in the garden in between everything else like making another batch of cheddar cheese. We are eating the third wheel and it tastes great. I may have already told you that, I’m not sure. Anyway, the cheese is turning out well, even though there are still a few small holes in it from all the yeast floating around our kitchen. And speaking of yeast, the sauerkraut continues to ferment along over in it’s corner, only needing a little water added to the moat every so often. It’s also time to make bread again, which means I need to get the sourdough starter out of the frig and wake it up for a day or two to lessen the acidity that builds up during storage. 

You know what? I love my kitchen. Not so much the physical aspects or aesthetics of it, just the fact that we have a working, functional kitchen. I like to cook. I love having naturally occurring, healthy foods ‘perking’ away on my counters in the form of cheese, kefir, sauerkraut and sourdough. I like having another bushel basket over flowing with Cushaw squash sitting on the floor that I need to can again. I like fixing fresh food that grew from a tiny seed in the dirt outside my house, that I can pick and cook and serve to my husband. Kitchens are a central, integral part of a home and I like the fact that in this house, where you enter is in the kitchen. Our kitchen is the heart of our home and where most of our living takes place. It’s a busy, happy, productive place. Messy sometimes, since I don’t like to clean near as much as I like to cook, but in our kitchen you will find our ‘home’.

 

And speaking of the kitchen floor, a big section of it is now covered with eight half bushel boxes of peaches we picked up from a local orchard today. Yes, I talked myself out of buying five bushels and settled for four. The next few days will be filled with more canning, while fighting off a few squash bugs and spreading out more mulch.

 

The goats are doing well. Cricket has recovered from her worms and scours. She is still a little thin, but is already well on her way back to normal. We had scheduled the vet to come out this week to teach me how to administer the copper boluses, but Frank and I have been fighting sinus issues with all of the wet weather, so we have rescheduled the vet for next week. The day he was coming this week we both had bad headaches and another hours long rain storm would have had us all soaked in the process. I’m glad we rescheduled. I will take pictures and let you know what I learn sometime soon.

Now that Cricket is doing so much better, we have changed back to our original plan of breeding her and One Stripe this month. We backed up the date to July 15th instead of the 1st to give her more time to recuperate. With the hot, 95* to 97* temperatures that are forecast next week, I don’t know if the goats will breed or not. We have had them do so in the past, so we will just have to wait and see.

 

The greenhouse exterior is almost finished. We still need to settle on which doors we are going to use and figure out some final details on enclosing the roof line and corners. Then the door leading from the greenhouse into the house will be installed. There is currently a house window being covered by the greenhouse. That will be taken out and a door installed in it’s place, with steps leading down to the ground level. The gentleman that we hired to

help with the work is on vacation for a few weeks, and in the meantime, Frank and I will bring our 55 gallon water barrels down from the barn and begin placing them inside. They will be the ‘workbench legs’ we will be using. We will explain more about that once we work out the details of how everything will be set up.

Our adoptive momma hen decided it was time to go back to the flock. One evening when we were feeding and watering she decided to go out into the big pen and visit the rooster, then she walked right back in with ‘her’ babies. The next day she laid an egg in the corner of their pen. That evening when she went out to visit the rooster and the flock she didn’t go back, so now the teenage chicks are on their own again. The young roosters are starting to square off to see who is boss, so it won’t be long before we start butchering them. There are some interesting color patterns developing and we are starting to think about which ones we may keep to replace the current rooster. Once these new young hens are old enough to lay, we will butcher and can the current laying hens, thus renewing our flock and putting more food on the shelf.

 

The baby chicks are doing well, growing and acting like chickens. When we brought them out to the chicken house they made the ‘teenage’ chicks look much bigger. And the ‘teenage’ chicks made these babies look awfully small. The young babies are learning from their next door neighbors. When I bring out greens for all of the birds in the morning, I put the babies greens right up next to the ‘teenage’ pen which encourages the babies to peck at them. It’s been interesting to watch their interactions.

 

The pigs are doing fine. They have adjusted to the routine and environment well. Sometimes they complain if I don’t bring them their desired scraps. They squeal at me, and it’s quite funny. One day they even followed me back to the gate complaining. I kept telling them that’s all they get and if they want something to eat they would have to eat what I brought. It was a funny conversation. I had brought them the Cushaw seeds and peelings from the days canning without any whey or milk or other liquids. Guess that wasn’t their favorite meal. They are all growing well and are a good addition to our homestead. So far.

The days seem to be just flying by, and it’s hard to believe we are almost to the middle of July already. As time ticks quickly on, there are so many things we want to accomplish before the fall arrives, the fall of the year or the fall of the world. We can only hope we can work hard enough and fast enough to beat it here. As we watch the financial markets of the world and read as many perspectives as we can on the complexities of our world, we can’t help but know, really know, deep down that time is running out. But that’s okay. We will do all we can, and it will be enough. As we were talking about it today Frank said it’s like he’s been preparing for this all of his life, and it really does seem that way. There have been so many experiences Frank and I have been given that have lead us to this time and place. We are right where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing, and if the truth be known, loving every minute of it. No matter how the world turns out, it truly is a great life.

Until next time – Fern

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

Some Things I’ve Been Reading

There is so much information out here on the internet that I could just about read for the rest of my life. The more I read and learn, though, the more I want to do and try for myself. Some of my reading teaches me how to do or understand new things. Some of it motivates me to learn, and grow more of our own food, or make more of our own hygiene products, to avoid what is out there on the market. Either way, what I am learning can be put to use. Knowledge. One of our most precious commodities. Here are some things I have read over the past month or so. I hope you learn something, too.

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Here are some things I have learned that I don’t like. Some of them make me mad. How can the dollar be more important than healthy, productive people? I don’t get it, and I’m glad I don’t get it. That means I don’t think like that.

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GM Wheat Discovered Contaminating Wheat Fields in Montana

U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato

Study Links GMOs to Over 22 Different Diseases

Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval

Fluoride in Drinking Water May Trigger Depression and Weight Gain, Warns Scientists

Monsanto’s New ‘Herbicide-Resistant’ GMO Crop Slammed by Food Experts

Scientific Team Sounds the Alarm on Sugar as a Source of Disease

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And then there are those articles that give me more insight into how to improve our health with food and diet.

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Scientists Prove Organic Food More Nutritionally Rich Than Conventional, GMO Crops

Olive Oil May Prevent Cancer, Study Finds

Heart Disease and Diabetes Risks Tied to Carbs Not Fat, Study Finds

Sourdough Bread and Health

Benefits of Kefir

Low Carb Fermented Foods

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And then there are some articles that are just unbelievable.

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Officials Declare ‘Eating Healthy’ a Mental Disorder

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Thanks to M.E. Masterson over at Adventures of My Life! who put a link to this article, G.H.A. (Goat Haters Anonymous) from Krazo Acres yesterday, we had some very good laughs. I guess you might have to have personal experience like the folks from Krazo to truly enjoy the humor in this article. We thought it was hilarious.

There is not much going on here on the homestead. We have had steady snow all afternoon. The garden is white. The pastures are white. The roads are white. And I am rather bored. Reading is a good past time on days like this, so I hope you learn something from these links. I can’t say I hope you enjoy them all, because I find some of them down right disgusting. But like any good leader, it pays to know your enemies and their tactics. Learn all you can so you can equip your mind for this battle called life.

Until next time – Fern
 

Musings From the Farm

The first thing I want to say is Thank You. Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes. I am recuperating very well, and the best part of all is that I don’t feel nauseated, run down and sick all of the time anymore. Hallelujah! I expect to make a full recovery very soon and be back to work around the homestead. Today, even though I am very slow and feel drained fairly quickly, I have been puttering around a little and enjoying every minute of it. The garden continues to produce in spite of it’s continued neglect. We threw out about a gallon and a half of jalapeno peppers I had picked a while back, but was just unable to process and preserve. We sure hated to do it, but sometimes some things just can’t be helped.

Today’s harvest

Turnips

Kale

Swiss Chard

Broccoli
Carrots
Mangel beets
Potatoes

There are things all over the world that give us all cause for great alarm. And there are things right under our noses that give us all cause for reflection and great joy.

I am blessed with friends that I can talk to about the things of the world, and what else we can do to prepare for the future. I got to talk to two of them today. Our conversations covered many topics from gardening, to an adequate water supply if the collapse comes, to aging parents, to keeping our preparations private from our everyday worldly connections. I always come away from these conversations with something more to think about. What else can we do to be more prepared? What else can we do to ease the hardships of life when things get difficult and stressful and every task you under take is geared solely for survival? Yesterday we ordered laundry wringers to go on our galvanized tubs. I think that would make life easier when the time comes.

We’ve dried up the goats, so now we are buying milk. The small, local store sells it for $6.00 a gallon. Six dollars a gallon!! Like Frank said, we can buy 50 pounds of feed for the cost of two gallons of milk. We think we might have located someone at church who has a Jersey that just calved. Maybe we can arrange to buy milk from them until two of our does kid in February. I know the milk would be better for us, and we could still get some cream for butter in the process.

  

A while back I made up a couple of batches of casseroles in small foil pans and froze them. They are always nice to have on hand in case the need arises, like taking them to someone who is ill or lost a loved one. Well, this time, they turned out great……for us. Since coming home from the hospital, it has been very convenient to have something we only needed to heat up in the oven. It’s good food, homemade and something we like. We started off with a breakfast casserole since it is fairly bland. Then enjoyed the green bean casserole. There was also a small Apple Cake in there that just hit the spot.

I will still have to give my body time to adjust to digesting my food without the aid of a gallbladder regulating the addition of bile to my intestines. I’ve heard all kinds of interesting stories and have read a fair amount about it. I have been drinking quite a bit of kefir throughout this whole process and continue to do so as part of my healing routine. I think it will help to keep things a little more balanced than they otherwise would be.

Times are changing along with the seasons. What used to be good, old fashioned common courtesy and kindness sometimes appears to be all but extinct. There are folks that try to find a reason to excuse anything to make their opponent look bad, whether it is politics, racial violence, differing religious opinions or that it is perfectly okay to go out in public and share known, highly contagious Ebola virus with anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. Just when you think it can’t get any worse….it does. Allies across the world are realigning into new financial and militaristic pacts that are changing the way the world will do business in the future. The leadership of our country continues to get weaker and weaker until it appears to be all but nonexistent. Where will it take us? What shape will we be in when we arrive? There is no way to know. Just continue to do all you can to prepare you and yours. And if the time never arrives, and you don’t need the preps you have prepared, Hallelujah! But if it does, you will forever be grateful that you took the time and the ridiculing to do something about it. 

Until next time – Fern
 

Reconditioning Sourdough Starter

The last time I made sourdough bread it was awful. No, really, it was. We each had part of one roll, then fed the rest of it to the chickens. I haven’t made anything sourdough since then, and it’s been months. I thought about writing an article called ‘Yucky Bread’, but first I wanted to figure out what had gone wrong. One thing that was different was the recipe. It called for mixing up the bread dough, then allowing it to proof overnight, instead of only mixing up the sponge and allowing it to ‘sour’ overnight. I thought maybe this new technique had somehow made the bread way too sour, which was what was wrong with it. 

So, off to my cookbooks I went. It took a while and much reading, then I finally found this information. When you don’t use your sourdough starter for a length of time, and have it stored in the refrigerator like I did, it becomes more and more acidic. This will make your dough, when you finally use it, much stronger. Well, when I made this last batch of bread, my starter had been in the frig for quite a while. I was anxious to try my latest sourdough cookbook, until I made that batch of yucky bread. It has full instructions on how to make sure your culture is fully active and not too acidic on page 30. Now, that I have figured out how to de-acidify my starter, I still look forward to trying out some of these recipes.

I followed the directions on how to ‘sweeten’ up the starter, and it worked great. Fast forward to the present. Even though I reconditioned the starter back then, I never used it to make bread. Since then we have had back

surgeries, accidents and other interruptions in our lives, and throughout that, I barely even fed my starter. When I finally grabbed it, and decided to at least feed it, the dark liquid that is usually on top of the floury dough was dried up. I figured the starter was dead. It still had that sourdough kind of smell, although it was a VERY strong smell, it didn’t smell rotten, which is what I expected. I didn’t think it would hurt to try reconditioning it once again. That is what I am doing now.

Believe it or not, even after several months of neglect, the starter is back to perking along. Reconditioning starter is very easy. Set it out at room temperature, and each day feed the starter about 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of filtered water. It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter. Remember to only use wooden, glass, ceramic or plastic with sourdough. It doesn’t like metal at all. Leave the starter out at room temperature covered with a towel and let it percolate and bubble. Since my container for storing the starter in the frig doesn’t hold much, I fed the starter for several days to build up volume before I started discarding some of it.

After feeding for several days, keep about 1 1/2 cups of the starter, put it in a new bowl, and discard the rest. Feed the starter you kept, letting it bubble up well between feedings. I will go by several times a day and stir it up, almost in a whipping motion, to add a good amount of air to the mix. You may need to feed it again for several days to build up the volume before you discard any more. Repeat this process until the starter returns to it’s original state and smells like normal sourdough starter instead of the real strong, almost stinky, smell of an acidic starter. How many times and over how many days you repeat this process will be determined by the condition of your starter and your own personal preferences.

A warning. While you are reconditioning your starter, be prepared for your kitchen to smell a little off for a while. It took Frank a few days to figure out it wasn’t the trash or something rotten in the kitchen that needed to be discarded, it was the starter. If you are going to have company, you may want to warn them ahead of time what is happening in your kitchen, especially if you are going to feed them. It is not a rancid smell, it is just rather strong and most people would think it stinks.

A side note. While I have my starter out in this working state on the counter, I have learned to keep it away from my kefir. We always have a quart of kefir in the works and that spot on the counter is the ideal place to keep the sourdough as well. But, the last time I reconditioned the sourdough next to the kefir, the kefir almost stopped working. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it until I remembered reading an admonition somewhere that the yeasts from the two cultured items don’t play well together. Now I keep them across the room from each other, which works out much better.

My first sourdough bread, 2013


I have been reconditioning this starter for a week now and still have several days to go before I will be satisfied with the results. When I walk by it, I still smell some of that ‘stinky’ strong smell, which tells me it is not at the state that I would like for it to be. After it’s in good shape again, I hope to make another batch of bread, and this time, I hope it’s edible. Frank appreciates a fresh batch of bread much more than the chickens. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Until next time – Fern