Tag Archives: fermented food az

Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Towels – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Towels.  I am going to tell you that really any quality flour sack towel I have used has been fine, these are just the best price per towel I can find and they are on prime.  The key word there though is quality.  Can you find them for less than about $2.20 a towel?  Yes, but when you do read the reviews.  The common theme will be “very thin” and “gets holes after a few uses”.  These don’t do that, they last a very long time and due to that, they pay for themselves.

Conversely Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Towels have over 2900 reviews with a perfect A grade on Fakespot.com.  In other words they are top quality.  Remember a key tenet of my philosophy is “always be frugal, never be cheap”.  To be blunt, something is only a “good deal” if it both works and lasts.

Lot’s of people like these because they are lint free and dry dishes nicely, etc.  Some people use them for embroidery.   Also some see them as the perfect cloth diaper.   That is all great but what I use them for is as an alternative to cheesecloth.  In that use they make a much better alternative when making yogurt cheese or separating say buttermilk from fresh made butter.

Cheese cloth wears out fast and doesn’t really offer any advantages for this use, where as flour sack towels last a very long time, you just wash and dry them and use them over and over again.  I am a huge fan of getting good bacteria like lactobacillus into your diet in many different ways and none are more awesome than yogurt cheese.  In fact it may be the easiest and most delicious way to up  your probiotic game.

All you need to do to make basic yogurt cheese is take one of these towels and dump plain yogurt with “live and active cultures” into it, stir in a bit of salt, put it in a metal strainer over a bowl and wait 12 to 24 hours.  You will than have something akin to tangy cream cheese.  But I have never made it so bland.

While your yogurt is still very soft is the time to stir in herbs and seasonings.  Here are a few of my favorite things to add to it.

  • Fresh Basil and Fresh Garlic – this is the universal one everyone likes
  • Chopped Jalapenos and Garlic
  • Cracked Black Pepper, Rosemary and Thyme
  • Cracked Black Pepper and Almond Slivers
  • Lemon Zest and Chopped Walnuts

Honestly if you think it might taste good with cheese it will likely work.  How much, well as in most things I do it by eye, just remember you can always add more but can never take it out.  Here is a save if you ever over do anything, make a plane batch and blend it.

Also if you want your yogurt cheese a bit firmer, try this, take a large heavy can of something, put it on top of the towel and it will help expel a bit more of the whey.  Oh the whey that stuff is probiotic gold.  You can drink it and you will also find that your animals will like it too.

So if getting more probiotics into your diet is in your plans, and it should be, give Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Towels a shot.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

Sempio Doenjang – Fermented Soybean Paste – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s item of the day is the Sempio Doenjang – Fermented Soybean Paste.  Doenjang along with some other stuff like Gochujang, Curry Pastes, etc. makes up a group of stuff I call my “cooking cheat codes”, hey that sounds like it should be a show some day.

In any event what I mean by cheat codes is sure you can use them in the classic dishes they are intended for, and I do.  However, where they come into a world all their own is in incorporating them into places you’d not expect to find them.

Here is an example, many times when making up a basting sauce to finish things on the grill with, especially chicken and pork, I will include this stuff.  A couple three teaspoons depending on how much I am making.  Make up a baste for instance with your favorite BBQ sauce, some soy, some beer, some copped chilopolte in adobo (another cheat code), a splash of really top shelf fish sauce (another cheat code) and enough Doenjang to thicken it.

Baste this onto any chicken or pork dish where you want a bit of “heat and sweet” and it will just blow your mind.  If no one told you what was in there unless you’d had it before you could never put your finger on it.  It adds depth and that funky umami flavor that is just awesome with a bit of heat and sweet along side it. When I made this to baste pork for Biltong for Breakfast, my buddy David kept eating it like fricken salsa on corn chips!  Okay I will admit it, I did too.

Here is another use, I have been told tilapia are bland fish, oh really?  Clean the tilapia head on and just gutted.  Get them very dried off, cut a few slits in the skin on both sides.   Now take Doenjang and Gochujang in about equal amounts and mix them together.  Chop up about one clove of garlic and an equal size piece of ginger very fine, or you can use garlic ginger paste (another cheat code) and mix it into the paste.

Now this is the critical part, if you slather this paste on as it, it will BURN and that in the words of Alton Brown, “is not good eats”.  Using a high temp cooking oil like peanut oil or similar, drizzle it onto the paste and mix until you end up with a “thick oil” something that is paste like but thin enough to just pour.

Rub the outside and inside of the fish with this oil/paste, really work it into the slits in the skin, into the flesh.  Slice up a few stems of green onion and ginger like big match stick size and put them in the fishes belly.  Add some kefir lime leaf or lime zest inside the belly too.  Keep the coating on the outer skin light, go heavy again in the slits and in the body cavity.

Grill these fish over high heat until just done and skin is crisp, translation don’t close your grill down, or you will over cook your fish.  Enjoy and DO NOT discard that skin, it is the best part.  And if you think this fish is “bland” you need a tongue transplant or something.

You can also pan fry these fish in enough oil to cover about 50% of their thickness, if you do that the tail is so crisp it is like a delicacy with all that flavor.

I have also used this alone and mixed with other pastes to rub down red meat (beef and venison) and let it sit in the fridge at least 24 hours.  Wipe off the excess and add some S&P and just grill.  It can be that simple, the fermented components help tenderize the meat and that unique flavor finds its way in.  Again wipe off the excess, if you apply heat to a layer of this paste it quickly burns, so does Gochujang.

So give this stuff a try, you will find yourself mixing it into marinades, bastes and doing all kinds of stuff with it, hmm, I wonder what it would do on a Sous Vide steak?  I am not sure, but I am gonna find out!

On my brand of choice, I have tried many and Sempio Doenjang – Fermented Soybean Paste is simply the best I have found.  First it is supposed to be “fermented soy bean paste” and crazy as it sounds that pretty much means just soy and salt and some starter.  Well here is the full list of ingredients for Sempio Doenjang, (soybean, salt, distilled alcohol, water, koji starter).  Next notice the ingredient is “soybean” not “soybean powder”.

The big thing is there is no wheat, other grains, MSG, etc.  Every other version I have check out is full of wheat and other ingredients with no business being in this stuff.  In Korea this stuff is made by many still in their homes, they just add some koji, salt and water to soybeans and ferment it.  They don’t use soy powder, it is supposed to be chunky.  I feel Sempio is closest thing to Korean House Wife Made Doenjang you are going to find for sale in the US.

It is important to me that we are actually talking about FERMENTED soybeans here.  I am personally not a huge fan of soy from a health aspect, way to high in phyto estrogen, however all things in moderation.  A two pound tub of this stuff will last for months on end, it is used to flavor things not to be eaten on a spoon and a little goes a long way, so don’t worry it won’t turn you into a soy boy or anything like that.

Anyway give Sempio Doenjang – Fermented Soybean Paste and I think you will be adding it permanently to your list of cooking cheat codes.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

Fermented Vegetables by Christopher and Kristen Shockey – Item of the Day

veggies

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the book Fermented Vegetables, Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes by Christopher and Kristen Shockey.  Wow long sub title right, heck longer that my tag line!

I decided to build on my post yesterday about the German Style Fermentation Crock with a book on how to make a lot of fermented items.  This one is indeed my favorite.  I don’t just love the recipes and the how to in this book either, I love the creativity that the authors used to start a business.

The book opens with that story, of how they started building a customer base and reaching out to local growers.  Then calls come in like “we have a ton of garlic scapes, can you do something with those”, and with some creativity the answer became yes more often than no.

In fact in one year they made 52 different recipes and their customers were treated weekly to something new.   While this book doesn’t teach you how to start such a business, it may inspire you to do so.

There are a ton of recipes too, here are some of my favorite in this book,

  • Garlic Scape Paste
  • Fermented Horseradish (you’ll not touch that white cream crap again)
  • Basil Paste
  • Cherry Bombs (made with cherry tomatoes)
  • Celery Mint Salad
  • Fresh Fennel Kraut
  • Tomatillo Salsa

This is a great book for your own use or as a gift to any fermentation enthusiast.  It gets very high marks with 4.5 stars with over 300 reviews at the time of this writing and many of the 4-5 star reviews are verified purchases.

The hard copy of the book is about 16 bucks and kindle users can get the electronic version for only $2.51.  I personally opted for the kindle version but if you are the type that likes “cook books” you will want to go hard copy all the way.

I have to say a huge part of recovering my health has been fermented vegetables and yogurt cheeses.    This stuff is simple to make and the variations are endless, so whether you get this book or not, seriously consider getting started making your own foods.  Sure there are great crocks like the one I discussed yesterday, and great books like this one on Fermented Vegetables, but there is plenty of info online and you can get started with a few ball jars and some air locks and small stoppers.

But for those of you that want to really enjoy the experience whether beginner or old pro I can’t recommend Fermented Vegetables, Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes by Christopher and Kristen Shockey highly enough.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – One of the really great things about this book is how it teaches you how to avoid problems and failed fermentations.  If you have ever had a failure or something just come out “not right”, this book is worth the price for that alone.

 

 

 

German Style Fermentation Crock – Item of the Day

crockEvery day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is my favorite German Style Fermentation Crock made by TSM Products.  I first found this item about 5 years ago and have used it many times since buying it.  It comes in four sizes, 5L (1.3 Gallons), 10L (2.6 Gallons), 15L (3.9 Gallons) and 20L (5.2 Gallons).

I personally have the 10 liter model and to me it is plenty large enough.  Frankly the 5L model will make quite a bit per batch.  And while fermented foods keep quite well in the cellar or fridge but I prefer them quite fresh while they are still nice and crisp.  Additionally making them is so simple it is no big deal to just keep running batches of what ever you want as needed.

My main focus with fermented foods is taste and health not storage, so I personally think I would have been just fine with the 5L model.  The main use I would see for something like the 20 liter model would be for someone who is making product for a group or large family.  Please consider all this before deciding you need a huge crock.  Two whole cabbages fit in my 10L model with room to spare, that is a LOT of kraut.

Many people ferment in jars, this works, but it never comes out as consistently good for me as when I use my crock.  There are a few reasons for this in my view.  First and foremost is uniform temps, the thick ceramic construction holds a steady temp with minimal fluctuation.  Next is the total darkness of the environment.  Then you get a dead simple airlock with the water holding rim at the top.  Finally the stone weights hold everything nicely under the brine so you don’t get any funny stuff going on with exposed veggies.

I do make my share of sauerkraut with this thing.  My favorite variation is adding about 1/3rd by volume of cabbage shredded carrots and and equal amount of shredded apple, and a good helping of caraway seeds.  Man is that stuff fantastic on brats!  The key is never cook it, just gently warm it when serving it with things like your meats.  This way all the beneficial bacteria stays alive.

What about slow cooking pork in kraut you say?  Okay well then just do it, and at the end add a few tbs of fresh uncooked kraut to each plate.

My absolute favorite thing to make is my own signature brand escabache  though.  There are many varieties of escabache, some fermented and some done with vinegar.  The one that inspired mine is generally in a small bowl on every table in any good “hole in the wall” Mexican restaurant in Texas.  You know the kind of place where a margarita contains only tequila, lime juice and orange liquor, vs koolaid mixer and comes in a high ball glass vs. a fish bowl?

This brand of escabache consists of simply carrots, onions, jalapenos in a pickle brine.  Though every place will tell you theirs is “special”.  The best versions are always fermented and seen as a digestion aid.  To make mine I broke with the standard to make it bit milder and get by product of amazing pickled garlic.    Here is my recipe.

Equal amounts of the following vegetables cut to the shape of your liking, I like thin long strips….

  • Sweet Peppers (several colors make for a great eye appeal, use red, orange, yellow to contrast with the green jalapenos)
  • Carrots (again I cut them into thin sticks)
  • Jalapenos (seed half to go a bit more mild, seed all and you get almost no heat.  Tune in to today’s show for a major short cut on this)
  • White Onions (cut again in long strips)
  • Garlic (go to Albertsons Grocery, they sell whole pealed cloves in clam shells in the produce area for about 3 bucks, this is a great deal and saves a lot of time.  Don’t slice the garlic leave the cloves whole.)
  • Salt water (enough to cover, I use 2 TBS per quart, the standard is 1-3 per quart.  Use sea or kosher or pickling salt)
  • One hand full of black peppercorns

It could not be more easy, just stick everything in the crock, cover with salt water, put your stones on and wait about 7-10 days.  I usually cover the top of my veggies with grape leaves (muscadine or wild fox grape leaves are fine for this).  It keeps the little pieces from escaping and the tanning keeps things crisp.  Some use oak leaves but I have never tried this.

If you want to kick start fermentation, put about one tablespoon of whey from some yogurt into the brine.  While not necessary it is very helpful.

When done to your taste, put in ball jars and store in the fridge, it will be very good for 30 days and quite good for about 60.  After that to me anyway it gets too fermented even in the fridge which is why I make about 2-3 quarts per run.

Well, then there is the garlic, that stuff keeps for months.  So when I make a batch I usually buy 2-3 of the clam shells of garlic.  I jar up about half with the escabache and half by itself for cooking or snacking, man is spicy garlic great stuff.

Another plan this year is to make up some fermented Jerusalem artichokes.  Haven’t tried those yet but heard they are very good and it avoids the um, well side effects that make some call them fartachokes!

So if you have been thinking of adding fermented vegetables to your diet (and you really should) check out the German Style Fermentation Crock today.  At only 59 dollars for the 5 liter model it will pay for itself in a batch or two and give you better quality pickled veggies then you could ever buy in a store.  And unlike a ball jar, it will look awesome on your counter whether you have a batch running or not.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

 

 

 

Premium Gochujang Hot Pepper Paste – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Item of the day is Premium Gochujang Hot Pepper Paste.  I first discovered Gochujang (pronounced “go che jang”) when I found a TV show called Korean Food Made Simple by a chef named Judy Joo. While I didn’t become a massive fan of the chef or the show it did expose me to some unique ingredients and methods of cooking.  Likely the biggest win from this show was finding Gochujang, or simply fermented Korean chili paste.

I went with this brand because most commercial products have corn syrup in them.  Traditional Gochujang is made with rice, chilis and fermented soy beans and salt.  That is what is in this version, it costs a bit more but it is worth it.  Besides while not blow you brains out hot, this stuff is hot and brings a ton of flavor to the party, so a 1.1 pound tub lasts a long time.

So how do you use this stuff, man there are a ton of ways but let me give you one example of how we use it.  We make fried Japanese sweet potatoes.  They have purple skin and snow white flesh.  They are about half way between a typical potato and a orange sweet potato in taste.  We twice fry them, into a wok with peanut oil, fry until almost done, remove and drain, let cool 10 minutes and return to the oil for another few minutes to puff and crisp up.

Next mix the gochujang at a ratio of 1 part gochujang to 3 parts mayo, (commercial is fine home made is better), let it sit for about 10 minutes to bind and blend, then serve the potatoes with this on the side.  It is sort of like a suracha may many are familiar with but on a whole new level.

I also made some burgers with this stuff, just a table spoon of this into a pound of venison and feral hog mixed ground, a bit of salt and pepper, bit of dehydrated garlic, table spoon of black bean paste and let sit for about 15 minutes to bind and blend, grill as normal.  Of course a bit of that gouchang mayo on it is sublime.  We also process fish skin and head on, slit the skin and rub this stuff on the outside and inside of the fish and grill whole on the grill, it is amazing.

So check this stuff out, add it to your pantry and start experimenting.  Oh and since it is a fermented paste product it stores very well long term, so it is an awesome pantry staple for preppers.  One way or another give Premium Gochujang Hot Pepper Paste a shot and I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Lastly I do want to say I do consider this product fine for people on any sort of low carb diet.  Yes it includes rice syrup and some soy paste, but the amount used is so low relative to the entire meal that I can’t see it effecting blood sugar in any meaningful way.   I am also opposed to large amount of soy in the diet, least you become a soy boy, but again the amount used here is tiny and all the ingredients are fermented as well.

Remember you can always find the TSP Item of the day by just going to TspAz.com and by shopping at TspAz.com anytime you shop online you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

P.S. – Do you want to see me cook some of the dishes in this post and a lot of other really cool stuff.  Well my buddy David and I have started up a new site called Biltong For Breakfast.  It will be a cooking show online with four episodes a month.  We will focus on meat centric cooking, lots of fresh veggies and occasional starches as a treat (like the fries above).  Basically we want to make a cooking show that doesn’t suck!  And one with a heavy focus on home food production, fish and game, bartered good, homestead livestock and all that sort of thing.  To learn more and subscribe visit Biltong For Breakfast today.

Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit.  Previously I reviewed a product called FermentEm Mason Jar Lids.   But, I have been asked for alternatives and I have researched a lot of them and found another great one to recommend.  I want to point out here while I am reviewing the full kit, you can get…

You can also get these in regular vs. wide mouth jars but I personally prefer wide mouth for most fermenting.   Anyway I am very happy with this product.  The pebbles do a great job keeping stuff under the brine, everything cleans up in seconds with just hot water and they just fricken work, and like the FermentEm lids they are waterless so they can’t dry out, they are about as fool proof as it gets.

For more info see the video below where I give an over view and show a few of the ferments I have going right now.  And consider the Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit or specific components of it for your fermenting needs.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – The endorsement of this product should not be seen as a negative to my previous endorsement of the FermentEm product, both of these items are stellar, that said, so far I would give a very slight edge to the Mason Tops Pickle Pipes, they are just fantastic and store in such a small amount of space.

Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day are Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights.  I really like these things, though I have yet to order them.  They started turning up in my sales reports and I have done enough research to recommend them.

Frankly the idea is so simple that it really doesn’t seem much could go wrong with it.  In the past I have reviewed many products for fermenting in jars including the FermentEm 8-Piece Fermenting Kit and the Masontops Complete Mason Jar Fermentation Kit.  Both are great products that let you ferment with standard mason jars.  The MasonTops product also offers what they call pebbles, small round glass weights to hold your ferment under the brine, I have them, I really like them, but I don’t love them.

Why do I like them but not love them?  Well, they are smooth and a bit hard to put in nice and level and a bit of a pain to remove as well, as they do fit so perfectly.

Frankly I think I am going to love the Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights because they offer the function of the pebbles with the added feature of something as rudimentary as a handle.  This idea is so simple you wonder why someone didn’t do it sooner.

When you are fermenting the biggest rule to follow is “keep it under the brine and everything will be fine”.  These guys let you do that and make it convenient too.  At 21.99 per four they are quite affordable at about 5.50 a piece.  Do note they only come in one size, wide mouth mason jars.  Frankly I don’t use anything but wide mouth jars for fermentation anyway, so check out Easy Weight – Fermentation Weights today and make your fermentations even better than they already are.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com