In Which I Confess an Addiction (Ginger Bug / Apple Soda)

I’m developing a serious addiction to fermenting things.  It started as mere curiosity, piqued by my initial research into traditional foods, which grew into an innocent desire to attempt to ferment something (with every expectation that it would fail horribly).  I hung around my favorite real-foodie blogs for months on end, wistfully soaking in stories of homemade yogurt and lactofermented pickles, convinced for some reason that such things were hopelessly beyond my capabilities and/or patience.  But one fateful day, I happened to make a rare trip to Whole Foods right after reading about how to grow a SCOBY with store-bought kombucha.  I saw the kombucha in the refrigerated section, and I decided to try it, just this once.

If this little guy had a name, it would be Quasimodo.

I don’t have any brewed up, so here’s my ugly ol’ SCOBY.

Ah, kombucha… my gateway ferment.  Soon I had developed a pretty good process for brewing kombucha, but I couldn’t stop there.  Once I had experienced the tangy taste of success, more experimentation was inevitable.  I ended up with about ¾ head of red cabbage left over from some recipe right before I needed to be away from home for a couple of days.  Rather than leaving it to shrivel up in the fridge, I figured I’d at least give that poor cabbage a shot at deliciousness.  So I shredded it, threw in some salt, and set it up using this method… and to my great delight, it tasted a little sour when I got back to check on it a few days later.  I left it for a few more days, and it became my second successful ferment:  beautiful, crisp, hot-pink sauerkraut!

Seriously, If this kraut had a name, it would be Barbie.

Never have you seen a girlier batch of kraut!

I don’t think I actually believed that cabbage + salt could produce something that tasted like anything besides salty cabbage.  It fascinates me because it seems so impossible!  My fermentation habit grows stronger with every success.  I really want to try homemade yogurt next… Or pickles…  Or sourdough bread…  (It’s okay, though.  I can stop anytime I want to.)

So anyways, when I stumbled across this post a couple of weeks ago I just had to give it a go. It’s another one of those impossible recipes; ginger + sugar + water = something bubbly, somehow.  And it has the cutest name!  And it sounds really easy!  And it doesn’t have any exotic or expensive ingredients!  Also, Husby might actually be happy to drink a homemade soda (he is a very good sport about sampling stuff that I’ve left sitting on our counter for days to grow bacteria on purpose, but he generally leaves the rest for me… for some reason.  😉 )

I won’t repeat the ginger bug starter instructions here because she does a great job of explaining it (and it really is that simple).  Make sure to leave the skin on your ginger when you cut it up, because that’s where the little buggies are.  I chopped up a bunch all at once and kept it in the fridge, to make it easier to feed every day.  This is the sort of thing you’ll end up with after about 10 days:

I don't know what to name this one; it's too new.

Ginger bug! Cute, right?

It doesn’t look like much, but when you open it up, it’ll fizz to let you know that it’s ready!   The ginger bug post that I linked to has itself a link to an apple ginger soda recipe that uses the ginger bug with freshly juiced apple & ginger.  Now, that sounds delicious, and if you own a juicer you should totally try that, and report back to let me know that it is indeed delicious… but I do not own a juicer, nor do I plan to get one while I still occupy a kitchen that’s roughly the size of a walk-in closet.  So, I whipped out my Easy Button:  7 cups boring ol’ store-bought apple juice, ½ cup ginger bug (just the liquid)… then I waited for three days.


Here are the results after three days of sittin’.

Yummy apple soda!  Well, apple drink, really… it’s not very bubbly at all.  But that’s probably because I used such a big bottle.  It’s still very tasty… Basically apple juice, but a lot less sweet and with an interesting tang to it.  Husby’s opinion:  “Yeah, it’s okay.”

Good enough for me!

Of note:  The bottle was originally filled all the way to its neck, but we drank that much of it before I got around to taking that picture.  Pretty good endorsement, I’d say!

Also of note:  It had a white skin on the surface when it was done fermenting, which kinda reminded me of a new kombucha mother.  Definitely wasn’t mold or anything, though.  So don’t freak out if you try this and get something similar.

This post is shared on The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday

Internet Travel Guide (3/21/12)

This is a fun little bit of news.  I don’t worry too much about stuff like this, because realistically there are many powerful pieces of legislation floating around that have never been (ab)used to their full potential, and probably never will be. But there’s a little part of me that wants to move out into the wilderness somewhere and become self-sufficient, just in case everything goes to hell one of these days. I don’t have a problem with Obama; I think he’s got good intentions.  But vague and far-reaching language like this opens a door that makes me nervous.

Melissa offers an excellent reminder that generalizations don’t serve us well with respect to diet (or anything else, really… although that itself is a generalization, I guess). Digestion is a complex process that will be different for everybody (or every body). It’s important – and encouraging – to remember that “a sick person can react to ANYTHING. And a very healthy person can tolerate a lot of terrible things.”

Have you tried soap nuts for your laundry? If you’ve got sensitive skin, you totally should. And if you do, and you’d like to know when they’re “done,” here’s a helpful tip! I’ll be trying this… next time I get around to doing laundry.

Erin says, ” When I first started cooking from scratch, it didn’t seem too hard. I gathered my ingredients and followed the recipes. But then one day it hit me: I wasn’t buying processed, pre-packaged meals anymore, but I was using processed, pre-packed ingredients to make my ‘from-scratch’ meals [emphasis hers].”  …Yeeeeaaaah. I can relate to that. I’ll probably keep relying on convenience foods ingredients a lot of the time, but I’m totally going to try some of her easy from-scratch ingredients! First up: creamed soups and spice mixes. (I already make homemade chicken broth; I’ll do a post on that soon)