EASY NATURAL HOMEMADE ROOT BEER.

Persimmon Root BeerI’ll be honest, I like soda (or pop, or cola, or whatever your colloquialism may be), but I hardly drink the stuff. Too sugary, too processed, not my thing. But having grown up with soda I do sometimes get the craving for one, especially around the fall when a good root beer, or root beer float, could really hit the spot.

So here’s our recipe to make your own root beer, only using water, roots, honey and fruit (if desired)—no starter needed (though if you keep a ginger bug, go nuts). IMPORTANT NOTE: this is a fermented product and the end result will contain a slight bit of alcohol, akin perhaps to kombucha. If you don’t let your kids drink kombucha, this may not be your recipe. Also, the longer it ages, the higher the alcohol level will rise, so kids should drink it fresh and in small quantities. OTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: if this post looks funny, it’s because I (Jesse) am doing it all by myself and can’t figure out how to put spaces between paragraphs. You will have to pretend they’re there. And they’re awesome.

IMG_3115

Makes One Gallon

you’ll need:

1-2 lbs dried sassafras root (and/or other flavorful roots such as sarsaparilla)
1 and 1/4 gallons water
2 cups raw honey (if not raw, or if you choose to use sugar––1 1/2 cups––you may have to add some form of starter or unwashed fruit)
1-2 lbs wild persimmons or other fruit (optional)
One 2 gallon glass jar or crock
Small plastic bottles for bottling with lids
 
persimmons.

Chop the dry roots into large chunks. (Our friends at Rolf and Daughters even suggest toasting the roots slightly first to concentrate the flavor.) In a large pot, simmer the roots with 1/2 gallon of water for at least one hour until fragrant and dark. It should reduce slightly, and be a deep red. Add the rest of the water and let cool to room temperature. Once sufficiently cool, stir in raw honey and persimmons whole. Do not crush fruit or the drink will become pulpy (speaking from experience). Place in crock or glass jar and cover with cloth tied on tightly to keep bugs out. Leave at room temperature. Let sit overnight. The next day, stir vigorously two or three times with wooden spoon. Fermentation should begin within 48 hours.

potboiler.

Once it begins to bubble slightly, put it into bottles or jars and put lids on. At this point, allow to sit at room temperature for one day, until carbonation is visible, or until you hear a light “fizz” when you open a bottle. Place in fridge and drink anytime thereafter. Take into consideration that the bottles will become highly pressurized from the carbon dioxide, and if not consumed within few days will need to be “burped” by removing the lid carefully and releasing the gas. The fridge will slow down the pressurization, but keep an eye on them. Otherwise you may have an explosion. For serious. Again, this fermentation will produce trace amounts of alcohol and that percentage will increase over time. Consume fresh and cold.

– Jesse

SPICY GARLIC SCAPE RELISH RECIPE.

garlic scapes.

Every year in the late Spring we pick off the flower stems growing on top of our hard neck garlic – the scape, or pigtail, as the flower is often referred. Removing these undeveloped flowers encourages the garlic plant to put its energy into creating a larger bulb for later harvest. But farmers soon find themselves with as many scapes as they have garlic plants. Luckily for us, garlic scapes are a special kind of tasty.

Scapes taste a bit like garlicky green onions, and are great in stir-fry or salad. But still, if you have a lot of garlic, it’s hard to use them all before they lose their freshness. That is why this easy relish is an excellent way to keep the scapes around a little longer and to turn them into an exciting and versatile summer condiment.

Makes one quart.

At least 3 dozen scapes (may need more depending on scape size)
1 1/2  tbs Salt
3 cups water (Non-Chlorinated)
2 peppercorns
2 fresh hot peppers (habenero preferably)
Zest of one lemon
Fresh Cilantro (optional)
Mason Jar

Cut your scapes into inch-long pieces. Toss in mixing bowl with lemon zest, and peppercorns then stuff into mason jar until at least three quarters full. Dissolve salt into room temperature, non-chlorinated water then pour brine over scape mixture in jar. Fill jar within one inch of top. Since this is a ferment, you’ll need to leave room for expansion. Place a small sandwich bag of water overtop of the ferment to keep the solids submerged below the brine. Cover jar with small piece of cloth and secure with string or rubber band. Set the relish on the countertop to ferment for at least seven days then transfer to either a dark cellar or refrigerator while waiting for fresh peppers to come in season. It’s nice to allow the flavors to marry for at least a week or two, longer if possible. When fresh peppers are available, blend garlic scapes in food processor with fresh peppers and cilantro (if desired). Serve as salsa, our use as a relish with your summer grilling. Anything from eggs to potato hash to hamburgers will find this spicy relish to be an ideal compliment. Keep in refrigerator or cellar between uses. Will last months in right conditions.

scape relish.

FERMENTS LATELY.

It is so glorious to have a FRESH GREEN food in abundance after that long winter! Besides eating lots of salads, it also means that our kitchen once again smells really strange and is overflowing with fermenting mason jar experiments. Most of them involve radishes since we have more than we know what to do with!

What have you been fermenting lately?

fermenting veggies. radish and butternut squash. fermenting radishes. fermenting.

WILDfest.

cedar creek vineyards.

We had so much fun this past weekend at WILDfest at the beautiful Cedar Creek Vineyards. Jesse taught a class on homemade wine, and the day was filled with many other foraging and fermenting workshops, including the amazing Doug Elliot and Sandor Katz. We met lots of wonderful folks, exchanged seeds, and basically felt guilty for spending a gorgeous, sunny day off the farm.

cedar creek vineyards. cedar creek vineyards. wildfest.wildfest. sandor. wildfest.wildfest.

 

GULP: A REVIEW.

book.

“Those who know the human gut intimately see beauty, not only in its sophistication but in its inner landscapes and architecture.”
– Mary Roach

My obsession with fermentation, and the effects of fermentation, have beget infinite curiosities over the years (approximately). But perhaps none have been more persistent than my interest in the workings of the human body––digestion specifically. How does it work? Why doesn’t our stomach digest itself? Do I really need to chew? What happens to food before and beyond the gullet? So when a book appeared that explained said curiosities––to those of us who don’t read Doctor––I saved my pennies and bought it.

Then I learned and laughed. A lot and aloud. What Mary Roach has done with her latest work “Gulp” is a taken a mostly taboo subject––the alimentary canal and all it’s fascinating goings on––and turned it into entertainment. In this book, Roach explores such themes as chewing, swallowing, digesting, and, ahem – the science behind the behind – then renders them riveting. In fact, “Gulp” is some of the most sophisticated and well-researched toilet humor I’ve ever experienced.

The reader finds themselves thinking differently about saliva, gastric acids, etc., or the reader finds themselves thinking at all about saliva, gastric acid, etc.. You follow the history of each of these extremely fine-tuned inner workings in a book that is equal parts science and hilarity. Could Jonah actually have survived in that whale? How DO they get cell phones into prisons? What important medical advances has our cultural revulsion to feces inhibited? The answers to these questions and many more can be found in the pages of “Gulp”––found and thoroughly enjoyed.

– Jesse.

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