Shrubs – a great “waist” reducer

 

March’s “Food in Jars” Mastery challenge was either jellies or shrubs.  Now, if you’re like me, you probably thought “I know what a jelly is, but why would I want to eat a low-lying bush”.  I quickly discovered through some research that a “shrub” is another word for a drinking vinegar.  I was intrigued and decided to explore shrubs a bit more.

March was a particularly busy month for me with a 2-year project at work finishing up, followed by a family trip to Disney, and then two weeks of teaching out of town.  I was glad to see that shrubs are quick to make, and even better, they can be made to use up fruits that are going soft.

Organic strawberries were on sale this past month so I decided to make a strawberry balsamic shrub  (recipe in the link).  I was worried that the balsamic vinegar would overwhelm the strawberries, and was pleased to find that over time, the smell changed from vinegar, to vinegar smelling strawberries.  I mixed the finished product with mineral water and found it to be a refreshing drink that wasn’t sweet!  Bonus!

Today in the kitchen while I was drinking my shrub and puttering around, I decided to make another shrub.  I dug around in the fridge and found  a carton of strawberries, 2 kiwis and some mint that were starting to go soft.  I chopped them all up, mixed in some Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (the best brand to go with), added coconut sugar and left it lightly covered on the counter.  Fingers crossed that it turns out.  I realized after that I wasn’t supposed to add the vinegar right away, so only time will tell if it still works out.

As I was putting today’s shrub together, I started thinking about all the health benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and decided to share this information with you.  There are tons of websites promising all kinds of health benefits to ACV, and it turns out that they’re not all wrong.  Looking into my main resource, based on Eastern medicine, (“Healing with Whole Foods”), I discovered the following:

  • vinegar helps release toxins accumulated from a rich diet
  • vinegar can be helpful in reducing weight, edema and excess mucous
  • vinegar can help improve mood
  • the best types of vinegars to use are organic and naturally brewed, unfiltered and unpateurized – apple cider, brown rice wine, white wine and umeboshi.

Here are some  Western medicine based web resources:

Video highlighting the benefits of apple cider vinegar

Healthy benefits of Vinegar

Reader’s Digest – 13 health benefits of ACV

Convinced?  Want to try to make your own?  Here are some resources to check out:

Recipes

History of drinking vinegars

Food in Jars mastery round up – jellies and shrubs (with recipe links)

Drop me a line if you make a shrub and let me know how it went!

Leta

Food In Jars Mastery Challenge – Salting

This month’s mastery challenge was related to salt preserving or curing.  I had already tried many of the recipes that were being suggested (salt preserved lemons, kimchi, sauerkraut, herbes salees) and was beginning to worry that I wouldn’t learn anything new this month.  Then enter salt cured egg yolks.  I had never heard such a thing!  So I went online and did a bit of research to see if this was my project for the month.

What I learned was that when egg yolks are preserved, they can be grated onto foods to add a delicate salty buttery flavour to foods – particularly pastas.  I also learned that preserving eggs has long been a tradition in Asian cultures – curing the egg yolks in soy sauce or miso instead of plain salt.

Before I started I checked out a number of different recipes as there were multiple variations.  Most used a mix of salt and sugar.  I was worried that the sugar would make the yolks too sweet so I stuck to straight salt.

I served the finished yolks grated with a microplane on pasta with a cauliflower based garlic sauce and it was just as I was promised – dairy free salty buttery goodness!  I shared the pasta with friends and dinner and they not only enjoyed trying the eggs on the bit of pasta I had leftover, but they happily grated more egg yolk on their hasselback potatoes as well.

Here’s how I made them:

Salt Cured Egg Yolks

 (For a printable PDF version click here)

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks – chicken, duck or goose

course sea salt (2-4 cups depending on your container)

apple cider vinegar (optional)

Tools needed:

Dehydrator, OR

Oven and small cooling rack

Directions:

  • Find a container large enough to hold all the yolks (approx. double the yolk size). Some have used a muffin tin and put one yolk in each hole.  Cover the bottom of the container with ½ – 1” of salt.
  • Use an egg to make a little divot in the salt to place your egg yolk in.

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  1. Crack the eggs one at a time, separating the white from the yolk. Be careful not to break the yolk.
  2. Place one yolk in each divot and cover the yolks completely with salt

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  • Leave the container uncovered and place it in the fridge (Some recipes call to cover the container.  I found the salt to be too wet and took my lid off)
  • Check the yolks at day 5. Remove one yolk from the salt and give it a gentle squeeze.  If it is the consistency of a gummy candy, you’re ready to remove all the yolks from the salt.  If not, put it back and wait 2 more days.

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  • Remove the yolks from the salt and rinse them in the vinegar to remove the stuck-on salt.
  • If using a dehydrator, place the yolks on a tray and dry them at a low setting overnight until they have lost some “squish” and are the consistency of a stale gummy candy.

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  • If not using a dehydrator, you can put them in the oven at 150 for around 2 hours or leave them in the oven for two days with the oven off.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Notes:

There are many different versions of this recipe on the web.  Some use only salt, some a mix of salt and sugar.  The timing for curing and drying varies greatly so don’t worry if you leave the yolks in salt longer or dry them longer.

 

I’m so Excited!

When I first started changing up the way I looked at food, I would never have imagined how these little changes would spark such a passion for learning more about making my own healthy food at home.  After all, I have been mostly gluten and dairy free for over 5 years, what else could I change?

I’ll write my story about how I got here on another page, and won’t bore you with the details here.  What I will tell you is that over the past year or so I have learned so much about what fats to cook with, how to cook plant based meals that even my husband enjoys, and how to play with preserving food through canning, smoking, salting and dehydrating.

This past Christmas I shared many of my new creations with family and friends and their feedback was amazing.  They have been bugging my for recipes and asking me to share what I’ve learned so that they can do the same for their own families.  So here I am!

My plan over the next few months to a year is to post twice a month.  One of the posts will share information and/or a technique that I have already learned during my journey over the last year or two.  The second post will be related to an online challenge that I have joined at Food In Jars.  Each month, Marisa has given members a different preserving challenge to explore.  I’ll share what I’m making, and hopefully will have a recipe to go with the preserved food.  I’m trying to have fun with this challenge and Marisa and the members are coming up with some very interesting projects.  I have already completed January’s Mastery Challenge, marmalade, and February’s challenge is in the works.

So, welcome and come join in the fun!  Pop on over to Food In Jars, and check out their Facebook group Food In Jars Community.  You’ll see me there posting from time to time and I’d love to see what you’re doing too!

Alimentally yours,

Leta