Tag Archives: fermentation

Soothing lemon honey ferment for scratchy throat season

I woke up Tuesday with a tickle in my throat and I opted to pretend it wasn’t there. I woke up Wednesday with that tickle still in my throat and I furled my brow and wished it went away. I woke up Thursday with that tickle turned into a scratching on my tonsils and I decided to pull out my lemon honey ferment and a hot cup of tea. And now, that tickle in my throat is feeling soothed as can be.

Sure, you can dip a spoonful of honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon into a hot cup of tea, gingerlemonhoneybut why not take it to the next level with a little microbial action? Especially when it is so easy to do.  It only takes two ingredients. You can add a third if you are daring.  Actually, it is not only lemon and ginger that get in on this fun honey action, but garlic is also a favorite. Check out this recipe by Killer Pickles for more about her Honeyed Garlic recipe.

Here are the in-depth and detailed (read: super easy) instructions to making your own honey-lemon (and ginger, if you are so inclined) at home.

  1. Buy a pint of raw honey.
  2. Thinly slice whole, preferably organic, lemons (2 works well for a pint of honey).
  3. Thinly slice ginger with the skin on, if you are using. (You can peel is, but there are a good number of yeasties on the surface of ginger).
  4. Layer the lemon, ginger and honey into a quart jar (this will expand, so better for a bigger jar).
  5. Shake, shake, shake it up.  Make sure you fully coat all the lemon and ginger in the jar.
  6. Wait. Shake. Wait. Shake. Do this twice a day for 5 days.  During those wait times, make sure the lid is not tightened to allow gases to escape. Don’t forget to re-tighten it to shake or you will be a sticky mess.
  7. At the end of 5 days, remove the lemon and ginger to a separate container. You can leave it in there indefinitely, but it will get more and more bitter from the pith.

Now, you have a deliciously infused honey and delicious honey coated and softened ginger and lemons.  Both should be stored in the refrigerator because they will continue to ferment at room temperature. If that honey keeps fermenting, soon you will have an alcoholic mead, which can be yummy and soothing in its own respect. But that wasn’t really the goal here, was it?

How does this work, you ask?  Well, honey inherently contains some great yeast microbes that allow it to ferment on its own. You can learn a bit more about it from the good people at Cultures for Health.  A pure honey or honey in the hive doesn’t ferment because bees are so super smart that they k
now to dehydrate honey to less than 18% water content to prevent fermentation.  As soon as you add the lemons and ginger, the water content gets high enough to allow the honey yeasts, the ginger yeasts and even the yeasts on the surface of the lemon to get to work.

What can you do with this? Well, you can eat both right from the jar because they img_20161027_145334are delicious. You can use the them to flavor hot or cold teas and drinks. For that scratchy throat, I opted for a delicious fall tea I received in my monthly Try the World box because they had a lovely fall flavors Apple Cinnamon Black Tea from IT by jugias. You can top ice cream with them or add them to an ice cream base. You can make a deliciously infused sauce for something like, say, pork chops.


I did a bit of digging to find out if there are any specific probiotic benefits to this concoction. While, yes, it is the microbial action of yeasts transforming the flavors and textures for the lemons, gingers and honey, it does not appear these yeasties have any particular health benefits other than providing you a bit of happiness from their amazing flavors!

Happy Cooking!

Homemade Sauerkraut – Details instructions and resources

1382190_725714654122499_1788504100_nHere is a detailed sauerkraut recipe to accompany sauerkraut workshop instructions.


Homemade Sauerkraut

Salt (sea salt or kosher salt, non-iodized)
Optional: Carrots, turnips, rutabaga, fennel, radishes, winter squash or other vegetables.  Not recommended: potatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, yams, cucumbers (save these for pickles), summer squash, zucchini
Canning Jars
Big, non-reactive bowls
Sharp knives
Optional: a tamper (I like using a cocktail muddler)

  1. Chopping: Chop the vegetables to the desired coarseness for your sauerkraut. Separate the leaves. I typically prefer a finer sauerkraut, so I chop my cabbage very thinly. The finer the vegetables are chopped the easier it will be to extract water from the vegetables during the bruising step.
  2. Salting: Sprinkle salt over the cabbage. I use about 2 tablespoons per head of cabbage, but you can use up to 4 tablespoons.
    • Why salt? The family of bacteria responsible for fermenting the vegetables, lactobacillus, survives a saline environment. As the lactobacillus eat the starches in the vegetables, they expel CO2 in the process. This imparts a sour flavor to the vegetables and increases the acidity of the liquid.  The saline environment also protects the vegetables from decaying or rotting because the bacteria responsible for decay and rot do not thrive in saline.  A minimum saline solution of 2% by weight of water is suggested for fermentation. Since we are using the liquid from the vegetables, the measurements given are approximations, but aiming for more than 2%
  3. Bruising: This is the fun part! Using your hands, start squeezing and pounding the vegetables to bruise them and release the water. It will be tough at first, but as the water starts being released, it will get easier. This will take some time. The end result will be a puddle of liquid at the bottom of the bowl.
    • Tasting: Taste your sauerkraut as you are bruising it. It will be like a salty coleslaw.  The saltiness will mellow out over time. If the solution is not salty enough, decay and mold will result. If the solution is too salty, the lactobacillus will not survive. However, they do survive over a wide-range of salinity. If the sauerkraut ends up too salty after fermentation, it can be rinsed before eating.
  4. Packing: Pack the cabbage into jars. It is important to pack the cabbage tightly and push out all the air. Air pockets will allow other bacteria to survive. As you are packing, the liquid will continue to be expelled. The goal is to have enough liquid above the solid vegetables to keep the vegetables fully submerged.
  5. Weighing: For best results, leave a half an inch or more of liquid above the vegetables and an inch or more of headspace above the liquid. It can be more of less according to your preference and weighing method. Weigh down the vegetables to keep them submerged during fermentation.
    • Submersion: any vegetables that are exposed to air run the risk of rotting and being a source of mold. It is important for the vegetables to remain submerged during fermentation. Vegetables want to float
    • Weights: Fermenters get creative about weighing down their vegetables. There is no one right way to do this, but here’s some ideas
      • A baggie of washed pebbles or aquarium pebbles
      • A baggie of 2% saline (use saline incase the baggie breaks)
      • A smaller jar filled with saline
      • Glass weights (Here’s one version on Etsy, but there are others)
      • ceramic weights (here’s one version on Etsy, but there are others)

Remember, you don’t need anything fancy or expensive; you just need to keep the solids under saline!

  1. Waiting and Burping: Now, it is time to wait for the lactobacillus to do its work. Store your jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight. I have stored mine on the counter throughout the summer, so the temperature range is pretty wide. However, the warmer it is, the faster the souring. Also, sauerkrauts will taste differently in different seasons; this is partly because of temperature and partly because of wild yeasts available. How your sauerkraut waits depends on preference, but here’s some options
    • Burping : Tighten the lid on your jar completely and ‘burp’ the jar once or twice a day. As the or you might have an explosive mess on your hands. Burping regularly also allows you to check fluid levels regularly.
    • Unsealed Jars: To avoid the explosiveness predicament and to eliminate the need to remember to burp every day, you can simply use a loose lid or even just a piece of fabric held on with a rubberband. The gases release on their own, but sometimes you forget that sauerkraut is on the counter until weeks later. The liquid also evaporates more quickly with this method. For me, I also tend to get a kahm yeast layer on top of the liquid more easily with this method.
    • Airlocks: You can buy or make airlock adaptors for canning lids that eliminate the need for daily burping, minimize evaporation and even reduce the kahm yeast growth. Here is one version on Etsy, but there are others. If you are handy with a drill, these can easily be made.
      • What is Kahm Yeast? When you ferment, a cloudy and scummy layer will sometimes form on the surface of the liquid. This is likely kahm yeast which forms on the surface as the solution gets more acidic. It can look like mold and be a little scary, but kahm is a byproduct of fermentation.  It can be skimmed off and the ferments below eaten.  If it has fuzzy patches or is green/blue, it is mold and should be discarded.
      • Tasting: You can start tasting your ferment within the first week. It is fun to test out the ever evolving flavors in a ferment. As the acidity changes, the flavors change due not only to the acidity, but also to the changing nature of the bacteria.  Different lactobacillus survive at different acid levels. Personally, I have let ferments go as long as 8 weeks (that forgotten jar with an airlock on the counter). I like a 6 week fall ferment, but it is your preference. After 8 weeks, the flavors get a little to funky for my palette.
  1. Refrigerate : Once the sourness and flavor are to your liking, tighten the lid and put the jar in the fridge. The lactobacillus will go dormant or slow down in the cold environment.  You can store it there for many more months. The National Center for Food Preservation has recommendations for storage, water bath canning and other preservation methods.  I cannot recommend dates or methods outside of their guidelines, but many fermenters have their own personal methods.
  2. Eat!