Fabulous Fermentation

This month we explored the health benefits of this increasingly popular food preparation process. From yogurt to kombucha, sauerkraut to tempeh, we unlocked the mystery of fermentation.

August 28, 2019

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Audio Transcript


What’s Cooking – Fabulous Fermentation

Presented by Pam Winters and Elyse Heinrich

August 28, 2019

Pam W: Welcome and my name is Pam Winters. I am a Learning Expert at Hadley and I am here with Elyse Heinrich and we're your hosts. We will both readily admit that we have no experience with fermenting foods, although, I do have a little bit now since we made the decision that we were going to do this.

We are hoping that there are a bunch of you out there who have some knowledge about that and want to share and talk about this topic. Because it seems to be becoming more and more popular for the health benefits that we get from fermented foods.

Again, we want to hear from you guys and so I am hoping that there's somebody out there. I've gathered some notes and done a lot of research in the last weeks. But if there's somebody who has more firsthand knowledge with fermentation out there, I'd like you to go ahead and offer up anything, any information. Just let's get started with talking about maybe the health benefits of fermentation and eating fermented foods. Does anybody have anything they'd like to share?

Elyse H: While we're getting started, I also would say, if someone would like to give a little background about what fermented is or fermentation and where it came from as well?

Pam W: Right, exactly. Fermentation is actually the ancient way of preservation, and it really only requires a few things. But the process is where we take our carbohydrates and we, through the fermenting process, change them into alcohol or acids like yeast or bacteria. They act as a natural preservative, and so, basically, all I've known about fermented foods is yogurt. Which is something I like to eat and we've probably all heard about the probiotic benefits of yogurt from Jamie Lee Curtis's yogurt commercial, Yoplait yogurt commercials on TV in the past. So the other health benefits that are cited are that there can be a decrease in symptoms for people who have IBS or irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. The probiotics also boost our immune system and that will help us avoid illnesses like the common cold and help us recover more quickly after we've been sick.

Elyse H: Those are some really great tips. I see a hand up here. Sue, you have your hand up.

Sue: Yeah, I do. I have been fermenting for quite a while and I have really enjoyed all my experiments. I have gone the whole range from sauerkraut to making pickles to making beverages such as kombucha, kefir, and it is pronounced kefir in the United States and kefir in Europe. It's an interesting word there, K-E-F-I-R, and I have done rejuvelac and there's one that I am wanting to try today. I was looking for the bottle that I had set aside to make it in and I just found it before the call. So after the call I will make it.

Pam W: Sue, what's rejuvelac?

Sue: Rejuvelac is a grain drink where you ferment grain such as oats or barley or wheat and let that go for a few days, and then it kind of sprouts. Then the benefits of the grain have gone into the water, and so you drink that and it takes a getting used to. But if you don't like it then you put it right back into your sourdough bread.

Pam W: Is there any way to flavor that at all with fruits or anything like that or is that not the kind of thing you can do with that drink?

Sue: I have not seen any evidence that people do that. But why not? As long as you're going to do it, might as well go ahead and try something new.

Pam W: What made you become interested in fermenting vegetables or fermenting foods in general, Sue?

Sue: I started a long time ago when one of my neighbors showed me how she made sauerkraut in her home country, which was Vietnam. We took cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, a little bit of sugar, a little bit of salt, and some water and that was her method of making sauerkraut. I have gone on to discover that you can make sauerkraut out of virtually any vegetable and go all the way from cabbage as your base to beets or rutabagas or just anything as your base. And then add flavoring such as your hot peppers or your garlic or your juniper berries. There are lots and lots of things that you can put into a sauerkraut.

Pam W: When I started learning more about this, it was reminding me a lot of canning. Do you see it as being...Are you a canner? Is that something, do you see it as being a similar? I know the process is different, but just in terms of... Well, I mean, I guess it is canning as a way to preserve too, just wondering how similar they are? The probiotic benefits of fermentation versus just canning to prolong something for a period of time, but in terms of the processes, are there comparisons you can make there at all?

Sue: Well, the comparison is that you're using a jar or can use a jar. Also, in fermentation, you can use crocks or that kind of thing where to can at home you do need jars. But what happens when you can is that you get the temperature high enough to kill bacteria, and it is the bacteria that you want when you're fermenting. It completely wipes out any benefit of fermenting if you can your fermented product.

Pam W: Right. I find, and I just again I've done a total of two things fermenting now, and right now on my counter I have a jar of vegetables. They are on day three, I had hoped to have them done before today, but it's the recipe that I followed said not to open it until... Well, to open it starting day two to let up the gasses but not to taste until day four, so I have to wait until tomorrow. But I have to tell you, I'm a little nervous that I messed it up and I might make myself sick. I think that's one of the things, can you talk about the safety part of it?

Sue: Yes.

Pam W: Because I know I did look up some tips and things like that. But I think we'd rather hear from somebody who has had a lot of experience with it.

Sue: Okay, as far as safety goes, you are really looking at growing the bacteria, growing the beneficial bacteria. If your aim is to grow the bacteria, then the good bacteria start to really outweigh the bad bacteria. You will notice that as your produce starts to ferment, which is the release of the carbohydrate and ferment into carbon dioxide. You might see little bubbles going up the side of your jar as these things ferment. Then at the top of the jar, you have a weight of some sort on your produce and the liquid comes up around that weight and that might have some of this bubbly stuff that I'm talking about. Usually, it's a white foamy bubbly stuff and that's fine. Some people will scoop it off, other people will just start right back down into the produce.

I've done it both ways, and that is good. The White is good, a monochromatic coloration is good, you can deal with that. What happens if you have done it bad, for instance, if you made your produce into a brine, or you put your produce into a brine, and you walked away and forgot it for several years. You may have something else besides bacteria in there. It will be a bright color and that would tell you that it's not safe. It will have a rancid odor and that's your biggest clue right there that it just smells awful. Now some of you may not like the smell of fermentation, and I've got a jar of vinegar going in my bedroom because I don't have any other place to put it. That is not as pleasant as I would like in the beginning stage where it is now. I've only had it going for about two weeks; to do vinegar you're looking at about six weeks.

As it's getting over the part where the fruit is decomposing into the liquid that it has created, the smell is rather strong. But every day I go in and I stir my grapes if I'm making two different kinds of vinegar. I've got the pear vinegar in the kitchen and the grape vinegar in the bedroom, and the grapes, I can still see the fermentation bubbles being part of the process right now. It's almost to the end where pretty soon I will remove the grapes and then just let it sit. Once it has formed a SCOBY, which is a... Oh gosh, I can't remember what the S is, symbiotic community of yeast and bacteria, then you know you have made vinegar. I'm waiting for that with a pair of vinegar now. Probably, by this weekend, I can remove the grapes from the grape vinegar and go after just letting it sit there and become real vinegar with a SCOBY. SCOBY and mother, when you're talking about vinegar, is the same thing.

Pam W: Okay, I saw a couple of questions that I have regarding my jar that I have sitting on the counter. To me, it looks like it's cloudy and not that it's... I know that when I release the cap, I do get the gas that comes out of it. But the liquid looks cloudy and that, I think, that's what makes me worried. Is that maybe I did something wrong, but maybe I'm mistaking what our tiny bubbles for cloudiness. Is that possible?

Sue: Possibly, but not likely. What you probably are experiencing is just the release of things from that vegetable blend that you've gotten in your jar, and it will have a cloudier look than the commercial items with the same name. If you're doing cucumber pickles, yours are going to be a little bit more cloudy, and things will have settled down to the bottom of the jar. A commercial product, people want a certain look and that's what the manufacturers go after. They do their best to make sure that it doesn't look cloudy. But yours is probably still perfectly fine and delicious. Actually, when you told me that you had them and it said in your recipe not to sample until the fourth day, don't believe that. What you really want to do is sample along the way. Your product is done when you like the taste.

If on day one, when you're putting it into the jar, that's when you taste, for instance, your cucumbers and they're going to taste like cucumbers with a little bit of salt, saltwater, for the brine. As you go on, your cucumbers then if you have not added the leaves or a compound to keep them crisp, they turn mushy. The items that will keep a pickle crisp are oak leaves, grape leaves, tea leaves, horseradish leaves, bay leaves. Any one or all of those could make your pickles more crisp instead of being mushy. I use oak leaves just because they're very easy to get. I have volunteer oak trees coming up in my yard and there's volunteer grapevines coming up over at the local school. So I don't have a problem getting leaves to crisp up my pickles.

Pam W: Okay, so I did not, I have cucumbers in mine and I think... Wait, maybe I didn't put cucumbers in there, I'll have to look again.

Sue: Whether it's cucumbers, zucchini or summer squash, they're probably all going to act the same. You may have the more mushy kind, all right, so next time you might remember, "Oh, oak leaves or grape leaves or bay leaves, one of those selections that has tannin in them.

Pam W: Okay, tannin, okay.

Elyse H: This is Elyse, I have a question to jump in here. With your vinegar, I know you're saying you're doing a grape one and a regular or non-grape one. What do you do with the vinegar after? I'm super novice, so if this is dumb, what do you do with the vinegar after you've done, after you've fermented this?

Sue: Okay, it is not a dumb question, any question is welcome. We're all in this to learn. A lot of people drink apple cider vinegar thinking that it will be better for their health. I don't care what kind of vinegar you're taking for your health. It could be grape, it could be pear, it could be whatever fruit you want that has turned into vinegar. Take them and drink them like a teaspoon or tablespoon or two a day. You can use them in any recipe that calls for vinegar.

Elyse H: Yeast, so you can cook them as well as just eat it or drink it raw, so to speak?

Sue: Correct, and by the time it's got that mother growing in there, you've got vinegar.

Pam W: Can you repeat again, did you say mother?

Sue: The mother is the same thing as this symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast.

Pam W: Okay, and mother like, okay, mother like spelled exactly like a parent?

Sue: Correct.

Pam W: Father, mother, okay. All right. I would love to keep... I have lots of questions for Sue but I also just want to make sure that anyone is welcome to ask questions, offer any experience or expertise they have. So, please, feel free to jump in. I see another hand. Sue, I'm going to keep you unmuted, though, and I'm going to go ahead and-

Sue: Thank you.

Pam W: ... call and I didn't get your first name, the last name is Baldwin. It looks like you're... there you go, and so can you tell us your first name again?

Yvette Verlin: Yvette Verlin. It's pronounced similar to Berlin but it's with a V as in Victor.

Pam W: Okay, great.

Yvette Verlin: I would like to know under what type of circumstances would make the product unhealthy or make us sick?

Sue: Okay. Something that would make you sick would be something that has gone terribly wrong. One of the things that you want to do is use produce that is as fresh as possible, picked right out of your garden and then put it into fermentation is the best. If you buy it in the store and don't use it for several weeks and it's beginning to go bad. You may have other things going on besides just bacteria on the surface area of your product. Another thing that would cause your product to go bad would be not using dairy or meat safe practices. Anytime you're talking of adding protein content into it, you are really talking of potential for a possible harm. But if you do it correctly, your fermented milk and your fermented meat, look at all the people who eat pepperoni. That is fermented meat, they don't get sick. It can be done correctly and our ancestors long, long, long ago were fermenting all their foods to make it last longer than the harvest season. Did I answer your question?

Yvette Verlin: Yes, thank you very much. I have heard that kombucha can be rather delicate to deal with. Have you found that to be the case?

Sue: I wouldn't call it delicate, I would say that if you hope to have it taste like something and it didn't make it and then you let it sit and sit and sit and sit, you may end up growing more SCOBYs than you had originally intended. Right now, there's a thing called the first ferment, which is you take your sweet tea, add your kombucha and your SCOBY and let it sit for about a week. In the meantime, it will be developing its characteristic kombucha flavor. It may go beyond and start smelling like vinegar instead of the sparkling fizzy stuff that you're expecting. But still it's drinkable.

Yvette Verlin: Okay.

Sue: I had a second ferment which is when you take your kombucha and add fruit to it. Well, I decided not to use fruit, I wanted to have a ginger flavored kombucha and I just let it sit on my counter and I should have put it in the refrigerator. But I now have two SCOBYs growing in my second ferment of kombucha, which is fine, I'll use them.

Pam W: Okay, so Verlin and Sue, I want to continue on with the safety thing. I have a couple other things that I wanted to ask Sue about that. But I do see I have another hand. The phone number is the last four digits or three digits are 493. I'm going to go ahead and unmute you. If you could tell us your name.

Leanne: Leanne. I have two things to say, two resources kind of. One of them is it's either called Kombucha Mamma or Kombucha Queen, I can let you know later, but they talk about... I haven't been able to read it quote unquote, but I think it has recipes and it has products that help you make kombucha and Jun, which is my... but the question is how do you make kombucha without sugar, white sugar? Because I don't want to eat white sugar, and how did they do it for years and years before white sugar was even invented? They've made kombucha way longer than that. So that's my question and my resource. The other question was... Oh, go ahead, I have to think of it.

Sue: Okay, well, let me answer first the sugar issue. Yes, you really do need regular sugar. It doesn't have to be the white crystals that everybody is used to. It could be the coconut sugar, it could be the cane sugar, it could be one of your other newer to the market kinds of sugar. But you cannot use just an unsweetened or no calorie type sweetener.

Leanne: [inaudible] honey.

Sue: Wait a minute, wait a minute, don't try to use stevia, don't try and to use some of those sugar free, low calorie type things. Those don't work. You need the sugar in there as part of the fermentation process. Now your issue of honey, honey is what makes that drink that... I forget how you pronounced it, but it's spelled J-U-N and then-

Leanne: Yeah, honey.

Sue: ... honey fermented drink, I have not made it. Apparently, it's a little bit more difficult to make than kombucha. And you have to have the temperature of your environment a little bit more closely watched. Did I answer your question?

Leanne: Yes, thank you, yes. My other, yes very much, my other resource was there's these jars that I can get more specific to and send it to whoever the moderator is. But there's these special lids that fit on mason jars. You can make whatever your fermented product right in that mason jar and put one of these lids on. It has like a little popper, so it's like it's a self-releasing, yes. Yes, so that's another resource. You can make it in the jar and not the same pans and everything.

Sue: Those lids are called airlock lids.

Leanne: Airlock, okay.

Sue: What they do is they allow the gases to escape from the inside of the jar, but they don't let the air come into the jar.

Leanne: Oh, yeah, okay. So then it's safe, right?

Sue: That's the way they advertise it. I can't vouch for all manufacturers so I can say that's the claim.

Leanne: Okay, thank you. Thank you.

Pam W: Yes, thank you.

Leanne: Okay.

Elyse H: This is Elyse, I did see on YouTube for some of the starter kits. They had those airlock lids for mason jars, that you might have mason jars more readily available in your home kitchen and that you don't have to so called fuss as much with releasing the air a certain time or day, it just goes more natural through the little hole in the top.

Pam W: Awesome. Sue, I was going to ask that you were listing off the things about this, how to make sure things were safe and I had found a list too and it included the things you said. But it was also talking about the importance of the type of salt that you use and the amount of salt that you use.

Sue: Okay, the type of salt, do not use regular table salt that has too many chemicals that could interfere with the process of the fermentation. Because it is chemically made, we don't know which chemical elements in that salt could affect which vegetables and all that you're putting into your jars. Rule of thumb, stay away from table salt. Any other kind of salt really is okay. You use Himalayan salt, you can use sea salt, you can use the stuff that is mined. There is an equivalent to the Himalayan but it is mined out in, I think, it's Utah.

Pam W: What about kosher salt?

Sue: Yes, that is acceptable.

Pam W: Okay, I have another hand up, so let's hear what 968 has to say. If you could, I'm going to unmute you if you could go ahead and tell us your name. Hi.

Rachel: Oh, hi, Pam and Elyse. This is Rachel calling from Medway, Massachusetts.

Pam W: Hi Rachel.

Rachel: I just came on. You were talking about salt. I'm not really sure of what the topic was but can you use smoke salt in cooking? Is that it?

Sue: I have never seen that listed as possible or not possible, so I don't know how to answer that question.

Pam W: Yeah, and Rachel, the topic today we're talking about fermenting foods and so that would be something that we can look up. I'm not sure if there's a difference between whether or not you could use the smoke salt and regular cooking versus fermenting. But the main topic today is fermenting but we can definitely look that up and answer that question in the show notes even.

Rachel: All right.

Pam W: All right, thank you.

Connie: Can you hear me?

Elyse H: Yes, we can, who is this?

Connie: This is Connie. I didn't know how to raise the hand. I came in a little late. I wanted to address one thing that someone's been asking regarding the safety of it. Because I've been fermenting for a couple of years now and I love it. The safety issue, as long as your vegetables are under the water, it's okay, it is safe. But when they start floating to the top, that's why, I think it's Elyse who was saying about putting weight on it. That's the purpose of the weight, to keep the vegetables under the water. The bubbles is a good sign. Actually, the bubbles are telling you that the probiotics are being developed in that fermentation. It's usually three to five days, it all depends on the temperature of your kitchen or wherever you keep your fermentation. One way you can also check to see if it's developed the probiotic in it, you know those strips for pH levels?

Pam W: Oh yeah.

Connie: Okay, you can take a little spoonful of that fermentation and test it with a test strip. If it registers like 4.6, it has developed the probiotic if you're making it for health reasons. It has done wonders for my health as far as helping build up my immune system. I love fermenting vegetables and when you do sauerkraut, one of the things that helps keep the sauerkraut, I found this German recipe with some... you can put carrots, you can put the cabbage and some horseradish in there with dill. It tastes really, really good.

Pam W: Awesome.

Connie: The horseradish keeps it from spoiling. Now, when you make sauerkraut, it should have a little crunch to the cabbage. If it's a little softer that means you didn't put enough salt in your brine. What I use as a measurement, I use one quart of water to one tablespoon of salt and that's the general brine salt to water ratio that I use. You can just pour it into any, put all your vegetables in your jar first and then toss in the brine. That's the general principle that I use.

Pam W: Okay, Connie-

Sue: Can I make a comment on that?

Pam W: Oh, sure.

Sue: One of the things that you mentioned was the texture of your sauerkraut depends on what culture you're raised in. Because in some areas, it has to be fermented for six months to a year before they even eat it because they need to have it mushier or they think they need to have it mushier. Where here in the United States, some people are eating their fermented sauerkraut after just three, four days. Also, there are people who do not use saltwater to make sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is made also by just putting the salt over your vegetables. Some people measure salt and some people don't but sprinkle salt over your vegetables, and then when you've done enough vegetables and you start kneading them and working them, and a brine will develop down at the bottom of your bowl at that point. That's when you put your produce into the jar. The liquid will rise up over the vegetables, and sometimes you don't need the brine.

Now if you make sauerkraut and you don't have the liquid up high enough, you can always add saltwater, which would be the brine to make up that difference and keep on with your project.

Pam W: Okay, I have-

Connie: Actually, fermenting vegetables is safer than canning.

Pam W: Okay.

Connie: It's much safer.

Pam W: Okay, that's great to know because I've only canned once, and I did it with somebody else and I've been afraid to try it by myself. I do see that Leanne has her hand up so I'm going to go ahead and unmute her and see what she has to say. Hi Leanne, again.

Leanne: I had a question. You said she kneads her sauerkraut like you knead bread with your hand?

Sue: More or less, yeah. So you kind of pound down on that sauerkraut or the vegetables and then turn them and then pound down again and turn and pound again. After about five minutes of that, you've got plenty of brine at the bottom of your bowl to every handful that you take and put this stuff into your jar. You're actually moving some of that liquid. Then when you have finished all of the vegetable going into your jar, then you pour the stuff that's still in your bowl into your jar. As long as you got it, pound it down really well in that jar. You can either use your fist, or they actually sell devices that look like tubes that are not hollow. You can pound with those to really press that sauerkraut, the vegetation down into the jar.

Leanne: Wow, thank you.

Pam W: All right.

Elyse H: I don't know about you, but I am learning a whole bunch about this.

Pam W: I am too.

Elyse H: This is great.

Pam W: I have another question for any of you aficionados here to help out with because, let's see, I had a couple actually. One was the whole idea of salt because I have high blood pressure and so I take blood pressure medication and I have to be careful about salt. So I was trying to do... are the fermented vegetables high in sodium then because of the salt process? Because I was trying to look for ways to ferment without adding additional salt and I did come up with a couple of things. I'm just wondering if any of you have experience or knowledge about the whole sodium aspect of eating fermented vegetables?

Sue: One of the projects that I have gone through is adding a probiotic culture so that you don't have a need for salt. A doctor called Dr. McCullough, you can find him on the internet. He does sell that as one of the items he offers and he actually has a video on how he makes his sauerkraut for everybody in his office. You can make sauerkraut with no salt. As far as does it lower your blood pressure or will it interfere with your blood pressure if you use salt? I don't have evidence to say that it does or doesn't, it's my understanding that when you're using natural salts rather than the table salt it's better for your body. But as far as a blood pressure reading, I'm not qualified to answer that.

Pam W: Right, right. Well, one of the things that I found that was interesting that was discussed was the idea of making sure that you included some vegetables that are higher in their sodium contents. Because then it's still better, it's naturally occurring salt, sodium and the vegetables as opposed to just even adding salt to it. Some of the ones, the more common ones are things like kelp was very high in sodium. But ones some of the more common ones that people could buy at the grocery store pretty easily are beet greens and chard, celery even is considered at the low end of higher that... the article that I was reading said that sodium in excess of 75 milligrams per 100 grams of vegetable is considered high, and they say that celery has 80. It's just over that threshold. That was another thing that I found interesting. I made sure that I put celery in the vegetables that I jarred earlier this week.

Sue: When I make sauerkraut, I include just about anything that I've got in the refrigerator. So celery is one of my staples, and yes, I will include it. But I'm not putting it in for sodium or non-sodium content. I'm just putting it in because I like a whole lot of different vegetables and that's one way of getting them.

Pam W: Right. Another question that I had, and if again, anybody is welcome to jump in and ask questions and offer their own experience or thoughts. But I know that one of the things you can do as your starter is to use the brine from another batch of, fermented vegetables that you've successfully made. But I was curious do you know if you can use like the... sometimes I save the pickle juice from my pickles for flavoring and other things like marinating meats or whatever, is that considered a starter culture or no? Because that came from a processed- like if I bought a jar of pickles from the grocery store, for example?

Sue: A jar of pickles from the grocery store is going to have table salt rather than some of these other salts that we've talked about. I would suggest not using that. As far as using the brine of a product you have already fermented, you could do that and then you're questioning, "Well, how much salt do I need to add to my content?" You really don't know what you are saving as far as the salt content in that binding solution. Personally, I would not use it, I would prefer to make each jar its own jar. If you feel inclined, go ahead and drink it, that's perfectly safe to drink as long as you're aware that it is a brine solution and you've got an issue of blood pressure.

Pam W: Right. One of the things that I found a little bit difficult for this whole process for me, for any of you who have been on since the first month. When I first introduced myself, I said I was someone who is a follower because I like to follow recipes. What I was finding is that the recipes are not very exact in terms of seasonings was one of the things. The recipes that I were finding were saying, "Choose your own seasonings," and they weren't giving me amounts and that was a little bit disconcerting for me. I did end up finding that they were saying to use one teaspoon of a dried spice for every, I believe, it was for like a quart. Does that sound about right or/and that you use more if you're using fresh herbs and spices? Does anybody have any experience with that?

Sue: Yes, you would. One teaspoon sounds pretty reasonable, but it's going to depend on your... Whether you're living at home, for instance, garlic, do you want to just stick a garlic clove in your pickles and have garlic flavored pickles, or do you want to mince it all up, chop it all up fine? And have little bits of garlic throughout the jar... That's one of the issues, you may not know what a whole clove of garlic tastes like just because it's not one of the things that you typically use. When you're working with something like mustard seeds, well, you don't know how much mustard seed you would have in a typical jar of pickles. So go buy for the first time you start a new recipe, write down what you're using so that next time if you didn't like the flavor of this particular herb, you can cut down or possibly even cut out that flavor and go with something else next time.

Sometimes also, you'll have several flavors in one jar. I am known to put in garlic and dill in my pickles. You know, who's to say one's more important than the other?

Elyse H: Right. I'm getting a theme throughout that it's really up to you and your preference of taste on a lot of these, I guess, experiments, so to say?

Sue: Yeah.

Elyse H: If you get new and just getting your feet wet in them…

Sue: It is, the other thing that I wanted to say too, is that we're talking here about the vegetable ferments, and when you're talking about something like kombucha, you're talking of a sugar. That you don't add salt when you're making kombucha.

Pam W: Well, that's true, right.

Sue: There is a difference in the flavors that you're creating. When you're doing beverages, you want to make that beverage, first, let it develop its ripeness and then with what you've created, then you take this jar aside and you add blueberries and you take this jar aside and you add ginger and cinnamon for different tastes that you think you want.

Pam W: Right. Then I also wanted to ask if there's anybody who out there or if you have an Instant Pot, this was another thing that I did try this week and the Instant Pot can make yogurt and it does it in 24 hours. I did that and I will tell you that my yogurt is delicious that I made, and I don't usually even like plain yogurt. I have to add fruit to it or whatever. I haven't done that yet but I did take a little taste of it this morning and it was super easy. If anybody you know that we can have available to the resource for that. I see Leanne's raising her hand, so let's call on her. Hi Leanne.

Leanne: Hi, I have a question about the Instant Pot making yogurt because I want to get one for making yogurt. But there were so many models and sizes, how would you even pick which one's going to make yogurt the best? Did you make yogurt directly in the pot or inside little cups? You know what I mean?

Pam W: Yes, so I made sure... when I bought my Instant Pot, I didn't buy it for that purpose, I bought it just have it as a faster slow cooker. But I did make sure that it had some of those bells and whistles on it. Usually, they have just an X number of programs and it'll say in the packaging or in the description online if…that it has the yogurt setting. Because it's truly a button that just says yogurt. It was I made it inside the pot and all it required was a half a gallon of whole milk and then a half a cup of plain high-quality yogurt with active cultures. I heated, it boiled that to I believe was 180 degrees and then I had to skim the top of the... skin off the top of it. Then I had to cool it down to 80 degrees, I think it was. It was either 70 or 80, I can look at the recipe.

Then take like a cup of the milk I believe it was and a half a cup and then that yogurt, the half a cup of yogurt and whisk those together and that was considered I guess the starter. Then you just pour it back into the Instant Pot and push the yogurt button again and it goes till it says 24 hours. And then in 24 hours you take it out and you put it in a container and put it in your refrigerator. It was I just tasted it, I finished it last night and I just tasted it this morning, but it was very creamy and good. I was really excited about it.

Leanne: Cool, I like it. I have another question about that as far as like the Crockpot you said just make sure it has the bells and whistles in it include yogurt. Because some of them have canning things like you can sterilize cans and I wonder about that. Okay, I have another question, too.

Pam W: Oh, gosh, oh, no, I didn't know about that the sterilizing jars for canning, I might not have that model. Mine's a couple years old.

Leanne: When there are so many features, sometimes it's hard if you get too many features and none of them work well but where's the balance of what's going to work for what you need?

Pam W: Right, I see Rachel has her hand up so I'm going to go ahead and unmute her.

Leanne: Well, do you think I can ask one more question?

Pam W: Oh, yeah, for sure, for sure.

Leanne: Can I ask one more question? About Instant Pot. Digital things, I don't know how to explain, high contrast is what I can see the best. Does anyone have tips on that or anything that's digital? How do you pick one that you might be able to read? Like red on black or blue on black, white on black? [inaudible] or black on that tan color, oh, there's... or if you can read it, what would you do if you couldn't read it at all? How would you know what it said?

Pam W: Yeah, I think that a couple of things that are just coming to my mind, and Elyse jump in if you have some ideas too. You could go through with somebody who can read those buttons better and then figure out or even a tactile labeling system or just make a template for yourself that's like how you memorize the buttons on a phone, and where the numbers are on a phone. And just get those buttons that are the ones that you're going to use the most, like the yogurt one in your situation, to have it maybe tact time marker on there or brightly colored sticker or something like that. So that those are the only buttons you focus on.

Leanne: Thank you.

Pam W: Yes.

Sue: Also, when you're making yogurt if you're using something other than an Instant Pot and you need to get that up to 180 degrees for the milk, they do have talking thermometers. You might want to invest in one of those.

Leanne: As well we're talking about that, how about like I have something called a “Say When” and it tells me when I get too close to the top of something I'm filling up. But what about if you're measuring, like you need a cup of this or two cups of that, is there something that helps with that?

Elyse H: A couple options. You could do a scale and then weigh it and measure on top of the scale, or you could do a liquid level indicator depending on how liquid-y what you're measuring. That will be when you're at the top of the cup.

Connie: This is Connie, can I add something regarding the yogurt?

Pam W: Absolutely.

Connie: Okay, because I have an Instant Pot too and I understand the question. It's hard to manipulate for the yogurt. I go to the farmers market to get raw milk and I asked the farmer if he can suggest something for me to make my own yogurt, and this is so simple. I get a quart jar, I put a fourth of a cup of yogurt, like you said, Pam, a high-quality yogurt. I put that in the jar and then I fill it with the milk and shake it and leave it on the counter for 24 hours. At 24 hours, I have yogurt and it's very creamy.

Pam W: Oh, wow.

Connie: That's all I have to do, or if it's too cool, I put it in like a toaster oven and just keep it in there for the night, for the 24 hours. Then it turns into yogurt. A friend of mine who's from India, I gave her some to taste and she goes, "Oh my goodness, this yogurt tastes just like back home. It reminds me of my mother's yogurt," she said. It's very simple to do, you don't need any equipment, you don't... I don't want to have to measure temperature, I didn't want to have to do any of those things. So that's my method of making yogurt.

Pam W: Wow, that's great. Thank you so much for sharing that Connie.

Connie: Then when you start eating it and you have one quarter left in the jar, then you can add more milk and do it again.

Pam W: Okay.

Sue: Connie's method works because she is using raw milk. You won't get the same results if you're using store bought, homogenized, pasteurized, whatever kind of milk.

Pam W: Oh, great point to reiterate there. Thank you. I see that Rachel's had her hand up for a while so I want to go ahead and call on her because it is 5:30. So we're going to have to be wrapping it up here soon. But, Rachel, I'm going to go ahead and unmute you now.

Rachel: Hello there. My question was that pot that you mentioned, can you do hard boiled eggs in that as well?

Pam W: You can, I have not done it. I don't know if anybody else has but we are planning at some future months' discussion group, to have an entire session on things like Crockpots and Instant Pots. So look forward to that coming in the coming months.

Rachel: Sounds good.

Pam W: Yeah, and we couldn't really dig deep into those coming up here.

Sue: Also, I don't know whether it was through this chat group that it came or whether it was something I found elsewhere, but you can actually put your eggs, as long as they're in the shell, on your grill and cook them. Especially, one of those grills that has a lid that'll go down over it. Apparently, you leave them there for the same amount of time you hard boil an egg.

Elyse H: Wow. That's new to me. I'll have to try it.

Sue: It is something I have not tried but I thought I would like to if I knew somebody who had a grill.

Elyse H: Yeah. Boy oh boy, I missed out. Great. We are just at 5:30 here, so we thank everyone so much for joining in our discussion and sharing all about fermentation.

Well, thanks for coming and we will see you all next time.

Pam W: All right, bye-bye, everybody.