Preserving Summer’s Bounty – Fermentation vs. Pickling

Shiloh Farms & PureLiving: Preserving summer's bounty with traditional fermentation techniques.

While summer might not last forever, it is certainly possible to enjoy its bounty throughout the year. Of all of the ways available to preserve fresh produce, one of our absolute favorites has to be fermentation. Frequently associated with the modern pickles found in most markets and pantries, foods pickled with traditional fermentation techniques are actually distinctly different, packed with vitamins and minerals and containing living cultures of probiotic, gut-friendly bacteria. But how else do traditionally fermented foods differ from modern pickles?


In modern pickling, fruits and vegetables are typically added to an acid base (frequently vinegar) and then heat processed. Traditional lacto-fermentation is a raw process in which foods are added to a salt-water brine; these foods are preserved without the addition of heat or pressure.


By adding heat, modern pickling is essentially sterilizing your food, killing off both good and bad bacteria. In contrast, traditional fermentation creates an environment that, while inhospitable to “bad” bacteria, allows “good” bacteria to flourish. As a result, fermented foods are probiotic.


Modern pickling is a great option for canning, as it results in a shelf-stable item that can be stored for months in your pantry. Once the desired level of fermentation has been reached, traditionally fermented foods are best stored in the refrigerator.


The flavor and texture of modern pickles will remain fairly consistent from the day of processing until whenever they are consumed. Traditional lacto-fermentation is an on-going, dynamic process and, as a result, the consistency of fermented foods can vary greatly from one day to the next.


Beyond those inherent in whatever fruit or vegetable is being processed, there are no known added health benefits associated with modern pickling techniques. By comparison, through the promotion of probiotic, gut-friendly bacteria, traditional ferments aid in digestion and can help relieve gastrointestinal issues. Traditionally fermented vegetables are also thought to be higher in vitamins and minerals than their raw or cooked counterparts!


Whichever technique you use – fermenting, pickling, or even drying, canning, or making jam – with a little planning and work now, you can be savoring the freshness of summer even on the coldest winter’s day!

Beating the Heat: Tips for Keeping Cool in Your Kitchen this Summer!

Beat the Heat: Shiloh Farms tips for keeping cool on your kitchen this summer.

Late July and August are some of the hottest weeks of the year and, not unexpectedly, we’re in the midst of a heatwave here at Shiloh Farms. It’s left us wilted, weary, and dreading the thought of entering a kitchen to cook. But never fear. We’ve come up with some solutions to deal with the heat and are sharing them with you! So here they are – our top summertime tips for keeping cool in your kitchen:


1. Make Ahead: Sacrifice one day to the kitchen and make meals ahead to freeze. Alternately, prepare components that require cooking ahead of time (like grains and beans) and store in the fridge. Then, all you have to do is assemble and reheat.


2. Be Strategic: Plan to cook in the early morning or late evening, during the coolest times of day. And be sure to get all of your chopping and prep done before you even turn on the stove or oven. That will minimize the time you must spend in the kitchen while it is being heated.


3. Think Small: If you must cook, consider opting for smaller-sized vessels. Bake your meatloaf in muffin tins (bonus: individual serving sizes!) and don’t use a pot any larger than necessary. Also, try to cut veggies & proteins into smaller pieces that will cook more quickly.


4. Use Economy: When cooking grains, pastas, veggies, or beans on the stovetop, use the least amount of liquid possible. This will minimize the amount of time it takes for your pot to heat. (And just a friendly reminder that is always a good idea to pre-soak beans, as this will reduce cooking time!)


5. Don’t Peek: Remember that every time you lift that lid or open the oven door, you are adding to the cooking time. You may be tempted, but keep those checks to a minimum.


6. Embrace Breakfast: Protein-rich, highly customizable, and ready in minutes, omelets and scrambles are just as welcome at lunch or dinner as breakfast! Also consider experimenting with savory variations on oatmeal and yogurt.


7. Go Raw: Salads are an obvious summer choice, but there are so many other delicious options that require no cooking at all. Consider doing a simple spread of fruits, nuts, and cheeses. Or, make a quick gazpacho by blending fresh seasonal veggies and herbs with premade broth.


8. Slow Down: Slow cookers aren’t just for hearty winter stews. Prep in the morning, then let it cook away while you are at work, out running errands, or relaxing by the pool!


9. Get Out: Summer is the perfect time to put your outdoor grill to good use – and it can do so much more than just burgers! Try kebabs, empanadas, flatbread pizzas…


10. Accept It: Some days are just going to be too hot to bother with the kitchen, period. Realize that it’s occasionally okay to just curl up on the couch with a bowl of cereal and call it a day!


And one bonus that has nothing to do with cooking:

11. Look Around: Your stove isn’t the only culprit – other appliances give off their fair share of heat, too. Consider turning off the heated dry cycle on your dishwasher and letting your dishes air dry instead. Or, set the dishwasher to run overnight while you’re in bed.

Sprouting 101: Beth’s Step-by-Step Guide for Sprouting Beans

Sprouting Beans 101: Beth's Tips from Shiloh Farms

Shiloh Farms customer service representative Beth loves talking with our customers and, over the years, she has answered a lot of your questions about our products and brands (that’s why we call her our resident Shiloh Farms expert!) But, it is a 2-way street and she has learned a lot from you, too. A recent interaction with two of our loyal customers inspired Beth to try sprouting beans for the first time. Here’s her account and tips for trying this out at home:

“These are the sprouting directions I received from longtime Shiloh Farms customers, Bill and Gini Woodworth of Michigan.

Every few months, Bill calls in to place an order, which always includes a few pouches of the Shiloh Farms Organic Mung Beans. Now, before I started working at Shiloh Farms, I hadn’t really heard about Mung Beans (apart from Chinese dessert menus) and didn’t know much about them. While I’ve since done a little research, I am still interested in how our customers use them and, on his last order, I asked Bill about what he does with his mung beans. He and his wife, Gini, gave me very detailed instructions for sprouting them. They said it was easy, and really, it didn’t sound hard – but who has time to do this?

I was intrigued. I took home a sample packet of mung beans, borrowed one of my mom’s old mason jars she had used for canning, and put cheesecloth on my shopping list. It took me a couple of weeks to get my act together and make the special trip to the local dry good store for cheesecloth, but I finally had everything I need to start sprouting the mung beans. I started the sprouting process and it really was as easy as Bill and Gini had promised – in no time at all, I had a jar full of sprouts! I was very impressed with myself, but now what? What do I do with these fantastic little sprouts?

I added them to my salad of fresh greens and they were yummy! I think they would be a tasty addition to a sandwich as well, and I would like to try making them into a veggie burger or some kind of stir fry. Gini also told me that if I couldn’t eat them all right away, they freeze really well.


Bill and Gini’s Sprouting Instructions:

Need:

1 pouch of Shiloh Farms Organic Mung Beans
1 large mason jar (I used a quart jar, but probably should have used a larger size.)
1 canning ring
cheesecloth – choose a medium to loose weave (I chose the tightest weave and then had trouble pouring off the rinse water.)

Directions:

  • Sort and rinse the mung beans. Bill recommended starting with ¼ cup of mung beans.
  • Soak the beans overnight. Place the beans in the mason jar with just enough water to cover them. Cover the opening of the jar with cheesecloth, and screw the jar ring on to secure.
  • In the morning, pour the water out the jar. Do not remove the cheesecloth – pour the water off through it. Extra Tip: Don’t get rid of the soaking water! Since it contains all the nutrients from the mung beans, Gini will use the soaking water to water her house plants!
  • Rinse the beans. Through the cheesecloth, add fresh water to the beans. Give them a gentle swirl and then pour the water off again.
  • Store in a dark cupboard to start sprouting! Gini advised laying the jar on its side to give the beans a little more room to sprout, which is a great idea! My jar filled up with little sprouts quickly; this is a good way to let the sprouts have room to grow!
  • The next day, repeat steps 4-5.
  • By Day 3, you should have little sprouts growing! Keep repeating steps 4-5 until the sprouts reach the desired length. Bill doesn’t let his sprouts grow longer than an inch.

Storage: Make sure the sprouts are completely dry before storing in an airtight container. They should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Gini also added that if she doesn’t think she will eat all the sprouts in one week, she will store them in the freezer until she is ready to use them.


Thanks to Bill and Gini for their inspiration! I am now happily adding bean sprouts to my salads and am excited to find other recipes to try – especially a really good veggie burger. Any other tips or ideas for how to use bean sprouts?”

Have a tip or technique you would like to share with us? Contact Beth at (800) 362-6832 or info@shilohfarms.com!