The Dirty Dozen vs The Clean 15

Sep 19, 2013 0
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The dirty dozen vs the clean 15

No real food blog is complete without a “dirty dozen vs the clean 15” post, so here’s ours! If this is your fist time seeing these lists then we’re happy to have helped.

What are the dirty dozen and clean 15? “The Dirty Dozen” are the foods that you should always try to buy organics as they have been found to have the highest amounts of pesticide residues on them. The foods that were found to have the lowest amounts of these residues, even when not organic, are “The Clean 15” (I love creative naming.)

The Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers) have expanded the typical “dirty dozen” and added domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards.

You can refer to their website for more detailed information at www.ewg.org

The Good

Good news first? These are the foods that even when not organic you don’t have to worry too much about.

The Clean 15

Asaparagus

Asparagus

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

Grapefruit

Grapefruit

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Pineapples

Pineapples

Avocados

Avocados

Corn

Corn

Kiwi

Kiwi

Onions

Onions

Frozen Sweet Peas

Frozen Sweet Peas

Cabbage

Cabbage

Eggplant

Eggplant

Mangoes

Mangoes

Papayas

Papayas

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes


The Bad

 

The Dirty Dozen +

Apples

Apples

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Nectarines - imported

Nectarines – imported

Spinach

Spinach

Kale / Collard Greens

Kale / Collard Greens

Celery

Celery

Grapes

Grapes

Peaches

Peaches

Strawberries

Strawberries

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Sweet Bell Peppers

Sweet Bell Peppers

(images courtesy of www.ewg.org)

What does that all mean?

PBS also has a very informative article posted about these two lists and you can read further details here on www.pbs.org.

Here’s the bottom line. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Conventionally grown is better than none at all.  They truly can and should be snack foods more often than they are. Using this now common guide will help you avoid buying foods that have been found to have higher amounts of pesticide residues on them so you can make sure you get the cleanest nutrition for you and your family.

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How To Make Homemade Yogurt

Sep 10, 2013 0

finished-yogurt-h

How to make homemade yogurt

The health benefits of yogurt (some of which we discussed in our post about cultured dairy here) are many. Today it is or already has become one of the new “it” foods. Just look at the grocery store, there’s probably one aisle dedicated to yogurt and cheese. The variety and type of yogurt seem endless;

“Do I buy kefir, or do I buy Greek?”

“What about goat’s milk yogurt?”

“Swedish yogurt? I don’t even know what that is!”

“2%, fat free, whole, ….raw!?”

With that kind of selection why make your own yogurt? Well, maybe you’re just obsessed with knowing how everything is made and trying to make it yourself (or maybe that’s just me.)

Control

Well, the main reason to make your own yogurt is sugar. To a lot of people, plain yogurt just doesn’t taste that good, so how do you sell it? Add sugar! Mmmmm, yummy, “now they’ll buy it!” The problem is depending on type and flavor, there’s quite a bit of sugar in these. A  cup of a major name brand has 26 g of sugar (a 12 oz Coke has 39 g)! The little plain yogurt that I use some of as a starter has 15 g and we don’t even use the whole thing. Plus that little bit of yogurt makes a 1/2 gallon of yogurt. One of the main points of yogurt and that the bacteria eat the lactose (dairy sugar) and convert it to lactic acid (tangy yumminess!). Then we go and add refined sugar back into it so that it “tastes better.”

Also, as is the case with all do-it-yourself recipes, there’s ingredient control. Want to know what quality of milk your yogurt started out as? Want to know how many (or few) live active cultures are in your yogurt? How about which and how much of those sweeteners are used? Well, we should want to know all of this, and making it at home you get to decide what does and does not go in.

But really, it’s cheap, it’s EASY, and it’s amazingly good! Maybe it’s even a little fun doing the process right in your own kitchen that is THOUSANDS of years old (if you’re a history buff and/or love geeking out on useless info check out this history of yogurt on dairygoodness.ca)!

There’s many ways to make yogurt (the variety is in the details), but the science is simple. Heat the milk to prepare the whey proteins. Cool the milk a bit to not kill the incoming bacteria. Add bacteria. Let it sit while bacteria multiply. Stop bacteria from multiplying. That’s it, easy right?

Here’s the method and tools I use.

To start, put your half gallon of milk in a sauce pan on low heat (we’re trying to heat the milk without scalding it). Using a thermometer like this one we use, heat the milk to 190°.

 

Heat milk

(the fat floats to the surface when the milk is not homogenized.)

 

Once at 190°, we need to quickly cool it down to 120°. I do this by “floating” the 3qt pot in a 8qt pot will some ice water in it and whisk until cooled to 120°.

 

Float to cool

 

Whisk the yogurt and the pectin in well and then divide the yogurt into the two 1qt jars.

 

whisk it in

yogurt jars

Place the jars in an igloo style lunch box and fill with HOT tap water (tap water needs to reach temp of about 120° and mine sits right at 120° on full heat). Once filled with water up to the line on the jar where the top of the yogurt reaches, cover the lunch box and let sit for 4-8 hours.

 

in igloo

 

The longer it sits, the stronger the tangy yogurt flavor will be. When it’s ready, take the jars out, dry them off, and whisk the yogurt in the jar (the whisking helps stop the culturing process). Put the jars in the fridge and let cool. When cooled, you have 1/2 gallon of awesome yogurt!

Great! Now what do I do with it? This post was for the why and the how. See our post here for what to do with it.

Homemade organic plain yogurt
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This yogurt is probiotic rich full of live active culture. When made with non-homogenized milk it's even extra creamy. It's delicious and great for you! This recipe uses yogurt as the starter. You can use a starter culture but follow the recipe on the box if it varies from this recipe. Additional yogurt and/or a little powdered milk can be used to make this even thicker, but this is how we like it as is.
Servings Prep Time
81 Cup 5minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Servings Prep Time
81 Cup 5minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Homemade organic plain yogurt
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This yogurt is probiotic rich full of live active culture. When made with non-homogenized milk it's even extra creamy. It's delicious and great for you! This recipe uses yogurt as the starter. You can use a starter culture but follow the recipe on the box if it varies from this recipe. Additional yogurt and/or a little powdered milk can be used to make this even thicker, but this is how we like it as is.
Servings Prep Time
81 Cup 5minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Servings Prep Time
81 Cup 5minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/2 Gallon milk 2% or Whole (organic, non-homogenized, low-pastuerized at best)
  • 3-4 Tbsp Yogurt organic (must be plain)
  • 3-4 Tbsp Pectin Liquid
Servings: 1 Cup
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat milk over medium to medium-low heat to 190 F. Stirring frequently so as not to scald the milk.
  2. While milk is coming up to temperature prepare a cold water bath in a larger pot that you can float the pot with the milk in it.
  3. When milk is at temperature float it in the cold water bath and whisk milk until it has cooled to 120 F
  4. Once at 120 F whisk in the yogurt and pectin and divide into two 1 qt jars.
  5. Place the jars in the igloo type lunchbox and will to top of yogurt with 120 F water. My tap water, at it's hottest, is right around 120 F and yours probably is too. If so just use your hottest tap water.
  6. Close the lunchbox and let it rest for 4-8 hours. Yogurt will become tangier the longer it incubates.
  7. When done incubating, remove jars and whisk the yogurt to begin to stopping of the culturing process and then refrigerate. Yogurt is ready to eat when chilled.
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Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk

Sep 3, 2013 1

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Homemade cultured butter and buttermilk

The joys of real buttermilk. Sometimes I make butter just because we’re out of buttermilk (joking, but I have been tempted.) When I first realized that buttermilk was just the liquid that separates from the fat when you make butter I ran out and got a couple pints of the common brand name cream that is available here and ran home and (after a little research for instructions) made butter. I chilled the buttermilk and made my usual pancake recipe with it……epic fail! Total disaster. They were so salty we couldn’t eat them. What!? Isn’t buttermilk supposed to make pancakes and waffles insanely better? Now I was on a mission to figure this out. Turns out, there’s A LOT to it.

Some notes:

  1. You want to start with cream from grass-fed or mostly grass-fed cows (see here for why).
  2. You want to start with cultured cream (see here for why).
  3. Try to find an organic cream that is ideally low pasteurized, else pasteurized, if not, then ultra pasteurized in that order. The lower the temps used in the pasteurization process the better for dairy proteins.
  4. If you have awesome grass-fed organic raw cream then you’ve got a whole different process to follow. This post deals with pasteurized cream and inoculating it with yogurt. Your raw cream should culture on its own.

Once you have the right kind of cream and have it prepped, you’re ready to churn.

 

 

“Chuuurn baby, churn!” No? That could be your new theme song that you play while making butter…just a thought. You can just leave that playing while you finish reading (you know you want to.)

Give it some culture!

Let the cream sit until room temperature. In a very clean mixing bowl lightly whisk the yogurt and cream together. Cover air tight and leave on the counter for 12-24 hours. I tend to lean towards the 12 hour mark. The longer it cultures the more “soured” the flavor comes out to be. If you’re new to cultured butter, 12 hours might even be a little strong for you. After about 12 hours your cream will look similar to this when lightly sloshed:

 

cultured-cream

 

Once cultured, put the cream in the fridge for 3-5 hours and chill to stop the culturing process. If you have an electric mixer with a metal bowl put it in the freezer for an hour before beginning. Your mixer might also have a cold water bath accessory you can use. Keeping the cream chilled will aid in keeping the butter firm while kneading it later.

Time to make the butter

Remove cream from fridge and whisk it to blend it back together and pour it into the chilled mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on to a low speed (I set my lift bowl stand mixer to speed 2). You’ll prefer a slow churn. Your butter comes out silkier, softer, and easier to spread. Churning at high speed seems to toughen the butter up a bit. Let it sit churning, for a long time, churning away at low speed (you can introduce churning theme song here)(this can be 45 minutes to an hour churning)(at about 30 minutes start checking regularly) once the cream is ready to start separating it will happen quickly and can potentially make a mess of your kitchen if you don’t have a splatter guard set up (at speed 2 mine doesn’t make a mess, so no splatter guard in the pictures.) The following are pictures just before separation and after separation and a video of that whole stage.

 

whip-cream

butter-buttermilk

(notice the yellow color of the fat)

 

 

Once the buttermilk and butter have separated, pour through a Fine Mesh Strainer over a bowl to catch the buttermilk. Knead butter in the strainer with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out the buttermilk. I love these silicone spatulas as it’s very easy to scrape butter off of them. Try to get every last drop of buttermilk (it’s liquid gold! (culinarily speaking that is)). Pour buttermilk into a mason jar and put it in the fridge.

 

drain-buttermilk

buttermilk

jar-buttermilk

Don’t forget to rinse it!

Now you need to rinse the butter. If you leave any of that buttermilk in the butter it will spoil quickly. To rinse, put the butter back in the mixer bowl and add some ice water (ice included is OK) back into the bowl and mix it at speed 1; this will knead the butter and rinse out the buttermilk. I cover the mixer bowl with something similar to this stainless steel splatter screen and pour the water out.
Repeat this step 2-4 times until the water remains fairly clear. You can also just put the butter and ice water in a bowl and get your hands down in there and knead it yourself.

 

rinse-butter

rinse-water

(water is mostly clean though the butter on bottom of bowl makes it look less clear)

 

When it’s finally rinsed I like to put the butter in a cheesecloth and wring it out compressing the butter and forcing the remaining liquid out.

 

wringout-butter

 

You can leave the butter unsalted, or at this stage you can knead in some salt by hand. You can also put it in your butter dish and let it warm up a bit and then mix some salt into the butter with a fork. Just a pinch or two of salt will be enough to enhance the flavor.

Any recipe for pancakes, cornbread, or waffles…etc that calls for milk you can now substitute 1 for 1 with your new cultured buttermilk and taste the amazing difference. Also, you’re getting the added bonus that this buttermilk is probiotic and full of healthy for your gut bacteria…awesome.

 

finished-butter

 

Again, don’t make this a staple of your diet. Real, traditional, healthy butter is good for you, when eaten in the correct amounts.

Enjoy!

Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk
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This is our method for making tangy homemade cultured butter and buttermilk. However much cream you start with, you will end up with roughly half of it in butter and the other half in buttermilk. In this case our 2 pints of cream become 1 pint of butter and 1 pint of buttermilk.
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Homemade Cultured Butter and Buttermilk
  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
This is our method for making tangy homemade cultured butter and buttermilk. However much cream you start with, you will end up with roughly half of it in butter and the other half in buttermilk. In this case our 2 pints of cream become 1 pint of butter and 1 pint of buttermilk.
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Servings Prep Time
1Pint of butter 720minutes
Cook Time
60minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Pint of butter
Units:
Instructions
  1. Let cream sit on counter until at room temperature.
  2. In a very clean mixing bowl whisk the yogurt into the cream.
  3. Cover air tight and let cream sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  4. When finished with the culturing process, but the bowl for your mixer in the freezer and the bowl of cream in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  5. Attach mixer bowl to mixer and pour the cream in.
  6. Begin churning the cream on low speed (2).
  7. Churn the cream for about 45-60 minutes, but after 30 minutes check it regularly as once the cream is ready to separate it happens quickly.
  8. When butter and buttermilk have separated, pour both into a fine mesh strainer over a clean bowl to catch the buttermilk.
  9. Knead the butter in the strainer a little bit and pour out (into the bowl) any buttermilk on the surface of the butter.
  10. Pour buttermilk into a mason jar and chill in the refrigerator as the buttermilk is done at this point.
  11. Put butter back in stand mixer along with plenty of ice water and run at low speed for about 30 seconds. Using a fine mesh splatter guard (or something else you have) pour out the water. Add in more clean ice water and repeat. This will rinse the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.
  12. Once completely rinsed, put butter in a cheesecloth and wring out as much of the water as you can. You can also knead it with wooden or silicone spatulas to knead out the water.
  13. Once all the water is removed store your butter in a butter jar or mold and let it chill in the refrigerator (to set the mold if using one). Now the butter is done.
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