Mary Reilly of Edible Pioneer Valley spoke with Jennifer McGruther, blogger, writer and author of The Nourished Kitchen. They talked about home-made soda and fermenting leafy greens.
Jennifer shared her recipes for beet kvass and creamed collards with us – find them below.
Beet kvass with ginger and mandarin
Beet kvass tastes of the earth, faintly reminiscent of mineral-rich soil with a mild sweetness that fades to sour as the tonic ferments and ages. Like many traditional foods, beet kvass, which is nothing more than the juice of fermented beets, can overwhelm the palate of those unaccustomed to the strong flavors of the Old World. Yet, with time, many people find that they develop a yen for the robust earthiness and sour-sweet flavor of the tonic.
My interest in other homemade sodas and herbal tonics waxes and wanes, but my love of beet kvass remains constant. I like to serve it over ice, diluted with sparkling or still mineral water. While I often prepare plain beet kvass, I also find that ginger and mandarin oranges temper its earthiness, providing a nice variation. The beet’s betacyanin content not only gives beets and this kvass their characteristic color, but it also provides potent antioxidants.
Makes about 6 cups
1/4 cup strained Ginger and Wild Yeast Starter for Homemade Sodas (page 289)
2 teaspoons finely ground unrefined sea salt
6 cups water, plus more as needed
3 pounds beets, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 mandarin oranges (with the skin on), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 tablespoons peeled and freshly grated ginger
Pour the strained starter into a large pitcher, then whisk in the salt and water.
Put the beets, mandarins, and ginger in a 1-gallon fermentation crock. Pour in the liquid until the crock is full within 1 inch of its lip and the beets are completely submerged, adding additional water as necessary. Weigh the beets down with a sterilized stone, a glass or stoneware weight, or other utensil small enough to fit within your crock but heavy enough to act as a weight. Seal the crock and allow the kvass to ferment at room temperature for at least 7 days. Taste the kvass, and if you prefer a stronger or sourer flavor, continue fermenting for another week.
Strain the kvass and funnel it into pint‑size flip-top bottles. Discard the mandarins, but reserve the beets, if you like, and serve them as you would a pickle or other fermented vegetable. Store the kvass in the refrigerator for up to 1 year, noting that it may thicken slightly as it ages.
Creamed collard greens
There’s an old-fashioned charm to the sturdy collard green, whose tough stems and broad leathery leaves spring from garden beds throughout the year. Despite near year-round availability, collards are at their best in the cold months after the first frost, which sweetens the otherwise notoriously bitter green. Here, heavy cream and caramelized onions add luxurious sweetness to counterbalance the collards’ briny undertones.
Serves 4 t o 6
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 bunches collard greens, about 24 ounces, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Melt the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it froths, decrease the heat to medium, stir in the onion, and fry until fragrant and a bit caramelized at the edges, 6 to 8 minutes.
Toss the chopped collards into the skillet and cook, stirring until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low, stir in the heavy cream, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, until the cream is reduced by half and thickened. Sprinkle with the nutmeg and serve.