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Sima? What? Why?

by Jerri Vappu (May Day) is celebrated May 1st in Finland, usually for an entire week. It's said this Finnish holiday rivals that of Christmas and Easter! Banks and government offices (liquor stores too!) are all closed. Originally in the 1700s, the upper class would go horseback riding to enjoy the new greenness of spring “ since the 1800s, it morphed into university students celebrating academic achievements. Today it also includes workers, with everyone celebrating not only students' successes, but the current spring weather and the coming of the summer solstice. Celebrations actually start on April 30th, vappuaatto, or Vappu Eve. This is when the statue symbolic of Helsinki, The Daughter of the Baltic Sea (Havis Amanda), is cleaned and...

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Which Sugar Should I Use for Water Kefir?

There are many choices when it comes to sugar - what you decide to use depends on your desired result. Rapadura is the least refined sugar. It's produced by pressing the pure juice from the sugar cane, then cooking at low temps to evaporate the water off. The end product still includes the molasses, which holds all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Because of this, it has a stronger molasses-like flavor.  Rapadura is slower to metabolize, unlike more refined sugars, making it a better choice health-wise. Demerara, turbinado and muscovado are more processed than rapadura. The molasses has been removed during crystal formation. Then some is added back in for nutrients and color. Chemicals are sometimes used in the...

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Choose Your Milk for Making Yogurt

by Suzanne Pasteurized? Homogenized? Grass-fed? How do you choose the best milk for making yogurt? What is Pasteurized Milk? Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to kill bacteria, making the milk stay fresh longer. While this process may have made milk easier to transport long distances, it may not be the best for milk you're going to use to make yogurt. There are different types of pasteurization, so be sure to check the carton before you buy! HTST or Flash Pasteurized milk is heated to 161ºF and held there for 15 seconds. If your bottle of milk is labeled simply Pasteurized, it has most likely been treated in this way. Pasteurized milk is a great choice for making your...

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Water Kefir Ginger Ale

by Suzanne Water kefir ginger ale is one of my favorite fizzy drinks. It brings back memories of staying home from school with a sore throat, lying on the couch watching old movies on TV, with Mom taking care of me and serving a cool glass of ginger ale with a straw! Thinking back to those good old days made me crave a tall glass of ginger ale. I just knew I could make it fermented, too. First I made ginger tea: Bring 8 cups water to a full boil. Add …“-­½ cup of chopped fresh ginger, no need to peel it. Reduce heat, simmer for 15-­20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1½ cups sugar. I like to use rapadura for the rich flavor. Cool completely. Strain into a gallon jar. Next, I fermented the sweet ginger tea: Add 1 quart finished, unflavored water kefir and enough cool, filtered water to fill the jar about an inch from the top. Cover with a cloth, secured by a rubber band, just like making water kefir. Let that ginger water kefir ferment ­2 days at room temperature. You should be able to see some bubbles or foam on top at this point. Then I bottled the fermented ginger ale: After 2 days, bottle the liquid in tightly ­sealed bottles. Ferment on the counter-top another 12-­24 hours before refrigerating. I like to open one bottle as a test before refrigerating, just to make sure it's fizzy. If not, I let the sealeed bottles...

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