I can't blame him, because I keep increasing the number of things I ferment. It's just so easy to add more when you're in the routine of making some!
Fermenting foods means I make so many of the things I used to buy: here we've got ranch dressing, fermented sweet potato baby food, water kefir, and pickles. Buttermilk is hiding back there, too. Our fridge used to hold a variety of bottles and jars. Colors and shapes of all kinds! There were words and pictures all over everything. Now we've got glass jars. Even our milk is in jars, as you can see.
It all started with yogurt, and then snowballed into a long list of foods that I culture:
buttermilk, water kefir, sourdough, saurkraut, beet kvass, creme fraiche, jam, dressings, all our bread-y foods. There are more I could make, but don't do it regularly: cream cheese, butter, ketchup, mayo, ginger ale.
Why bother? Why not buy pickles and buttermilk? Money's the big incentive that got me started: when I learned to make yogurt, I could have a half gallon for just $1.75, the cost of the milk at a nearby dairy. We were buying Cabot's quart of plain yogurt for $5, so that motivated me to try homemade! That's twice as much as Cabot's, for so much less! My friend Elke told me that she made yogurt, and Katie's wonderful tutorial here gave me the easiest method when I was trying different ways to make it.
Buttermilk is wonderful in pancakes, biscuits, waffles and salad dressings. But we stick to a really low food budget, so I never bought it. It seemed like an unnecessary expense, so I subbed milk or milk mixed with vinegar when a recipe called for it. Then I read how to make it: mix a little cultured buttermilk into some raw milk, then leave it on the counter for a day. It can't be that easy, I thought. But it worked. Hello, ranch dressing and fluffy biscuits! Bonus: the cream that forms on the top is creme fraiche (like a sweet version of sour cream), which I scoop off and use as a topping on lots of foods. Sometimes I just eat it plain, because it's so delicious.
Another big incentive in making cultured foods is the health impact. Probiotics are all the rage, with a hefty price tag for the good brands. Most Americans' only probiotic food is yogurt, but it's easy to get tons of different strains in all sorts of foods. Water kefir, for example, can have dozens of strains of them, and it costs me about 50 cents a half gallon to make! For the first few years of marriage, we never bought drinks, except milk, because water sufficed. But at this price, water kefir is fine, AND it gives us healthy immune systems and great digestion! Culturesforhealth.com has great articles on the value of probiotics.
The last incentive for making more fermented foods is the simplicity. I love simple things! Water kefir involves stirring the little kefir culture into sugar water. No heating, no prep. Just stir it in. Sourdough bread involves stirring flour, water and the starter (which is flour and water) together, and later pouring it into a pan and baking. I use one measuring cup, one spoon. No kneading, no messy counter, no watching the rise period. Vegetables are fermented by placing them in a jar and covering with salt water, or whey and water. Sometimes spices are used, but not always. Simple! People say they don't know how I make so many homemade foods with four kids in the house. But that whopping 30 seconds for kefir, minute or two for sourdough, and few minutes for veggies doesn't cause any strain at all! I could do all three in a row in less time than my kids can get themselves dressed in winter gear to go outside.
Cheap, healthy, easy! Your great-grandmother probably did these things every day, before the big food companies told everyone that they didn't have time to make these things.