Smoked Sardines Animal Treats: Easy 1 Ingredient Recipe

I absolutely love happy accidents.  Especially when it comes to recipes.  These smoked sardines for dogs and cats were a great happy accident.  It all started because I was looking for sardines to feed my dog.  I went to an Asian market and bought a big box of them.  But when I opened the box it wasn’t full of small little sardines.  It had these big 4-6″ inch ones.  When I attempted to give it to my girl, she wouldn’t eat it.  I almost threw the box away because while I hate being wasteful, I didn’t think anyone in my home would eat them. Fast forward to my trip to the local farmers market.  While I was there I spotted a smoked dog treat stall.  Among the items I saw were the same smoked sardines I had purchased.  When I asked the women about them she said she would cut one in half to see if my dog liked it.  Well there was no issue.  She gobbled it up in seconds and didn’t have any issues eating it. So I went home that night and pulled all the sardines out of the freezer and went to work.  The neighborhood cats all came out to see what was on the smoker.  So you know it must be good.  This recipe is for cats and dogs.  It can be used both with smelt size fish all the way up to the 4-6″ sardine size.  It retains all it’s healthy omega 3 oils, but seems to be easier to eat.  These smoked sardines are a great source of protein and calcium as they can consume the bones.  Best of all it’s a simple recipe that can be made in large batches.  Keep only what you will use for about 7 days in the fridge and freeze the rest.  I would imagine this will keep for at least 6 months in the freezer. A Word of Caution When using your smoker, make sure to keep it on it’s lowest setting.  We aren’t trying to cook the bones, just smoke them.  Cooked bones aren’t good for your pets.  Low and slow is what you want.  Also, always make sure your pet can handle whatever you are feeding them.  Give small portions to start.  Safety first. How to Know When the Smoked Sardines are Done This really depends on your pet.  You can leave them softer if your animal prefers a little chew.  You can also dry them a little longer for more crunch.  So this part is up to you. This one ingredient smoked sardine recipe will make your dogs and cats go crazy. It's any easy treat that can be made any time. You won't believe how easy it is.

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Moroccan Preserved Lemons w/ Only 2 Ingredients

Have you ever wanted to make a recipe, only to realize it requires a special ingredient?  You drive to three stores across town and no one has it.  Then you go home, look it up on Google, and it’s ridiculously simple to make.  Yep, that’s Moroccan Preserved Lemons.  So hard to find, yet so easy to make.  It only requires a little bit of prep work and time.   Salt Typically, I don’t count salt as an ingredient.  Every home has it.  But in this case, I felt it was only right to count it because this recipe requires a truckload of the stuff.  I typically use kosher salt as it dissolves really well in this recipe.  You can also use sea salt.  If you’re not sure which salt to use, be sure to read my post on Types of Salt. Why So Much Salt? So you may have noticed this recipe calls for an insane amount of salt right?  Well, that’s because we are preserving the lemons, not fermenting them.  We are using the salt to stop any harmful microbes from growing, while preserving the lemons.  So yes, you really do need that much salt.  It keeps those nasty microbes away. What Can I Use Preserved Lemons For? Preserved lemons have been used for hundreds of years in North Africa.  They then spread through the Mediterranean and Middle East.  Moroccan Preserved Lemons originated out of a need to have the taste of fresh lemons all year long.  Shakshuka is one of the most popular dishes that use Preserved Lemons.  This dish is a personal favorite of mine.  But really they can be used in a multitude of dishes.  They have the ability to transform stews, tomato sauce dishes, pizzas, and more!  It’s like lemon’s funky cousin on steroids.  A little goes a long way.  So start with a little and then add more if you like.   What Kind of Lemons Should I Use? Ideally you would use a thin skinned lemon.  The closest variety in the US would be the Meyer Lemon.  However, not only are these hard to find where I live, I have a lemon tree.  It produces more lemons than I can possibly eat.  They are a thicker skinned variety and they work just fine.  So use what you have.  Once you get the hang of it, search out the thin skinned varieties.  See which you like better. Steps First put two tablespoons of kosher salt in the bottom of your jar. Then, cut one lemon to remove the stem end.  The side that would have been connected to the tree.   Once this is done you will need to cut the lemon lengthwise into fourths.  You want to try not to cut the lemon all the way through.  I have attached a picture for easy viewing.  The lemon should end up having an X or + shape pattern lengthwise.   Open the lemon where you made the cuts and put one teaspoon of kosher salt inside the lemons. Give the lemon a bit of a shimmy to move the salt around.  It’s gonna make a mess and that’s fine.  You want as much of the salt inside as possible. Turn the lemon cut side down and place in your mason jar or canning jar.  Give the lemon a firm squeeze to release a lot of the juices.  Try to release as much as you can without breaking the lemon apart. Repeat these steps with each of the lemons.  Place each lemon in the jar making sure to pack them tightly.  Fill almost to the top of the jar leaving about an inch of space.   Once filled, add two tablespoons of kosher salt to the top of jar and close the lid.  If the lemon juice does not go all the way to the top of jar, use additional lemon juice until it covers them. Give the jar a shake and leave it on your counter to rest.  Each day, for seven days, give it a shake.  After seven days, stash it in the fridge.  They won’t be fully cured for 4-6 weeks in the refrigerator.  You can use them earlier but they won’t have the same flavor. How to Use It’s important to realize that when you go to use these, you will need to first rinse the salt off.  Nobody wants that much in a dish.  Second, you will be removing the insides of the lemons.  Third, you are only going to use the peel.  So, once the skin is removed you will chop the peel very fine and add it to your dish.  Super easy! Storage Once everything is in the jar, you will need to shake these once a day for 7 days.  Then they are done.  You will notice the jar goes from clear to cloudy.  That’s totally normal.  Stash in the fridge.  These will last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year in the fridge in an airtight container.  The salt will eventually degrade the lemons and they will get very soft.  At which point I make a new batch. Morrocan Preserved Lemons are great in everything from soups to pilafs. It only needs two ingredients and time to make this umami packed flavor bomb. This recipe is so easy to make you won’t believe you didn’t do it sooner!  

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A jar filled with apple candy bites sits on top of a wooden table. Some of them have spilled out onto the table.

Raw Apple Candy Bites (2 Ingredients)

My favorite thing about these apple candies (other than eating them) is the way they make your house smell.  The incredible scent of vanilla will be everywhere in your home.  This recipe only requires two ingredients to make an addictive “candy”.  The secret to these Raw Apple Candy Bites is the vanilla.  Yes, you really are going to use that much of it!  It transforms these otherwise simple candies into something magical.  I actually can’t keep these for more than a day or two in my house.  The three pounds I made for this post lasted exactly one day.  Seriously!  They have the chew and texture of candies with none of the artificial stuff. These are nutrient dense snacks that are healthy and taste good.  Your kids will love them and so will you. Peeling These require peeling your apples.  I highly recommend using an apple peeler.  You can use a vegetable peeler as well.  However, even with a big batch of apples, this will only make a small amount of candy.  Three pounds yields about 16oz.  So you will do a lot of peeling.  An apple peeler makes a world of difference.  Plus, it gives you an excuse to make apple pie. Chopping It’s very important to make sure that you chop these as uniform as possible.  The closer in size the pieces are the better.  Keeping them about the same size will help them to dehydrate at the same speed.  If you make a lot of different sizes you will have to take some out early and leave some in longer.   Dehydrators This recipe requires a dehydrator.  I really prefer a dehydrator with a thermostat on it.  My favorite are the Excalibur Dehydrators.  A lot of dehydrators get way too hot for this recipe.  But if that’s all you have, go for it.  The apples won’t be quite as chewy.  But they will still taste great.  I haven’t put these in the oven so I don’t currently have an option for that.  If someone wants to do it and post it in the comments section for the rest of us, feel free.   Vanilla Use the best quality vanilla you can afford or find.  This recipe is really all about the vanilla.  Do not use vanillin or artificial vanilla which is made from things like old wood.  Remember the simpler the recipe the better your ingredients should be.   Apples I have tried this recipe with every kind of apple and it tastes good with all of them.  Use your favorite variety and you can’t go wrong.  Granny Smiths will have a more sour candy flavor, while red apples will provide more sugar content for a sweeter candy. Final Thoughts These Raw Apple Candy Bites are great eaten as is.  I secretly eat them like popcorn during my favorite movie.  However, they are also wonderful additions to trail mixes, in lunch boxes for snacks and in muffins.  This recipe is a great way to introduce kids to a non candy alternative.  For other kid friendly recipes, be sure to check out my Strawberry Delight Lassi. I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe.  Let me know what you think.   This incredibly easy recipe is vegan, paleo, raw and dairy free. It’s so easy to make and tastes incredible. You just need apples and vanilla.

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Pickled Jalapeños Water Bath Canning Recipe

What’s a girl to do when she plants way more jalapeños in her garden than she can possibly eat?  Make pickled jalapeños obviously!  These are absolutely perfect on nachos, burgers, hotdogs and chili.  It’s a great beginners canning recipe.  It only takes a few minutes of prep work and your ready to go. I love this pickled jalapeños recipe because it is super versatile.  You can use just about any chili pepper you have lying around.  My garden changes every year.  Sometimes I have Jalapeños and sometimes Anaheim chilies.  So just use your favorites. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting to eat them.  You can eat them within a few days, but they are way better after a they have sat a few weeks. A Word About Pickle Crisp If you have never used Pickle Crisp fear not!  Pickle Crisp is basically just Calcium Chloride.  It’s a type of salt that looks like white granules.  It keeps things like pickles from getting soft and soggy in the jar.  The Pickle Crisp is not required.  Just know that if you choose not to use it, your peppers will be soft and not crisp.  Also, be aware that adding too much Pickle Crisp or extra salt will cause your recipe to taste like the sea.  Use wisely. Water Bath Canning You do not have to water bath can these pickled jalapeños if you are planning on eating them within a few days.  I like to can them so that I have them all year long.  They will last up to a year which is perfect since chilies are ripe about the same time every year. If you have minimal or no prior experience with water bath canning please make sure to read my post on it.  You can find step by step instructions here: Water Bath Canning Basics w/ Free Printable Guide You can find additional canning information on the National Center for Home Food Preservation Website Feel free to let me know how the recipes go. This is a great introductory recipe to learn water bath canning. It requires only 4 ingredients to make. Once made, it will last all year long. You will never by store bought pickled jalapeños again.

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Water Bath Canning Basics w/ Free Printable Guide

When people hear the word “canning” they instantly begin to worry.  I know I didn’t try it for years because it seemed so intimidating.  But water bath canning really isn’t that difficult to master.  All you need is the right tools and a little bit of preparation. Most people have many of the tools needed to do water bath canning already.  Trust me, if I can do it, so can you. The first thing you need to know is that there are foods that are safe to water bath can, and there are foods that are not.  Also, there are foods that should never be canned at all.  Like cake.  Yes people really have attempted this!  Only high acid foods can be safely water bath canned. Everything else that can be safely canned will need a pressure canner.  Pressure canning is a topic for a different day.  The following foods can be safely water bath canned:   If you have never done any canning before I highly encourage you to go to the National Center for Home Canning Food Preservation (NCHCFP) website at:  I’m a home cook.  These guys are the professionals.  They have so much information on canning.  It’s well worth taking a look. Tools for Canning There are many different tools all over the internet for canning.  Some of them are necessary, some are splurges and some you could really do without.  While the $400 pressure canner is nice, you don’t need it right now.  Today we are only going to discuss the items that you really need to begin water bath canning. You will need: Large Stock Pot with a lid or water bath canning pot (at least double the height of your largest canning jar) Canning rack that fits inside the bottom of your pot (I use a circular stainless steel cookie rack) A small pot A Kitchen Scale Funnel that fits both a standard and wide mouth jar Canning tongs (AKA a Jar Lifter) Chopstick or Bubble popper tool (many have headspace measurers on them) Headspace measuring tool or ruler Magnetic lid lifter White Vinegar Mason jars (new jars are easier for first time canners as are the wide mouth version) Paper towels or very clean cotton towels Stainless Steel Utensils This is not a must but I definitely feel it’s worth mentioning.  When I first started out I purchased a standard canning kit.  Almost all of the parts were plastic.  What I didn’t know was that most of them were not heatproof.  Many of the parts ended up going bad or melting.  Some of the melted pieces even ended up getting sealed into my jam (seriously!).  Since the plastic jam incident, I replaced most of my canning hardware with stainless steel versions.  Yes it’s a little more expensive.  Yes, it’s worth it.  I’m pretty sure my funnel will outlive me and I won’t be feeding my friends plastic.  They don’t know it, but they’re thanking me for it.  As an added bonus, I can sanitize the daylights out of it.  If you can’t afford the nicer hardware or you just aren’t sure if you want to commit to canning, then purchase the starter set.  Just make sure you wash it well and don’t leave it in boiling water for too long.  Sanitization The most important thing you can do when canning is to sanitize your work area.  Take the time to make sure your workstation is clean and neat.  Set up a simple area that has everything you need.  The last thing you want to do is stop in the middle of jam making to search for your canning funnel.  Yes I have done it and it causes unneeded stress.  Pull everything out and have your work station ready.  Once your work station is clean you need to make sure anything you are using is clean and/or sterilized as well.  These include your canning funnels and labels. Next you want to sterilize your canning jars.  The nice thing about purchasing new jars is that they come pre-sterilized.  So all you need to do to clean them is wash them in warm, soapy water and they are good to go.  Also, per the NCHCFP you do not need to sterilize canning jars that will be canned for longer than 10 minutes. How to do it 1) Take your large stock pot and fill it with water.  Fill the pot at least to where the jars will sit.  Add your rack and two tablespoons of white vinegar.  The vinegar keeps the minerals in the water from sticking to your jars and pots.  Unless you plan on using distilled water you will end up with ugly, spotted jars you just have to clean later.  It’s my favorite trick to keeping my jars spotless.   2) Put your canning jars in the large pot before you turn on the stove.  Never put cold jars into hot water or you risk cracking and breaking them.  If you will be doing multiple canning batches, run the second batch of jars under warm water just before putting them in your canner.  This will help keep them from being too cold when you put them in.  Turn the stove on and bring to a boil with the lid on.  Once you hit a boil, turn the stove down until you are ready to use.  If you are sanitizing jars, you will need to do that first before turning down the stove. 3) Fill a second smaller pot with water and a splash of vinegar.  Set on high to boil.  This will be your pot for your lid rings to go in as well as any other tools that need to be sanitized.  Boil for 10 minutes to sterilize.  Then turn down to warm.  Just let them sit in the water until you are ready to use them.  Again you want everything to be about the same temperature.  4) Once your food is ready to be canned, take your tongs and carefully remove one

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A white pie dish filled with Garlic Confit. Garlic confit is a mix of olive oil, fresh garlic and herbs. The herbs are rosemary.

Beyond Easy Herbed Garlic Confit (2 in 1 Recipe)

  In the world of preserving foods most people know about canning and pickling.  But there is a long standing tradition in many cultures of preserving foods in oil as well.  One of my favorite recipes is a very simple one called Garlic Confit.  I love this recipe because it’s basically two recipes in one.  You get the joy of the actual garlic.  It’s soft and buttery.  Then you get an herb infused oil that can be used in a multitude of dishes.  Garlic Confit is like hitting the culinary lottery.  Two recipes from 2 or 3 ingredients.  Amazing.  Not to mention, the smell of this recipe when it’s cooking is incredible. Basically you take cloves of garlic and slowly cook them submerged in oil.  You cook them in the oven on low heat until fully tender.  You want a low and slow cooking method for this.  This low heat prevents the oil from overheating and breaking down.  It also preserves the garlic.  The pieces will be very tender and can be used in all kinds of recipes.  Fresh Garlic Vs. Peeled You can use fresh cloves of garlic or you can use pre peeled.  Either will work fine.  I have made this with fresh and pre-peeled and I can honestly say I would use pre-peeled.  Unless you really are one of those people who are extremely particular about freshness.  While it’s true that fresher will taste better, it’s a lot of work.  I mean a lot!  It took me an hour and a half to peel the garlic for this recipe.  It takes 30 seconds to open the pre-peeled.  The decisions up to you. Using Herbs to Infuse the Oil The oil can be used for many applications as well.  My favorite being rosemary garlic potatoes.  So in this recipe we will use fresh rosemary sprigs.  I find fresh herbs are easier to remove.  If you wanted to keep this recipe really simple, you could skip the herbs altogether.  But don’t be afraid to use any of your favorite herbs.  It makes such fantastic oil when you do.  You could use dry herbs but they will end up needing to be strained from your final product.  As long as you don’t mind that, go for it. Some of my favorite herb combinations are: Basil Oregano Rosemary Herbs de Provence Thyme Fresh chili peppers How to Make Garlic Confit Start by putting your peeled garlic in a baking pan.  Put in equal parts oil, or enough to completely cover your garlic.  Add your herbs and spices and cook low and slow for an hour and a half.  Make sure to check on these half way through.  If any of the cloves are not under the oil during cooking.  Stir them in.  You want to start checking if they are done after about an hour.  I find an hour and a half works well.    They are done once they can be easily pierced with a knife.  They should be soft but not mushy.  Once they are done remove any herbs and discard. An Important Word About Storage This is super important.  Once these cool, they must be stored in the refrigerator completely covered with the oil to prevent botulism.  If the olive oil solidifies its fine.  You can leave it on the counter to soften.  You can also run it under warm water as well. Just remember to put back in the fridge. When stored properly with the oil fully covering the garlic, these will last 4 weeks or more in the fridge.  But If they start to look off or smell off after any length of time in your fridge, toss them.  I repeat toss them!   This rule applies to most foods, but especially garlic and oil. If you are concerned about not using them fast enough, you can leave a small portion in the fridge and freeze the rest in an airtight container.  It should last 6+ months in the freezer.    Be sure to check out my other oil recipe for Lactose and Casein Free Butter Oil. Herbed Garlic Confit is an easy to make and highly versatile recipe. It makes both a wonderful flavored garlic that can be used on everything from garlic bread to stews. It also makes an incredible infused oil that can be used to make salad dressings and a flavored oil for everyday dishes. It only takes a little bit of prep and some patience.

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A bowl of pickled onions sitting on a table

My Favorite Raw Pickled Red Onion Recipe

I fell in love with onions on a trip abroad many years ago. Everywhere we went they had cheese and onion sandwiches. Sounds gross, I know. But we got so many of them we fell in love with them.  Fast forward to my pregnancy years later and I could no longer eat onions. Not red or white. This went on for years. It didn’t matter if you cooked them or they were raw. I would always get sick to my stomach.  Now many years later I still can’t eat them raw. I can however eat raw pickled onions. This recipe is such a quick and simple raw version of Quick Pickled Red Onions. It requires almost no ingredients and can be made the night before. It is gut friendly because of the apple cider vinegar and raw honey. It makes the onions easier to digest. I’m going to include instructions for the raw version as well as a faster blanched version to save time. Recommendations and Adjustments When I make this I use raw honey as the sweetener. It just ups the nutritional factor. It changes the flavor in a way I really like as well.  It’s also another food that is alive. Which is so very important to our bodies. I tried to balance the vinegar with the sweetness. You could adjust this anywhere from 1 TBS to 2 TBS depending on how sweet you like your pickles.  Finally I recommend using kosher salt. Kosher salt is best in this recipe as it dissolves rapidly without applying tons of heat. Other salts will work but may be gritty. Try to find a finely ground one so that it will dissolve easier.  If you are unsure on which Type of Salt to use be sure to read my post all about salts HERE. Once you slice the onion thinly put it in your favorite canning jar.  I prefer a wide mouth jar for this application.  Add all the other ingredients to a separate pot and turn the stove on for one minute. Just long enough to warm them but not cook them. Stir everything well to dissolve. If you have a little salt at the bottom it’s fine. Add this liquid to your onions. Lid up and stash in the fridge 1-3 days for best results.   Vegan Option To make this vegan replace the honey with organic cane sugar or maple syrup.  It will alter the flavor of the final product depending on which you use.  Sugar will be more neutral than the maple syrup. Raw or Quick If the raw factor doesn’t matter to you or you just need these done fast for a gathering, follow the above recipe. Instead of leaving them on the stove for a minute, turn the heat on medium and bring all the ingredients to a simmer. Then pour over the onions while still hot. Leave 15 minutes and then you are done.  I’ve made this recipe both ways and it works just fine. This recipe will keep in the fridge for a month or more.  I can’t keep it in the house longer than that.  It gets eaten to fast.  You can also reuse the brine several times before it loses quality.  Just get more onions and repeat.  Super easy. This recipe is raw, paleo, dairy free, vegetarian and can easily be made vegan.  Put it on anything and everything.  It’s good on tacos, in burritos, hamburgers, poutine, egg dishes, Pozole, soups and stews.  Let me know what you use it on.  If you make any mods that are amazing,  I’d love to know. This is an easy to make Pickled Red Onion Recipe. It has only three ingredients and can easily be made vegan. These pickled onions are great on everything from hotdogs to tacos.

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Different Glass Fermentation Weights being displayed to show the differences.

What are Fermentation Weights and How To Use Them?

  So if you haven’t already guessed it, I am a big fan of fermentation.  We spend so much time buying supplements like probiotics to keep us healthy.  We forget many times that food is medicine.  When we make our own live ferments, the probiotics are fresh and very alive.  The problem is fermenting has rules.  That’s where fermentation weights come in. What Are Fermentation Weights? Fermentation weights are simply a heavy, non porous object that weighs your food that is fermenting down.  Food that is exposed to oxygen breeds bacteria and mold.  So pushing your food under the brine or liquid you are using keeps it free from those elements.  This allows the healthy bacteria to do there job without exposing you to the nastys. You could use anything for this job.  Something as primitive as a sanitized rock a plastic bag will work.  Many people use plastic bag filled with water as a weight.  I have tried them all and while they are mostly successful, they are not my favorite way. Types of Weights We are only going to talk about a few easy to find, easy to use weights in this post.  They are: Glass Fermentation Weights (No Handles) Glass Fermentation Weights (With Handles) Stoneware Weights   Glass Fermentation Weights (No Handles) Glass fermentation weights without handles look like glass hockey pucks.  They are a solid piece of glass with the edges smoothed.  The pros to this style are that they are extremely easy to clean.  They can be ordered in both wide mouth and standard mouth jars.  You can purchase in bulk so if you do a lot of fermenting like I do, you can save money by buying more at once.  These have come down quite a lot in price since I purchased them years ago.  So a bulk pack of six fermentation weights without handles is under $20.  The cons to this style is that they are very slippery.  I mean very slippery.  It’s like trying to grab a fish out of a pond.  Also, they are not dishwasher safe as my husband can attest to.  But other than that they work well. Glass Fermentation Weights (With Handles) Glass fermentation weights with handles come in several designs.  They are made so that they can be easily picked up out of the jar without too much difficulty.  The kind I have are made with grooves in them for easy pick up.  But they also manufacture ones with a little handle.   Here’s the problem I have with these.  First, they are no more easy to get out of the jar than the flat disks.  Once, they are wet it’s still a slippery piece of glass.  Second, they cost more and are not significantly more effective.  Third, maybe i am the only person to have this happen to them but I find the grooves get mold trapped in between them.  I have lost several ferments this way.  I find myself turning them upside down to make them flat like my weights without handles.  This prevents the mold but completely defeats having the handle.  Fourth, due to the grooves it’s more challenging to keep clean. Stoneware Fermentation Weights Stoneware fermentation weights are designed for crocks.  They usually come with two half moon shaped pieces that sit inside the crock.  They can be used in any container so if you have one already but don’t have a crock, don’t stress.  The biggest drawback to these is that they are usually quite large because the crocks are bigger than mason jars.  They may not fit a standard size canning jar.  Also these are very expensive because they are made of stone.  They cost on average the same price for one as a pack of six of the glass weights. Final Thoughts If I had to choose just one type of fermentation weight, I would choose the plain glass fermentation weights without handles.  They are inexpensive, easy to clean and reusable for as long as you take care of them.  These work perfectly inside any of the airlock jars or mason jars.  If you haven’t heard of an airlock jar make sure to read my post on them HERE.  While they are a little difficult to remove from their containers, it’s a small price to pay for how well they work. Just make sure to have the right size weight for the right size jar.  Let me know what kind of weights are your favorite.

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A variety of Fermentation Jars on a table to show the differences.

Fermentation Jars and Lids

  When I first started fermenting in jars, everything I made came out moldy or gross.  It’s amazing I didn’t give up.  Most fermentation of old was done in dark cool places.  This does not describe where I live.  It’s hot and it’s dry.  It’s not an easy place to ferment foods.  Then one day I discovered fermentation jars and lids and my whole world changed.   If you have never tried these, you’re missing out.  There are many different kinds which we will talk about.  I’ll also talk about my favorite. Types of Jars There are a few types of these jars and lids readily available on the internet.  So if you can’t find them near your house, you can get them shipped to you.  They are: Fermentation CrockBubbling Airlock Lids and JarsSuction Style Airlock LidsPickle Pipes Fermentation Crocks Fermentation crocks are the original fermentation jars made of either ceramic, stoneware or earthenware jars most of the time.  They sort of look like cookie jars with or without lids.  They can also come weighted or without weights.  Some of them can be sealed with water to make them airtight as well.   If used properly these can last for years and produce wonderful ferments.  There is a reason they have stood the test of time.  There are some downsides to them.  They are the most expensive of the group especially if you get a good quality one.  They are not as no fuss as some of the other options either.  You must check on your crock and remove scum from the top as you ferment if its not water sealed.  There is definitely a learning curve to getting these right.   The nice thing is that fermentation crocks are easy to clean and sanitize.  They are made to last for years so you won’t need to replace it unless you damage or break it. Bubbling Airlock Lids and Jars These are an amazing invention.  The bubbling airlock can consist of a jar and separate lid combo which is usually attached to a mason jar.  It can also be one complete jar and lid unit.  It can have a single bubbler or a double.  The main thing you are looking for is quality.  Make sure the lids contain a seal inside the lid and that all the components fit together tightly. Once the airlock jar is sealed, gases form inside the jar from the fermentation process.  Those gases push up and force oxygen out through the bubbler which gets expelled outside of the jar.  This creates an extremely low oxygen environment and prevents mold growth.   I absolutely love these jars and lids.  I use them all the time.  They are the jars I used to make my Fermented Chopped Garlic recipe.  They are my go to fermentation jar.  The only time I have ever had one fail was from user error.  I overfilled my jar and it exploded through the bubbler.  My bad! They are easy to clean and maintain.  They last a long time if properly cared for.  The only negative is that there are a lot of parts, but even that is worth it. Suction Style Airlock Lids Suction style airlock lids are a newer take on the airlock lid.  They are a screw on lid that goes on your mason jar at home.  They have a gasket ring on the inside to seal the jar similar to the airlock.  Once you have the lid on you use a suction pump (like a reverse bicycle air pump) to pull out the remaining oxygen from the jar.  As the jar ferments, gasses are allowed to escape through the one way valve you use to suction out the air.  Again similar to the airlock jars.  Some of them even have dials on them that let you know when you started your ferment. I have a set of these and they definitely work.  Although I do have the occasional jar fail.  I find that certain ferments work better in this jar than others.  The nicest part about these is that they are definitely more space saving than the crocks or the airlock jars.  Which is really nice if you have a small house.  Suction style airlock lids are also really easy to clean.  The main drawback to these are price.  They cost almost double what the airlock jars do.   Pickle Pipes I had my first experience with Pickle Pipes at my cousins house where she was fermenting some food.  I thought these were fascinating.  It’s a small ring of silicone with a nipple on the top kind of like a baby bottle.  You can attach it to any mason jar to turn it into a fermentation jar.  My cousin just loved them and they worked great for her. So I ran home and bought a set of Pickle Pipes.  I love the design.  They take up almost no space and are almost stackable.  They cost about the same as the airlock lids.  So I gave them a go and immediately had mold growing within a few days.  I assumed this was user error so I tried another batch.  Mold again.   What I think is happening is that while these are referred to as airlock lids, they do not keep as much out as an actual airlock jar or suction style lid.  The other problem is the climate I live in.  It’s already not a great environment for fermentation.  Which is why I think they work so well for my cousin.  She lives in a much cooler area in the mountains.   So while I think these probably work great for some people, they aren’t for everyone. Final Thoughts So the truth is you can ferment in any jar with a little work.  But I’m lazy and I like a very low rate of failure when I ferment foods.  It takes time, energy and money to produce them.  I personally hate throwing them away.  So while any of these

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Himalayan Pink Salt being poured into a wooden bowl.

What Type of Salt Should I Use?

  I never really understood the importance of salt until the day my mother was hospitalized with an auto immune disorder. Her body started to purge all the salt in her. She began to swell up and she nearly died. Turns out you really can’t live without salt. So you could say my family is now a little obsessed with salt. With that in mind, lets talk about types of salt today. So most people have plain old salt. You know the one with the little girl holding the umbrella. It’s also called table salt. It is usually processed from underground mines and then cleaned to removed impurities. After which it is fortified with iodine to help people with thyroid function. I do not keep this salt in my house. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I do have it. I just use it to clean my cast iron skillets. Nutritionally, there really isn’t anything wrong with table salt. It is salt after all. But I’m not fond of it in cooking. I find it gets saltier tasting as you cook with it. Personally, I can taste the differences in types of salt. I also like my foods to be as nutrient dense as possible. So I choose other forms. How do I decide which? Well, lets talk about a few. Himalayian Pink Salt Himalayan Pink salt is such a pretty color. It has up to 84 trace minerals that are not found in table salt. One of these, iron in particular, gives it that pretty pink color. It also contains calcium and potassium. It’s also a minimally processed food which helps it to retain minerals. It comes from a salt mine near Pakistan. This can be used in place of regular table salt. But keep in mind, there are many different grinds of this salt. Everything from course to super fine. You will need to adjust the salt based on the size of the grind. The finer the grind, the less you need. Kosher Salt Kosher salt is another minimally processed salt. It mostly comes from salt deposits. This helps it to retain its white color. It’s a course salt with uneven grains. It has no added ingredients, iodine, minerals or otherwise. These lack of ingredients and it’s crunchy texture are what make its flavor so appealing to chefs. It creates a light flavor of salt in food. My favorite place to use it is for foods that will have a long cooking time such as soups. This salt never gets saltier as you cook. So what you put in, is what it tastes like from beginning to end. It’s also my choice of salt for pickling foods as well as brining. This is the salt I use for my Fermented Garlic Recipe.  Let’s not forget those margaritas. Kosher is the salt for this application as well. Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt I first tasted this fantastic Alaea salt on my trip to Hawaii. It is sometimes referred to as Hawaiian table salt. It it a beautiful red color which makes it easy to identify. It’s typically extracted from lava veins in Hawaii. It contains up to 80 natural elements, electrolytes and trace minerals, like potassium and magnesium. Red alaea is also rich in iron oxides, which makes for a great digestible form of dietary iron. It has an earthy flavor profile. It’s typically a larger grain of salt which gives it a crunch when you bite into it. My favorite way to eat this is as the Hawaiians do, on top of fruit. It is absolutely fantastic on things like pineapples and watermelon. In Hawaii it is used as both a finishing salt as well as a salt to preserve foods. It’s a staple in Kalua Pig. Hawaiian Black Sea Salt Known in Hawaii as Hiwa Kai this is a pacific sea salt that is typically mixed with activated charcoal derived from coconut shells. It has all the benefits of natural sea salt with the added benefits of activated charcoal. Charcoal is naturally a detoxifier. It can help to assist the kidneys in filtering toxins. It can help with intestinal gas and diarrhea. I use this mostly as a finishing salt. It has an awesome black color that looks great on food. As far as taste, it tends to have a more earthy flavor due to the charcoal. No surprise. Maldon Flake Salt Maldon salt is a gourmet sea salt that has been harvested from the Blackwater estuary in the English town of Maldon since ancient times. It literally looks like flakes of snow. If that snow were shaped like a pyramid. It’s not overpoweringly salty. It’s prized for not only it’s extremely crunchy texture. But also for it’s lightness. I absolutely love this salt. It’s hard to describe, but it doesn’t taste like any other kind. It’s not as salty tasting and the crunch is lovely. I use this for all kinds of things. It’s unique shape and subtle flavor is not meant to be cooked with. This is a true finishing salt. This is the salt meant to go on top of your carmels and your favorite ice cream. It’s a crunchy salty topping for your salads. It is fabulous on popcorn. Things to Keep in Perspective When we are talking about the nutritional value of salt, it’s important to keep in mind we are talking about very small amounts. Trace amounts in fact. No one is eating buckets full of the stuff. However, in my humble opinion, every little bit helps. We humans do not get enough nutrition in our diets even at the best of times. So if I can increase that, no matter how small, I will. Lots of small things equal big things later. Which Salt Should I Use? The answer is, all of them. All of these salts have their own unique flavor profiles and uses. Some are meant to cook with and some are meant to go on top of

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