Soaked Oats for Crepe Lovers

Quick and easy gluten-free crepes with no expensive ingredientsRemember those good ol’ fermented oats we made a while back? Well, here’s another way to eat them! I like to get protein in the morning (normally I don’t eat any grains at all in the am, but hey, the family is coming to visit soon and they’re all day grain types), so I thought making them into an egg-containing dish would do the trick for my satiety.

Crepe or Blintz? Either way, they're gluten-free and nutrient rich.

Crepe or Blintz? Either way, they’re gluten-free and nutrient rich.

These have all the benefits of the soaked oats themselves with the additional value of being stuff-able. In my family’s Ukranian/Polish tradition, that means sweet cheese and/or cherries, but I like to health it up just the tiniest bit, because canned pie filling is not a breakfast food in our thoroughly American house.

Gluten-free crepes are easy to make.

Whole Oat Crepes filled with, from the left: Fermented peach sauce, lemon zest and coconut sugar, ricotta whipped with cream cheese.

If you’ve never made crepes before, it’s all in the wrist. I’ve learned this from enough French mamas (not pros, just ladies who have a crepe tradition) to know that if you’re using the right (see also: small) amount of batter and a non-stick pan,* and you’re speedy, you’ll have excellent crepes. Except for the first one. The first one is always a mess, and that’s a great excuse to eat it while you’re standing at the stove.

Gluten-free blintz recipe for health and flavor

You can skip the filling of these gluten-free oat crepes altogether, or skip the sweetener in the batter and add a savory filling.

Soaked Oats Gluten-free Crepes

Serves 2 (approximately 6 small crepes)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of finished soaked oats (follow link for recipe)
  • 1/4 cup milk (preferably whole)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple or birch syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil

How-To

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree oats and milk together until a smooth batter is formed. Add egg and syrup and blend very briefly, just until a uniform mixture has formed.
  2. Put butter in a small, non-stick skillet and set over medium-high heat until butter has melted. Add 1/4 cup of batter and immediately lift and tilt the pan, until the batter is in a thin layer that totally coats the bottom of the pan.
  3. Place the pan back over heat as quickly as possible, and look for bubbles to pop through. When you can shake the pan and the crepe slides around as a whole, it’s ready to be flipped. This takes about a minute on my gas stove, but it will take longer on an electric stove.
  4. Flip the crepe and let the other side cook for about 30 seconds, again, until the whole thing slides easily around the pan. Slide the crepe out onto a plate and repeat with remaining batter.
  5. Fill with your choice of filling (fruit, nut butters, chocolate chips if you’re splurging and enjoy warm.

*Sorry, nonstick haters, I feel you, but I have yet to find a substitute (nice try, cast iron) that does the trick, so I don’t sweat it for the occasional crepe batch.

Fermented Blintz in a pan

This guy is ready to flip. The larger air bubbles aren’t particularly desirable, but the little bubbles tell you it’s ready for flipping.

Fermented Gluten Free Crepe

This oat crepe is all done! Slide it out of the pan and chow down!

Probiotic Plum Shiso Soda

Make Your Own Fermented Soda

Come on! Is there anything better than hot pink, probiotic fizz?

I was not planning on sharing this recipe but the richness of the fizzified shiso and the color of this beaut swayed me to share. This was a backup soda that I tested for an upcoming fermentation dinner I’m doing (very exciting!) with Food Underground,* but after just a couple test batches I’m a convert.

If you read this blog or have taken soda classes with me in the past, you probably know that I grow and love purple shiso. I think it adds that je ne sais quoi to my potluck soda offerings and to many other ferments. And while all sodas are not probiotic, not even all fermented ones, this one is made with kefir whey, so it is. For a vegan or dairy-free version, try using something like this fermented bulgur liquid or  finished water kefir or coconut water kefir in place of kefir whey, but do be aware that they have the potential to impact the flavor more than the relatively neutral tasting kefir whey.

As for plums, I like to use a sweet/tart plum variety for soda. Santa Rosa plums are my favorite (I will admit that it’s in part because they’re GORGEOUS), but just about any plum will do. Go for purple or red varieties to get that bright red hue.

Probiotic Pop Plum Shiso Soda

Plum Shiso Soda Recipe

Yield: 4 liters 

This soda will age nicely (and eventually become wine) in the fridge, however remember that any time you’re bottling without measuring the conversion of sugar into alcohol (and especially when you’re intentionally leaving fermentable sugars in there for carbonation and sweetness), there is a risk of explosion. Explosions are not a joke, and exploding glass bottles are seriously dangerous. For that reason, I always bottle soda in plastic bottles. Recycled two liters are excellent vessels, and they’re intended to keep the carbonation trapped, so they’re less prone to explosions and leaks, and more apt to give you a delightfully bubbly soda. I soak mine overnight with soapy water to get the flavors of the soda out of the vessel, and then rinse thoroughly with cool water to get the soap out.

Overflowing bottle of homemade soda

Do take care when opening fermented sodas. There are plenty of sugars left to ferment when you bottle, so they’ll geyser if you let them!

Equipment
  • 1-gallon or larger crock or open container**
  • Long wooden or plastic spoon
  • Fine- or medium-mesh strainer
  • Funnel
  • Two 2 liter bottles that seal well enough to trap carbonation (see headnote)
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds plums (seconds are great for this!)
  • 1/2 cup packed shiso leaves (okay to leave the stems on)
  • 2 cups cane sugar (or more to taste)
  • 8 cups filtered water, plus more to fill bottles
  • 1/2 cup kefir whey
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (or more to taste)
How-to
  1. Gently rinse plums and shiso in cool water. Roughly chop plums and compost their pits.
  2. Put plums into a 1-gallon or larger vessel and toss with sugar. Allow to macerate for an hour or so, until the plums are steeping their own juice. Add shiso and toss it all together. Pour in 8 cups of filtered water, kefir whey and lemon juice. If you overfill your vessel, you’ll be quite unhappy later, so try to keep it to about half full.
  3. Using a long and strong wooden or plastic spoon, stir vigorously, creating a tornado-like vortex in the center of your container. If you overfilled, this is when you’ll feel it: when the contents of your crock spill out onto the countertops. Stirring is an incredibly important step. At this stage, the yeast want oxygen to be active and replicate, and stirring is how you give them that air supply. Continue stirring as vigorously and as frequently as you can, a minimum of twice a day. The more you stir, the sooner your ferment will become active and the sooner you get to drink it!
  4. Cover the container with a kitchen cloth and rubber band. At this stage, you want air in, but no dust or passing buggies. Depending on temperature, how frequently and vigorously you stir, how fresh your kefir whey was and how concerned you are with alcohol content (shorter fermentation for less booze), you’ll continue stirring and recovering for 12 hours to 3 days.
  5. When the plums and shiso have risen to surface and you see a lot of bubbling when you stir, you’re almost ready for bottling. Strain out the plums and shiso and reserve for another use or compost. Taste the liquid with a clean spoon (don’t double dip). If it needs a bit more acid, add some lemon juice, a tablespoon at a time. If it’s not quite sweet enough after those first, sugar-devouring days of fermentation, add a bit more sugar (1/4 to 1/2 cup is the most I ever add).
  6. Stir to incorporate additional sugar and lemon juice and then split the mix evenly between your two bottles. Add filtered water to the bottles until they are full to about 3 inches from the top. Secure the lids and set them in a room temperature spot away from direct sunlight.
  7. Once the bottle has become rigid (test by squeeze the sides), you know it’s carbonated. The timing on this will depend on a few things (like temperature), so it could be anywhere from 8 to 24 hours later. In the winter, it can take a few days. Chill it in the fridge for at least an hour before opening.
  8. Open with care! My kitchen ceiling is permanently strawberry soda-stained, and there’s no reason for that to happen to you.
  9. Long term storage in the fridge is not recommended because explosions are a thing, even in plastic!
Shiso in Plum soda

This is soda, not health food, but at least it’s probiotic!

*Buy your fermentation dinner tix here (and check out that menu!)

**If you have a larger crock, you can add a lot more water and just add less when it comes to bottling.

Soak Those Oats: Fermented Oatmeal is Better Than Your Oatmeal

fermented oatmeal for flavor

One of my very favorite takeaways from Sandor Katz’ fermentation residency was his countertop bowl of fermenting grains. The way he does it, it’s a big ol’ bowl, where any bits of leftover grain from a meal get tossed. He adds a bit of sourdough starter, or idli batter or whatever other starter he has on hand, with some liquid from time to time, then gives it a stir and uses it to make delightful pancakes a day or so later. It’s a super simple meal, quick as can be, and it can be easily jazzed up with the addition of fermented vegetables, cheese or eggs.

Soaking oats phytic acid removal

The oats will absorb almost all the liquid, so there will be a little exposed oat surface. Stirring reduces the risk of unwanted surface yeasts.

The first new practice I wanted to institute back at home was this grain bowl. However, we’re a family of two and I don’t eat a whole lot of grains, so it quickly became obvious that this would be more like another pet to care for than like a convenience food in my house. My husband is a fan of good old fashioned oatmeal for breakfast, though, I so I suggested he might enjoy fermenting his oats before cooking them. Not only would it definitely improve the flavor (a little bit of sour, a lot of complexity), but it would also reduce* the quantity of  phytic acid naturally present in grains, nuts and seeds. Phytates aren’t great, because they bind to nutrients, preventing us from absorbing them.

fermenting grains for health

The liquid has not yet been absorbed by the oats.

He tried it, and now he’s totally hooked. It’s his almost-everyday breakfast. He now removes 3/4 of the oats about every other day (every 3rd day in cooler weather) and then adds fresh oats into the already fermented oats. For him, 2 to 3 days is the right amount for peak deliciousness. The oats are not mushy, they cook more quickly, and regular fermenters will immediately recognize the sour, yeasty flavor and aroma. If they go too long, you may see a yeasty film on top, experience a slimy texture or end up with a super cheesy aroma, so if you’re going to push it to the 3 day mark, make sure to give it a good stir at least daily. That will disrupt the surface and keep stuff from forming and it will serve as a bit of a check-in for you.

why soak oatmeal

Extra nutrients made more absorbable? Yay for fermented oats!

Fermented/Soaked Oatmeal Recipe

This is not so much a recipe as a guideline, because this is a truly simple practice that doesn’t require much instruction. If at any point you don’t want to feed your grains, just eat them all and start again when you’re ready to enjoy them again. This is so easy to get going that there’s really no need to keep your “starter” alive if you feel like a break. If you want to scale this up or down, go nuts. A 1:1 1/4 ratio of oats to water by volume will get you where you need to be.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons phytase-rich grains (optional: see below). If using extra grains, use a 1:1 ratio, by volume of extra filtered water.
How-To
  • Put oatmeal and other grains, if using, in a medium bowl, preferably a glass one with a lid that fits. add water. If using the phytase-rich grains, add an equal amount of water, by volume (for example,  3 tablespoons extra grains, 3 tablespoons extra filtered water).
  • Cover the bowl and place it at a room temperature spot away from direct sunlight. Let it sit for 2 to 3 days, stirring daily, and taking notice of changes in aroma and texture when you stir. The water will absorb into the oats overnight, and some of the oats will not be submerged after that time. As long as you stir daily and your house isn’t crazy hot, you should be fine. If your house is crazy hot, consider a 24 hour to 48 hour fermentation instead.
  • When you’re ready to cook your oats, remove about 3/4 and cook them how you normally would. Jake basically just warms them on the stove, or cooks them for 1 minute in the microwave.
  • He recommends eating them with coconut oil or butter, fruit (especially blueberries and peaches) nuts, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, candied ginger, dried fruit, jam or some combination of the above. I think the sour flavor would lend itself very well to some savory breakfast oats. Try it with fresh herbs, cheese, sesame oil and soy sauce or topped with a poached egg!
  • Don’t forget to feed your grains! Add your fermented oats to 1 1/4 cups of water and 1 cup of fresh oats (or more or less if you wish, just keeping to the volume ratio of 1 part oats, 1 1/4 parts filtered water. Cover your bowl and repeat.
fermented oatmeal

Be creative with flavors and be prepared for the exciting sour flavors of fermented grains!

*Notice that I wrote “reduce” rather than “eliminate.” If you have difficulties with nutrient deficiency or absorption, I would follow a bit of advice from Amanda Rose of phyticacid.org (an excellent site on Phytic Acid) and add roughly 10% of a grain that contains more phytase and therefore more readily breaks down phytic acid during soaking. The addition of other grains will dramatically reduce the amount of phytic acid in your oats. Great options include barley, spelt, rye and buckwheat.

What to Ferment with Leftover Fermenting Liquid

If you make the doogh recipe I posted earlier this week, you may have some leftover bulgur liquid (depending on what kind of yogurt you use to make your fizzy, minty, dairy drink). If you do, don’t dump it! There are so many things to do with fermented liquids. You’ll find it a useful liquid for there 5 recipes.

Spiced, Fermented Ketchup – Use 1/4 cup of freshly fermented bulgur liquid in place of the sauerkraut juice called for in this recipe. Since the kraut juice is salty and the bulgur liquid isn’t, include a 3/4 teaspoon of salt with the spices.

Cultured Ketchup with cloves

Culture the ketchup, cuz it’s cooked.

Vegan Cheese – Do a 1-to-1 sub of bulgur liquid for the millet rejuvelac called for in this recipe. No other changes are necessary.

Vegan cultured  cashew cheese

Mmmm…cashew cheese

Strawberry Basil Soda – Alright, so maybe strawberries are kicked for the year (at least where I live). If you’ve got some in the freezer, though, why not make some soda? Sub 1/2 cup of bulgur liquid for the culture (or yeast) in the recipe.

Strawberry soda with straws and lemon

This is what summer tastes like at parties at my house.

‘So Peach Soda – Since you’re already in soda-making mode, why not whip up a nice batch of this seasonal peach soda, again, with 1/2 cup bulgur liquid in place of whey or yeast.

Peach and purple shiso soda

Perfectly seasonal soda. Naturally fermented.

Bread Kvass – I usually use sourdough starter to kick off my bread kvass, but 1/4 cup of fermented bulgur liquid per quart of kvass would be a very fun substitute with a less yeasty flavor profile.

Cinnamon Toast Kvass

Bread kvass is normally a yeast ferment, but it works with other fermented liquids, too!