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September 09, 2016

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What is live-fermented?

There are so many types of foods that are alive.  By alive, I mean the good bacteria or yeast that made them is still living, and could continue to make more if encouraged.  It's in many of the foods we love:  bread, cheese, beer, salami, balsamic, pickles, miso, *deep breath* soy sauce, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and now fermented hot sauce!  We think we are the first people to sell live-fermented pepper hot sauce, but if you know of some others, we'd love to hear about (and taste) it.

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How can you tell if a food is live-fermented?  You'll find it in a refrigerator instead of on the shelves.  The cold slows the bacteria way down, and keeps them from reacting, but doesn't kill them.  All bacteria are different, but I know from experimentation that yogurt cultures are most active at about 120 degrees F.  It then takes some time between 6 and 12 hours to turn the milk to yogurt.  Then, I put it in the fridge and it stays at the same consistency.  Catching products at the perfect amount of fermentation is part of the art in making artisan products.

It isn't so bad if the products are left out, and therefore ferment more. They will get more bubbly, and more sour.  Bacteria take in sugars, and put out tangy, sour flavors and carbon dioxide.  That's why most kim-chi says "open over the sink."  The product will continue to bubble, even if the bacteria are working very slowly.

Live-fermented foods are delicious, and add a pleasingly sour kick to any food.  But the real buzz is about the health benefits.  Why are they so good for you?

September 09, 2016

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2 reasons why your body loves those wild, crunchy, fermented foods

Live-fermented foods are delicious, and add a pleasingly sour kick to any food.  But why are they so good for you? Number1Live-fermented foods are a natural source for probiotics.  We know we can take probiotic pills, which help build the immune system and aid uncomfortable digestive systems.  They are especially good after finishing antibiotics to rebuild the natural ecosystem.  Wouldn't you rather eat sauerkraut on sourdough rather than take a pill?  Your body prefers that too.  The bacteria is less like to pass right through you if it comes in a food form.  It is lactobacillus gathered naturally by cabbage, from the air on an organic farm in Colorado.  That is a little more natural than cultures grown in a lab to go into a supplement. Number2Live-fermented bacteria does some of the digestion work for you.  It's tough for our bodies to break down the thick plant cell walls to get to the vitamins in plants.  Bacteria in our gut usually does that work, breaking down the plants to make nutrients available.  With fermentation, we can get the bacteria from the farm to do the same work.  Take sauerkraut, for example.  Cabbage already is a decent source of vitamin C, about 30 mg for a cup of cabbage.  Ferment that cabbage to kraut, and the vitamin C content jumps to 700 mg in a cup!  The good bacteria makes that vitamin C, and other antioxidants much more bioavailable, or easy for your body to use.probiotic-pinterest A person can find ways support their immune system in a lot of different ways right now.  You can buy supplements, and there are a multitude of food products sold as medicine, like cereals with added vitamins.  However, researching what has worked for thousands of years keeps turning up nutritional gold.  Plants, with good bacteria, nourish us.  Take a look at your local grocery store with new eyes.  Many have added a live-fermented section in the last few years!  Find our products near the yogurt, or come by and say hello.  We'd love to show you how we make it.

Extraordinary Beets = Extraordinary Soil

Beets_Full_Circle_FarmsBeets are one of the vegetables that really draws its character from the farm.  You can taste when they are grown in rich, organic soil.  They’re sweeter, more colorful, and healthier for you too.  Recent research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that organic produce has significantly more antioxidants and less toxic, heavy metals than conventional produce.  What’s significantly?  Up to 70% more antioxidants!  The food industry has made a great effort during the last 50 years to turn vegetables into commodities, where a beet is equal to any other beet, anywhere in the country.  They tried to make price the only variable.  Our approach is completely different.  The food system we are building acknowledges that vegetables are grown with a huge range in flavors and nutrients.  That is why we focus on buying extraordinary beets, from organic family farms, and telling you exactly where they come from. The soil gives flavor and nutrients to the beets, and organic methods give back to the soil.  We believe that organic soil has the power to change the earth, and the atmosphere. Soil is a bustling, living place.  In a tablespoon of organic soil, there are more organisms than humans on earth.  They work in concert to process all of the energy that plants pull in from the sun.  Healthy, no-till soil can actually be a permanent carbon sink.  That is a big change from the conventional agriculture industry that creates about 9% of National greenhouse gas emissions.  Natural Capital Solutions, one of the world’s most prominent voices in sustainability, has written and spoken extensively about soil in their Climate Action Plan.  They say that mass adoption of organic, no-till practices could absorb 20% of National emissions every year into the permanent carbon sink of rich soil. We know that farms will not turn organic unless eaters send a strong signal that they want organic foods.  We’re proud to do our part and make organic a little more accessible in many grocery stores.  Because of our eaters’ enthusiastic support, we have helped farms expand, and turn non-organic land into organic fields, full of life.  Our decision to use only organic ingredients builds resilient soils over time, combats climate change, and is definitely more delicious. How do you help this movement? Shopping directly from organic farmers is a great start.  Start a conversation to get to know their practices, and ask them if they practice no-till farming.  Tell the chefs at your favorite restaurants and the buyers at your grocery store that you want local and organic.  They don’t hear that feedback from their customers enough!  And, you can find our organic, simply beets at grocery stores across the West.  Find one here.

Cabbage Salad with Honey-Lime-Sriracha Vinaigrette

We know that you're busy. Busy doesn't mean that healthy, delicious dinners need to go by the wayside though! This super refreshing salad is light, packed with flavor, and best of all - SO simple to throw together. The vinaigrette in here is key, so read up! Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 16.34.21   We were inspired by this recipe on Rachel Cooks.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup fresh snap peas
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1-2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-ounce can mandarin oranges, (reserve 2 tablespoons juice for dressing)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons juice from a 15-ounce can of mandarin oranges
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • MM Local Sriracha (to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup chow mein noodles for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add snap peas and return to a boil. Once boiling again, drain and move a bowl of ice water so that they retain their color. Drain again once cooled.
  2. In a large bowl, add both types of cabbage, green onions, mandarin oranges, shredded carrot, chicken and cilantro. Add snap peas when they are done cooking.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, mandarin orange juice, honey, MM Local Sriracha and salt. Whisk until combined and pour over salad. Toss to combine everything, top with chow mein noodles.
And just like that, dinner is served!

Honey Sriracha Roasted Brussel Sprouts

In the name of a new delicious way to serve brussel sprouts, we give you: Honey Sriracha Roasted Brussel Sprouts. Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 16.58.32 This recipe and the above photo is thanks to the good work over at Shared Appetite. We've adjusted the recipe a bit. How incredible does this sound as a side dish to your next dinner party? The best part is how simple it is - read up below! INGREDIENTS
  • 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon MM Local Sriracha Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 lime, juiced
Clean, trim and cut brussel sprouts in half. Toss with olive oil and salt and pop into an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Let them roast for 35-40 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the honey, lime juice and sriracha sauce. Drizzle the honey-sriracha mixture over the roasted brussel sprouts in a large bowl. Serve immediately. Devour immediately.  

Delicious Colorado Pears!

pears

We love our pears for their delicately-sweet flavor. The combination of Colorado’s cold nights contrasted with bright, sunlit days concentrates sugars, yielding an exceptionally tasty fruit.

Early in the spring, pears and other Colorado fruit trees start to bloom. However, pear growing and selling in Colorado presents several challenges. Once trees bloom, our orchardists work hard to protect the blossoms from a freeze, undoing months of early-season work. Then, when the pears are harvested, they have a relatively limited amount of time before they brown significantly or turn mushy. Our growers have to work quickly to move this fruit!

At MM Local, we’re fortunate to be able to buy with surplus produce, like pears, and use them in the preservation process. We also know that “good looks” only go so far. While supermarkets may only purchase the “prettiest” fruits, we can actually use some of these cosmetically-damaged pears in a different, tasty capacity: as sauce!

We currently produce two delicious pear- sauce products: Pear (not apple) Sauce, and a (new, very limited!) Apple Pear sauce! These pear sauces can be used the same way that you’re accustomed to using applesauces, but with a succulent, pear flavor.

Producing these sauces helps our farmers move otherwise unsellable produce, cut down on agricultural waste, and leaves us with the raw ingredients to make delicious sauce. That is real saucy.

Farm Profile: Osito Orchards

Peach tress at Osito Orchards  

Peach trees blossoming at Osito Orchards. 

As we gear up for another year in production at MM Local, we’re especially thankful for the relationships we have with our growers. One of the more rewarding parts of our company is connecting with the people who grow great food with such integrity. Each of our growers has a unique backstory, and we recently caught up with the folks over at Osito Orchards to chat about theirs. Getting Started Frank Stonaker and Beth Karberg have only been orcharding since February of 2013. Frank comes into orcharding with a rich background in agriculture, working as an organic vegetable grower before taking on a position for 10 years in the Horticulture Program at Colorado State University. Beth, on the other hand, practiced as a midwife in Fort Collins and did research work water conservation. After years as a vegetable farmer, Frank felt that growing fruit was the “final frontier.” At peace with his vegetable growing years, he began to dream of the challenge of growing fruit and perennials. His time spent researching for CSU spurred a love of the North Fork Valley, an ideal area for orchards. So, when Frank and Beth decided that they were ready for a change in scenery and profession two years ago, they found the 30-acre plot of land named “Osito Orchards” for sale. They jumped at the opportunity and their journey as orchardists began. “We thought it would be a great adventure,” Beth said. An adventure it has been. Osito Orchards is nestled in Western Colorado and has been a family owned orchard for 100 years. They come in as the third owners of the 30-acre plot and tend to trees anywhere from 25 to four years old in age. When they purchased the land, there were a good amount of new trees just coming into production - it felt like a good fit from the start. Their plot is rich with a variety of apple, peach, sweet cherry trees and even a few vines that produce table grapes. Colorado Grown for Colorado Flavor Orchardists in Colorado like Frank and Beth are partially able to produce such great fruit in part because of the growing region. They depend on cold, Colorado nights combined with bright sunny days to concentrate sugars in fruit, yielding sweeter, more flavorful produce. They allow all of their fruit to tree-ripen before picking, ensuring even more flavor is imparted to the fruit. Once they pick it, they ship it fresh. Beth speaks proudly of the apples that they grow at Osito compared to many store-bought apples that she has had in the past, particularly their varieties of Golden Delicious. Osito actually harbors several varieties of Golden Delicious, one being specially grafted by the White Family and dubbed the “White Gold.” The White Family was one of the original owners of Osito and had a strong tradition of orcharding passed through generations for 100 years. Clearly, they knew what a good apple should taste like. Beth notes that many times when you come across the normal Golden Delicious variety in a store, the fruit is a bit “mushy.” Alternatively, when you get a fresh, tree-ripened Golden, you get a crisp pop of flavor when you bite in. It’s a whole different apple-eating experience. Selling the Fruit Despite the satisfaction of growing delicious fruit, life as orchardists has been filled with unknowns. This year, the combination of a warm winter and an early spring has them kicking into gear early on. The unexpected shift of seasons means work in the orchard has come within a condensed time-frame. The two of them work with one other year-round employee, a family of six, and a handful of other workers during the busy season. Beth describes selling fruit as a “dynamic process.” Unlike vegetable farmers, they don’t know what to expect from their trees until they bloom. Last year, 2014, happened to be a bumper year for their apples, but these trees typically operate in waves - being extremely prolific one year and waning the next. Sometimes the bloom looks to be shaping up into a prolific year just when a cold snap comes through, damaging many promising blossoms in one devastating night. They have learned to “expect the unexpected” with each growing and harvest season. Some apple varieties, namely their Honeycrisp and Gala apples, are very popular in retail. Heritage varieties are also coming back into demand and Osito has about 12 varieties. However, other varieties, like Golden Delicious, have a bit of a less glamorous reputation, generally due to stores not typically buying fresh, tree-ripened fruit. It’s difficult to anticipate the quantity of (perishable) fruit that retailers will need at any given time. When the fruit is ripe, it’s ready! If a retailer isn’t there to snatch up the bounty, they need to find more creative ways to move the produce. It’s a bit of a dance. When they had an impressive surplus of apples last year, MM Local found a way to help out. We took some of this surplus off their hands to make our Classic Applesauce and Jonny Applesauce. The bonus to this of course: solidifying a relationship between our efforts at MM Local and their prolific apple and peach trees. Sharing the Bounty Overall, Frank and Beth are enjoying their lives as orchardists. Living on a 30-acre plot of land in a valley surrounded by the beauty of old, twisted trees imparts a bit of nostalgia. While they wouldn’t call the unpredictability “fun,” they know that it’s part of the challenge. Ultimately, they grow great-tasting fruit to share with people who appreciate and enjoy it. “That’s why we do it,” said Beth. “As much as people enjoy getting to know the farmers, farmers really enjoy getting to know the people. We really value being a part of connecting people to the fruit.” We’re proud to call them MM Local Farmers and love the rich story and delicious fruit that they bring to our company. It’s a tasty partnership that we’re excited to expand.  
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