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Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Fermented Spicy Pineapple Salsa


Fermented foods and beverages date back thousands of years. Some of the earliest texts, dating back to the Shang Dynasty of 1200-1046 B.C., show fermented beverages like herbal wines and fermented rice/millet being made. Much of the fermentation practices of centuries past were simply a means to preserve food for long-term storage. Today, the health benefits of consuming traditionally fermented foods are bringing them back into the limelight.

Fermentation happens when the bacteria (either naturally present on the food or from a culture that’s added) produce lactic-acid by “consuming” the sugar and starch present within the food. Once fermented, these foods contain various strains of beneficial bacteria which are known to promote good gut health and a feeling of satiety post meal. Because the bacteria that would normally cause spoilage are no longer present, foods become shelf stable for longer periods of time. (For more information on the process of fermentation and its benefits, read this post.)

Fermented beverages like kombucha, water kefir and milk kefir are becoming quite common on grocery store shelves (although it’s much more economical to make your own). Other fermented foods include yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Did you know even meat can be fermented? The “old-school” way of preserving salami was actually fermentation! There are myriad of fermented foods available today, many that our Western culture is less accustomed to, but with all of the same benefits.

If you’re new to fermented foods I encourage you to start with something a little less “intimidating”. Jumping right in with stronger flavors such as Bagoong (fermented fish/shrimp), kimchi or even gochujang (a spicy Korean condiment) may stop you dead in your fermentation tracks. This recipe was one of the first ferments I made at home. It’s adapted from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon and has a perfectly balanced taste that’s sweet, tangy and just spicy enough to keep you coming back for more.


Pineapple Salsa Recipe


• 1 small organic pineapple, diced
• 1 bunch organic cilantro, chopped
• 1 small organic red onion, diced
• 1 small organic jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
• 1 tbsp grated ginger
• 2 tbsp lime juice
• 1 tsp sea salt
• ½ cup whey*
• ½ cup filtered water

* If you don’t have whey, you can obtain it by simply straining 2 cups regular, plain yogurt through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter until you have ½ cup of whey.


This recipe will yield about 4 cups of salsa, however if you use a large pineapple and a medium-large onion (plus a little extra lime juice), you can have enough to munch while you wait for your batch to ferment. It’s equally as delicious fresh, just lacks the probiotics.

1. Mix pineapple, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and ginger in a medium bowl.

2. Transfer to a wide mouth mason jar and press down lightly with a wooden pounder (or other non-metallic utensil). Be sure to leave 1 inch of head-space.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, salt, whey and water then pour over your salsa mixture. If necessary, add more filtered water to ensure salsa is completely covered.

4. Secure jar tightly with a lid and keep at room temperature for two days (68-76 degrees is ideal).

5.After two days, transfer to the refrigerator and consume within two months.

Enjoy the benefits of probiotics in your food by implementing these simple fermentation techniques — and try not to eat the whole jar in one sitting!


Kelsey Steffen is an aspiring farmer, wife, mom of four (with one on the way), and home-school educator in North Idaho. Join Kelsey and her family over at Full of Days as they blog about life in the Steffen household, and follow along on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Read all of Kelsey’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Beet Kvass: A Fermented Drink

Beet kvass is a fermented, Ukranian drink that gives us not only probiotics and digestive enzymes, but is a key aid in detoxifying the body.

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Fermenting anything heightens its nutritional value and adds beneficial microorganisms that are loved by our gut biome. And beets, as it turns out, are powerhouses of nutrition.

Beets have been known to fight inflammation, boost stamina, prevent cataracts, help indigestion, improve blood circulation, aid gall bladder complaints and help to prevent macular degeneration. They also defend against free radicals, help to prevent blood clots, minimize arthritis, bronchitis, diabetes and chronic pain as well as increase the body's oxygen uptake. It has even been suggested that beets are anti-cancer. They are particularly useful in the excretion of toxins

Beets contain substances that aid in the body's Phase 2 detoxification process. This is the step that our bodies use to bind unwanted toxic substances with particular nutrient groups. This process takes the toxins and makes them water-soluable which allows them to be excreted in the urine.

Beets are also high in vitamin C, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, flavonoids and phosphorus. Some say that their phytonutrients have the particular job of destroying disease processes.

Beets were originally grown for their greens. One of the first mentions of their use is found in Assyrian texts written around 800 BC where they were reported to be part of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It wasn't until the 1500s that they began being grown for their root. In 1747, Germans Andreas Sigismund Marggraf along with his student, Franz Achard, developed a way to extract sugar from beets. This became important when Napoleon Bonaparte got cut off from imports by the British blockade and announced an embargo on their products. The production in the United States took off after we placed an embargo on Cuba — our major sugar producer.

All of the benefits of beets are not only available in beet kvass, but are enhanced. It can be made quite inexpensively and quickly. It's best to use only organic ingredients.

Beet Kvass Recipe


• 2 large or 4 medium organic beets
• 1 clove organic garlic
• 1 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
• ¼ cup home made whey* (optional)
• 1 quart jar
• good quality water; no chlorine or flouride


1. Wash beets and cut them into chunks. Don't grate them as this would produce an alcoholic drink. Be sure to include the rough part just under the stem.

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2. This is the most nutritious part of the beet and you don't want to leave it out, even though you wouldn't serve it to guests, because you are not going to be eating the beets. Place the beets in the jar along with the garlic, salt and whey, if available.

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3. Fill with water leaving an inch of head space or air at the top. Seal firmly. Place on the counter for three days, shaking several times a day. Then, move the jar into the refrigerator.

beet kvaas 009

4. To serve, strain the liquid into glasses. For a YouTube video on how to make this, visit my web site at

If you are not used to ferments, start slow. A tablespoon a day would suffice. You can increase the amount slowly until you can have all you want.

*homemade whey

You need to have access to raw milk to make whey. If you do, simply leave it on the counter until it separates.

magnolia onion plants mache whey 026

This takes from three to seven days depending on the temperature in the room. Then, strain it through cheesecloth placed in a strainer over a bowl. The whey will drip through and the curds will stay in the cheesecloth.

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You can add some chives or dill or other herbs to the curds and make a dip.

Since I began drinking fruit and beet kvass six years ago, I haven't been sick a single day.

Celeste Longacre and her husband, Bob, have lived sustainably for more than 35 years. They grow almost all of their vegetables for the year and preserve them by freezing, canning, drying and using a home -built root cellar. Celeste ferments much of the couple’s produce and makes her own sauerkraut, kimchee, and fruit and beet kvass. She is the author of Celeste’s Garden Delights and writes a gardening blog for The Old Farmer’s Almanac. For more information, visit Celeste’s website, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Labeling Jars of Homemade Food Products for Sale


Boost sales of your homemade food products with attractive labels and packaging that communicates the hand-crafted quality of your value-added items. The fact that you made that jar of pickles by hand — crafted in small batches by you in your farmhouse or homestead kitchen perhaps with your own organic produce — should be a key selling point. This differentiates your product from the mass-produced, commercial jars found on the shelves of a supermarket.

But don’t lose sales with products that look too homespun. Ditch the hand-written labels affixed with packing tape. Instead, create packaging with a more professional look that communicates the hand-crafted nature of your product while helping increase sales and diversify the revenue generated by your homestead enterprise.

Cook Up a Home Business

Do your friends and family tell you that your strawberry jam is so good you should sell it? How about making some money off your pickles or salsa? Thanks to expanding cottage food laws across the country, depending on where you live, you now have an open sales opportunity to create such “non-hazardous food products” in your home kitchen for public sale. Just about every state in the country has a variation of what’s called a “cottage food law” that allows us to create specific, non-hazardous food products made in home kitchens to sell at certain direct-to-the-consumer venues such as farmers’ markets.

In most cases, your state’s cottage food law covers high-acid food products, canned items with an equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or lower, such as salsas, pickles, jams and jellies.   Remember each state law is different. Connect with and read your state’s specific regulation and requirements, usually via your state’s department of agriculture, which will include gross sales limits (if any), labeling requirements, plus an explanation of where you can sell your products and what you can produce. Our book, Homemade for Sale, goes into more detail on everything from business structure to kitchen organization to marketing for someone just starting out.

Boost Profits with Attractive Labels

We produce small batches of sauerkraut, bread and butter pickles and pickled pumpkin in our home kitchen for sale at public venues such as farmers’ markets and community events. We quickly learned that while it’s important to have a quality, tasty product, it’s what is on the outside of the jar — how our product looks — that often closes a sale at market.

To help support you in your jar sales appeal, we put together a free 16-page downloadable “Labeling Guide and Toolkit for Creating Canned Food Products that Sell” that covers step-by-step instructions on improved labels, creative packaging and farmers' market displays.


Your state’s cottage food law will give you the exact verbiage required on your label that clearly communicates that your product was produced in a home kitchen and, depending on your state, may not be subject to inspection. In Wisconsin, the line reads: “This product was made in a home not subject to state licensing or inspection.” Additionally, the label must include the name and address of the person who did the canning, date of the canning and Ingredients in descending amount by weight.

Despite these legal requirements, you can still craft attractive packaging. Most often, state requirements, like Wisconsin’s, will specify what needs to be included but not dictate the font size or how it specifically must appear on the package. This opens an opportunity to get creative and have some fun.

For example, we use Avery Print-to-the-Edge Glossy Oval Labels, the larger 2 inch by 3 1/3-inch size that fits nicely on both half pint and pint sized jars. Then, we add the required state verbiage “around” the perimeter of the label (something you can readily do with the Avery template) which meets the state requirement. Doing it this way satisfies our legal requirements while allowing us to focus more on the actual product.   Another option may be to place the legally required wording on the bottom of the jar so you don't cover up the appealing product inside.

Communicate the Small-Batch Quality of Homemade Products

Your jar label and other design elements should celebrate the fact these products were personally made by you in your home kitchen. Be careful not to have your label look too professional and overly slick.

We print crisp, attractive labels off from our computer for time efficiency. However, we also add in a hand-written note on each label of the jar number within the batch: "Jar 10 of 14." This personal touch adds instant value to our product, perhaps in the same way that an artist signs and numbers each of their prints.  We endeavor to let our customers know what we make is limited, of high quality and unique.

If every label isn’t perfectly straight on the jar, that’s okay. It communicates the “made by the food artisan” message. It also gives you a story to tell your potential customers; maybe your kids help package your jars or it’s a fun activity you do with elderly relatives. Get personal and authentic in why your product is different and special.

Adding a pop of color and texture to your jars differentiates your product at market and enables you to communicate your brand. What message, what story, do you want to share about your farm and how can that play out in the packaging of your product? Are you more minimalist and modern, or playful and informal?  Additional elements like ribbon or fabric communicate to potential customers what you are all about.

Our new free Label Guide and Toolkit covers step-by-step processes for adding easy decorative elements to your jars such as:

• Fabric toppers
• Paper toppers
• Washi tape
• Seasonal elements

The fact that we produce small batches of these high-acid products works to our advantage. We can experiment with different packaging and see what sells as well as adapt elements to different times of year. For example, you could use a holiday-inspired topper print for winter markets. And of course, if a certain packaging scheme isn’t working, you’re never at a loss — because you can always eat and savor the product yourself!

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of Lisa's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Hazelnut Thumbprints Cookie Recipe


Because there are three variations for these cookies — maybe even four if you consider a chocolate chunk — you may want to double this recipe and make some with each filling. See How to Skin Hazelnuts the Easy Way to prepare the hazelnuts.           

Yield about 36 – 40 cookies


• 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature  (2sticks)
• ¾ cup sugar
• 2 tbsp Frangelico OR 1 tbsp Hazelnut flavor
• 1 egg
• 2 cups (8 ½ oz) all purpose flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, ground
• about ¾ cup raspberry or apricot preserve, OR glaceed cherries OR chunks of chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg and the vanilla and hazelnut extract and beat in.

3. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir together, then add to the butter mix, stir a little then add the ground hazelnuts.

4. Drop the dough with a cookie scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. Pick up each one and roll it between your palms to make 1-inch round balls, then flatten the ball a little between your palms and set the little disk on the cookie sheet. Leave about 2 inches between cookies, they do spread a little. With your thumb, make a depression in each, pressing about 2/3 of the way down.  Now, fill each depression with a scant teaspoon of the preserve of your choice. You could also choose a glaceed cherry or a couple chocolate chips or a chunk of chocolate.

5. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, until just a little golden. Let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool.

6. Pack the cookies airtight. They do freeze nicely for a few weeks.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Cinnamon Crisps Recipe

Cinammon Crisps Cookie Recipe

Here’s a great cookie for Christmas, or anytime. And depending on your taste, you can make it several ways: With nuts, without nuts, with cinnamon sugar, or with cinnamon sugar and nuts. It’s all how you feel that day (or if anyone has a nut allergy, just go the cinnamon route). If you’re a cinnamon freak like me, I went with the cinnamon sugar option.

This is your basic refrigerator, slice-and-bake cookie, so it is easy to make. You can make up the roll of dough ahead of time, and keep it in your fridge until you’re ready to bake. The origin of this cookie came from one of my older cookbooks, Cookies for Christmas, but as is usual with me, nothing ever stays as written. I have to tweak. Hence, the different “coatings.” Full info on the book is below, to give credit where credit is due.

The key ingredient in this cookie is cinnamon — my favourite spice. I use it year round, in lots of things. Most of the cinnamon sold in supermarkets is cassia, not what is called in English, true cinnamon, or cinnamomun verum [1]. Cassia is much cheaper to produce, hence why the supermarkets all carry it and not the other. However, I got a Christmas present of Saigon cinnamon, complete in it’s own little cinnamon wood box. Now that’s a gift to make this baker happy!

Another nice feature? It’s from World Vision’s Christmas catalogue, so my gift giver also gave me a beautiful gift reflecting social consciousness. It’s nice to know people know my tastes! Which brings us back to the cookie, as I had to find something to do with that lovely cinnamon. The cinnamon in question has a nice sweet flavor, not a dry taste like so many others have. Perfect for baking. So, you will want to fire up your oven for some great cookies.

Cinnamon Crisp Cookies Recipe

Yield 48 (although I had fewer) 


• 1¾ cups all purpose flour
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¾ cup butter or margarine
• 1/3 cup sugar (Please note, when I made these cookies, I left the white sugar out)
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla
• ½ cup finely chopped pecans
• ¼ cup cinnamon sugar


1. Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt. In a large mixer bowl beat butter or margarine till softened.

2. Add sugar (if using) and brown sugar and beat till fluffy.

3. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

4. Cover and chill about 30 minutes or till easy to handle.

5. Shape into a 12-inch roll. Roll in nuts and/or cinnamon sugar to coat.

6. Wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Cut into ¼-inch slices.

7. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

8. Bake in a 350 oven for 10 to 12 minutes or till done. Remove and cool. 

What I found with the ¼-inch thick cookie, was that they were more like shortbread. I would suggest maybe 1/8-inch if you want a crispier cookie, but watch your baking time, they will bake much faster. 


Better Homes and Gardens. Cookies for Christmas. Des Moines, Iowa: Better Homes and Gardens Books, Meredith Corporation, 1985.


1. Wikipedia does a decent job of explaining cinnamon, and a very detailed history of the spice throughout history. Quite interesting.

Sue Van Slooten teaches cooking and baking classes at her home on beautiful Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada. She specializes in small classes for maximum benefit. Follow her homesteading adventures and check out her class offerings at If you wish, you can email Sue at She would be thrilled to hear from you! Read all of Sue’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

How to Skin Hazelnuts the Easy Way


Hazlenuts are my favorite for holiday cookies. The problem with them is that the skins are very bitter and until I learned this trick, nearly impossible to get off. The toasting method doesn’t do a good job and, worse, ruins the kitchen towel used to rub off the skins. So, I tried doing hazelnuts the way I do the almonds to make my Almond Paste. With the addition of some baking soda, it works!


• 1 cup shelled hazelnuts
• 3 cups boiling water
• 4 Tbsp baking soda


Please read the cautions before beginning.

1. Bring the water with the baking soda to a boil, dump in the hazelnuts. Turn the burner down and keep at a simmer for about 3 minutes. Take one nut out and check it under cool running water to make sure the skin slips right off — give them another 30 seconds if need be.

2. Drain the nuts through a colander and run cool water from the faucet over to cool them. Drain thoroughly. Have ready a small bowl and a little trash bag. Put down a couple paper towels in case of drips.

3. Pick up each nut and give it a pinch — the skin slips right off. A few may need a scrape with a fingernail for a stubborn bit. When all the nuts are skinned, dry them on the paper towel and then toast in a 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes. The nuts are already slightly stained a pinkish color, so watch carefully.

4. When the nuts are a lovely light brown, turn off the oven and let the nuts cool — they should crisp right up. When completely cool, store in a jar or zipper bag until ready to use for delicious cookies.


Use a pot bigger than you think — I used a 3 quart stainless for just this much. To do a larger quantity, consider using your pasta pot. When you dump the hazelnuts into the pot of boiling water with baking soda, it foams up! A lot.

Lift the pot up and stir down the foam, turn down the burner. When it subsides, put the pot back on the burner and watch it, keeping the water at a simmer for the 3 minutes. It will keep foaming up if it comes all the way to a full boil. Just manage it and you’ll be fine. The water turns dark, nearly black looking, the foam is pink.

When you finish pinching all the skins off, your fingertips will be rose color — if this is socially unacceptable, wear nitrile gloves. It wears off in a day, no problem.


1 cup of hazelnuts weighs 0.3 pound.

Store a week or two in the cupboard, 2 months in the refrigerator, 6 months in the freezer.

Now we’re ready to start on lots of holiday goodies with our beautiful hazlenuts. Stay tuned right here on MOTHER’s Real Food blog page.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Brown-Sugared Pecans (or Walnuts)


A friend gave me this recipe nearly 50 years ago. Back then, the recipe was for walnuts, but since moving South, I now use pecans. These are addictive! You can’t eat just one. The recipe is easily doubled and I usually do. Prettily packaged, these make a nice little Christmas gift.


• 1 cup brown sugar, packed
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• ¼ tsp best cinnamon
• 1 tsp grated orange peel*
• 6 tbsp milk (3/8 cup)
• 1 tsp best vanilla
• 2 ½ cups pecan halves
• a pinch or two of best sea salt


1. I use my Grandmother’s ancient cast-aluminum pot for this and the big wooden spoon I use for jam. Clip on a good candy thermometer.

2. In a heavy pot — at least 4-quart capacity — stir together the brown sugar, sea salt and cinnamon. Add the orange peel and the milk and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, to the soft ball stage, 238 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch carefully when it begins to boil — the last few degrees go fast. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and then the pecan halves. 

3. Stir, using a folding motion until the candy turns opaque and starts to set. This will take about 5 minutes of pretty heavy lifting — my arm does get tired, but so worth it!

4. Turn the nuts out onto a parchment lined tray. If you like, quickly sprinkle a pinch or two of salt over the nuts while they’re hot. I use Fleur de Sel. Maldon is good, or whatever you have. Using two forks, separate the nuts to individual halves. Work quickly.

5. Allow the nuts to cool completely before packing. Store these airtight. I often pack them into quart canning jars.

About Orange Peel and Lemon

Waste not, want not. Use all of the peel and keep it handy always.

So many holiday recipes call for grated orange peel; I use it in these confections and also in my Christmas Stollen and pastries and even in some stir fries. Scrub a large orange, then use a potato peeler to peel off the outer zest. Drop the strips of peel into the mini prep processor, add a tablespoon or so of white sugar and process to a grated consistency. Remove the white inner peel (pith) and eat the orange.

Store the peel in a small jar in the freezer. It’s easy to spoon out a spoonful or two.

Now, do the same thing with a couple nice lemons and always have citrus zest on hand.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.