N. ABINGTON TWP. — Years ago, Carrie Timlin was expecting her first child. Concerned about what she was eating and what her daughter would eat as she grew prompted Timlin to look at natural foods and how to prepare them.
At the time, Timlin lived in the city and had a garden. She tried lacto-fermentation with the vegetables she grew. But, her first attempt at fermenting “was a terrible fail,” she said.
She learned more about lacto-fermentation after she and her husband moved, buying a farm in Scott Township.
Timlin read and researched, teaching herself how to ferment and now makes everything from sauerkraut to kombucha. She wanted to share that knowledge with others and led a workshop on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Pond House at Spring Hills Farm in North Abington Township. People came to the workshop from as far away as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“Lacto-fermenting is specifically encouraging lactobacilli strains to reproduce and create lactic acid (which takes the place of acetic acid),” Timlin explained. This process also breaks down carbs and sugars, builds up priobiotics and promotes gut health.”
The symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (otherwise known as a scoby) used to make Timlin’s ferments for the workshop came from a three-year-old scoby that Timlin said she rehydrated, allowing it to grow and multiply so that she can share it. Timlin shared that the scoby creates Kombucha using sugar and tea. In Lacto-Fermentation, lactobacilli create an environment that allows foods to lacto-ferment in liquid with the proper measurement of salt, called a brine.This not only preserves food but multiplies its nutritional value and health benefits. Lacto-fermentation allows for the fermenting of vegetables such as sauerkraut and pickles, the culturing of kombucha or dairy products, and can be used in making sourdough bread.
Timlin and her husband Jim raise chickens, goats and other animals, as well as two children on their 18-acre farm. They provide organic pastured eggs, organic soy-free livestock feed, handmade custom soaps and more for sale.
Timlin used goat milk from their goats to make kefir. She picked blueberries at Spring Hills Farm and mint from her own garden to make blueberry mint kombucha.
The Timlins involve their children in the process of food preparation and care of their farm. Timlin’s daughter, Riley explained how she makes water kefir. The 8-year-old third grader said she likes to call the grains ‘crystals’ and explained the importance of temperature in the fermentation process.
“It’s good for us, because it has probiotics,” she added.
The health benefit of fermented foods is what drew many to the workshop.
“I’m retiring and want to go back to whole foods and eat healthier,” said Loretta Dragon of Nicholson. Dragon lives on a farm that has been in her family since the 1860s.
Dan Murphy attended with his son, Phillip. Murphy is a cancer survivor and said eating whole foods is important to him and his health.
Philip Murphy has a garden and said he hopes to be able to make fermented foods with what he grows.
Timlin explained in the workshop the importance of equipment in lacto-fermenting.
“Air is the enemy with ferments,” she said.
Special lids with air seals allow carbon dioxide to build up pushing air out but keeping new air from getting in. This prevents mold from forming, bacteria from growing, and foods from spoiling. Several lids, air locks and other fermentation equipment were on display at the workshop.
Attendees tasted more than a dozen fermented drinks and foods provided by Timlin. She shared fermenting tips such as, “pickles benefit if they are fermented at a cooler temperature. They will be crisper.”
Sharing her ingredients and her knowledge, Timlin led workshop attendees on a step-by-step process to create kombucha. Then, everyone was able to select fresh veggies to make a recipe of their choice. Timlin guided them in the process. Attendees made beet kvass, pickles, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented herbed carrots and cauliflower.
Everyone took home their creations and were given a reusable jar lid and silicone airlock lid made specifically for lacto-fermentation, a wooden spoon, recipe booklet, salt brine chart and jar tags.
The Timlin Farmstead leads workshops throughout the year. To learn more, visit the Timlin Farmstead Facebook page.