All posts by Shoba

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead

Susan, the artist and Gary, the Greenhand (after the hobbit in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings) live in a restored heritage homestead, first constructed in 1896. What could be more picturesque than than? Susan Curran works with clay to create pots and sculptures and holds eco-dying workshops while her husband, Gary Brill, grows organic fruits and vegetables.

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Susan’s sculptures at The Bunyas

When the couple moved into their 3-acre property, in 2000, they enjoyed restoring the 1896 Burrill Lake Schoolmasters’ residence as their abode, christening the property, The Bunyas as it is surrounded by five huge Bunya pines.  They are both experts in heritage restoration and so the house still retains much of its ancient charm. They operated an antique shop, Bunyas Organics and Antiques, out of Milton New South Wales, for nearly 30 years and retired from it only in August this year.

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Many fruit trees around the homestead

 

 

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Traditional Salter Weighing Scale used by Gary when people come directly to the homestead to purchase organic fruits and vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary and Susan have separate workshops at the Bunyas and to go from one to another you will pass many varieties of fruit trees and vegetables. The main vegetable patches are right at the back where Gary utilises permaculture methods to produce the most nutritious vegetables.

However right at the front is a stone wall encircling a watermelon and pumpkin patch that lay empty during my winter visit, but it has produced some winners. At the 2015 and 2016 Milton Show, Gary took the first prize for the biggest and heaviest watermelon grown in this very patch at the front of his house.

 

 

 

 

While Gary is the one with the green thumb Susan is the one with the “clay” thumb. Wandering into her workshop is a voyage of discovery as you find finished and unfinished pots and sculptures everywhere. I made the mistake of shaking her hand in greeting and found my hand all white from clay. We both looked at our hands, then looked up at each other and laughed.

I was actually there to speak to Susan about her other artistic passion – eco dyeing. Eco dyeing uses plants to create print on fabric. Susan uses no chemicals to obtain the colours on her fabric but relies solely on the colours extracted from plants through natural methods. Susan holds regular workshops to teach eco-dyeing.

She showed me a nuno-felted silk dress that had been dyed with onion skin and gum leaves.

“I like to take the students in my workshop for a walk around my property to familiarise themselves with the many different plants. We would pick up fallen leaves and talk about flowers and what colours we can expect to extract from them. Many of them didn’t know that even the lichen on the rocks can give out good colour,” said Susan.

“At the workshop just gone by I used persimmon leaves that were bright orange in colour. If you boil these leaves you will get a dye that turns out either yellow or olive green, depending on how many times you boil it. If you boil it for half-an-hour it is yellow. Boil it again and it turns green.”

The persimmon tree that contributed the leaves for her workshop is over a hundred years old as it was planted when the house was first built.

Eco-dyeing and Organic Lunch At 1896 Homestead
Susan displaying onion skin print billowy top

Susan discussed how she used onion skins to create patterns and give colour to her designs. “This takes time because you have to save all the skins from the onions as you use them in the kitchen. I have a paper bag full of onion skins that I have collected to use in eco-dyeing. I would arrange the skins on half the fabric and then place a stick at one end and roll the fabric up really tight around the stick and bind it with string or linen so it does not open up. Then I boil this stick.”

model wearing an onion skin print eco-dye design
model wearing an onion skin print eco-dye design

The fun part of eco-dyeing is not knowing what to expect when you unravel your cloth. To a degree you can control it but there is also an element of surprise as there always is when you work with nature. Other colour schemes used by Susan would be indigo which she obtains from indigo crystals  that are made from indigo plants. Interestingly, argyle apple leaves produce a bright red orange.

Model wearing an outfit printed with onion skin eco dye

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful eco-dye blue design on a garment weaved by Susan
A beautiful eco-dye blue design on a garment weaved by Susan

“I like to use my hands and use what is around me for tools such as a stick, shell or stone. I rarely buy tools for my crafts.”

The great part about Susan’s workshops is that she is also an expert in felting and weaving and so she not only makes designs on fabric but has in-depth knowledge of them. “Although I love being a potter I have actually made a living out of textiles for 15 years and so when I hold eco-dyeing workshops, students are oftentimes dyeing on fabric I have created. As such I have the unique skill of being able to teach all three skills from weaving, felting and dying which are all related.”

Anyone can participate in all three workshops for weaving, felting and dyeing which are taught separately in each respective workshop. No prior experience is needed. It costs $100 for a 6-hour workshop that is held from 9:30 – 3:30 pm. All materials for the workshop are supplied as are morning tea and organic lunch too. Contact https://www.bunyasorganicsandantiques.com/workshops to find out more and sign-up for the next workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottling Pure Wine

pure red wine
Beautiful red colour of the wine and so clear without any additives and chemicals
Contadino Farm wine-making workshop
Wine barrels for sale at the workshop

Healthy Country Life organised a wine-making workshop on 9th April, 2016 at Contadino Farm, Falls Creek, NSW, Australia. Twice we had to change the date because the grapes were not ready. As we were making “pure” wine with no additives or preservatives, we had no way of regulating it ( I call it interfering with nature). 

So we had to work with the elements to bring out the best in the grapes in terms of the best in taste and best in health value. So much control has gone into commercial wine-making to ensure the unique taste of a well-known brand remains the same from bottle to bottle to bottle.

Controlled fermentation is needed in commercial winemaking to attain a consistent result so that every bottle of wine will taste the same. To achieve this the commercial wine industry is known to use at least 19 additives and 37 different processing aids which include sulphur dioxide, potassium metabisulphite, egg and milk products, gelatin (a meat product), commercial yeast and other food chemicals. Our wine from the workshop had none of these contaminants. Now a year after the workshop I am bottling pure wine.

Mouvedre grapes tasting
Bunches of mouvedre grapes being passed around for tasting

Bruno Morabito, 62, the owner of Contadino Farm demonstrated how the machine discards the stems and crushes the grapes. As the crates of grapes passed the participants, Bruno and his assistants grabbed a few bunches and passed them around, sparking off the workshops glorious tasting sessions that began with grapes and moved on to free flow of wines, cheese, salami, olives, olive oil and bread.

During the year our grape juice has been fermenting, I have been in touch with the participants to see how they were doing with their fermentation and here are some of their comments:

Dennis O’ Reilly bottled his wine a month after fermenting. But he only drank his wine six months after bottling and had this to say, ” It was very drinkable.  Good fruit, although only medium bodied and I usually drink full bodied shiraz. A little tang on the palate as it goes down and I think it benefitted from decanting and a half hour of breathing.

“With Christmas arriving, I now have a plentiful supply of day to day drinking red. That should save me a few dollars when I go to Dan Murphy’s for my Christmas shopping. “

 

grape juice at the back of a Harley Davidson
Ninette Prospero who rode her Harley Davidson to the workshop geared up to ride off with her container of grape juice to ferment into wine at home

Ninette Prospero, who unfortunately did not have much luck with her fermentation. ” Very disappointed. I got the bottom of the barrel and after filtering many times sediment was half. And unfortunately mine was very bitter. However I thoroughly enjoyed the day.” It is good to know she at least had fun at the workshop.

Amanda Peek started drinking and sharing the wine with family and friends just four months after fermentation. She divided her wine into two batches though and kept the second batch in a cold area. This is what she discovered between the two batches.

siphoning finished wine
Siphoning finished wine with help from Kathy

“My first batch was lovely and thoroughly enjoyed by family and friends since August 2016. It had a slight fruity taste and was very pleasant. The second batch that I left in the cold after racking took on a more Shiraz taste. I prefer the taste of the first batch. But I have now bottled this and intend to leave it alone for a few years to see what sort of outcome I get.

“The workshop was a lovely experience and I would thoroughly enjoy another workshop on how to grow and brine olives and other fruit and vegetables. Thanks again for a once in a lifetime opportunity. I loved it.”

Bottling wine after a year and two months of fermentation
Bottling wine after a year and two months of fermentation

As for me at Healthy Country Life I racked my wine six months from the start of the fermentation and after ditching the sediment, I poured the wine back into the carbuoy to ferment for a further eight months. It was thoroughly dry by the time I bottled it and I was so glad to be bottling pure wine.

Throughout the duration of the fermentation, Kevin and I have been tasting a little every few months and it was exciting to see how the flavours changed as the fermentation progressed. It was extremely high in alcohol at six months old and had a very strong bite to the taste. By the time I bottled it which was one year and two months since fermentation started, the wine had mellowed and now in July 2017, it tastes incredible and alcohol level lower. I could just sit next to a glass and drink in the aroma alone without having any sip of it – such is the strength and sweetness of the aroma. Amazing!

When I collected the wine at the workshop I made sure I had an airlock and that airlock did not run out of water. Except for racking it once after six months, that is all I did during the course of fermentation. It is that easy. Initially I needed to add water often because the grape juice was very bubbly and the water in the airlock ran out often due to so much yeast activity. But the yeast eventually died out for lack of oxygen and then the bacteria went to work because they thrive in anaerobic conditions.

Even if you buy a kit to make wine it will almost certainly include Campden tablets to add to the grape juice and also commercial yeast. I didn’t resort to using any of these for my wine. I didn’t even sterilize my carbuoy with potassium metabisulphite but simply washed with soap and water and then air dried it before I filled it with the grape juice to turn into wine.

When bottling pure wine, I got about twenty seven 750 ml bottles out of 25 litres of wine. I lost some litres naturally due to discarding the sediment and racking.

Bottling Pure Wine
Sharing a glass of wine with Kathy. Cleo our horse was wanted a smell due to the fragrant aroma. She came close for a sniff

When bottling pure wine I used the simple method of siphoning out of the main carbuoy into individual bottles. In the video what Kathy is doing to help me is making sure the other end of the siphoning hose is just beneath the surface. Too deep and we will pick up sediment that will flow through the hose into the bottle (which we don’t want). If the hose is too high up, close to the surface, it could accidentally slip out and stop the flow. So she has to make sure the hose sits just right so as not to disrupt the smooth flow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danish Pastries Made With Hundred Percent Whole Wheat Flour

It takes me about three days to make these Danish pastries made with 100% whole wheat flour – two if my sourdough starter is already bubbling strongly. I normally start preparing the dough for these pastries at the same time I bake bread because then my sourdough starter is highly active and thriving and I can kill two birds with one stone – prepare bread and pastries.

Danish pastries made with hundred percent whole wheat flour

Danish Pastries Made With Hundred Percent Whole Wheat Flour

My Danish pastries made with hundred percent whole wheat flour are that they are made with wild yeast (sourdough starter). I grind the wheat grains myself before they are fermented in sourdough starter and turned into pastry dough. I have no white flour in my kitchen. White flour is devoid of nutrition. Wheat grains are loaded with nutrition but to access them you need to ferment them and that is why I need about two days to make my Danish pastries.

It is a myth that you can’t use hundred percent whole wheat flour to make them. I make them this way time and time again and they are perfect.Danish pastries made with hundred percent whole wheat flour

When Kevin and I stay at hotels we usually take the breakfast buffet that comes with our stay. A well stocked breakfast buffet must have Danish pastries. I cringe at the Danish pastries at these places. They are just airy, empty shells made out of starchy white flour, probably bleached and mixed with commercial yeast.

White flour pastry is devoid of the richness of flavour that only sourdough pastry can give. Let the wild yeast work its way through wholesome, freshly ground wheat flour with no additives whatsoever and you will have some of the finest Danish pastries.  I don’t think you will find them in the hotels, though because it takes time to create not only the best tasting Danish pastries but also the healthiest. Commercial establishments don’t spend this much time to create the best food. If you can’t grind your own flour, get them at health food stores. If you need softer flour for buns for eg just buy sifted, stone ground whole wheat flour

It was a delight to make this batch last Sunday morning. They sat on the rack to cool down before I packed them in the car and took them to church. Danish pastries made with hundred percent whole wheat flour and fermented by wild yeast/sourdough starter lasts longer. Those made with white flour and commercial yeast go stale in just one day.

 

Make Your Own Filling And Use Whole Berries

I know there are many different fillings for Danish pastries, but thus far I have been making them with creme patissiere which I make with kefir and eggs from my hens. Maybe one day I will try a different filling. On top of the creme patissiere I have put loganberries and blackberries from the garden and store bought organic blueberries. I was pretty excited to use these home-grown berries as they have been in my freezer for about four months.

The lovely thing about baking your own Danish pastries is that you can add a lot of creme patissiere and berries. Hotels and bakeries only give you a swab of both and the rest of it are all just flaky crust of the pastry. I like the pastry but only with a generous helping of the filling and berries.

With these Danish pastries, I piled them on as much as I could without them dripping. There must be enough to ooze into your mouth with every bite, unlike commercial ones where you chew on flaky crust all through and get only a trickle of the filling and maybe only the flavour of berries and hardly any whole berries.

 

Shaping Danish Pastries Made With Hundred Percent Whole Wheat Flour

I made them in three different shapes – the pinwheel, vol-au-vent and the cinnamon rolls which you can also call the snail shape. I always have a bottle of cinnamon sugar handy for my baking needs. I grind sugar with pure Cinnamon quills which is Ceylon Cinnamon and not the Cassia variety. That is all there is to it to making cinnamon sugar. This way the sugar too becomes very fine, like castor sugar.

Cinnamon Rolls Among The Danish Pastries Made With Hundred Percent Whole Wheat Flour

The cinnamon rolls have a thick layer of creme patissiere sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and raisins within its spiralling layers. In this sense it is slightly different from the other Danishes and lends a lovely contrast of flavours in a delightful breakfast basket.

Make Your Own Tumeric Powder

Make your own tumeric powder
some of my tumeric harvest for 2017

Tumeric is so much a part of Asian cuisine. I used to watch my mum and grandmother put a dash of tumeric in almost all their dishes, especially the curries. The amount was so small, I never thought tumeric contributed a significant taste to the dish. Today I know it is used in small amounts because :

 

  • It can be pungent and leave a bitter aftertaste if you use too much.

 

  • It helps bring out the flavour of all the other spices and that is why tumeric is a must in Indian curries and a lot of other Asian cuisine too, I might add, such as Thai, Indonesian, Burmese and so on. It is at its best when used with other spices. If you buy commercial curry powder or curry paste the chances are there is tumeric in the blend.

 

  • It has so many health benefits that traditional Indian cooking incorporates them in most of their dishes to make sure tumeric is part of the daily diet. In other words, more for health than taste. Yet I would not rule out tumeric as the main item of prepared food as Jitka Robinson has found this interesting blend that suits her palate: “Tumeric is my favorite super spice I use every day. Try honey and tumeric paste as a delicious topping on your toast. Combine 2 tablespoons of ground tumeric, 1/4 cup of raw honey, pinch of black pepper, 1 tsp of raw unflitered apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil in a bowl. Stir till smooth and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.” Makes about 8 – 10 servings; Tumeric Spread Recipe – Jitka Robinson, Ayurvedic Health Counsellor, Chicago, IL.
Make your own tumeric powder
minced tumeric ready to be placed in the dehydrator

I find it amusing that I can’t seem to pick up a health magazine in Australia that does not laud the benefits of tumeric somewhere amongst their pages when I’ve grown up with it all my life. Tumeric is so precious that when the US issued a patent on it in 1995, India forced them to withdraw that patent. Yet I am aware the tumeric I grew up with as a child is not the same these days. Our food is being tainted more and more in the name of profit for large corporations. So I’d like to show you how to make your own tumeric powder. It’s safer than buying commercial tumeric powder.

Make your own tumeric powder
after dehydrating, the minced tumeric shrinks a little

Make Your Own Tumeric Powder

Commercial tumeric powder contains artificial colour, additives such as rice flour, saw dust, starch and therefore the powder you buy is not pure tumeric.

Furthermore unless you buy organic, the tumeric powder is likely made from tumeric has been sprayed with pesticide and irradiated to keep it from sprouting.

 

I grow tumeric, both in the ground and in pots. If you don’t have much space, tumeric can grow quite well in a pot. I had a great yield of tumeric from growing them in an 85L black plastic pot. I went to a health food store and bought organic tumeric rhizomes.Tumeric is part of the ginger family and like ginger it is the rhizome of the plant that we eat. Choose rhizomes that are young, fresh and plump to grow. You can harvest them in 9 – 10 months after the leaves turn yellow and wilt.

If you have any clumps after grinding simply use the back of a spoon to press down on the clumps and they will break up into fine powder

 

I have tried to store fresh tumeric in the fridge after turning them into paste but if you keep the paste too long it goes bad. One of the reasons is because moisture gets in, allowing mould to develop.

Make your own tumeric powder
It will store in a jar for a long time even up to a year

So after I harvested my tumeric, I minced them using the mincing attachment of my juicer. I prefer this option to a blender because the rapid speed of the blade of a blender and the heat it generates can destroy beneficial enzymes.

I spread out the minced tumeric on my dehydrating trays and dehydrated the tumeric. Once they were completely dry I simply grind them in the dry grinder. Now I have tumeric powder.

Even if you don’t grow tumeric, you can make your own tumeric powder by buying fresh, organic tumeric and you can get them here in Australia at a wholefood shops or at farmer’s markets. You can either mince the way I have done or slice thin and then dehydrate the slices until completely dry. Then powder it in a dry grinder

Health tip:  

  • Curcumin is a powerful anti-oxidant found in tumeric. It also works as an anti-inflammatory in the body which can be a great relief to those suffering chronic pain. Piperine (the heat in black pepper) makes the curcumin in tumeric more readily absorbed by the body. For example adding 20 mg. piperine to curcumin increased its bio-availability by 2000%! So always consume tumeric powder, however you wish to take it, with a little bit of pepper

 

  • I use tumeric in a face mask I make myself as it is great for the skin

 

My husband, Kevin, prepared this dinner below. See if you can guess where the tumeric is? Scroll down past the photo to see the answer.

 

The answer is the salad dressing. Here is the recipe:

Tumeric Ginger Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp rice malt syrup
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger

Method

Mix all the ingredients together and pour over salad

Aioli With Garlic Fermented In Raw Honey

Aioli With Garlic Fermented In Raw Honey

Towards the end of 2015, I received a parcel from a French lady, who lives in a small village at the border of Switzerland. Inside the parcel, I found an assortment of French tokens from regional wine to chocolate coated biscuits. The biscuits came in a vintage, tin box. Among the many edible trinkets were bulbs of garlic with their dried leaves neatly braided to enhance the rustic effect. Wow! All the way from France, the land that has an annual festival for garlic.

Aioli with garlic fermented in raw honey
Fresh pink garlic

Organic Garlic

I remember a friend said to me, “That’s ridiculous! Who sends garlic all the way from France to Australia. I mean…it’s just garlic.” My jaw dropped. Just garlic? I was peeved that she could not appreciate beautiful, organic garlic.

In December last year I had my first harvest of garlic. They were pink garlic. I had about half a kilogram of them [wish I had planted more]. I decided to ferment the garlic in raw honey. Most people use this for medicinal purposes, but I have since used them in salads and even added a teaspoon into the juicer to blend it into the daily juices we drink. Here, though, we are going to make aioli with garlic fermented in raw honey.

Aioli with garlic fermented in raw honey
Pink garlic from my garden
Aioli with garlic fermented in raw honey
I harvested onions alongside the garlic

Consume Raw

It is best to consume fermented garlic in its raw form either on its own, in salad, over sandwich or as I have done in aioli. Fermented garlic is less pungent than unfermented. Furthermore when garlic is fermented its beneficial properties are greatly enhanced. For example, when allicin (a powerful antibiotic and anti-fungal compound naturally occurring in garlic) is fermented, it turns into S-allylcysteine (SAC) which is more easily absorbed by the body.

When you ferment, use only fresh garlic. My garlic went straight from the garden into the raw honey. Honey is very shelf stable and can never go bad. It consists of 80% sugar and 20% water, but if you increase the moisture even by a small amount, the wild yeasts in the raw honey will start the fermentation process. Hence it is best to use raw honey that is rich in wild yeasts with potent vitamins and minerals.

Garlic Fermented In Raw Honey

I filled a 500 ml jar with fresh garlic. Peel the skin but leave the cloves intact . Simply fill this jar with garlic till it is about half full. Then pour the raw honey over the garlic until they are fully covered. Shake and turn upside down if necessary to ensure all the garlic is fully coated with honey. This will be difficult when you first fill the jar, but leave it to sit on the counter for a week and the juice from the garlic will slowly seep into the mixture. This will make it easier to shake the contents in the jar.

This juice from the garlic will give the moisture needed for the bacteria and yeasts on the garlic and raw honey to begin fermentation. After about a week to ten days, transfer the jar from room temperature into the fridge to slow down the fermentation. During the time it stays in room temperature, make sure you shake the jar every day.

Aioli with garlic fermented in raw honey

Aioli With Garlic Fermented In Raw Honey

Ingredients

5 cloves of small pink garlic (lesser if the cloves are larger. It can be of any variety)

2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Aioli with garlic fermented in raw honey
Add egg yolks to the mashed garlic

300 gm olive oil

2 egg yolks

salt to taste

Method

Mash garlic with mortar and pestle. Transfer to a large bowl. Add two egg yolks and then gradually add olive oil, using a teaspoon. I’m a little impatient. So I used a tablespoon. Beat by hand and the mixture will gradually thicken. Half-way through reaching it’s peak consistency, add lemon juice. Then add more olive oil until it reaches the thickness you desire. Finally add salt.

garlic fermented in honey becomes translucent

Serving suggestion:  As a dip for crackers or grilled vegetables, sandwich spread, sauce for fries or sauce for grilled fish. I even use it for falafel where I spread the aioli on the bread before making the wrap.

Tips:

♥ The liquid in which the garlic has been fermenting will become a little watery as the honey has now been diluted. This liquid can be used as a glaze for meat, fish and vegetables, as a salad dressing.

♥ I used up my fermented garlic within five months. It was left at room temperature for one week and then remained in the fridge for the rest of the time.

♥ I used up my aioli with garlic fermented in raw honey within three weeks 

The more oil you add the thicker the aioli gets. So if you want it less thick, add less oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cherry Chocolate Oats Bliss Balls

Having three square meals a day is said to be the healthier option to snacking.  Or if you are inclined that way tea might become the fourth square meal. The English certainly can’t claim to be guardians of the tea culture [I mean the meal not the beverage] as it is very popular in Asia too.

In Malaysia there is a multitude of delicacies that cater specially to tea such as pisang goreng [fried bananas] and kuih muih which has no real translation in English and the simple term “cake” simply doesn’t do justice to these bite size Malaysian delights. In India there are samosa, pakora, urad dhal vadai and much more.

The boundaries get even more blurred in Australia. My husband and in-laws call lunch “dinner” and they call “dinner” tea. 

cherry chocolate oats bliss balls
Cherry chocolate oats bliss balls coated in coconut

We’ve done away with the formalities at our home and just snack all day. Ha! Just kidding. Breakfast and dinner are the main meals at our home and in between, we snack in moderation. I don’t believe snacking to be unhealthy as it promotes eating in smaller quantities thereby regulating insulin levels and boosting metabolism.  This is just my opinion as science is still split on this issue.

cherry chocolate oats bliss balls
Have a guilt-free snack by making your own with real food

Snacks get a bad rap because they consist mainly of processed food. If that snack is wholesome and especially if you made it yourself, it should be part of the day’s overall, healthy consumption.

One snack I like to leave in the fridge is bliss balls. At the health food store they cost about AUD$2.50 to 3.50 a ball and they are small. So usually one is not enough.  You can save a lot of money by making your own. They last in the fridge for several days and having them handy to reach for every time you get the urge to snack, keeps you away from those heavily processed packets of crisps or even commercial chocolate. Just take a look at the ingredients on each chocolate bar and you will find sugar listed first.

Product ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest amount.That means that the first listed ingredient is what is most used by the manufacturer. When I looked at the ingredient list of every brand of chocolate on the shelves of my supermarket, I found only one that did not have sugar as the first ingredient. Don’t get me wrong. I love chocolates. Who doesn’t, right? But I satisfy my chocolate craving by making my own chocolate cakes, peanut butter chocolate ice cream and kefir chocolate sauce that is so versatile it can be used for a multitude of things such as spooning it over a bowl of blueberries and strawberries or… as with this recipe, by making cherry chocolate oats bliss balls.

cherry chocolate oats bliss balls
Cherry chocolate oats bliss balls before they are coated in coconut

The wonderful thing about bliss balls are that they are made with raw ingredients and you can mix and match ingredients so that you can have a different type of bliss ball each time. This recipe is an oats based bliss ball.

Oats are technically gluten free but they tend to get “contaminated” with wheat as they are grown with wheat and processed together with wheat.

cherry chocolate oats bliss balls
Soaked oats clump together after dehydration and they are crispy and can be easily ground into oat flour or coarsely ground for a more crunchy texture

I don’t have a problem consuming gluten and so I don’t mind the “contamination” but my concern is the phytic acid in the raw oats that is difficult for the digestive system to break down. You don’t want to give up on oats simply because of that as it is soooo nutritious. The solution is to unlock the nutrients that the phytic acid is holding hostage and you do that by soaking the oats in acidic water for 24 hours.

I buy organic raw oats and roll them in my hand mill. I cover the rolled oats in water and a little lemon juice or whey for 24 hours. Then I dry them out in my Excalibur dehydrator.  This greatly reduces the phytic acid and allows your body to extract the nutrients from the oat kernels.

I have a jar of fermented cherries sitting in my fridge and now is a great time to use them in my bliss balls.

 

Cherry Chocolate Oats Bliss Balls

Ingredients

3 cups oats

1 cup honey

6 tbsp tahini

15 fermented cherries chopped into small pieces

2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 cup desiccated coconut

Method

After soaking and dehydrating the oats, grind to a semi-powder in a dry blender. Add honey, tahini, cacao and mix together. Then scatter the cherries over the mixture and incorporate it fully into the mix without breaking the cherries too much. As they are fermented cherries, they should be soft but not mushy.

I mix them all by hand. Grind organic dehydrated coconut in a dry grinder till it becomes fine like powder.

Pinch a little of the mix and roll it into a bliss ball half the size of a golf ball. Keep doing this until the entire mixture has been turned into bliss balls. Roll each ball in the powdered coconut. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to set. The cherry chocolate oats bliss balls will harden and be ready to eat in four hours

Fermented cherries

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup wine

1 kg cherries

 Method

Mix the honey and wine together and pour over the cherries in a mason jar. Do not add water. The natural juices from the cherry will in time seep out to provide more liquid. Shake it well and then place it in the refrigerator for two weeks before using. Best used within three months.

Cooking Tip: Avoid using water even if you find the mixture too thick. It will make the balls mushy. It should be hard and not soft and if you like the bliss balls very hard adding fat such as butter, coconut oil or other fat will make them harder/more firm.

Related article using fermented cherries: Potato Chocolate Cake