Suddenly Sauer: Preserving Food and Tradition in a Modern World

Web Launch!
September 29, 2010, 1:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Suddenly Sauer has a new website!  You simply must check it out

thanks to thermitic for the incredible web design

and if you subscribe to this blog, or bookmark it, or whatever else, be sure to switch over to the new site as thats where the blog is now hosted and where I’ll be doing all my updates!


Suddenly Sauer Sells!
September 20, 2010, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Pickled Anything

Packed, Labeled, and READY TO EAT!

Just a quick note, I had my first sale of pickles at yesterday’s Corktown Community Brunch.  Not only did my Indian Style Dill Pickles (a recipe torn from the pages of ADAMAH dills) sit pretty alongside the Indian Style Huevos Rancheros menu, Delicata Sunshine’s Peach Chutney, and Detroit Evolution’s ground cherry and tomatillo hot sauce, but I also managed to peddle my first few jars of suddenly sauer product!

This occasion even led me to get my mom involved!  She has run a stationary store out of our basement since I was 10 yrs old and last week she and I sat down and designed these labels

Thank you Invitation Station!

And, because I can’t resist, I want to mention what’s currently “in the crock,” (meaning, in progress, of course!)

literally fermenting:

Dilly Beans
Sweetly Spiced Shredded Beets
Cucumber and Green Tomato Relish
SauerReuben (a turnip based sauerkraut)
Butternut Squash and Asian Greens Kimchi
Fresh Turmeric and Fennel Cauliflower

figuratively fermenting:

The products I’ve jarred so far are just the beginning of what I’m planning to eventually amount to 25 jars each of 12 experimental varieties, all crafted with much love and care in my kitchen.  I’m planning to amass these creations into a winter pickle share, for 25 eager pickle eaters to sample at the rate of 2 jars a month for 6 months.  The jars are small, but the share would be as much about getting a sneak peak of some really special pickles, as about supporting said pickles and their bright and fizzy future in Suddenly Sauer’s first year.

I plan to use this blog to let those who sample my product know about the process behind each variety, as well where the food that goes into the pickles comes from.

I’m going to be putting together more information about this share in the coming weeks, but if you’re interested in being on Suddenly Sauer’s e-mail list, either comment on this post with your e-mail or e-mail me directly at

Thanks to my incredibly supportive community for getting me this far, and I’m looking forward to discovering all the ways we can support eachother in the future!

Dilly Beans and A Happy New Year!
September 8, 2010, 1:30 am
Filed under: food, Pickled Anything, Producers

Alright… it might be a little far fetched to claim that lacto-fermented Dilly Beans are the perfect treat for this year’s Rosh Hashannah festivities, but they’ll be gracing my family’s table where dates, beets, and honey occupy the spreads of Jews across the globe.  And I’ll give you one simple reason why… they’re totally delicious.

I first learned to make Dilly Beans at ADAMAH: the Jewish Environmental Fellowship run out of Falls Village Connecticut’s Isabella Freedman Retreat Center.  I apprenticed at the Fellowship’s pickle kitchen for a spell in 2008 and, needless to say, my life has never been the same.  One of the many things I was introduced to there was a deep respect for the rhythm of the seasons, and the way that Jewish Holiday’s beautifully capture the ebbs and flows we all experience in a year.  Rosh Hashannah, a holiday that celebrates the New Year with sweetness, freshness, and all things at their burst blooming peak of life, is full of delicious food traditions.  The mass consumption of apples dipped in honey is the one most strongly crystalized in my memory.

But this year, alongside the sweet things that will fill our table, I’ll be setting a little bowl of dilly beans with all their fantastic flavor just within arms reach of my family.  I love these beans, not only because they’re complexly sweet and sour, or because they never fail to impart the perfect crunch, but also because they’re simply the best thing to come out of the crock lately.  They’re ready NOW and NOW is the time to CELEBRATE!

I picked up the beans for these dilly’s from Earthworks Urban Farm‘s Medlrum Fresh Food Market

Then I brought them home, and fermented them with gusto.

Dilly Beans

(2 Gallons)

1 gallon+2 cups H20
1 cup salt
8 quarts green beans
1.5 cups peeled garlic
10 dill flowers
20 cayenne peppers
Spice mix (bay, cinnamon, orange peel, anise, clove)

I chopped the stems off all the beans, mixed a brine with the salt and water, placed all the ingredients in the crock, and poured the brine over them until they were submerged.  Then I put on one of my lids with a boiled stone for a weight, and put the whole crock in the basement (68 degrees) to ferment.  I plan to let them go three weeks, after two weeks they’re already divine.

I am really looking forward to sharing these beans with my family and friends.  I know it’s a little late to ferment them for this years’ holidays, but I highly suggest it for the future!  Nothing says new year like a batch of bright tasting pickles that are sure to keep you fed in the months to come!

Tamarind Ice Cream for Neighborhood Noodle
September 1, 2010, 7:20 pm
Filed under: food, Ice Cream, Producers | Tags: ,
ice cream in the making

Tamarind Ice Cream meets its maker.

I think this post needs to begin with a bit of context.  There is a new noodle shop in town, operating out of a ground floor teeny little apartment (teeny for Detroit, anyway) where you can go on Monday night to carry out creatively and lovingly prepared Asian noodle dishes.  The proprietor of this new shop asked if I’d prepare an Asian style Ice Cream for this week’s event and I excitedly obliged.

Once of my more repeatable ice creams creations is a Thai Ice Cream with a coconut milk base, flavored with tamarind and hot pepper, sweetened with agave, and thickened with egg yolk (making it a dairy-free custard style ice cream).  I instantly knew this was the one I wanted to make for Neighborhood Noodle.  It also seemed appropriate to take this opportunity to use this blog as a space to tell my consumers what I’m making for them- both through the process as well as the producers who grow the food.

Thus began my journey to bring you delicious, sweet, sour, icy cold Ice Cream.

Of the relatively small list of ingredients in this ice cream, the most contentious one is certainly the eggs.  With Salmonella scares in the millions and concerned vegans aghast at the thought of eating baby animals, I wanted to highlight my egg producer, for whom I have the utmost respect and trust.

Will and I worked together at the Greening of Detroit as Urban Ag apprentices until the end of this summer.  As I’m striking out on my own to work towards being a full time pickler (yes, it’s true…!) He’s working full time on his community and market garden project: Edgeton Community Garden.

With almost 2 full acres in Northeast Detroit, Will is one of the more production focused farming operations I’ve gotten to traipse around in the city as of yet.  He’s got it all: livestock, veggies galore, compost, irrigation, community focused space and production space.  It’s a truly inspiring operation.

So I drove out to Will’s to pick up 2 dozen eggs for the Ice Cream and I snapped a few shots of him with the chickens and their environs.

Will with one of his hens.

This is where the magic happens (i.e. this is where they lay)

Once I got my eggs home, and gathered the rest of my ingredients from the suburbs (I’m still waiting for a food co-op downtown…) and picked up some tamarind pods from Honey Bee Market, I was ready to make the Ice Cream.

Tamarind Coconut Milk Ice Cream

(for a 1.5 quart batch)
1 can whole coconut milk
Water to bring total liquid to 4 cups (about 2 cups)
3/4-1 cup agave nectar
3 Tbs Tamarind (or about 6 whole pods)
1 hot pepper (if you like)
2 egg yolks
A few tablespoons of toasted coconut flakes

Bring the coconut milk/water mixture to a soft boil with the agave, tamarind, and hot pepper.  Once it’s cooked for about 30 minutes and the tamarind is soft, pour the mixture through a fine sieve and press the tamarind until most of the pulp is soft and can be stirred back into the coconut milk.  Discard the seeds.  Ladle one cup of hot liquid into egg yolks, stirring constantly, and then pour the tempered yolks into the pot of coconut milk tamarind mixture.  Stir constantly in one direction over low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Cool.  Churn.  And top with toasted coconut flakes.


I ended up making 3 gallon sized batches, each churned in my one gallon hand crank ice cream maker:

Cranking the Ice Cream

And this is what I ended up with!  67 6oz servings and a lot of cranking later… I hope the folks @ neighborhood noodle enjoyed!

The Finished Product!!!

August 24, 2010, 1:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

check out some of Suddenly Sauer’s upcoming Detroit events:

brought to you by Urban Ecology Detroit and NEIGHBORHOOD NOODLE


Join Suddenly Sauer @ Urban Ecology Detroit‘s latest event–>

I sCREAM (without cream): ICE CREAM creation and consumption 101

Ice Cream in mid churn, yum.

this class, brought to you by URBAN ECOLOGY DETROIT, focuses on the making (and consumption) of unique ice creams!

We’ll be using non-dairy ice cream bases (cashews, coconut milk, etc.) to help us understand the fundamentals of ice cream flavor and texture! Non-vegans and vegans alike will leave confident in their knowledge of how to build an ice cream using a variety of bases and ingredients. We’ll also be tasting everything we make, so come prepared to eat!

visit Urban Ecology Detroit’s facebook page for more details



This Monday, August 30th Suddenly Sauer will be selling asian inspired ice cream through NEIGBORHOOD NOODLE

Special Dessert! Handmade tamarind-coconut (no-dairy) ice cream — Tamarind ice cream with a coconut milk base, Edgeton community farm egg yolks, agave sweetener, and toasted coconut flakes (by Blair of Suddenly Sauer).

tamarind ice cream with a coconut milk base

check out the dessert, as well as the super sweet noodle bowls @ NEIGHBORHOOD NOODLE

Angela’s Cucumber and Green Tomato Relish
August 3, 2010, 3:59 pm
Filed under: food, Pickled Anything, Uncategorized

Green tomatoes and their accompaniments, soaking in cold water pre-fermentation

Last week’s makers faire, a nationwide series of events highlighting DIY projects in cities across the country, kicked off with an event called Can Do Camp, where Detroiters with a “can do” spirit were invited to mingle and listen to speakers all day long.  They were also invited to feast, and feast WELL at that!

The event was catered by Detroit Evolution, an organization that provides scrumptious catering among their many offerings.  My friend Angela is the caterer, and her ability to make magical food has been proved to me, time and again, through her catering as well as her work organizing and head chef-ing the monthly Corktown Community Brunch.

Angela got in touch with me and asked if I could make a couple of Suddenly Sauer Delights for the Can Do Camp event, and I happily obliged.  Besides 2 gallons of yogurt (with calder dairy milk) and 8 pounds of my oil free/date sweetened granola, she also asked for some pickles.  and pickles I provided!

I sold her one gallon of the pickled baby beets, and as we sat in the kitchen debating the crowd appeal of a batch of pickled turnip greens, my mind wandered to the 10 greatly oversized pickling cucumbers my friend Rachel had just pulled from her garden and gifted to me.  I instantly proposed to Angela a cucumber and green tomato relish (the green tomatoes were coming on strong in my own garden) and she heartily agreed that it had great potential.

The next step was figuring out what it was I was actually going to make.

I decided to brine the cucumbers and green tomatoes whole, with traditional pickling spices, garlic, and dill flowers, and some hot peppers to give the relish a mild kick.  My plan was to let them ferment for as long as possible, realizing that meant somewhere in the neighborhood of 48 hours.  When we made pickles at the Adamah pickle kitchen where I apprenticed in 2008, we would brine our half sours for 48 hours and our full sours for a full week.  Operating on that principle, I hoped 48 hours would be enough to give these fatties a bit of sauerness while preserving their cucumber nature.  I planned to chop them into relish after the 48 hour period.

Angela’s Cucumber and Green Tomato Relish

(in a 3 gallon crock, yield: 1 gallon relish)


1.5 cups pickling salt (with NO additives/preservatives/anti-caking agents)

1.5 gallons water

Add salt to crock, add 4 cups hot water and whisk with salt until dissolved.  More hot water might be necessary for total dissolution, but keep track of how much you’re adding.  Once salt is dissolved in hot water, add the rest of your water cold to bring the temperature of the brine down to room temp.

Then begin to add your ingredients:

2 cups (fresh from my garden) garlic, smashed

5 dill flowers (the flowers make great pickle seasoning!)

6 hot peppers

1.5 Tbs pickling spice (in a spice sock, which can be bought in most brewing stores)

8 overgrown cucumbers

2 quarts green tomatoes

Measuring the garlic to throw in the brine

Peppers, dill, spice sock, and garlic, all afloat in the brine

and the green tomatoes, the last thing in before the cucumbers.

I only added the cukes and green tomatoes until there were at least 2 inches of head space in the crock.  At that point, I put one of my seasoned wooden crock lids on top, weighed it down with a ceramic bowl filled with bagged dry beans (obviously just an improvisation, you could use whatever you like!) and let it sit in my kitchen for 48 hours (hotter than usual because I wanted it to ferment quickly, more like 80 degrees rather than my usual high 60’s/low 70’s).

At the end of two days, I chopped all the cucubers and tomatoes into 1/2 inch cubes, placed then in a 1 gallon jar, poured brine over them, and let them sit out overnight with the lid slightly ajar to let their flavor develop a bit more and allow the newly exposed inner parts of the cukes and tomatoes to soak in more brine.  Also, because the cukes were so overgrown, their seeds were pretty nasty so I cut the insides out of all the cucumbers before slicing them for the relish. 

Ultimately, I served the relish at the event in these nifty little dishes and i think it looked pretty swell.  I felt grateful to Angela for giving me the opportunity to showcase my pickling prowess and I’m really looking forward to more pickling adventures in the coming months, as we get deeper into the harvest season.

Angela’s Cucumber and Green Tomato Relish at the Can Do Camp Event

The Great (Mint Soda) Debacle
July 26, 2010, 2:11 pm
Filed under: beverages, Pickled Anything

For the last month or so, my soda making has been at a standstill.

Those who’ve innocently inquired as to “how it’s going” have been greeted with an earful about my insufficient scientific method, my failed attempts, confusion, research, lacto-bacilli, CO2, whey, and so on and so forth.

what was holding me up, in truth, were the 12 bottles of MOROCCAN MINT TEA SODA, idly fermenting away in one of my kitchen cupboards.

I had put up the soda at the beginning of May.  12 bottles (roughly 1.5 gallons) and a week later, then another week later, and ultimately a full month later, their bacterial activity was for all intents and purposes dead as a doornail.

With each increasingly anxiety filled unveiling, I would hold the cobalt blue bottle to my face and gently pop the lid, cursing under my breath (and, finally, very much aloud) as only the tinniest whisper of CO2 escaped.

The mystery of the non-fermenting-nor-spoiling soda was heightened when one out of twelve bottles popped open with a perfectly fermented fizz and a fantastic flavor to boot!  Why would one in 12 bottles successfully carbonate while the others were all, with certainty, dudds.

Cursing the gods, I poured the unfermented sodas into ice cube trays and popsicle molds and defeatedly sucked on them through the hottest days of summer.  I left one jar in the cupboard, however, and when it had still failed to come to life 6 weeks later, I decided to top it off with a bit of extra whey.

two weeks later, I returned from a road trip, popped the top, and was delighted, yes overjoyed, to find that the soda had finally carbonated!

it is thus my pleasure to report the following lessons:

1) I think the whey settled a bit out of solution and the one bottle’s success was a result of its containing more whey than the other bottles.

2) I think some simple syrups, particularly those made with potentially anti-microbial ingredients (green tea? mint?) require more whey than others.  Knowing exact amounts will take some experimenting… but it’s good to have the variable at least pinpointed.

3) Moroccan mint tea soda is yummy.  I think I’ll give this one another go WITH the extra whey from the start.


1 gallon water

3 cups sugar

1/2 lb fresh mint

2 Tbs gunpowder green tea

1/2 gallon cold water

2 cups whey (note** this is an estimate of what i think might be a more accurate amount.  I’ll update this recipe once I’ve made another successful batch of soda)

IN a large pot, bring the water to boil with the sugar.  Once the sugar is dissolved and the water has boiled, turn the heat off and add the fresh mint and green tea.  Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.  Strain the mixture into a large bowl.  add the cold water and let cool (cover with cheesecloth to keep it clean).  Once mixture has cooled, add whey, stir, and bottle!  Should take 1 week to ferment*** again that is subject to further experimentation.