Fermentation 101: Kombucha and Kraut… after the class

Each month (first Sunday of the month, 5-7pm) we have a hands on class on kraut-making as well as a demo on kombucha brewing. It is an exciting opportunity to see, touch and feel while having someone offer insight on several years of fermentation. It can be daunting to start fermenting if you’ve never done it before but with a little help some of that fear can be abated.

After the class we encourage participants to ask questions, send photographs- anything to help you on your way in your first few batches of ferments. But we thought that we would put some information here on our site to help you along while you get going. This post today will focus on the first portion of the fermentation class: krauting making. We hope to answer many questions about the process as your sauerkraut is fermenting. Of course, as always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to stop by, email us or give us a call with any questions.

Class is over now what?

So you just went home with your first batch of kraut. Where to start?!

You don’t need any fancy tools to make sauerkraut. Sandor Katz believes heartily in using tools that you already have on hand and that is generally what we go with. Having said that, there are many tools that you can utilize to help make you feel a little more comfortable in your fermenting.

  • Weights-

Weights keep your kraut blend submerged in the brine. Weights can come in a variety of styles including ceramic weights, vegetable Weight stones for fermenting crocks 2014cores (we demonstrate in class), large rocks or even a small jar. They all serve the same purpose- keeping your kraut under the brine and healthfully fermenting.

  • Air locks-

Air locks can make things a little simpler because you can be a little less hands-on with your kraut. The air lock serves to release the carbon dioxide that is building in the kraut while fermentation is beginning and continuing. There are a few brands that secure right on to a mason jar if you are working on small batch ferments. If you have to travel or otherwise just don’t pay as much attention to your ferment, airlocks can be very helpful in keeping your batch pretty safe. Even with airlocks brine evaporation occurs, so do check your water levels.

You want to place your sauerkraut in a dry and draft-free place. Remember that it needs to stay at least 5 feet away from any other ferment or cross fermentation will occur and one will inevitably die. The temperature should stay in the 65-75 degree range, anything lower and fermentation will slow or not occur at all. Higher temperatures could speed fermentation, but watch carefully for water levels, the higher the temperature the quicker the water evaporation.

My kraut is overflowing!


As fermentation begins, within the first 24-48 hours you will notice your kraut is overflowing as bubbles begin to start the fermentation process. This is lactic acid releasing from the vegetables causing , hence lacto-fermentation. You will get to a point where you feel like it will never stop overflow, but it will. Be sure to continuously check the water levels in the first week of fermentation. When the first portion of the fermentation slows down, there will be a low water level. Be sure to add more water (brine… 3 parts water, 1 part sea salt) and keep the water level above the kraut. Should you notice the water is low, skim off any kraut that has been exposed to air and add the brine and continue to ferment.


There are various schools of thought on mold. Some people are extremely sensitive to molds (like myself). I try to keep moldmy sauerkraut mold free by consistently checking on it and maintaining a good brine level. Generally I won’t eat kraut that has developed mold because like about 1/3 of the population I have developed a severe reaction to mycotoxins. However, many hardcore fermenters simply say, skim the scum and you are good to go. Sandor Katz himself has a breakdown of the creation of molds in fermentation and how to avoid it here.

The Fermenters Club also has some great info about mold and even a video on skimming.

The bottom line is that you should (in my opion) be cautious about molds, but if there is scum or mold present, it doesn’t necessarily mean your whole batch is done for. Here is a great infographic to give you some guidelines on mold.


How Long?

I think the last question I usually get is “how long do I leave it fermenting?” There are many guides that can give you some ideas on how longtimechart to ferment your kraut. As fermentation continues your kraut changes and develops the flavor. Once your kraut gets that pickly-briney flavor that YOU are happy with, go forth and eat it! If your still a little concerned here is a good graphic that gives you some more detail on the process through time.

For us, we generally let our kraut ferment between 4-6 weeks. Then once we start to eat it… we start a new batch!


I hope that answers some sauerkraut fermenting questions. NEXT: Kombucha… what happens next?

We’ve Got Bones (and broth!)

Bone broth and how it can help heal you


Every few days folks come in to find bones for broth. It is no wonder, with all the benefits of regularly consuming bone broth, why wouldn’t you buy some bones to make your own? Ok, ok, there are a number of reasons why you might not, including the very long cooking times, but really the negatives are outweighed by the positive tenfold.

So you may ask- what exactly are the benefits of bone broth? What’s the big deal? Why does it have to be “healthy” bones?

There are countless articles out on the interwebs that discuss the benefits in depth, so I am going to keep this quick and dirty and move on to the making of broth. So, here we go:

  • Bone broth contains a variety of nutrients and minerals that are important for your body including- calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals. Why is that important? Can’t you get that from a supplement? Yes… and no. When you consume foods that naturally contain certain nutrients and vitamins, they are more bioavailable for absorption. That means that your body can actually use all those nutrients much more effectively.
  • Hydrophilic colloid. We all talk extensively about “gut health” and why it is important. (if you are unfamiliar, that will be a whole other article) but did you know that the hydrophilic acid present in bone broth is a gelatin that helps to hold liquids in place like the ever so important digestive fluids that help your digestion.
  • Bone broth helps you fight infection by reducing inflammation. Did your mom ever give you chicken soup for your cold? Probably. Did you know that aside of just making you feel cozy, it was actually part of your body’s healing? Yes!


Making Bone Broth:

Making bone broth doesn’t really require any heavy instruction or require any complicated equipment. Planning ahead, you can have gut healing bone broth ready to go every day. Here are a few tips and directions for getting the most out of those bones.

  1. Choose healthy bones!

I cannot stress this enough. You know how if you cut down a tree, you can see the rings of the tree and with some research learn a great deal about the health of the tree from year to year. Our bodies, while very different, are somewhat similar. As we grow (mammals) the nutrients and minerals that we consume are present down to our bones. Of course the converse of this is that all the bad things like pesticides, chemical treatments and more are also present in our bones. Additionally, the fats in our bodies hold the highest amount of the chemicals and bad stuff that we have consumed, been administered or been exposed to. So, logic would state that if we consume an animal who was treated with lots of antibiotics, hormones, chemicals and more, that we would be consuming those as well, right? Indeed. With our bones being the rings of our tree, we need to be sure that the bones we use are sourced from healthy animals that were forage fed, pastured, grass-fed and finished and free of all GMOs. This sounds a little daunting, but honestly, the bones are the cheapest part of the animal, so even if you can’t afford to eat 100% grass-fed/finished meats, splurge on those bones. (and choose organic for the meats if when not choosing grass fed/finished)

  1. Different treatment for different bones

Each type of animal bones requires slightly different cooking times to get the most out of the bones. A seasoned bone broth maker rejoices when they get a resulting broth that is so jelly that you can turn it over without any spillage once it’s refrigerated. (you don’t know joy until you have totally jelled your broth). Follow these guidelines to cook your bones for the best result:

      Chicken: 12-24 hours, cook until the bones can be crushed or broken by hand

      Pork: 24-48 hours (bones will still be firm, but softer)

     Beef: 24-48 hours (bones will still be firm, but softer)

Can’t leave your bones that long? The longer the cooking time, the better flavor and nutrient value, generally speaking. But that doesn’t mean if you only cook your bones for 12 hours that you get nothing, so forge ahead!

  1. Good water

Just as with anything, the resulting product is only going to be as good as the materials used to make it. Start off with purified water so that you don’t have the added fluoride and chlorine affecting you.




Awesome start to a good broth by Maureen at 25 30 Espresso

4 quarts water

2-4 lbs healthy bones (chicken, beef or pork)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (like Braggs) or white vinegar


2 carrots

½ onion

2 stalks celery

4 cloves garlic


  1. Add the water and bones to a crock pot or heavy bottom pot.
  2. Roughly chop all the vegetables and add to the pot.
  3. Set the crock pot on low and allow it to cook for 12-24 hours (or more depending on the bones you are using)
  4. When your broth has finished, using a strainer, strain the broth and use as desired.


You don’t have to add those veggies if you don’t want to, but they will give you a pretty tasty broth at the end of the day (or several days). Additionally- you can get the very most of your bones by first using them to make a meat stock (simply boil the bones with your clean water for 10-15 minutes) and then once you get your meat stock, transfer them to a crock and add more water and continue to cook. In our family we love getting the very most out of our meats so using the bones to make a quick soup and then bone broth is our normal.

Because it can take some time, we do have fresh bone broth now available at Kickshaws on a regular basis. If you can’t find it in the refrigerator, we might have it at the kitchen ready for a hot cup of gut healing goodness.



The Gluten-free “Fad”

 Do I prefer to be gluten-free?

A few months ago I met my family to go out to dinner at a larger chain restaurant. It was my birthday so my mom wanted to treat me and it lettucewrapswas a place that we typically don’t go to but has a good record as being careful with gluten-free diners.As we munched on the appetizer, the waitress came around and said to me “oh… are you gluten-free because you have to be or is it simply a preference, because that appetizer isn’t gluten-free.” I think the color went out of my face immediately. A few questions come to mind right away such as- why would I simply prefer to be gluten-free? Second, and most importantly, how long would it be until I was feeling the wrath of symptoms from gluten in my very unhappy body? The second question was answered within about 30 minutes as I rushed to the bathroom and deposited my dinner is painful heaves. I remembered then that staring into the toilet bowl is NOT my favorite place to be. I was reminded of that two more times before leaving the restaurant and then for the following three days recuperating and detoxing.

wheatfreeI am not alone in my inability to consume gluten. Today in the United States it is estimated that 1% of our population has Celiac Disease. That statistic however does not account for all those who suffer from gluten intolerance. With the mention of gluten intolerance many folks eyes start to glaze over. They ask things like “well if you don’t have Celiac Disease, then you just prefer to not have gluten, right?” or “if it’s just ‘gluten intolerance’, that means that you can have a little bit of gluten and you’re ok.” I will try not to yell too much while I answer those… NO! I am not a diagnosed Celiac, but even though the medical world has not diagnosed me, I become violently ill when I consume even a grain of gluten like countless other sufferers.

The “Fad”

Today at least half of the restaurants that you walk into will show gluten-free options or a completely separate gluten-free menu. There are rice krispiescountless bakeries and delis that now have gluten-free breads and baked goods to meet the needs of the gluten intolerant. The grocery store shelves are now stock with gluten-free items, sometimes running an entire aisle long. Suddenly (over the last ten years or so) there has sprouted a huge market for gluten-free products. Gluten-free has become the largest and fastest growing category of food products in the United States. And while I should rejoice about this because now there are so many options, I don’t.

The advent of so much gluten-free in the market has made it increasingly difficult for folks to take the issue seriously and that is a dangerous thing. There is no doubt that the ever growing market and demand for gluten-free products is present, but with creating a product to meet certain dietary restrictions there is also a responsibility to maintain that product to be sure it is safe for that market to consume. This second part is what people are failing to see. For instance, if you walk into an Italian restaurant that offers gluten-free items, is the gluten-free pasta boiled in the same water as gluten-full pasta? What about a restaurant that has french fries on their gluten-free menu, are those fries fried in the same oil that is used to fry breaded foods? If you go to a local bakery to purchase a few gluten-free treats, is it a gluten-free bakery or do they produce regular wheat products on site as well? If so, how careful are they about cross contamination? It is really nice to be able to stop somewhere and grab a quick treat, but what are the consequences to those who have those dietary restrictions? Unlike many other conditions the damage on the body of someone who is truly gluten intolerant or has Celiac Disease may not be obvious. But each time they consume a gluten containing product they are re-damaging or adding to already present damage in their digestive tract. For me, I can tell without any hesitation that I have been contaminated with gluten, but it is not the case for everyone. Does a business hold the responsibility of causing medical damage to a person? No, they place disclaimers in menus telling diners to be cautious because there is a risk of contamination. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to choose what we consume and what we do not, but there is no doubt that businesses are feeding off the ignorance of those who are trying to heal.

For anyone who has transitioned to being gluten-free, they know how difficult it can be. It is not simply choosing gluten-free bread and using gluten-free flours, you have to check labels and ask questions for all the places that gluten can possibly be present. For our bodies to heal, we have to be consistent and diligent in our food choices. While I can choose what I put in my body and the bodies of my children, I do feel that businesses need to carefully decide if it is safe to market to the diets of those with dietary restrictions.



At Kickshaws Downtown Market, all gluten-free products are produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities.

This week at Kickshaws!

We have a lot of things going on… a little overwhelming, but exciting! Today we will be welcoming our new refrigeration unit and yesterday our big freezer was hooked up! No more digging for your frozen goods! Sunday we will be closing for the day, but fear not, we will open again on Monday with a brand new look!

New Products!carpedonut

We are now carrying Carpe Donuts! If you don’t know Carpe Donut (and are a gluten eater) you really should. Carpe Donut is an awesome company that sources all materials locally and uses HEALTHY cooking oils! What?! A healthier donut? It couldn’t possible taste good though, right? Well… we have been sampling these donuts out and people adore them. (I can’t eat them, boo) We have customers that travel to Charlottesville JUST to get these donuts! Starting Monday we will have Carpe Donuts available for individual purchase at the counter.

Carytown Teas is one of our new vendors and they produce a beautiful line or gourmet teas. The Tummy Tonic is one of our favorites, but the others like the Madagascar Vanilla Roobios smell like heaven. The weather is getting chilly again, and these teas will help warm you up.

We just brought in No Bull Burgers and will be sampling these guys out along with our Scrumptious Pantry Heirloom Green Tomato Relish Nobullburgertomorrow between 12-4pm at the shop. If you aren’t sure about these burgers, come by and have a taste. We here only great things about them so far! No Bull is a veggie burger free of soy (texturized vegetable protein or TVP) GMO’s, are gluten-free and vegan!

For about four years, I have searched for a real bagel tasting bagel that I could eat sans the gluten. I have tried many bagels and have not really been all that satisfied. Sweet Note Bagels have totally hit the spot for us. They are gluten-free, vegan, and non-gmo! I was skeptical when we got them in, but one taste of the Pumpkin Spice bagel (with some Sweet Valley Cranberry Chevre!) and I was sold. We carry each flavor including Pumpkin Spice, Everything, Poppy Seed, Sesame Seed, Cinnamon Raisin and Plain.



We have our Fermentation Basics Workshop coming up this Monday (5:30 pm) at the shop. We will have Dawn Story of Farmstead Ferments (maker of the amazing fermented foods we carry) teaching about the basics on kraut making. After that we will be tackling kombucha brewing for beginners. The class fee is $25 and pre-registration is required. We still have a few spots open for the class, but it is limited. Call the shop, stop by or register using our shop link on the site.

Turkey Talk

We still have a few turkeys available for order with the Lockhart Family Farm. Quantities are limited, so if you still need your delicious, free-range, non-gmo turkey, give us a call or stop in to put down a deposit.

Lizz’s Creative Juices Pickup

We are starting an exciting partnership with Elizabeth Howard from Lizz’s Creative Juices to create a pickup point for your pressed juices. Elizabeth is certified in functional blood chemistry analysis, is a Board Certified Nutritional Therapist, a certified raw foods nutrition specialist and chef and has a Masters of Science in Nutrition. In addition to amazing juices that heal, detoxify and taste amazing, Lizz’s Creative Juices offers an amazing menu of delicious raw foods. If you would like to inquire about a juice pick up, just give us a call, stop by or, of course you can contact Elizabeth as well. You can also check out the offers here at the order page and place orders for pickup at Kickshaws. 

The Great Pumpkin #fxbgpumpkin, A Finale

It’s hard to believe it’s already November… unless you step outside in the chill, then reality strikes. We had a wonderful October with more 10696450_522360147907654_1652154621958408273_ngreat products coming in and lots of fun events! The downtown Trick Or Treating was a blast, we loved working with the kids at the park and handing out mini pumpkins and of course handing out our apple treats for the Trick or Treaters.

We had a wonderful end to The Great Pumpkin with twenty entries into the contest and some really great and fun pumpkin work. We are still working towards meeting our fundraising goal to support The Boys and Girls Club of Fredericksburg, so if you have a donation, please bring it by or donate by using our shop here.

The contest started on September 30th and ended at midnight on October 31st. Winners were chosen by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter likes, retweets and shares. When everything was said and done, there were over 500 likes for all the pumpkins entered into the contest, not a bad start! After tabulating totals here is the result:

1st Place


@30stinkytoes (via Instagram) with a lovely quartet of pumpkins and gorgeous mums! @30stinkytoes YOU win the Kickshaws Gift Basket valued at $80.

2nd Place


@megancorsano (via Instagram) With undoubtedly the creepiest Chesire Cat I have seen. The eyes… they haunt me. YOU win A $25 Gift Card to HOOKED, $25 Gift Card for PITAIYO, $10 for Ladyburg AND $10 for When Pigs Fly!

3rd Place


The Pons Family (Via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) with their Jack-O-Vader… Luke… I am your pumpkin. You guys win $25 for PITAIYO, $10 for Ladyburg and $10 from Dog Krazy!

The Kiddos!

Last but not least, we have our kiddo prizes! It was hard to choose, but our two winners:


@neremiss ‘s kiddo (via Instagram) with the amazing smile to match his great pumpkins. You win $10 gift card and a t-shirt from Dragon Fly Yoga as well your choice of a Kickshaws Cookie!


Finally our second kiddo winner is from mom Brandy Staats Dominy with her little man’s amazing spider (man) pumpkins, they rocked! You win $10 gift card from the Pon Shop and your choice of a Kickshaws cookie!

All prizes are available at the shop (101 William Street), come on by and pick them up!

The Next Big Thing- #ElfieSelfie

Thank you all so much for joining in the fun, we really loved seeing everyone’s work. We hope you all join in with the merchants downtown for the next fun contest- Elfie Selfie! Our new window displays will be revealed on Saturday so you can start getting in on the contest. To enter you take your picture in front of your favorite shops (ahem, Kickshaws) and share on social media with the shop name ie.- The Craddock Family at @kickshawsfxbg loving our #elfieselfie!  Each week the Mainstreet Initiative will be awarding a $100 gift card for downtown shops. In addition… the merchant with the MOST tagged Elfie Selfies wins a prize too! So… all you Kickshaws lovers, tag us!