Death by Sourdough Starter

Well. Register for the January 27th event!

Malted Grains, Koji and Rhizopus. Amazing tasty foods and brews. #Zymes2020:

Monday, Jan 27, 2020, 7:00 PM

Fifth Hammer Brewing Company
10-28 46th Ave Long Island City, NY

8 Members Attending

Alkaline and acidic ferments from vinegar to beer to miso to natto to sake to amino sauces that are easy to make and healthy for you. About this Event Most people know about the acidic ferments and foods like vinegar, sake, miso, soy sauce, miso, beer, yogurt, kefir and an amazing variety of pickles. We’ve almost finished a two year research projec…

Check out this Meetup →

Chili with Koji and Beans



At tonight’s first #Zymes2020 event at Fifth Hammer Brewing we presented a chili made the typical way. A very small amount of ground beef was browned with onions, garlic, peppers, oregano, lime and other seasonings.

It doesn’t matter what your actual chili base is for this if you decide to make it, although some people do not like spicy foods. When preparing food for a crowd it is always a very considerate and professional thing to consider the preferences of a wide spectrum of people.

The place was packed. Actually the busiest we’ve ever seen it. The people attending the event truly appreciated the samples of food, as well as the unique condiments they could use to alter the taste of the chili to their liking.



A lot of people actually ate the condiments as if they were unrelated to the chili. That’s why you should always aim to prepare whatever it is you are making as if it is the main dish.

We brought ten things tonight that represented the ending of #Kojifest2019, and the beginning of #Zymes2020. We will be publishing recipes for everything we brought tonight.

On the one hand, it’s never a good idea to throw too many ingredients into a dish – and then describe all of them because their eyes will roll back in their heads after ingredient number five and your dialog will quickly become meaningless if not irritating – because one or more will likely not appeal to someone.

On the other hand if everything has so many ingredients and layers of flavor taste buds can get overwhelmed and senseless by the variety. Balance of tastes is important on the level of each dish, and to the extent that each dis contributes to the eating and tasting experience of a diner.

Like, seven different kinds of cake at every meal is not really tasty after a few meals. Would seven different types of wines for every meal be tasty after the first one or two meals? Be simple and let people choice things like condiments and drinks according to their preferences.

The home made doubanjiang (豆瓣酱) we brought was the hottest thing there. And untouched. That’s why condiments are so useful. In a previous post on mother sauces we explained that you can’t remove certain ingredients once you add them.

The chili would not have been so well received if we had added the doubanjiang to it during cooking or right before serving. Once again, that’s why it is so important to know your ingredients, know your techniques, know what has been done in the past, and remember that an artesan of any kind must take into account what others might like when preparing food or drink.



Tasty Functions

The purpose of everything we brought tonight was first and foremost to provide tasty things. The fact that some of our foods serve as functional foods by providing beneficial microbes, or by not providing discomforting or harmful ones, is always secondary.

Functional foods are important, but there are so many ways to get beneficial microbes into your body when eating fresh or unprocessed foods as all or just a part of your daily intake that you shouldn’t stress about it. In fact, condiments are another way to add live tasty foods to very simply prepared foods.



Functional Enzymes

The chili involves adding dried or freshly made barley koji, garbanzo bean koji, and wheat barley koji – the three made with different types of Aspergillus or a combinations of different types of spores – with salt and water to a meat or plant protein based already prepared chili.

Water or some liquid is important in facilitating the work of enzymes, as they involve hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is not possibly with water.

The unique thing about this chili, and much of which we spoke about, is how we prepared the dish to maximize the contribution of enzymes to the texture, taste and digestibility of the dish.



The Amasake Technique

If you have ever made amasake, typically a sweet rice based beverage or sugar substitute made with rice that has had Aspergillus oryzae grown in it, you know that it is made at a temperature of 140F for at least 12 hours.

If you are uncomfortable about controlling the temperature precisely aim for 135F. If we don’t actually grind our rice koji up first we usually make ours over a 24 hour period and add more water than typical recipes. Because of the sugars created during the process another cooking procedure with amasake tends to be risky if you are in a hurry.

A higher water content makes it less so. We find more water dissolves the added cooked rice as well as the koji rice more completely. Besides, if we have to remove some water we can always boil it down and make rice syrup.



During the process of making amasake the koji uses the enzymes to transform the food, prominently by splitting up starch molecules into simple sugars. That’s called saccharification.

Breaking big molecules or chains of sugar down into littler pieces can greatly aid in overall digestion, but also specifically make certain things digestible at all.

The enzymes that do this with starches that include cereal grains or anything that has carbohydrates in it such as legumes and some vegetables are amylase and gluycoamylase.

But those are not, by far, the only useful enzymes that are produced. Which enzymes and how much of each are produced was part of tonight’s event and will be continued in all 2020 events and posts at Cultures.Group.

In the case of the chili all the ingredients in it, just like the rice that had the fungus grown on it, become substrates.

Other enzymes like proteases – the wheat berries were grown with Aspergillus sojae and Aspergillus luchuensis that provide some of these – acted on the dish much like the amylase enzymes act on the rice. Proteins, fats and even cellulose got broken down into very simple, digestible units.

Esters and other olfactory benefits were produced as well.

We cooked the chili – which could easily have been made with a plant protein – at 140F for 36 hours, stirred it, added some more koji then cooked it for another 12 hours with some additional salt.

If we added even more salt and water we could have made a soy sauce type liquid out of it. Remember that.

It’s part of the koji continuum you’ll hear us talk about often. Remember reheating this on a direct flame can create amost instant singing and often burnt pots.

The more you can complete the dish during the fermentation process, just as with rice amasake, the less chance of that happening.



Recipes and Techniques

The dishes we brought were all, in one way or another, transformed by a filamentous fungus such as Aspergillus or Rhizopus as a substrate, or with the fungus grown onto a substrate. Yeasts and bacteria were also involved, and discussed at the event with respect to how they interact on a very specific level with particular strains and combinations of the fungus.

  • Three Koji, Three Filamentous Fungus Chili
  • Koji-cured Chicken Liver Mousse
  • Wheat and Fava Bean Koji Doubanjiang
  • Cashew Tempeh
  • Shiso and Koji vinegar
  • Aged Koji Kefir Cheese
  • Moromi miso
  • Three year old, thrice cooked Misodama
  • Corn shoyu kasu miso
  • Russian Sourdough bread
  • Ginger, Kombu, Garlic Betterazuke
  • Aged Plum and Barley Koji (A.awamori) Mirin
  • Fig, walnut, caramel, sweet plum, and wheat koji conserves

The first event of 2020 is on January 27th. The second is February 17th. Same time, same place, same presenters with new practical tips, guidance and practical ways to use enzymes from microbes or malt.

Thanks to everyone that helped to make tonight a really great nose, eye and palate pleasing event. Register at Eventbrite.


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обедающий



Chkmeruli Chicken with black garlic and pickled garlic cream

  • 1 1/2 lb or 25 ounces or 700 grams boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp aleppo pepper
  • 16 or 1 ounce or 28 grams fermented garlic cloves
  • 6 cloves or 1/2 ounce or 14 grams slices black garlic
  • 1/2 cup or 3.5 ounces or 100 grams olive oil
  • 1/2 cup or 4 ounces or 120 grams cream or creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup or 2.5 ounces or 72 grams sake or water
  • 12 or 22.9 ounces or 650 grams thick white scallions
  • 2 TB shio koji
  • 4 TB or 2.1 ounces or 60 grams cultured butter

Skin on chicken thighs are best but skinless work as well. Marinate the chicken in the oil, sake and sliced black garlic. Let marinate overnight in fridge, or an hour or two on the counter.

Make the sauce to coat the chicken for the oven from the shio koji, fermented or fresh garlic, heavy cream, turmeric, sumac and aleppo pepper. A blender works well, but you could use a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Set the sauce aside and heat the oven to 400F. In a pan heat the butter until slightly browned.

Place the oily chicken in the hot pan. The oil will help prevent the butter from burning. Brown the chicken on both sides. It takes about 10 minutes to brown the first side.

Make sure to gently move the chicken so it does not stick to the pan while deeply browning. The juices are beginning to caramelize and they could burn if you don’t watch carefully.



Turn the chicken and brown the other side for five minutes, adding any scallions or black garlic from the marinade. When just browned remove the chicken and place on sheet pan. Strain the oil and reserve for the broccoli.



Cover with the garlic cream sauce and place on the top shelf of the oven. shelf. Do not cover the chicken. Cook five to ten more minutes or until nicely browned and the internal temperature is at least 155F. Remove from the oven and let rest before serving. If the pan is extremely hot when you take it out of the oven, put the chicken on another dish to cool down.


Rice and Wheat Berry Koji Pilaf

  • 1 cup or 6.5 ounces or 186 grams converted basmati rice (or brown)
  • 1/2 cup or 2.9 ounces or 80 grams wheat berry koji
  • 2 cups or 16 ounces or 458 grams water
  • 1/2 cup or 2.8 ounces or 82 grams oil (from chicken marinade)
  • 1 red pepper or 6.3 ounces or 180 grams

Heat a sauce pan and add the strained oil and marinade from the chicken. Careful of splattering when you add the rice and the wheat berry koji. Cook until a little brown. Make sure to scrap the bottom of the pan while browning. Add the water and bring the rice to a boil. Add peppers and cover the pot tightly. Turn the heat down to very low and cook the rice for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and let steam escape before putting in a serving container. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro if you like. A freshly squeezed lemon is also very good on the rice right before serving.



Broccoli

  • 2 cups big florets or 7.8 ounces or 222 grams of raw broccoli
  • 1/2 cup or 2.8 ounces or 82 grams of oil from the chicken.

Use the oil from the chicken and saute the broccoli. If your chicken oil is too dark or burnt, use any oil to coat the pan after wiping out the pan. Cover after a few minutes with lid. Let steam a few minutes if necessary. Salt and pepper, and toasted sesame seeds are a good garnish but none is needed.



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Walnut Amasake Bittersweet Chocolate Muffins


Baking with microbes

Almost everything we bake, brew cook or ferment contains one or more microbes. Bacteria, yeasts, fungus and other fermented products that already contain microbes (like miso, milk kefir, and vinegar) work exceptionally well in and with baked goods.

Even if you set aside the yeasts common in bread baking, we almost always use shio-koji instead of salt, milk kefir or amasake instead of milk, and often lacto-fermented fruits,vegetables and even grains in baking.

Muffins and tea breads are basically are usually the same batter baked in different size baking pans. Obviously a bigger pan means a longer baking time, maybe 45 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes at 350F for the 8 big muffins that this recipe makes.


Ingredients

Our rules of muffin making as well as tea breads are simple.

  • The batter should be just barely mixed
  • The batter should be on the wetter side
  • Never fill a pan more than two thirds full
  • Add 1 tsp baking soda with the dry ingredients
  • Mix ins like nuts go with dry ingredients
  • Fruits and/or flavored essences or sauces go with wet stuff
  • Don’t mix in wet fruits or ferments until the end if color maters
  • Let muffin batter rest and puff up before spooning into cups

Half baked at 15 minutes. Looking good.

The recipe for these muffins pretty much follow the standard muffin ratio that every baker has memorized. Butter by weight equals sugar by weight. That combined weight is the weight of the flour. It’s also the weight in whatever measurement system you are using in liquid. In most cases add-ins like nuts or berries should never exceed in volume the sugar or flour volume.

Because we add a fermented or microbe inclusive ingredient to our baked goods – typically of a lower, acidic pH – we always add baking soda with the powder. Sourdough leavened muffins follow a different procedure based on bakers ratios that we’ll explain in another post.



  • 8 ounces or 1 1/2 cups or 236 grams all purpose flour or other
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or other
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4.3 ounces or 1 cup or 124 grams roasted chopped walnuts
  • 3.1 ounces or 1/2 cup or 90 grams bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks
  • 1.2 ounces or 2 TB or 32 grams shio-koji (or 1 tsp salt)
  • 8 ounces or 3/4 cup or 230 grams rice amasake (or nut or dairy milk)
  • 1 TB vanilla (or chocolate extract or mirin or soy sauce)
  • 4.5 ounces or 2 extra large or 126 grams eggs (or two vegan eggs)
  • 5 ounces or 1/2 cup or 156 grams dark maple syrup
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 cup or 112 grams roasted walnut oil (or butter/oil)


Procedure

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Have bottom shelf ready for one or two muffin tins.
  • Prepare the tins with grease or just paper linings.
  • Mix flour, coconut palm sugar, baking powder, roasted chopped walnuts, bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks together
  • Whisk your eggs, walnut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, amasake, and shio-koji together well. Add to just incorporate with the dry ingredients.
  • Add add ins if you have reserved them to maintain the color or spacing of the add ins in your batter. *Check your chocolate to ensure it is non-dairy if vegan baking
  • Spoon about 4 ounces into each of 8 prepared muffin cups.
  • If using a smaller muffin tea or mini-muffin pans remember the rule – never more than 2/3 full.
  • Bake at 350F for 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven.
  • Don’t open the oven door until 20 minutes have elapsed.
  • Internal temperature should be 205 F, or a clean toothpick.
  • Remove muffins from oven and let rest 30 minutes away from heat.
  • Place on wire rack for further cooling after removing from the pan.


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Beans

Beans Rules
  • As we go along each post will present a single concept or idea. But we do request you read these posts, and comment or ask questions! No one knows everything. In fact few people really know anything useful other than the answers to your questions. So ask !
  • Always soak your beans in water or perhaps another liquid. Sometimes for days. Dumping out the water and adding clean, cold water.
  • Remember you can always rinse your soaked beans with clean water and refrigerate, or even freeze them. For days at a time. Life happens, you know?
  • Again, change liquid frequently with fresh, typically colder liquid to avoid spoilage and souring. Don’ tlet critters get into them!
  • Beans are absolutely amazing sources of protein, fiber, minerals and pre- and probiotic substances.
  • Just like you wouldn’t eat a cow or a dog or a frog without doing something to it to make it edible and palatable, you must treat beans the same way.
  • No properly treated or fermented bean, especially soy, has ever created disease or created a hormonal imbalance although it is possible you might have a soybean allergy. That’s completely different from being unable to digest badly treated beans of any kind. No one can.
  • Scientists have been studying beans for thousands of years. Unless you are a food microbiologist, it’s extremely unlikely you know anything about what they know. It will blow you away. We will show you!
  • We are going to offer recipes using new knowledge. Easy recipes that are tasty and nutritious. You don’t need to be a scientist. You don’t need to make ten gallons of miso or soy sauce at a time!
  • If you are cooking you have to get some type of scale that measures weight, preferably in grams. We will explain why.
  • If you don’t like the taste of something don’t eat it!
  • Always remember, though, some people have no choice but to eaat what is local or available to them.
  • Ask questions! Be patient for a response, even if you are making donations to support our work. We’ll get to you.

Beans. Seriously. It is virtually impossibly to actually catalog all the different varieties of members of the bean family – Fabaceae – but recently there has been a resurgence in interest in them as a source of sustainable protein and calories.

With the cyclical, seemingly every hundred years craze in all things fermented and preserved, coupled with the never ending search for cultural, ethnic or racial association, beans have been exposed as the constant.

As has the need fort every generation to claim something that was created by their predecessors as their own, typically, nowadays, out of laziness, lack of research, and new packaging and marketing motives.

Although many group of people may be more associated with a specific grain like rice or corn or wheat, they all have their bean compadres. It’s a brilliant and beautiful thing. There are thousands and thousabds of years of documented traditiona and science, now, attached to all of this.

Recent scientific and technological advances have helped it along, with both many of the tools and all of the science readily available to cooks, chefs and adventurous artisans. Our goal is to just give basic recipes and techniques. When given the opportunity a self respecting chef, cook, tradesman and most definitely scientist gives credit to many other people than themselves.

At a time when the very act of writing anything basically meant making paper and using ink and some instrument to write down every word – in this case kanji – by hand was an amazing feat in and of itself. We should pause for a moment and give thanks to our elders and those who came before us several thousands of years ago.

Thousands of years before the creation of miso soup, a very traditional and common Japanese dish made with a bean paste that is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner by millions of people daily, the Chinese had figured out that when hard times hit or you had too feed a very large number of people, beans performed ideally.

In fact, the whole concept of alchemy derived from the Chinese concept of treating beans as a form of medicine that could perform amazing things – especially helping people to survive.

The most amazing medical applications of beans, and cooking and farming texts of thousands of years ago still exist. We’re going to go through them all, with an eye towards why you should take notice.

We will include pictures and recipes for things you could make, or at least use as the starting point for your open special cuisine. On a small scale, though, let’s say for a group or family of four.

There are thousands of references and even textbooks on how industrialized products such as koji or tempeh or jiangs or soy sauce or miso are made.

We highly recommend going to www.soyinfocenter.com if you intend to be one of those producers. But even the small guys willing to read will greatly benefit from anything listed, or described by Shurtleff and Akiko. No reading, no gain.

The last time I saw my friend Ken Albala I had him sign my Beans book. The book is a treasure. It goes through volumes and volumes of literature and research and turns it into a fun to read book. You can still buy it online and in bookstores. It’s still worth reading not just because it’s an excellent foldaways book, but a kind of an abstract of other books.

We’ll get into all those as well, but in digestible pieces that don’t leave you yearning for machines you will most likely never have access to. We’ll tell you how to make things just as good without them.

Today is Indigenous People’s Day in the Americas, and the indigenous people of the Southeastern part of the US or what was really a huge land mass called the Americas taken care of by tribal governments and societies, the beans they cultivated and pass along should be the focus of today’s celebrations.

Rereading some passages today about Christopher Columbus and what exactly he brought to the Americas and why he set out in the first place is a sobering experience.

“Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith, and are enemies of the doctrine of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, to see the said princes, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper method of converting them to our holy faith; and furthermore directed that I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone.


So after having expelled the Jews from your dominions, your Highnesses, in the same month of January, ordered me to proceed with a sufficient armament to the said regions of India, and for that purpose granted me great favors, and ennobled me that thenceforth I might call myself Don, and be High Admiral of the Sea, and perpetual Viceroy and Governor in all the islands and continents which I might discover and acquire, or which may hereafter he discovered and acquired in the ocean; and that this dignity should be inherited by my eldest son, and thus descend from degree to degree forever. ” The Diaries of Christopher Columbus

Beans from the Southern United States. Pretty sure that the self proclaimed Admiral Don tried some of these.

Ken’s book touches on so many of the really important issues that the history of beans includes, including this absolutely brilliant summary about why al the resistance to soybeans people express might be nonsense. That is not to say, however, that some people don’t actually have soybean allergies. Proteins can have that effect.

But properly soaking and fermenting soybeans – the next post is all about making soy and other bean kojis – can quite dramatically reduce or eliminate those concerns.

Soybeans soaking in water. Faces that I see. The unique saponins of soybeans.

Ken Albala gets into it in a precise one paragraph description in his book:

“The importance of fermenting soybeans was not only a matter of preservation. Although they could not have known this, fermentation counteracts the anti-nutritionalfactors present in soy. Soybeans contain what are called trypsin inhibitors, which prevent the pancreas from producing a digestive enzymes important in breaking down protein.

Raw or improperly cooked soybeans can also cause an enlarged pancrease; they inhibit growth and lead to cancerous tumors. Phytic acid present in soybeans also hinders the absorption of iron and zinc, which are necessary for the proper function of the nervous system

The phytates essentially fuse with the metal ions, including calcium, forming compounds that pass directly through the digestive tract unchanged. Fermentation destroys these toxins and the enzymes involved in the process also break down soy making it more digestible, and in a sense pre-cooking them so they require less fuel.

In other words, fermenting soybeans not only made them more interesting and tasty, but also provided a range of more nutritious foods that could support a large population.”

How we make bean koji from different beans and force it to make a quart of tamari per gallon of miso.

The book, Beans, also treats a few other subjects really well. Including how Italians in different parts of Italy made their famous and fabulous fagioli – with recipe – and not only the story of Tepiary Beans, but of the indigenous people’s whose day we celebrate.

You could even buy it on Kindle right now here. Although unless you are using canned beans – even soybeans- soaking them must be done properly!

About Ken Albala and Beans

From the description at Amazon: “Winner of The 2008 Jane Grigson Award, issued by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). Winner of the 2008 Cordon d’ Or Culinary Literature – History Culinary Academy Award. This is the story of the bean, the staple food cultivated by humans for over 10,000 years. From the lentil to the soybean, every civilization on the planet has cultivated its own species of bean. The humble bean has always attracted attention – from Pythagoras’ notion that the bean hosted a human soul to St. Jerome’s indictment against bean-eating in convents (because they “tickle the genitals”), to current research into the deadly toxins contained in the most commonly eaten beans. Over time, the bean has been both scorned as “poor man’s meat” and praised as health-giving, even patriotic. Attitudes to this most basic of foodstuffs have always revealed a great deal about a society. Beans: A History takes the reader on a fascinating journey across cuisines and cultures.”

Got our herb mix ready for a bean dish that has been slowly simmering the last twenty hours. An hour before and this goes in. You could also just add one of our amazing misos. Or buy a great one from the store and some scallions and add in at the last minutes and enjoy.
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The Name of the Rose

Today is my birthday and I have a few things to say. Mostly everything I want to convey on this year’s birthday – September 15th – has all been said before in Nina Simone’s song “Feelin Good” At least the attitude part.

The recipe for this is actually already posted at culturesgroup.net

The semiotics or foodways start of a new year follows. As will the recipes that depend on understanding a few basic concepts. Although we haven’t yet introduced all of the misos, sauces, amino pastes, pickles, sakes, amasakes, kefirs, brews, yeast and bacteria centric items and baked goods and sweets that we’ve been making over the years, our corn rose miso has been very popular.

We only call it miso because the predecessor of all things made with koji is a word that has never been widely accepted in the English speaking world. Even the word koji is an inadequate translation of the predecessor to the what the original word for koji actually meant.

When the Japanese were gifted the knowledge of how to make and use koji – along with their first system of language – it was done by Chinese buddhists. The reason why so many people have seriously inaccurate ideas of where some things originated, or even that they have existed for thousands of years, is that the Chinese had no need to claim invention of anything.

The Japanese, however, kept repackaging and inventing while creating a hagiography of these things that were really just different versions of Chinese jiang, the predecessor even to the little fermented soybeans named shih or docuhi that many people insist are the actual precursor. Before koji there was jiang. Adding koji to jiang made it even better.

Ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce were derived from jiang, as were dozens of ither things such as miso and soy sauce and fish sauces and even preserved meats and game.

Nope

Sometimes the romanticized version of the past has worked well for the Japanese, and other countries to be sure, but other times it has failed miserably. Whoever though of the idea that foreigners would understand thus buy more Japanese sake by calling it rice wine should have been corrected.

The claim that they discovered or invented koji, or that it is endemic to only their country, is just not accurate. Still, the entire world should be extremely grateful to the Japanese for their efforts and inventions, especially Americans, because Japanese scientists including Dr.Takamine’s contributions to several industries in this country have been very significant.

麹 or 米糀 – Aspergillus and friends or pet Aspergillus

Millet koji.

But let’s start with the koji, or 麹, since it is what set everything off. 麹 really has little to do with the purified spores (tane-koji) that the Japanese have so brilliantly domesticated. When the Japanese think koji they mean 米糀 (rice koji or come-kouji) or sometimes another subspecies of Aspergillus (mold) grown on barley, millet, sweet potatoes or soybeans.

We’ll get to the Zygomycetes (Rhizopus, Mucor, Rhizomucor), yeasts and bacteria later, but even then it’s really rare that at some point in miso making or shoyu making and ocassionally even sake making they aren’t part of the process. Even if that just means avoiding them at all costs.

You should at least know these things exist. But we’ll try not to get too microbiologist on you unless it really matters.

Corn: Vinegar, Koji and Hamma Natto
Three corn kojis, three tastes (vinegar, koji, shih)

Su Jiang Rou or Shoyu what?

Many research papers, patent applications, books, journals, PhD theses and extant scrolls – as well as some pretty old oral communications – accurately document the development of mochi koji 麹. The stuff that seems to have taken hold in the minds of Westerners, at least, is bara koji, not mochi koji though.

We are actually partial to the bara koji, because as with sake and a whole lot of other food stuffs and beverages, the original sake was awful. Bara koji helps us to avoid that type of sake entirely. That said, Shanghai yeast balls or Chinese yeasts balls – way closer to the original mochi koji – can make some pretty amazing things.

Furthermore, modern day additives to sake that come from Aspergillus such as A.luchuensis or A. oryzaes and sometimes yeasts, bacteria or microbial enzymes should be welcomed as great things, especially if they help to avoid the industrialized unpalatable swill (増醸酒 ぞうじょうしゅ or Zojoshu) that is produced and consumed in Japan on a widespread basis.

Nukazuke (corn pickles made with corn nuka or bran). Thank you, Lactobacillus plantarum and friendly halophiles, for everything you do

Unblinded by Science

As I recently discussed at a recent meeting of culturesgroup, the invention of s16 rRna technology along with rapid advancements in other ways to quantify very precisely what bacteria and other microbes (yeasts, fungi, etc.) that populate the microbiome of any product have exploded the research into what microbes are in what we eat.

This is not all that new a thing, though, as the romanticizers of traditional methods keep trying to sell their goods. But industry and artesans can now either industrialize or individualize or do some of both when making something like soy sauce or amino sauces or sake with widely accessible ingredients.

Look to the Yeast

When I say there is actually only one thing that is ever created through any type of transformative process like using something to make koji from or add koji to or inoculate with a specific mold or fungus what I mean is that everything is on a continuum, a horizontal progression from ingredient to outcome.

The sokujo style method of making sake – basically just adding lactic acid derived from bacteria to avoid having to create it in what is called a shubo or moto in a time consuming and more expensive way – is almost exactly the same thing as making shoyu and even miso.

If you want to direct tastes or mormi develop look to the yeast. Sometimes, the water minerals or the bacteria, often cadged from a previous batch, do the trick as well.

Shiitake mushroom shoyu or soy sauce.

With the help of amazing new equipment with which we can measure a microbiome (as in the mkicrobiome of a vat of soy sauce) and it’s inhabitants down to the genetic level it makes clear how much respect the artesans that have been making these things for thousands of years deserve.

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world – Nina Simone, Feeling Good

Knowledge begets new customs and traditions. Don’t repeat history and not learn from the past. Using new tools and techniques, it’s time for new generations to experiment and create new foodways.

Not that we know everything we want to know yet. Just that it should be a fusion of the traditional and the modern, a sustainable and enlightened way of creating new foods and tastes.

Nixtamalized, Sprouted, Popped, and Maillarded Corn Jiang

First we sprouted some of our favorite popcorn. Not that popcorn makes great edible sprouts, but it starts the process of making the corn more digestible, tasty, and nutritious. The smell and flavor of corn pops! It makes the miso taste like an ear of buttered, grilled corn. With benefits.

Miso Ingredients are listed below. We have taken our miso making steps and walked you through the process. With pictures and videos. Crusty grits, nixtamilizing sprouted popped corn, and mixing it all up are explained in the videos. Making corn stock, and how to weight the miso down, cover it, and let it ferment are explained in previous posts.

  • 450 grams/3 to 4 cups crusty baked grits (any kind)
  • 1770 grams/2 cups dried organic popcorn that has been sprouted, popped, and nixtamalized
  • 2400 grams/14 to 16 cups koji rice made with Aspergillus oryzae
  • 250 grams/1 cup coarse sea salt
  • 250 ml/1 cup warm brown corn stock
  • seed miso (optional, up to a cup)

Sprouted corn and popped sprouted corn after being cooked in corn stock with calcium hydroxide (nixtamalized)

Sprouting popcorn is pretty easy to do. But you can actually buy sprouted popcorn from online vendors such as Shiloh Farms, Thrive Market, or at a health food store. Our local supermarket actually carries it as well.

Sprouted corn and popped sprouted corn after being cooked in corn stock with calcium hydroxide (nixtamalized)

Baking nixtamalized grits until until crusty.

Mix the baked grits, salt, popped and cooked corn together. Mix well.

Mix the Miso

If you plan to do it for the longer 3 to 6 month period add up to 1/10th of the weight of the other ingredients (about a cup) of unpasteurized seed miso. We prefer using mellow white miso. Use a soy free miso if you are trying to avoid soy.

Pack it in.

When packing the miso in keep massaging it, mashing up and corn kernels to prevent having to grind it up later. Weight your miso down after packing the well massaged and supple mix into your container.

This is a pretty quick miso. You can ferment it at 85F for 30 days, then at 72 F for 15 days. Check it after the first week just to be sure everything is okay. Otherwise you could ferment it at 72F for 3 to 6 months.

When you feel it is done, remove some and grind it up. You can even chop it up on a cutting board old school style, or grind it in a mortar or a Japanese suribachi. Remember that you don’t have to grind up all your miso at once. Re-cover it and let it continue to ferment after taking out what you need.

Taking Stock of and Making Stock from Sweet Corn

First the corn stock. You can actually make this with half eaten, older, or cosmetically challenged corn and it will still deliver the smell and taste we lust after in corn. If you are using fresh corn save the husks for making tempeh or tamales or little packets of natto if you like.

Roasting corn picked a little more than a few days ago to create a very tasty stock and water replacement to give dishes a greater organoleptic corn thrill. The smell of corn roasting until brown from the Maillard reaction and the caramelization of corn’s inherently large percentage of sugars can provoke a Proustian Madeleine response in those of us that grew up near corn fields.

Corn Stock Recipe

Hack up four ears of raw, sweet corn into two to three inch pieces after shucking and removing the corn silk if it’s still on, then place in an un oiled pan. Bake the corn for 3 or 4 hours.

You could also just brown the pieces very well in a big heavy pot until they were caramelized and dark but not burnt. Or throw them on a hot grill.

Cover with water (6 to 8 cups) and cook for an hour or two on top of the stove, or cook in a pressure cooker – we’re not naming names here – in the same amount of water for 20 minutes. Let cool off and strain. You can also add any well roasted corn kernels to the broth – up to 1/4 cup per 6 cups of water, and strain everything for a richer taste.

Besides using this for our corn misos, breads, rice or bean based breads like idlis and dosas, you can just chill the stock and sweeten it (or not) for iced tea. Or add spices and tea for chai. Use it instead of water or even stock in just about any case you would use water or stock.

Of course you can also use it as a chilled or hot soup base adding whatever you like to it. In any case, this stock is so versatile and tasty and simple consider it as part of your mise-en-place. It lasts for up to a week in the refrigerator. We make it once a day when it’s corn season.

The amount of starch in corn and that starches ability to be gelatinized makes it a stand out candidate for microbial intervention: pickle it, ferment it, use it instead of rice starch for a kimchi or fermentation base, or turn it into a soy sauce type seasoning agent and dipping sauce. Or a marinade. Or alcohol. Or mirin.

Lots of recipes coming, many presented at one or more of September events we are presenting at, or collaborating with other people and groups to provide.

Just a few of the things you can make with corn:

  • wine
  • pickles
  • puddings
  • cakes
  • breads
  • chutneys
  • soy sauce (with or without beans)
  • grits
  • hominy
  • polenta
  • moonshine
  • beer
  • corn nuts
  • syrup
  • flour
  • sprouts
  • tamales
  • tortillas
  • tacos
  • stews
  • mirin
  • ice cream
  • and many, many different types of desserts.
Corn germ and corn tips from nixtamalized corn. In the 1980’s we used to make macrobiotic unrefined corn germ oil and barley malt pecan pies with a cornmeal crust. Not exactly low fat but unbelievably tasty. The removal of the 
germ reduces the chances that the corn will go bad in your larder or when transported to other places.

If you’ve ever picked the corn tips off newly nixtamalized corn (whole dried dent or field corn treated with potash or more commonly calcium hydroxide or cal) to make pericarp free, homogenized color, hominy it’s easy to see how canned hominy of a very consistent quality, or dried hominy (known as posole by most people) became popular.

A lot of the quality of fresh corn that is available to most consumers depends on how close a local corn field was, and how carefully and coldly fresh picked corn could be transferred to an alert buying public.

Except for a few hard core corn enthusiasts that argued about the perfect timing schemes to seize ears of corn from the fields and throw them into boiling water to get the sweetest, freshest corn, suburban and city folk were pretty much stuck with buying corn from grocery stores. Removing the kernels off the cob and getting just the juicy parts to be sauteed as a vegetable side dish is always a treat. Some places sell fresh, raw corn kernels as well.

For a while, popcorn was the best selling gourmet food item in any state in the country. As you’ll see, it makes a mean sprout that can then be popped, nixtamilized and made into a variety of things such as miso.

You can do a wide variety of things with dried (or freeze dried) sweet corn and field corn. There’s nothing like breaking out a big jar of pickled corn still on the cob or corn relish or chutney in the middle of winter. Our corn miso will make you think you are eating a piece of freshly grilled and buttered corn. Even if you are eating it on an ear of fresh corn in the summer.

Sweet corn miso aging in the refrigerator after a 6 month fermentation period. Deep.

We suggest adding some some at the last minute as is recommended with all misos – boiling it destroys the good things about this ferment and dulls the flavor – to a new England Corn Chowder, or spread on a corn based pizza crust topped with roasted garlic, cheese and pickled, charred jalapeños. Yes, recipe on the way.

Corn on the cob is just unavoidable in certain areas. No clam bake or crawdad boil or lobster dinner or barbeque was without corn. Often steamed along with the other ingredients, or cooked straight in salted butter and served as a side with unsweetened corn bread that had been cooked in cast iron in ashes, or dumped right on top of a shrimp gumbo.

Also, the argument about how to best (read properly and socially acceptable) eat corn in public, and whether it was even fair to serve something sure to get stuck in the teeth of well heeled diners made corn on the cob something avoided at formal dining occasions.

Corn from Masienda we nixtamalized and spiced and added to roasted pumpkin seeds and other ingredients for tempeh using a culture called Rhizopus oryzae. For hominy for our tempeh – or posole – we never use more than 1% lime (by weight). Same way we make our rapid grits for fermentation after soaking out the corn bran as we call it.

A Few Corn Facts

In most areas there are typically two classes of corn sometimes with a few varieties available, sweet corn or field corn. There are other types of corn grown for specific reasons, but most people never see them growing.

Sweet corn is not supposed to dry in the fields if it is meant to be eaten as sweet corn. Racoons and other corn eaters like coatimundi would never let that happen, anyway. Pumpkins with prickly vines, pole beans and tall sweet corn can be an effective deterrent. As can dogs.

Field corn was always yellower, grew taller, left on the cob to somewhat dry out for easier processing like a lot of grains, and a lot of fun to play in. When field corn is really dry it has indents or recessions on the top that are created as the corn loses moisture.

That’s also why it was sometimes called dent corn. If you get it before it is that dry it’s edible and tasty, just not as sweet and juicy as sweet corn.

But all corn is good. Big thanks to the Mississippians and other Native America tribes that created entire societies in what is now called the United States around corn. Pretty sure Vermont would be just green mountains had corn not been amenable to the cold climate there.


One Bucket Miso

  • 4 TB/66 grams coarse sea salt (plus a little extra)
  • 3 cans/650 grams canned cooked drained beans (see note below)
  • 2 1/2 cups/567 grams rice koji
  • 1 cup/245 grams bean liquid

Don’t obsess over the weights of things for this recipe. Just use the first figures given for each ingredient. Do not throw your bean water away. You need about a cup of it – a little over half of one of your bean cans full – and you need to follow the easy and exciting steps as we describe them. Ignore the words in italics below (they look slanted to the right) entirely if math stresses you out.

The important thing is that you get about 1 cup or 245 grams of the bean liquid and that you follow the order of the steps we describe. Otherwise, you will need more bowls, and most likely a scale. And something besides your hands to mix with. With the 3 cans of Brad's Organic salad beans that say 15 ounces on them that we used we ended up with about 5 1/2 cups or around 650 grams of beans, and a little more than two cups or 565 grams liquid from the beans. If you use brown rice or barley koji, you might need almsoit twice the amount of bean liquid. And more salt. 
We used a 2 quart bucket.

Any plastic bucket you use must be food safe, and cleanable if it looks dirty. It’s really easy to find these from a restaurant or other place that gets thick ones with food in them all the time. You can also order them online. If you are using a recycled container make sure it hasn’t been used for chemicals or bleach, or exposed to heat. The thicker the better. Make sure you don’t have a leaky bucket with tiny or obvious holes in it.

We used 3 cans of Brad’s Organic Salad Beans (garbanzo beans, kidney beans and pinto beans with a tiny amount of salt) that cost us $5 on sale at a local supermarket. Saved us hours of work.
Salt matters. If you use coarse salt is is very unlikely that anti-caking agents have bee added as is often done with finely ground salts.

We always use coarse salt. Use coarse Kosher salt if you can’t get an only salt coarse sea salt like the red La Baleine container on the right. The fine La Baleine sea salt actually has several added ingredients. If you can get coarse Maldon smoked or regular coarse sea, or another brand that is just salt you can use that instead.

Beans opened and drained into the koji container. Because you didn’t completely remove the tops off your beans, it was easy to keep the beans in the cans and separate the liquid out. Make sure to save at least a cup of the liquid.

Don’t open the cans all the way. Keep the beans in the can when you drain off the liquid. When you remove the bag of koji from the container you will have a container to drain the liquid off the beans into the koji container. But keep the beans in the can.

If you are using beans with a pull off top – Goya organic, for example – don’t pull that top all the way off either. This is important unless you have other containers and a strainer you have already cleaned.

This is a recipe for a one bucket miso. You could use other beans like Eden brand black soybeans or yellow soy beans or garbanzo (ceci) beans, or whatever ones you find that don’t have preservatives or chemicals as long as they say organic.

Actually, beans with seaweed in them, or spicy beans also work unless you don’t want spicy miso. With certain beans like garbanzo beans just make sure to crush each bean between your fingers as you mix up the miso. This ensures that you really mix everything together well. Unless you are intentionally trying to make a country style, chunky miso, you really want to mash things up very well.

1 Tablespoon of the coarse sea salt. You need three handfuls (3 tablespoons) of this to go into your miso, another handful (one tablespoon) for salting the container and for the top of your miso after you have mixed it together.

Let’s Get This Party Started Right

Bucket wet with bean juice and salty

Take some of your bean water and swish it inside your bucket. Try to get it on the sides. Dump the three tablespoons of the coarse sea salt in the bottom of the bucket. Try to get as much of the salt on the sides but don’t get stressed about it.

Add your koji and work it.

Add all your koji. Start massaging it together. If you were using fresh koji it would break down really quickly, and even start to melt. Because we are using dried koji in this case, it might take longer for that to happen. Massage a minute, let it rest for two. Then massage a minute then let it rest for two. Again. Repeat.

After the frottage you should only have little bits of rice covered with enzymes, hungry for beans. Shove all the beans into the koji and salt mix and use your hands to prod the beans, forcing them to yield between your finger tips.

Keep going.

You should be able to start to make balls that start to hold together (see above). After about seven minutes, you’ll start to see splotches of beans, koji and salt that have stuck to the bottom or sides of your bucket. Let it rest for a few minutes if you must. Otherwise keep going.

Almost there. Everything is starting to stick together. Are you tired? If so, cover everything well with your rags and take a nap. You can even go to sleep, then go back at it the next day.

The next day we added our cup of room temperature bean water. It’s okay if everything, including the bean water sat out, covered, for 12 hours or more. We put our bean bean water in the koji container into the miso container then cover the entire thing with our rags so nothing gets into either.

If it above 80F where you are making or storing your miso, sprinkle a little salt into your bean water. It’s likely your miso will be melding together at that temperature.

The next day.

After rolling your balls of miso together you can start to pack them down with your hands into your container. The balls should hold together and feel firm, yet still pliable and yield. If they crumble, they are too dry and need a little moisture. If you have any bean water or just a tablespoon or two of clean water massage that into your miso before packing it down very firmly.

Salt the top

After your miso is well packed down sprinkle with at least 1/2 tablespoon of coarse sea salt. If it is 80F or higher, you can sprinkle up to an entire handful (one heavy tablespoon) onto the top. If you have a lid, cover it. Otherwise, start wrapping it with your rags.

Unless you will be making other misos just take a picture of this one and name the picture with the date and type of miso. Otherwise label it with a piece of tape and a marker or pens that doesn’t run. You can wrap it up even further if you like. Keep it out of direct sunlight. This could be ready in as little as ten days, or maybe two months if it started off and stayed cold for that time.

You can check on it at any time. Just untie the rags and take the lid off. After a few days it might have a slight smell. Let it air out a few minutes, mix it up again with clean hands and repack it in.

If there is a very strong smell, or some mold or yeast growth on top you’ll have to take that off and air it out at least an hour. We don’t recommend stirring that back in with a fast ripening miso like this. Add a little more salt.

If the miso is a little puffy or loose there is probably too much water in it. Add a teaspoon or more salt and repack. Check it in a few days.

Miso Making Lists

Before we post the very extensive description of how we make miso we offer this list so you recognize that if you can only access the following things you can still make great miso:

  • a gallon size, food safe container (not metal)
  • canned beans
  • koji
  • salt
  • Paper bags or clean rags
Koji, and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

Koji seems to be the hardest and often most expensive thing to buy. You can’t make miso without it, though we do explain how you can cadge some from other sources.

If you have ready access to the things we suggest instead of whole koji, actual koji might not be so hard for you to get. And, people that make koji centric things like to barter or gift things to people that appreciate what went into making them.

We’ll get into making your own koji in future posts. Once you bond with koji there is no going back. It is the red pill. Koji is the one.

The next post will be detailed miso making steps with pictures for those tht communicate using images. Also, we have been filling in the References section, the Events sections – when people submit them to us – and the new Methods and Definitions sections.

Millet koji made by culturesgroup

The complete miso making check list

In the next post, Bucket Miso, we are going to show you how to make miso using one container, rice koji, canned or salad bar beans, salt, water (liquid from the beans, actually), and some old, clean clothes taking up valuable miso space in the closet. Follow the instructions carefully and you will not even need weights.

But if you are already committed to the lifelong journey, this list is pretty extensive. Hand made wooden crocks are obviously very cool and usually very expensive unless you can make them from the right wood yourself. If you can, barter for a huge amount of koji.

You do not need every item on this list. You are encouraged to come up with any substitutions readily available to you, especially locally. Whenever possible, let the local farmers know any organically, sustainably grown ingredients they have are of interest.

Remember the rule of 5 above, and based on what you can afford or resource you might need:

  • A miso making space
  • A place to age your miso or a place to refrigerate it for a while
  • A miso storage container (crock, jar, bucket, etc.) or one clean heavy food safe bucket – not metal – if making a one container miso (next post).
  • Weights, or some way to weigh your miso down
  • Parchment paper or food safe plastic or cloth for the top of your miso
  • Beans (or whatever your miso is going to be)
  • Koji
  • Salt
  • A Scale
  • A thermometer
  • PH strips or something to measure the acidity of your miso
  • Seed miso or something like it
  • Hot water (or other liquid)
  • A colander and a strainer (especially to avoid clogging your drains, even when washing your hands or utensils things off)
  • Clean buckets, jars or bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Oven gloves or something to handle hot items
  • A masher (hands, potato mashers, mortar and pestle, meat grinder)
  • A Pressure cooker, or a rice cooker, or pots to heat/cook things
  • A microwave if you are just heating things up, including water
  • Firewood, or fuel for stoves or heating devices that use them
  • A gallon of really hot water if all the above is unavailable
  • A hood for your miso (paper, cloth, recycled packing,bags)
  • Food safe bags to store the miso if not using your mixing bucket
  • Clean cloths or paper towels
  • Labeling and documenting materials (or a phone with a calendar or notes app)
  • Wrapping stuff like tape or string to keep your miso cover in place
  • Lids for your quart size Mason jars or a crock lid if the wrapping and taping and labeling part is just too much for your first quarts or crock of miso.
  • Patience.

This is a pretty big list. Here’s the thing. When people started making miso in the past, they didn’t have electricity, refrigerators, pressure cookers, thermometers and sometimes not even rice koji or beans.

You don’t have to be rich to make miso. You just need to make sure you have everything in the same place at the same time in the right condition when you decide to make it. If you have never made miso before, or aren’t really into being in a kitchen, remember people have been making miso or something like it for at least a thousand years.

Back then they didn’t have electricity, refrigerators, pressure cookers, thermometers and sometimes not even the rice to make koji or beans. People that didn’t have the ingredients, tools or labor that wealthier people had access to used whatever was local or available. Seasonal weather variations were used to grow koji and age misos.

You can make miso with one container in which you can mix and age your miso. You can use any area to create a stable temperature that doesn’t fluctuate too wildly. You can make miso with a heating element, or a microwave, or an electric tea kettle or just a big pail of really hot water.

You can use canned beans, pre-made koji, and your hands to tell whether things are the right temperature (careful, though). You can wrap your miso in old clothes or blankets then throw it under a bed, or in a closet, or leave it in a box or a cooler you won’t need until next Summer.

You can actually cadge the koji from another thing like unpasteurized shoyu (soy sauce), amasake (sweet rice pudding), sake or a lot of previously made unpasteurized miso to make miso. We’ll get into that later. But it would also taste great.

If you want to spend money on specific tools or already have them, cook your own dried beans or whatever your miso is made of, and make your own koji we’re sure your miso will also be great. But you will need a few of the items on the list, as well as assorted tamps, frosting spatulas or air removing utensils, and possibly even sanitizing agents like strong drinking alcohol like high proof vodka. We don’t like to use the later two, but some people do.

If you are making your own koji that’s usually at least 48 hours before you actually start mixing anything. It’s around 24 hours before hand if you are soaking and cooking your own beans. It’s also sometimes a few days or weeks before you get your house – and yourself – and everything you need in order if you are ordering your koji or buying it from outside.

If you are making a type of miso that you need already prepared miso – we make blended, simmered, and some nut, fruit and some seed misos with already made miso – make sure you have that on hand.

Remember, making miso or koji should never control your life. Plan ahead and it shouldn’t. Most of items things can be placed in a big box or closet as you gather them if it might take you a while to get everything together.

Some people keep their tools for making miso together in a place like they might store things to celebrate holidays or start the planting for their gardens. First timers should really check this list though

You also need to think about starting with clean clothes, footware, and headware, and have a place to clean yourself and your area up afterwards. Because when you are tired or get distracted you most likely won’t want to think about it. Having a space to put your miso until the next day if you have to stop – yep, you can do that – is good to think about beforehand.

And a word from some professionals that have done things like this on a small and large scale, usually as just one of the things they are doing. Your house or the place that you live, especially if you share it with others, should be ready for this. In professional kitchens you just won’t get away with trashing the place and walking out. You need to plan on how order and cleanliness will be restored in your chosen miso making location.

Eggplant and ginger temple style miso made with a lot of kamut (wheat) and barley koji. It is undergoing a two month fermentation process. The eggplant, ginger and several other ingredients were pre-fermented or cooked. With some vegetables, for example, that could take up to a month of salting and weighing down, or partially drying.

We have made miso using hospital lunch rooms, church kitchens and even corporate cafeterias. Making miso in a college dorm room can be challenging but is doable. If you are more interested in stating with pre-made miso that you are going to put vegetables, or fish or meat into you have to make sure those things are also ready.

Then again, as we mentioned earlier, you can make great mixed or blended or vegetable full misos – we’re going to give you lots of recipes for our favorites – with dried or frozen or cured or salted things.

You can use a microwave to heat things up. You can use bottled water and heat it up in an electric tea kettle or a microwave, as well as your beans. Instant Pots and other electric multi-purpose devices are really convenieent and useful to have as well.

Whatever you decide, we hope you think about these things beforehand so you don’t get discouraged and become a miso drop out. Because making miso, and especially using koji, are useful skills you should learn. And you get to eat the results of your work.

If you have a question about what will work and what most likely won’t work, see the contact info below. Send us a e-mail and we’ll try to answer quickly. On Instagram, you can tag us or DM us.

Upcoming Events

Ferment.Works
  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019– Release of Ferment.Works new book. culturesgroup’s Ken Fornataro discusses and gives recipes for a country style sake called doboroku, vinegar, and a quick amasake. He also discusses the sake industry in the US.

    Best-selling fermentation authors Kirsten and Christopher Shockey explore a whole new realm of probiotic superfoods with Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments.

    Besides William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi of SoyInfoCenter, Ken Fornataro of culturesgroup, Betsy Shipley of Make the Best Tempeh, Ann Yonetani from nyrture, Jeremy Umansky and Kenny Scott and Allie La Valle Umansky of Larder, Christian and Gaella Elwell of South River Miso Company, Head of Fermentation at Noma in Copenhagen, David Zilber, Tara Whitsett of Fermentation on Wheels, Sarah Conezio and Isaiah Billington of White Rose Miso – a part of Keepwell Vinegar – who make incredibly tasty and creative misos, vinegars, and koji based items, Cheryl Paswater of Contraband Ferments, Jon Westdahl and Julia Bisnett of Squirrel and Crow , Rich Shih of ourcookquest.com, and many, many others including vendors and artesans.

    “Their ferments feature creative combinations such as ancient grains tempeh, hazelnut “cocoa nib” tempeh, millet koji, sea island red pea miso, and heirloom cranberry bean miso. Once the ferments are mastered, there are more than 50 additional recipes for using them in condiments, dishes, and desserts – including natto polenta, Thai marinated tempeh, and chocolate miso babka. ”

Got any upcoming events, let us know!

Presentation at apexart.org. Check out Chef Ken Fornataro’s recent interview

Previous Events

  • Wednesday, June 19, 2019 6:00 to 9:30– Food Karma has hosted many featured events during New York Cider Week, and this year we’re back by popular demand to ring in the summer with hard cider! Start the season off right at CiderFeast NYC, a food and drink event with outdoor space, sunset views, live music, and of course plenty of cider! This all-inclusive event will feature cider tastings from 15 brands, food samples, and more!
  • It will also double as a book launch for Andy Brennan’s new book Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living. CiderFeast NYC

    Second, Mark the Steps

    This now three year old miso now has been moved to a storage container, and really doesn’t need to be weighted down at all. You should always cover your misos though.

    Making miso is like planning out the steps (choreography) for a performance. The steps don’t have to be elaborate. You just have to make sure that all the participants are ready and capable of doing them – and that some show hog like the ever present bacteria Bacillus subtilis doesn’t take over the proceedings.

    Salt usually keeps things under control and moving along, but just to be sure you have to carefully control the amount of humidity and water that is involved in this microbial rave, and just how tightly you pack everything in. Tight enough so interactions between molecules can’t be avoided, but loose enough so that they can actually take place.

    Miso is pretty much an anerobic (airless) fermentation, but you do want to allow some way for the gases built up to escape and not get trapped in the miso itself. In the old days the clay pots or wooden barrels allowed just enough gas (carbon dioxide) to escape.

    If miso is a longer production lasting a year or more you will need a lot more salt than if you are making a miso that could be ready in days, weeks or months. The bacteria and yeasts we just described above may like oxygen, but they can’t tolerate salt. They are halophobes.

    Mellow Miso ( Shinshu or Yellow Miso)

    Lactobacillus, however, can tolerate salt and also can get by with a small amount of oxygen – if any. They are halophiles. You want them to develop in your miso to prevent the nastier tasting microbes from taking over.

    In order to keep everything under control you need to plan all this out when you decide what type of miso you are making, how it’s going to be weighted down and how much weight is needed, and how the air flow and temperature is going to be controlled inside and outside of the miso.

    No insects, pets, other critters nor just any microbe hanging out should be allowed to sneak into the show. Choreograph the process. Unless you know what steps to take, and there is a written plan to follow, fixing a miso that has stepped out of bounds can be very time consuming and sometimes not possible.

    That said, making miso is easy. You can even start a batch and finish it up over a few days. In fact, some miso makers make a big batch of starter miso they then mix with new ingredients several weeks after they start. Some people take many days to actually complete the process doing it in little batches. It can be easy if you keep things to a readily manageable size.

    Although there might be more ways to make pickles throughout Asia than there are ways to make miso or it’s relatives, there are quite a few ways to do it. Here is how we start out, modifying this plan if we change the outcome we want.

    At this point we don’t even need to look at this list. We have our scales at hand and make our labels and lists ahead of time. The first time we made miso in the 1970’s we really wish someone had provided us with something like this though. An extensive discussion of these points will be linked to this list if you want more details. A photo guide with the first few recipes will be posted as well.

    Let’s Start

    • Soak beans and grains
    • Have your koji ready
    • Have a list of things you will need for the process
    • Check that all ingredients are at hand
    • Check that your tools are cleaned and ready to go.
    • Make sure your work area is clean.
    • Make sure the place the miso will be stored is ready.
    • Check that your weights fit in your container.
    • Weigh all the ingredients and make notes
    • Cook beans or grains
    • Cool down drained beans and liquid
    • Weigh everything again
    • Prepare koji if dried
    • Check temperature of cooked. beans or grains
    • Weigh your koji and beans/grains
    • Calculate the amount of salt needed again
    • Add seed koji and salt to koji and mix very well
    • Mash up your beans or grains very well
    • Dry out beans or grains if too wet then cool down
    • Mix half of the cooked beans or grains into the koji
    • Let sit about an hour.
    • Add the rest of the beans or grains.
    • Mix very well.
    • Roll some into balls to test consistency
    • Let sit covered or pack into container
    • Place a sheet of wrap or parchment on top of your miso
    • Place weights on top of miso.
    • Wrap miso securely.
    • Label the covering and side of your miso.
    • Log miso into calendar or phone.
    • Check miso at day 2 and day 7.
    • Carefully remove covering from miso
    • Carefully remove weights and coverings from miso using gloves.
    • Replace weights and repack.
    • Check miso during fermentation process.
    • Carefully remove covering from miso.
    • Carefully remove weights and coverings from miso using gloves.
    • Scrape back any top layer and taste miso.
    • Grind or sieve miso.
    • Move miso to clean container.
    • Refrigerate or store miso.

    We’ll give you the recipes for a few misos following these steps. After that we’ll show you how we decide how to make an untraditional style misos using these steps, including how to calculate the amount of salt, koji and beans, grains or whatever you need to make miso or one of it’s relatives in the next post, with the extended description of these steps.

    First, Make a Wooden Barrel

    The three biggest issues with making miso are where your koji is coming from, what container you are storing your miso in, and where you are going to store it until it is ready.

    Miso is a nutritional powerhouse that provides hundreds of millions of people with what we all need to live on a daily basis: protein, fats, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates for energy.

    Miso tastes great, and is one of the most versatile things you can use to cook, ferment, or preserve food while elevating it’s taste and nutritional value.

    Miso that is not pasteurized is the best source of a lot of enzymes your body needs to digest anything you eat. In fact, miso is such an ideal food because it has already undergone a process through which all these things have been broken down into easily digestible pieces.

    Most misos are made with soybeans. The process of soaking the beans, cooking them, and then fermenting them reduces or completely eliminates the typical anti-nutrient properties of beans and grains. Soybeans, other beans, grains, grasses and what are called pseudo-grasses are incredibly tasty, safe and nutritious to eat. 

    Beans and grains are like anything else you eat. Avoid chemically adulterated and heavily processed foods, and check that they have been properly handled and processed.

    Organically grown soybeans and corn and other beans are readily available. We very highly recommend these people – and many others. So if you can’t access the real stuff let us know!

    Remember that appropriate processing, germination, and fermentation are techniques that make these things accessible, safe, tasty and nutritious. Actually, more nutritious.

    Miso is a microbe battlefield. Until the gang of bacteria called lactobacilli move in and make sure no specific bacteria or yeast threaten the peace it can be chaotic.

    You don’t want a specific bacteria called B. subtilis, or other unwelcome microbes, growing in your miso. But if you clear the field of unwanted threats beforehand everything will be safe for the friendly bacteria and yeasts and other microbes that are so tasty.

    The B. subtilis will still be there – it’s everywhere including in your stomach, cows and other animals that graze, and in dirt – but the other bacteria and yeasts will keep it under control.

    Miso is flexible – to a point. You can make it, and develop a community of living microbes, nutrients, enzymes and vitamins with almost any type of bean or grain. You can even make miso with potatoes or acorns, using koji made from cornmeal.

    The traditional soybean based misos, almost always made with rice or barley koji, as well as other combinations of beans or grains made into miso, are great. There are simmered misos, blended misos, and ones that include meat, fish or birds that are both tasty and versatile.

    Misos made with vegetables fermented in the miso during the process are also very tasty. Then again a fast miso that will be ready in days or weeks can be just as tasty for certain purposes.

    What do I make miso in?

    This may seem like a silly question but all your bowls, jars, crocks, mixing bowls, mashing tools and work area have to be cleaned. Beforehand.

    What do I store it in?

    You can actually still store miso in a barrel but very few people do. They usually use glass jars or a ceramic crock. Sometimes I you food safe plastic containers. Certain misos can be refrigerated after a brief period of fermentation in plastic bags in the refrigerator.

    Whatever you use, decide what it will be. And make sure you have the right weights to weight your miso down as well.

    The three biggest issues with making miso are where your koji is coming from, what container you are storing your miso in, and where you are going to store it until it is ready.

    Seriously. In the past the first thing you did when you were making miso was to have a barrel maker make barrels for the miso. It was a big community affair.

    It was more complicated back then. Miso often meant you would have food for those times when it wasn’t so readily available – or at all – so it was made according to tradition.

    In other words, you made miso the way that was known to work, with the ingredients and the tools you had on hand.

    That has all changed. The industrialization of the miso making process has occurred. If you know the basics and the Science you can pretty much make miso out of anything. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will taste good.

    So, many fewer people make miso in a community setting, or even at home anymore. It’s actually not all that hard. Our suggestion to you is to not consider making more than a half-gallon of miso at home the first time you attempt to make miso.

    You can do that once a month if you like if you have the space and the time and the need for lots of miso and you know what you are doing but there is a substantial investment in time and resources to make miso in quantity.

    It’s been our experience that most people lose interest, or other interests take precedence. And there are lots of really exceptional misos available for sale all over the world now.

    So follow the recipes we provide or research what you want to do, or ask us about what you are planning if you want.

    Or just jump in and make mistakes. You’ll see why we sugest to keep it small at first. But you will learn.

    We’ll provide some standard guidelines we’ve used for decades to determine how to make unique and creative misos based on what you have on hand.

    Miso is a survival food. When there wasn’t rice or soybeans, potatoes and millet were used. Or barley and acorns.

    There is a strong likelihood that someone has already made the type of miso you are considering.

    So ask us, or go to http://www.soyinfocenter.com and search. It’s there. Or check out books and papers in our reference section.

    Got Koji?

    Knowing how to work with koji is a skill that everyone should possess. And Miso is really one of the more spectacular things you can do with koji. If you don’t know how or don’t want to make your own koji, you can buy rice or barley koji online or from health food stores or Asian food stores.

    We’ll explain how to make many different types of koji, especially soybean koji because we’ve never seen it for sale anywhere, but don’t let that stop you.

    Once you get a whiff of the different intoxicating smells of rice koji being made you will be hooked. Freshly made koji has a very seductive smell.

    You can also make your own shio-koji (a type of seasoning marinade), and amasake (a naturally sweet grain paste made by breaking down starch) with koji. You can make miso using shio-koji or amasake as well, along with quite a few other things.

    Where do I store it?

    Where are you going to store your miso when have finished assembling it and it needs to age? Whether it’s a short or medium or long aging process it works best in a stable place.

    What does stable mean? It means the temperature won’t go up or down from like 45F to 100F.

    Miso can actually be buried – in the right type of container – and even freeze in a well tempered wooden one but it will take more time to age. But it will be tasty and complex!

    Lower temperatures do really slow things down though so it’s not a great idea to put your miso somewhere that it could freeze. At least not until a few weeks have gone by so the crucial lactobacillus type of bacteria can develop. Your miso might even be done by then, anyway.

    If you are making miso in a place that has a stable environment or even outdoors as long as no animals or insects can get at it, and it’s well covered and weighed down, just make sure it doesn’t bake in the sun or heat.

    If you are making miso in a house that has a stable environment or even outdoors as long as no animals or insects can get at it, and it’s well covered and weighed down, just make sure it doesn’t bake in the sun or heat. And follow the steps in the next part.

    Douchi and Hamma Natto

    Most people know them as little, raisin looking salty and pungent black beans or fermented beans. They are also called douchi or taucho. They are typically made from soybeans, often black soybeans. You can also use the yellow soybeans but they will eventually turn black anyway.

    There are also different ways to make them, using different cultures. We use koji, in this case Aspergillus sojae that is typically used for making soy sauce. If you make koji out of soybeans and use Aspergillus sojae it also makes a fine miso so it makes sense for us to just make a lot at the same time.

    Kecap Manis Miso made with Hamma Natto and other ingredients. Like a Kinzanji style miso, everything was fermented together at the start. The results were stunning.

    Only in rare situations do we use soy bean koji to make quick things – but stay tuned. You’ll want to try those things. We also always like to have black soybeans around for natto, especially if we can get really small ones.

    After the beans are washed, soaked and cooked gently until still intact but not at all mushy, they are dusted with the koji. Just like when making amasake, after 48 hours at 90F you can either use them as fresh koji or keep sporulating them until they turn green then darker green.

    With amasake if you keep it going it will be suitable to make sake or country style doboroku from in another day. Why not grab half of the amasake first, then continue and make a nice chilled beverage?

    These black soybean douchi were then fermented wi†h fermented ginger and salty koji brine, and took about a year until complete. We also have a stunning hack for this process that produces as good beans.

    These were dried during the summer – although you could use a dehydrator or even fans – then packed with chopped dried dates, chiles, the dried ginger from the earlier stage and a salty brine (20%).

    After a day of macerating the beans will become like somewhat dry but still edible raisins, moist but not wet. Pack them into clean jars or crocks. They’ll last for at least a year. If you refrigerate them they will last for several years. You’ll eat them before that though.

    We are serving ones made with a smoked brine before dehydrating at this upcoming event. They make an intense marinade, an unbelievable barbeque sauce base, and an addition to a nerumiso miso (either fermented with everything from the start, or as a simmered namemiso.

    Dried Hamma Natto style (with koji) black soybeans going into a 15% sodium date brine that will make them last for a long time.

    You can pretty easily pre-made Chinese style douchi at an Asian food store. It’s what they use in most Chinese restaurants in sauces that say with black bean sauce (and some that don’t even mention they are in there). But ask to be sure otherwise you could get a spicy bean paste sauce you might find overpowering. If you buy them they won’t ever look like a paste, but dried raisins.

    As opposed to Japanese style hamma natto, Chinese shih will most likely be made the same way but with the mold washed off before brining and drying. This type (shih or douchi) are typically spicier and often have sugar. They aren’t typically fermented as long.

    But, if you are pressed for time just follow the above technique – we use a brined date syrup and ginger – and pack them up. Throw a few into a stir fry of anything with some fresh hot peppers and garlic and you will be glad you did. Marinate shellfish or a strong fish such as mackerel or even smoked tempeh with these and grill them over indirect heat or broil.


    Contact Us

    Talking Shih, Recipe and Event Update

    Jasmine Amasake

    At the event at Resobox in the East Village you will experience:

    • how to make miso (味噌)
    • how to make shio-koji (塩糀)
    • how to make misodama (味噌玉)
    • how to make takikomi gohan (味噌炊き込みご飯)
    • how to make kimchi base for fast kimchi (because summer is coming!)

    The point of all these items is to show you what to do with what you have on hand, and what you can access. Got kids? Work, like even two jobs ? Need to spend less time and money cooking and more time enjoying food? We know what you need to know.

    Grilled Radicchio with KimChi Sauce

    Sometimes Chefs have access to fresh ingredients that a forager, farmer or artisan just harvested or made, other times they have to deal with what they ordered or shopped for versus what is in the house. It’s really a bigger version of what we all go through at home when tired or busy or exhausted. That doesn’t mean you can’t use something in your pantry, refrigerator or from your local store and make something filling and very tasty. 

    Chef Ken Fornataro will show you how to make food if you have miso, koji, shio-koji, soy sauce, mirin and other ingredients ready to go with  quick trip to the farmers market, your local salad bar, the super market or a dig into your CSA box or your pantry or refrigerator. Even for picky kids – we know all about the young stubborn ones – and people that are eating a vegan diet. 

    Often you can prepare things that will last for days or weeks, requiring only what you want to eat fresh that day. 

    Based on the demonstrations we’ll have – if accessing the ingredients makes sense and preferably uses ugly vegetables, the following, all vegan, mostly gluten free items:

    Miso dama made by simmering miso with mirin, sake, soy and other ingredients. Sometimes people add ground chicken, fish or vegetables to this type of namemiso after it is already fermented. It’s a type of name misosimilar to Kinzanji miso but not fermented from the start with the added ingredients like Kinzanji miso is. Okazu (おかず味噌) miso, the type of miso that both belong to, are meant to be eaten as condiments.

    Menu:

    Fresh Garlic getting packed into miso for a long fermentation voyage
    • Fried Garlic, Pickled Jalapeño, and Tomatillo Salsa
    • Szechuan Sauerkraut with spicy smoked hamma natto (koji based)
    • Shiitake Kombu Dashi Dama
    • Gohan Takikomi (recipe below)
    • Edamame Crispy Beans (glazed with a shio-koji plum mirin)
    • Jasmine Amasake (sweet, thick, koji based rice)
    • Miso Mayo Dip (miso, mayo with special seasonings, radishes)
    • Cucumber Misozuke (Cukes aged in a black pepper miso)
    • Spicy Ginger, Carrot, Garlic, and Onion Kimchi
    • Coriander Seed, Fennel and Lime Rind pickles
    • Toasted Almond Kisses (savory, nutty, sweet namemiso based)
    • Garlic Misozuke (Fresh garlic fermented in miso)

    If you are a member of culturesgroup MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/culturesgroup/events/261196806/, https://www.meetup.com/Evolving/ (Evolving lifestyles) or nycferments https://www.meetup.com/NYCFerments/ $20. Bring cash and pay there if you like. So please join the group and register for the event! Hope to see you there! koji@earthlink.net with questions!

    Contact Us

    Recipe

    Miso Takikomi Gohan (味噌炊き込みご飯) 

    • Rice 1 cup + 2⁄3 cup (about 300 grams)
    • Water 2 cup (400 ml)
    • Miso 2 TBSP
    • Soy Sauce 1 TBSP
    • Sake 1 TBSP
    • Mirin 1 TBSP
    • Sesame Oil 1 TSP

    (Suggested, Substitue with what you have)

    • Carrots 2 small roots, finely chopped
    • Konjac 1⁄2 of a 90 oz package, finely chopped
    • Deep Fried Tofu (Abura-agé) 1 sheet, cut in small strips
    • Fresh Ginger 3 TBSP, finely julienned (optional) 
    • Shichimi Pepper (optional) 

    Directions

    • Mix Miso, Soy Sauce, Sake, Mirin, and Sesame Seed Oil well and pour onto the dry rice in a rice cooker (or a pot with lid). 
    • Add water. 
    • Add vegetables and tofu and mix well. 
    • Soak the rice mixture for 20 minutes before starting the cooking.
    • When finished cooking, mix the rice well and sprinkle finely julienned fresh ginger and shichimi pepper if you like. 
    • Suggested Rice:Water Ratio for Dry White Rice : Water = 1 : 1.2 and for brown rice Rice : Water = 1 : 1.6~1.8

    Koji Essentials for Busy People

    You’ll see demonstrations of

    • how to make miso (味噌)
    • how to make shio-koji (塩糀)
    • how to make takikomi gohan
    • how to make misodama (味噌玉)
    • how to make a refrigerated kimchi base
    Millet koji

    You’ll learn how to prepare things to use with these things – like a hundred zucchini you can’t deal with.

    The point of all these items is to show you what to have on hand, and what to do with it.

    KojiFest2019 presented by people that have mastered the art of living and eating tasty food with too little time in the day. Got kids? Work, like even two jobs ?

    Need to spend less time and money cooking and more time enjoying food?

    Presenters

    Makiko Ishida (Maki) is a koji enthusiast, and a busy parent that knows how to budget time without sacrificing nutrition or taste for her family. A native Tokyoite who was born into a katsuobushi (fermented bonito) trading family. Maki-san has a unique sense of how to blend traditional Japanese food with everyday American fare.

    Maki especially loves to share easy and fast Japanese home-cooking ideas using koji-fermented staples such as miso, soy sauce, mirin, shio-koji, and sake that anyone can apply into his or her own kitchen.

    Professional Chefs often approach cooking with a stone soup approach. Sometimes they have access to fresh ingredients that a forager, farmer or artisan just harvested or made, other times they have to deal with what they ordered or shopped for versus what is in the house.

    It’s really a bigger version of what we all go through at home when tired or busy or exhausted. That doesn’t mean you can’t use something in your pantry, refrigerator or from your local store and make something filling and very tasty like already when you get home or realy quick to prepare kasha. The stone in this case is koji,or shio-koji, or miso,or sake lees or a fermented or pickled condiment you already bought or made.

    Garlic Misozuke

    Chef Ken Fornataro will show you how to make food with a stone. No rabbit or fox will get this meal though! It’s all really about mise-en-place, a fancy way to say if you have miso, koji, shio-koji, soy sauce, mirin and other ingredients ready to go (or even just the miso) a quick trip to the farmers market, your local salad bar, the super market or a dig into your CSA box or your pantry or refrigerator and you can easily do it. Even for picky kids – we know all about the young stubborn ones – and people that are eating a vegan diet.

    We’ll also show you how to get ready for the arrival of fresh foods from your local farmer or garden or grocer’s shelves. A #vegan focused event that could be translated into any type of food you chose to eat, but everything we prepare and sample will be plant based.

    Koji is the most commonly used word to describe Aspergillus oryzae, a malted mushroom type of microbe that is an enzymatic powerhouse. You might not know how to cook, or even want to, but you still want to eat well without spending an enormous amount of time in the kitchen. Koji can be used with almost any food or even drink you currently eat, from whatever type of cuisine you choose. You can make koji out of just about anything that has carbohydrates in it that will get broken down into different types of enzymes to transform or season your food for you. Quickly.

    Fresh Rice Koji

    You’ll see demonstrations of how to make miso (味噌), shio-koji (塩糀), gohan takikomi (rice cooked with miso and whatever you fancy), misodama (味噌玉) and a long lasting, refrigerated kimchi base and how to prepare things to use with it – like a hundred zucchini you can’t deal with. All so when we offer the following tastings you’ll say that’s easy and fast! Especially since you can substitute ingredients that you have using the mise-en-place items. 

    Based on these items we’ll have – if accessing the ingredients makes sense and preferably uses ugly vegetables, the following, all vegan, mostly gluten free items:

    Menu (based on availability):

    Menu:
    • Fried Jalapeño and Garlic Salsa
    • Szechuan Sauerkraut with pastrami flavored smoked hamma natto
    • Shiitake Kombu Dashi Dama
    • Edamame Crispy Beans (glazed with an amasake shio-koji plum mirin)
    • Jasmine Amasake (sweet, thick, koji based rice)
    • Miso Mayo (mayo with special seasonings and miso)
    • Cucumber Misozuke (Cukes aged in a black pepper miso)
    • Spicy carrot, garlic ginger, tomatillo, onion Kimchi
    • Coriander Seed, Fennel and Lime Rind pickles
    • Toasted Almond KIsses (savory, nutty and sweet)
    • Garlic Misozuke (Fresh garlic fermented in miso)
    • Baker’s Dozen – Freshly baked breads and Genmai Cha Tea (roasted rice, chilled tea, spices) if 40 people register by May 15.

    Fee/Payment: Suggested Fee is $35 for the 3 hour demo and tasting. Bring cash and pay there if you like. Bring whatever you can, but please join the group and register for the event! Hope to see you there! koji@earthlink.net with questions! https://www.meetup.com/culturesgroup/

    Lemon Rind pickle

    Contact Us

    culturesgroup is about food and drink making, preservation, fermentation, science, and cultural history. We focus on traditional and novel techniques in cooking, fermenting, brewing and preserving techniques using koji, yeasts, and the tasty bacteria that make pickles. We stress sustainably resourced foods, food safety, digestibility, and maximizing the nutritional profiles of foods.

    Mushrooms and Koji

    #KojiFest2019 is an ongoing series of events hosted by culturesgroup (https://www.instagram.com/culturesgroup/). Expect to learn, ask questions, and taste and enjoy. April 13th at RESOBOX on East 3rd Street in New York City. A multi course tasting event with three wild sages and experienced microbe wranglers. #kojifest2019 #veganevent 

    Porcini Black Trumpet and Leek Nuta with Homemade Miso, Vinegar & Wild Seed Mustard @malloryodonell

    Kumquat, Carrot and Red Pepper Pickles

    Wild Greens Pkhali

    Pkhali is the traditional Georgian paté of vegetables such as spinach or leeks, in this case its going to be a mix of wild greens probably nettles, mustard and herbs like pushki and wild chervil.  Depending on what Mallory has on hand and what he can gather it will probaly include these ingredients: Wild mustards (garlic mustard, wild cabbage and dames rocket), nettles, wild chervil, field garlic, ground elder / walnuts, garlic, Georgian spices (blue fenugreek, coriander, chiles) a splash of homemade vinegar and a dash of black walnut oil. 

    Wild Greens Pkhali @malloryodonnell

    Aline Bessa,

    Aline Bessa is a baker, cook and food waste sage. She constan tly thrills people @bichobk with her breads, ferments and other tings that include yuca. Yuca is the energy source for at least 400 million people around the world. Aline will discuss – and sample – some of the tastiest ways the plant is used.

    Yuca @culturesgroup

    Aline will discuss how to ferment this root with various ingredients in multiple ways to create flavors ranging from cheeselike, to nutty or fruity. For every thing described, there will be an accompanying dish so that it will be easier to understand the process better.

    Resobox Space at East 3rd Street in the East Village in New York City @resobox

    Yuca Ferments

    Miso soup with tucupi (a fermented yuca broth), szechuan buttons (jambu), culantro and goma

    Yuca rolls (vegan pães de queijo) stuffed with nut cheese made with sour tapioca starch (polvilho azedo) miso

    Puba (fermented yuca) pudding with miso caramel

    There will be a yuca-based “cachaça” for the adults, too. Its name is tiquira.

    Vegan Braised Beef Brisket made of mushrooms and yuca flour @culturesgroup

    Yuca Flour (farinha)

    @bichobk describes: “How many types of farinha (yuca flour) have you used? Farinha can be readily found here in the United States, either at Brazilian stores or online, but almost without exception these come loaded with artificial additives.

    It is incredibly hard to find farinha from the North or Northeast of Brazil here, especially of any quality. In Bahia we use farinha de guerra. When we run out of it, we use cassava garri from the Nigerian store up the street.

    We also have farinha d’agua from the North of Brazil, and farinha ovinha de Uarini, a gift from our friend @raonilourenco These are all artisanal products, and they all share the same ingredients: yuca. “

    Rice Koji for making sake shio koji, shoyu koji, amasake, pickles and sake @culturesgroup We’ll have some freshly made at the event! Along with misos and sauces and pickles and surprises.

    KojiFest 2019 – Spring

    Sweet Corn Sourdough Bread

    Koji Fest 2019 is an ongoing series of events hosted by culturesgroup (https://www.instagram.com/culturesgroup/). Expect to learn, ask questions, and taste and enjoy.

    The events focus on methods and examples of how koji and other microbes are used throughout the world in many cuisines to elevate the taste and nutritional benefits of local and regional foods.

    Koji is the most commonly used word to describe Aspergillus oryzae, a malted mushroom type of microbe that is an enzymatic powerhouse. There are other types of koji that are members of the Aspergillus family that have their own unique characteristics.

    Enzymes and other byproducts produced by koji are creating solutions fordealing with environmental toxinsand even human disease. We focus on te amazing taste sensations and the layers of flavor that koji can create through rapid, or traditional methods.

    Presenters will provide tastings of foods that use koji or other fermentation techniques. These include misos, shoyu, shio-koji and how the enzymes created by koji can quickly or over time create incredible tastes and nutritional benefits.

    Some things will be lightly dressed with a probiotic rich sauce, others will be deeply flavored misos or sauces that highlight a fresh ingredient or can be eaten on top of or in cooked grains, beans, vegetable based proteins and even desserts.  

    Mushroom cured and fermented to taste like bacon

    Depending on what is available the day before the event we plan to have, perhaps with a few substitutions these things garnished with accompaniements.

    • Traditional three year old miso
    • Sweet simmered miso
    • Black beans with smoked mushroom bacon
    • Greens with cashew, garlic, herb pesto
    • Tucupi miso soup (a fermented yuca broth, szechuan buttons (jambu), cilantro and spring vegetable. 
    • Nut cheese using miso made with sour tapioca starch
    • Yucca rolls (vegan pães de queijo)
    • Puba (fermented yucca) pudim with miso caramel
    • Pickles (kumquat and carrot, shio-koji cucumbers, tempero baiano style mushrooms). 
    • Rice, garnished (spiced peanuts, date and ginger douchi, gomashio bahia). 
    • Corn chips, seasoned

    Joining Chef Ken Fornataro for this event.

    Mallory O’Donnell

    Mallory is a wild food writer and enthusiast, sometime cook and dabbler in creating food based on sustainable and local resources. Inspired by exposure to the worlds working-class cuisines, Mallory cooks globally-influenced cucina povera with an emphasis on homemade staple ingedients, fermentation and simple, traditional techniques.

    Emphasis is on the wild ingredients reflective of the terroir of the Northeast US, and on creative applications involving neglected or ignored wild ingredients such as bark, roots, wild seeds and spices, pollen, and tree leaves, branches and sap. Many of these open up exciting new avenues when combined with traditional preserving and fermentation techniques, an increasing role in which is being played by koji.

    Mallory documents food experiments as well as native and invasive wild foods at @mallorylodonnell on Instagram, and www.howtocookaweed.com

    Roast garlic, cashew and cilantro pesto

    Aline Bessa

    Aline Bessa is a fermentation enthusiast, exploring connections between the techniques she’s learned in her home country, Brazil, as well as here in New York, with local and sometimes foraged ingredients. In her cooking, fermentation is primarily used as a means to uncover the complex flavors of the ingredients, sometimes not accessible at first sight/smell/taste.

    In addition to that, preservation techniques help to keep her favorite tropical flavors available year-round, which is particularly important for riffs on Brazilian dishes and cocktails.

    Finally, fermentation is an important ally in her constant battle against food waste – food byproducts are usually turned into new products in her house. Aline is getting a PhD in Computer Science at NYU and she brings her scientific acumen to all her kitchen experiments.

    Recipe

    Worchestershire sauce

    Most things labeled as Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies, a type of fish that people trying to avoid animal products don’t want to consume.

    We created a vegan sauce – no animal products including honey and fish – that you can pretty quickly assemble yourself if you don’t want to buy any of the existing vegan or vegetarian sauces typically available at health food stores or online.

    This version is the faster version of one that uses koji and takes a few months to ferment. It’s just as good in things you are cooking, or in which it doesn’t really play a major role. It’s also great when using it with meat or any recipe that a vegan wouldn’t be interested in eating. So, try it. We use it in our vegan mushroom bacon.

    ½ cup raw apple cider vinegar

    1 cup brown rice vinegar

    ¼ cup organic tamari or soy sauce

    ¼ cup unsulphured dark molasses

    3 TB Umesu (umeboshi plum vinegar)

    1 TB tamarind paste or other sour fruit paste

    1 TB hot asian mustard powder

    1 TSP ginger powder

    3 TB very dark aged miso

    3 TB dried onion flakes

    1/3 TSP cinnamon

    ½ TSP garlic powder (or several fresh smashed)

    ¼ tsp cardamom

    ¼ TSP powdered cloves

    ½ TSP ground white pepper

    A few pieces dried citrus peel, preferably orange, toasted

    1/4 tsp dried seaweed powder (kombu, wakame, anything but Irish Moss or other gelling types )

    Simmer very slowly for 15 minutes, at which time it should be about to boil.  

    Let cool down below 140F, just not colder than tepid)

    Add ¼ cup rice wine vinegar (4 to 5 % acidity)

    1 TSP sweet smoked paprika

    ½ TSP alleppo pepper flakes or ground black pepper

    1 TB dark miso

    Stir well and let sit until room temperature. Strain, saving solids. Bottle and refrigerate sauce for up to 6 months. Or add a tablespoon of sea salt and it will last at 72F for at least three months unless you use it alot.

    We’ll provide recipes this is used in besides our mushroom bacon (recipe below) after this described event.

    April 13th Event in NYC

    April 13th at RESOBOX (resobox.com) you can experience a multi course tasting event. #kojifest2019 #veganevent

    Each #kojifest2019 event includes different guest presenters and participants sharing and sampling different handmade, regional fermented and traditional foods, most made with a koji-centric item such as miso, shio-koji, amasake or tamari.

    Enroll for information about all related events, or register for events at the culturesgroup MeetUp site.

    Recipe

    Mushroom Bacon (vegan)

    The cool thing about the marinade for this dressing is that it can be used with a few different types of mushrooms, or on a snack like roasted beans or even popcorn. Just don’t go overboard with the marinade if you don’t intend to use it for the amount specified in the recipe.

    The mushrooms don’t have to be pre-treated other than washed and de-stemmed if using shiitake, but if you marinate them for over 15 minutes they will start to really produce water that will dilute the intensity of the taste.

    If you don’t have maple syrup, coconut palm syrup or dark brown sugar work as well. Use the palm if you want it less sweet, though. We used the liquid smoke version here because most people don’t have smokers or want to do the stove top thing – easy in a wok or stove top steamer we smoke our nut cheeses in – and it works just as well.

    There are quite a few decent brands out there, make sure they don’t contain stuff you do not want to eat. You can also use unsalted smoke powder – sparingly – to create the liquid smoke, or just add it to the marinade.

    Use either portobello mushrooms or shitake mushrooms sliced like bacon, or even crimini or button mushrooms. Either way, this marinade is for 2 pounds after cleaning. Some mushrooms may need to be drained after the first trip to the frying pan. Then re-sauteed with something sweet and tamari.

    We like to save the marinade if the mushrooms have been hanging out a while and deglazing the pan and reducing the liquid afterwards. If you want to resaute these right before using to crisp them up or just do them ahead of time do that.

    Make sure there is more oil than liquid on them, adding some extra oil to store. Maybe 1 TB or 2. Not more unless you’ll be throwing them into a hash brown potato or root vegetable dish. Later for that.

    2 LB portabello mushrooms

    2 TSP liquid smoke

    1/4 cup soy sauce (tamari if GF)

    1 TB maple syrup

    1/4 cup frying quality olive oil (not EVOO)

    1 TB Worchestershire sauce (vegan recipe from culturesgroup above

    1/2 tsp toasted and ground coriander seeds

    6 TB olive oil or high temp substitute

    Cooking the mushrooms: Get pan hot and add oil. Add mushrooms with tongs. Do not overcrowd the pan. Careful of splattering although there should not be more than 2 TB oil in your pan. Fry them like strips of bacon – obviously not layout bacon – that turn over after a few minutes for even browning. Don’t overbrown.

    You will need to do two to three batches. Have each batch draining on absorbent paper. Don’t stack them on top of each other. Make sure the pan, wiped out if necessary, reheats after each batch and new oil is added.

    After all the mushrooms have been cooked reheat the pan and add ther mushrooms over high heat. Add 2 TB maple syrup and 2 TB tamari and glaze the mushrooms quickly. Remove from pan.

    Use right away or lay out and keep warm. Drying this out only makes them better, as long as most of the water is already out.

    Ginger Date Black Koji Hamma Natto, a super garnish for rice. This is onbe of three major types of natto. This one uses koji, not a bacteria called Bacillus subtillis.

    Kojifiles

    Two types of home made mirin, both double fermented.

    Today’s presentation and kick off of KojiFest 2019 was off the charts.  Yoshiko san’s 9 year old miso was deep. The hatcho miso tasted like chocolate and bourbon and dark maple syrup if it was made from soybean trees (no, soybeans don’t grow on trees). Stunning.

    Maki san was evangelizing.

    I didn’t get a tenth into my presentation but people seemed interested in hearing about which koji  enzymes created which organoleptic (smell, taste, color, etc.) properties in koji-centric ferments like miso, shoyu, mirin and sake so I let it rip.

    Didn’t have time to present recipes or discuss entire topics. Last PhD thesis I write for an hour presentation.

    The apexart space and the staff were exceptional. I’m moving in next week. I wish. I’m just moving.

    The next four KojiFest 2019 events have been scheduled for April 13th ( about koji-centric ferments from places you’d like to be during Spring Break), May 4 (our KojiFest 2019 Del Mayo), and June 8 all Saturdays, all in New York City.

    For those that were unable to attend today’s fest here’s a recipe for one of my all time favorite salads using mirin in the dressing. Everyone seemed to like the mirin I made – incredibly easy to do for those that are patient – but you could use Mitoku brand Organic Mikawa Mirin and add a touch of a small amount of brown rice vinegar and achieve the same result. 

    Did I mention we still need volunteers? And people interested in presenting their koji-centric creations?

    Apexart.org event with culturegroup.net

    Check out this other apexart.org event on March 2, 1 to 3 PM on Bokashi Fermentation https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bokashi-fermentation-workshop-tickets-56137788637

    “Managing organic waste is a major challenge for businesses and residents of NYC. As our city strives for zero waste by 2030, we need to consider innovative solutions for managing waste. Bokashi fermentation is an ancient, simple, fun and highly effective technique to manage organic waste. Using waste organic material like sawdust and dried coffee grounds, and a sealable 5 gallon bucket, any household can make an inoculant that will prevent food waste from rotting. The end product is a valuable soil amendment for garden soil, just by burying it in the ground.”

    Koji cured Chicken salad with Sour Dill Pickles and lacto-fermented vegetables, mirin vinaigrette 

    Separately ferment 1 jumbo peeled beet (save peelings to dry to color food) or 392 grams julienned beets in 3 tsp (12 grams) grams salt. Mix two cups of julienned carrots and onions (482 grams) with 18 grams or 4 TSP coarse salt. Let ferment for at least a week at room temp in tightly rolled air release bags, or under brine as you would with any vegetable. After fermenting you will have 308 grams beets, 374 grams onions and carrots, and ¼ cup juice from the latter set aside. Take 1200 grams of chicken cured in koji for 7 days in the refrigerator fridge and cook at low heat until just slightly browned. Save juices to mix with carrot/onion juice. After cooling, julienne chicken.  Mix ¼ cup mirin, 1 TSP celery seed and up to 1 TSP freshly ground toasted black pepper with the reserved juices. Add 3 TSP fresh tarragon or 2 TSP dried and mix well. Add a cup of crisp apple sticks if desired. Serve right after adding the beets at room temperature. 

    Koji cured chicken with lactofermented beets, carrots,
    onions and cucumbers, mirin vinaigrette.

    Ken Fornataro

    麹 culturesgroup

    koji@earthlink.net

    culturesgroup@earthlink.net

    www.culturesgroup.net

    facebook.com/groups/pickles/

    https://www.instagram.com/culturesgroup/

    Reconceptualizing Miso

    Part 1: Release of our two year old sofrito miso (A.sojae) made with chorizo and jamón butts, accidentally sun dried tomatos, lactofermented culantro and cilantro, and caramelized seaweed and charred onions.


    Accompanied by black garlic and mushrooms miso jerky – stretched while drying – for quick pickled peppers.

    Forcing a Maillard reaction in a miso @culturesgroup

    To be discussed at https://www.meetup.com/culturesgroup-Koji-Belters-and-LAB-wranglers/events/258311408/apexart and NYCFerments at Fifth Hammer Brewing in Long Island City

    Angela, Zachary and Cheryl of @NYCFerments

    Starting to add new koji spores, koji, and other koji-centric products as well.

    Cape Town, SA http://richardbosman.co.za   Sold at the Oranjezicht Farm Market every Saturday and Sunday or you can order online at info@richardbosman.co.za

    Kinetic Ferment Co.
    www.kineticfermentco.com 
    Instagram @kineticfermentco
    Email info@kineticfermentco.com



     



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