Muffin math first, though. In part I we made muffins and tea cakes based on the math that the doughnuts, popovers, tea breads, waffles, fritters, muffins and pancakes are based on. When you see how removing 1 part from the recipe will get you some amazing apple cider donuts or cruellers, you realize how important this is. And the popovers into cream puffs with chocolate icng trick. Read on.
220 grams (around 1 3/4 cups flour) is 200% or 2 parts of the recipe. That means that one part for this recipe and any recipe in this group requires 110 grams of something. You really need a scale, but we provided approximate volume amounts.
For 6 muffins and a a small tea cake that’s okay. But if you were making 60 of these in a professional bakery being off by 200 grams of any ingredient would really matter.
For muffins and tea breads the ratio is always 2 parts flour to 2 parts liquid. So if you have 220 grams ( 2 parts) you need 220 grams (2 parts) of liquid. In this case we used yogurt. That counts as a liquid ingredient. It happened to be a cup of yogurt that weighed 220 grams.
Any muffin or quick bread has another ratio. You need 1 part egg and 1 part fat. Now you could use bacon fat for a savory muffin that everyone would love you for, or shmaltz in a mushroom muffin, or melted butter in a peach and caramelized almond muffin, but it has to weigh 110 grams. That is what we said 1 part weighs.
So, you need 110 grams of eggs. Good thing that 2 large eggs almost always weighs 110 grams. Don’t sweat about 10 to 20 grams over or under for such a small batch of muffins. It’s close enough.
Now, as for the salt and baking powder (and 1 tsp of baking soda because we used yogurt) this recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 2 tsp of baking powder. I always use 1 TB of baking powder because I usually have a lot of add ins, but the 1 tsp of soda that interacted wit the yogurt made up for the rising ability of that other teaspoon of baking powder.
Depending on the add-in I can get away with up to 1/2 to 1 1/2 parts. In the recipe above the bananas were 1 part, the raisins one half part. Don’t fill the muffin tins more than 2/3 full. Extra batter could go into making two baby tea cakes. I threw some minced toasted brazil nuts I had lying around in those. So do you want to make waffles and pancakes, fritters, doughnuts or popovers next?
Let’s say you didn’t grow up in a family that loved to bake. I did. Or even steam fermented doughs or buns made with some type of wild yeast or active ferment. Ditto. It was a very complicated multiple cultures and ethnicities thing.
Everything almost always goes back to that triangle of the Chinese, Arab and Indian people thousands and thousands of years ago. When they migrated outward they brought with them things that the people of their new homelands turned into unique and amazing things using ingredients and techniques associated with those countries or people and their terroir or climate.
In the history of fermentation the development of a way to grind up grains into flour on a large practical scale shifted the almost universal use of rice and millet as the basis of all fermentations to wheat.
Barley was pretty much sprouted to make sugar or malt when the natural amylase enzymes that break down the starches in things like grains and beans once activated. Typically, barley doesn’t contain enough gluten to make anything but softer, cake type things. You could add a little ground barley flour to anything you bake, but almost every all purpose flour on the market already contains sprouted barley flour.
The items listed are pretty much all the same recipe with very minor variations. The difference between a tea cake and a muffin is really just container you bake it in. Got leftover pancake batter? Add a little more fat such as butter or oil and some fruit or cheese or vegetables to make a sweet or savory tea cake or muffin.
Then again, have any leftover fritter batter. The batter to make fritters is waffle or pancake batter without fat. The more fat contained in something you fry, the fattier it will be, so a great fritter shouldn’t have any fat in it. Likewise, with doughnuts. Had to tell the difference between those two except for the shape.
Doughnuts are usually just fritter batter with some type of leavening like baking powder or maybe yeast. With doughnuts with added ingredients like applesauce you might want to reduce the liquid amount. Add the apples to the liquid and weigh it. The important thing is that you maintain the basic recipe ratios..
Popovers are the item here that usually doesn’t contain any leavening other than egg. The fat that they are cooked in is usually a great source of flavor. Yorkshire Pudding are popovers that use the caramelized drippings and beef fat from roast beef.
To a professional Chef or Baker the goal is maintain the ratio of flour to water. Or Starch to liquid. Then you add small amounts of other ingredients, but always in what are called baker’s percentages. If you use baker’s percentages you just really need to know the weight of any ingredient you want to add.
When making bread, the flour is the cornerstone of bakers percentages. You can do the same with quick breads, which are basically breads without yeast. But right know I need to make muffins.
I need to make muffins (but not these this time) for breakfast. So I have a few items I want to use up. Some yogurt, some dried out raisins, toasted hazelnut oil, over ripe bananas that I could easily make into vinegar but I need muffins now. Part II coming up.
Muffins and a Little Tea Bread
1 3/4 cup or 220 grams flour (100% AP or 165 grams AP and 55 grams sorghum)
1/2 cup or 110 grams organic dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
If using salt instead of shio koji mix in with the above ingredients. The idea to is to blend them together very well so it will be easier to very quickly mix in the liquid ingredients.
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup ( yogurt or nut, cow, rice or soy milk) or 220 grams
2 eggs or 110 grams eggs
3/5 cup or 110 grams toasted hazelnut oil (or any oil)
4 ounces or 110 grams or 1/2 cup mashed banana
2 TB shio-koji or 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 55 grams plumped raisins
Mix the liquid ingredients together very well. Then, dump the dry ingredients on top of the wet ones and mix gently until they just come together. You can start mixing, then wait ten seconds, then start mixing then wait another ten seconds to allow everything to be absorbed.
Do not whip or beat the ingredients. Use your biscuit hand! What does that mean? Gently mix ingredients slowly so as not to create heat nor gluten. Always best to do this is a colder area when possible. Some people like to chill their wet ingredients.
2 cups or 300 grams malted bread flour (or AP flour with barley)
2 TB or 26 grams shio koji (or 2 TB sweet miso or 1 TB salt)
3/4 cup or 75 grams raisins
1 cup or 275 grams milk kefir (or acid whey, whey or buttermilk)
1/2 cup or 130 grams water
Mix everything together well. It will be like a thick pancake batter. Refrigerate overnight or several days. Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Knead in the walnut flour, walnuts and brown sugar, then the baking soda and powder.
1 cup or 75 grams roasted, finely chopped walnuts (or more flour or another nut)
1 cup or 150 grams walnut flour (or bread or all purpose flour)
1/4 cup or 75 grams light brown sugar
2 tsp or 16 grams baking soda
1 tsp baking powder (optional, unless you are the unsure type)
Preheat oven to 375F. Plop the dough into the greased pan. Let it sit for a few minutes. Loosely score the top of the bread – if you can, others ignore it – in quarters and make one round loaf that you bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check after 25 minutes with a digital probe or toothpick (200 F internal). Or, fill 24 muffin cups 1/2 full and bake 20 – 25 minutes.
We made this cake first with chopped up whole oranges with peel removed for better distribution made like betterazuke pickles. Those are the type of pickles usually layered with a whole lot of salt, sugar and koji. They are often aged for a long time. Let us know if you want to do that.
Otherwise, a hack just requires some pre-made rice koji. An even easier all purpose hack is bto use kasu (the dregs from making doboroku or sake) with salt.
The easiest thing of all would be to just use your favorite sake or liquid shio koji.
Whatever you decide to do, this is a really tasty, versatile and easy to make pound cake like treat with just a blender.
450 grams or 16 ounces cultured butter
2 TB shio-koji (salt koji or liquid shio koji)
294 grams or 2 cups organic coconut palm sugar
3 extra large or 200 grams of eggs
420 grams or 1 to 2 navel oranges, pureed.
1 TB lemon, orange, or vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 TB baking powder
486 grams or 3 cups flour
Liquid shio-koji can now be purchased online or from many Asian grocery stores. Our friends at The Japanese Pantry and at MTC Kitchen also sell it (and lots of other really cool ingredients). Check out your local Sunrise Mart near Brooklyn Kura if you are in the area.
There is really no difference between liquid shio-koji and the pastier version except for perhaps salt content and a little water. You can blend your butter with liquid shio koji and let it ferment for days or weeks in the refrigerator. You can do the same with the oranges, as we did for four weeks.
Let them ferment for as long as you like. Or not. It’s all good. You can also blend rice koji with water until a paste forms. Add more water and some salt and you have shio-koji. Keep it at 135F for 6 hours and you have the same exact shio-koji that people take weeks to make. The enzymatic activity is the same.
The salt reduces the amylase enzymes that digest sugar and increases the protease enzymes that like proteins. But it will still be a fleetingly sweet and savory marinade and all purpose condiment.
Again, you can always just take out your blender and make a thick paste of the wet ingredients and blend into the flour mix. Simplest, best cake ever.
The icing for this was originally made by creating an amasake type paste using tapioca starch and Aspergillus oryzae (koji) grown out on orange peels. Perhaps this is a new technique to you.
As I described this was recreated from the notes from researchers working with spent coffee grinds, cassava peels, fruit waste, peanuts, wheat bran, soybeans, ad other things that were of enormous interest then and now.
By then I mean in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We will be publishing a whole lot more on these things with recipes using a wide range of Aspergillus types as well as other filamentous fungus (like the ones used to make tempeh) we’ve been making since the 1970s.
Here is a really easy and very tasty way to make this very quickly just like your grandma did back then. We just finished filming a series of videos about making and using shio koji or salted rice koji, but you could also follow the old school way we describe here that most people still think is the way to make shio koji or just buy some from one of the many online or retail outlets that sell it. Either the liquid shiio-koji or the paste works as well.
2 TB fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 cups or 56 grams confectioners sugar
1 tsp teaspoon liquid shio-koji
More confectioner’s sugar as desired if you want it thicker)
Whisk everything together really well. Either serve on the side of the cake when the cake is completely cooled down on a towel, or drizzle over the cake.
Blend together the pureed orange and egg base with the flour and soda. Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake sit outside the oven for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pans. Let cool completely before icing. The icing is not required – you could just dust it with confectioner’s sugar – but it’s sweetness coupled with the orange zest and juice brings out layers of flavor in the cake.
Learn about the five basic tastes, the relation between tastes and the representative chemicals that bring out the flavor in foods, which daily diets include umami components, and how to enhance the umami flavor.
Experience comparison tasting tests of several kinds of Dashi, soup stock which is essential for Japanese cuisine, and learn about washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) to explore why Dashi is the key of Japanese cuisine.
This forum will give you hands on experience making dashi from kombu from Japan, where it is typically grown on ropes in the cold seas.
Sunday, March 1, 2020 2:00pm-3:30pm at RESOBOX in the East Village at 91 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10003 (Map) Event Fee: $15
Kombu belongs to the brown kelp family. It contains fucoidan, a substance that researchers have been studying as a treatment for kidney diseases and disorders for decades.
It also has been studied for rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer prevention, and is a great thing to add to beans to help break down sugars such as raffinose that can be very hard for humans to digest.
Kombu is a nutritional powerhouse that should be included in everyone’s diet, if only for the glutamates, and of course their digestive properties. But you really have to know how to use it correctly.
Kombu is well-known as an essential raw material for making a soup stock called Dashi for Japanese cuisine. It is significantly rich in umami components, such as glutamate. The umami taste can be enhanced by 7 times with the other umami components from meat or fishes.
This is called “umami synergy” and is used in a lot of cuisine around the world. In Japan, dashi with its enhanced umami is used for many dishes, including miso soup, nabe (Japanese style hot pot), simmered dishes, pickles and salads.
This presentation is led by Shunsuke Kondo. Shunsuke-san is an experienced chemist who graduated with a master’s degree in chemistry. He’s working with RESOBOX and culturesgroup for this collaborative event.
Okui Kaiseido Co., Ltd. will provide the konbu. This company is one of the oldest – founded in 1871 – and most famous Kombu makers in Japan. https://www.konbu.jp/
Taste Comparing Tests:
Try tasting the enhanced flavor of umami in this event and enjoy several Dashi made from different kinds of Kombu!
・Dashi from only Kombu ・Dashi from only dried bonito ・Dashi from Kombu and dried bonito (called “Awase Dashi”) ・Awase Dashi with salt ・Awase Dashi with miso ・Dashi from several kinds of Kombu ・Seasoned Dashi, “HONDASHI” (containing MSG)
Attendees will have the option of trying a cup (about 50-100mL) of Seasoned Dashi (Hondashi which contains MSG) but only as a tasting comparison.
The other dashis will not have any MSG in them and will be made of natural ingredients (please see the full list above).
Of course, there is no need for participants to try that specific dashi and they will be informed if they would like to opt-out of trying it.
The purple top turnips were used instead of celery root for two reasons. We like the taste and ease of preparation of this vegetable, and it is available fresh even during winter months. Slice the turnips into long matchsticks and massage with the coarse sea salt. You will end up losing about 20% of their original weight. You do not have to peel these if you don’t want to. Make sure they are well scrubbed though.
1/2 cup Rémoulade Sauce
Freshly ground pepper
1 TB shio-koji
1 to 2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp celery seeds
Freshly ground black pepper (up to 1/2 tsp)
Green shiso leaves (or fresh dill or fresh tarragon or scallions)
1 pound or 450 grams purple top turnips, julienned and salted down for at least four hours with 1 to 2 TB of coarse sea salt.
Once the turnips have been fast pickled in the salt soak them in cold water to remove the salt. You could chan ge the water several times. Squeeze the turnips very well to remove any excess water. They should only taste very lightly salted when biting into the center.
Mix all the ingredients together and serve immediately. A crisp apple, cut like the turnips, can be added right before serving as well. You could also grind up the celery seeds if you like. If you want to avoid the mayonnaise or Rémoulade sauce entirely, use another TB of shio koji and 2 tsp vinegar.
Mayonnaise and Hollandaise -nEgg emulsions are one of the Mother Sauces in Classic French cooking, and are used in many other cuisines as well. Egg emulsion sauces are almost always made by combining an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice with eggs, then adding fat.
There is usualy enough water in these ingredients that help the sauce to stay together as they are made. If you ever have problems holding an egg emulsion sauce together try adding a very small amount of water, and putting it in a colder place.
Sauces that depend on an egg emulsion include Hollandaise Sauce, and Mayonnaise, and sometimes Vinaigrette (for salads). In some cases, the fat is heated along with the eggs while making the sauce, although that is not always required.
Of course, the acids can vary. We’ve used sour grapes, tart cherries, acid whey, and infusions of koji made with Aspergillus luchuensis to create citric acid that can replace the need for lemon, vinegar or anything else. Liquid shio-koji can also be used, bringing even more umami to the sauce.
The fat used in an egg emulsion sauce could be butter, olive oil, chicken fat, or even lard. In classic French cuisine, clarified butter is almost always used.
We’ll provide you lots of recipes for all these different variations things as we go along but remember in life, and especially in food that balance is the technique, layers of taste the rewards of knowing how to orchestrate the right tongue, mouth, and throat feel.
Smell is often the key to unlocking all the pleasure receptors you want to unlock with whatever it is you are eating or drinking. A lot of that depends on what you can unlock from fats. It also depends on what acid you use. And of course on the liquid, whether water, mushroom broth, fish sauce or microbe infused stock.
Egg Emulsion – Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise is really just a cold version of Hollandaise. For this first sauce we kept it simple. Mother sauces, including the progeny of mayonnaise called Rémoulade, should always be capable of becoming the parent of another sauces.
If you add additional onion and fresh dill and sour cream – we do that often – it’s no longer a simple sauce. It would be pretty hard to create another sauce from such as sauce.
That’s not a good thing for a home cook, or a chef unless that is the end goal. With this sauce, you could easily make a dozen variations if you don’t need all the sauce at once.
1 3/4 cup or 365 grams mayonnaise
2 TB mustard powder (regular or hot, your call)
2 TB or 25 grams chopped capers
1 TB or 16 grams sugar (organic, unrefined, not brown)
We are going to assume you either know how to make mayonnaise according to your taste, and if you don’t, how to buy whole egg or low fat or olive based or vegan mayonnaises from a store or online.
Mix the first five ingredients. Then, blend in the herbs and scallions. It should look like a mayonnaise with capers and herbs, not a green sauce. Let flavors meld for an hour or more.
This recipe makes 2 cups or 420 grams of sauce. It keeps really well in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days. If you are going to use this right away, you could add the lemon juice from the lemons you grated for the peel. Add a 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 more TB capers if you want it to last longer.
This is great with turnip, kohlrabi or carrot ohitashi.
People have been fermenting and preserving food for at least 4,000 years. What tends to be forgotten is that preservation and fermentation methods almost always grew from a need to survive during periods of time – usually a change of seasons – when there was no fresh food available for months.
This pickle is incredibly hard to keep down – as far as smell goes, anyway. An air lock that allows release of gas (carbon dioxide) is very useful at the start, as is wrapping it in several bags when refrigerating, but it will most likely smell anyway.
There are sulfur containing compounds in many of the ingredients and they tend to smell when they are broken down during the fermentation process.
If this is your first fermentation journey put a bowl under your pickles, or something that can catch potential spill over.
When ferments are still alive and unpasteurized, you get all the prebiotic and probiotic benefits including lots of vitamins and minerals. They are usually easier to digest, and tastier.
A temperature of 72F is usually a good temperature to keep your ferments under. Lower than that, and they will take longer.
This does not contain any koji or a starter culture other than the sourdough starter. It really depends on bacteria to make it sour and protect it. We’ll have hundreds of recipes that use koji and other cultures as we go along.
Try this and see if it serves as a good go to recipe for anything fresh you see at the market, or grow. Be aware of how the water or juice content changes.
This will become very important if you ever decide to start adding fermented shrimp, raw fish, or other high protein ingredients with another recipe, and making longer ferments.
Those ingredients may not have enough salt in them, so you would need to increase the salt in your recipe one way or another, and watch how it affects the water content and movement in your ferment.
Then again, salt can affect the enzymes in your ferment and that can spell disaster over time. For now, keep things clean and follow the recipe for this type of pickle.
Weighing your ingredients using grams as the basic measurement will avoid a world of regret and sorry. This is a fact.
Fast, Simple, Tasty Kimchi using sourdough starter throwaway
950 grams radish (3 medium sized) with stems, or another vegetable
32 grams fresh ginger (organic, candied ginger also works very well)
2 TB dried red pepper (or another mild pepper or 2 tsp good turmeric)
62 grams or 4TB coarse sea salt. Use 1/2 the weight/2TB if using fine salt that doesn’t have anti-caking agents or added chemicals.
62 grams peeled and de-stemmed garlic (fresh or pickled)
104 grams or 1/2 cup wheat sourdough starter (rice paste or another starch if not available)
1 TB sugar or dried fruits or diced apple or pear (optional)
2 TB Fish sauce or fruit juice or kombu flakes or tamari (optional)
We first salted down our daikon radish (see salt amount above). After an hour, strain the liquid off, but save it. If this were cabbage, you would now rinse it very well and squeeze it out or let drip off. You would do the same with any greens, and things like zucchini or cucumbers as well.
Because we only put a quarter cup of salt (62 grams) on this amount of radishes, and we are going to ferment this with fish sauce – you don’t have to put fish sauce in here, and could replace it with seaweed or soy sauce – you don’t need to rinse anything off. An easier, yet still very tasty pickle.
We sautéed the radish greens, garlic and ginger in 3 to 4 TB of rice bran oil. Use what oil you prefer, but a bland one. You could also use water.
Cool this mixture down before adding to the sourdough starter that has been mixed with the salty radish water you had left over from the hour long soak that released at least a cup of liquid.
The starch feeds the yeast and bacteria while your pickle becomes tasty and sourer over time. You could add a few pitted dates or sugar for the same reason if you like.
As the sugars are eaten bacteria known as lacto-bacteria (LAB) are produced. This lowers the PH, protecting your ferment from other microbes that are not invited.
We used 2 TB of Red Boat 40% because we had that much left in a bottle. You can use any fish sauce you want, or none at all. We also decided to add 2 tablespoon of red pepper.
Typically we’ll use fresh Holland red peppers, but the dried flakes that are sometimes caled Dutch chiles, might be easier to source. These are much milder than the cayenne peppers from which they were bred. By the Dutch, obviously. They are called gochugaru in Korean.
Some people are intolerant to pepper so be careful how much you use, and how you handle any pepper. Some people can’t even smell them without having an adverse (allergic) reaction.
Gloves are always a good idea, and a good habit to get into. Don’t ever touch your eyes, or other parts of your body if you think you may have gotten any juice on them.
Wash your gloves as you go along, and watch out for seeds. The seeds of hot peppers tend to be really hot.
This ferment should be done in five or six days. You can eat it when you like the taste. Keep it under the juices (also called the brine). Kimchi is one of those ferments we like to press down to remove air pockets that could rapidly spoil it. That’s also why it has to be under the brine.
Don’t stick unwashed or used utensils in a ferment to taste it, ever. You can ferment this or up to a month but eat it as soon as possible after that, even if refrigerated. This is not the kind of pickle that ages very well.
This is one of our favorite and easiest things to make because you have a really good pickle you could eat right away, or let ferment, pressed down under and under air lock for up to a month. It doesn’t even need refrigeration.
A fermentable sugar is something that a yeast or bacteria uses as an energy source. Grains (cereals) such as barley or millet or rice have a lot of starch. To be useful they have to be broken down into smaller pieces called simple sugars.
Filamentous fungus are a specific type of microbe capable of doing this. Either alone or in different combinations koji (Aspergillus and another specific fungus called Rhizopus) does this by creating enzymes that power or catalyse this process. They can break down lots of things.
Specific types of cultures or microbes that either include koji or are entirely made up of koji are used. They break things down into smaller pieces by creating many different types of enzymes.
Koji can break down starches, fats, proteins and other things from organic sources. Usually this is done through a process called hydrolysis, which just means water is involved in the process.
Koji (A. oryzae) is better at – and does not produce harmful toxins like a close relative Aspergillus flavus – at breaking things down. The breakdown enzymes that brewers are mostly concerned with are amylases, glucoamylases, pectinases, proteases, and lipases.
Koji is genetically and specifically capable of making hydrolytic enzymes and enzymes that move sugars and other substances around during fermentation. Remember that without enzymes everything would need more energy that would ever be available.
You can also use koji in it’s extracted form as well as a whole substrate such as koji grown on rice to make pickles, sake, shoyu koji, amasake and more.
Aspergillus oryzae has been specifically selected out over many years so that the strain we use typically knows what to do. When a great batch of sake was made, brewers used the same strain that had made that batch to create a new one with the same desirable koji properties.
Malting is done by sprouting or germinating a grain. Many different kinds can be used including rice, barley, and corn. All grains contain a lot of starch. The serve as a seeds energy source.
If you expose dried grains to water and the right temperature they will sprout, creating enzymes to break down starches for the grain to grow. This is called malting. Very useful for a plant until there are leaves that can get energy through photosynthesis. But brewers get the. enzymes before they are spent on growth. They are used to break down their starches.
As long as some fermentable sugars are available we create a moromi or wort to make alcohol. Whether you are making beer, sake, vinegar or soy sauce, wild yeasts or specifically selected yeasts turn the sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat.
The heat comes from the microbes doing their job has to be carefully controlled during koji making, as well as during the process of making beer or sake or another product. There are different ways this can be done, as there are different types of koji better for specific outcomes such as sake or shoyu。
But whether it’s sake or beer – which actually usually uses malted grains that produce the same type of enzymes as koji – the same saying applies to all microbrewing: “Ichi koji, ni moto, san zukuri”. First koji, second the Moto, third the fermentation.
We are having our last #KojiFest2019 event and the first #Zymes2020 event at Fifth Hammer Brewing in Long Island City on December 16th, 2019. You must pre-register for the event.
In the meantime, we will be publishing this 16 part series about how to make koji and extract it’s enzymes, and how to use what the koji is made on – a substrate – directly in brewing or baking or miso or sauce making.
Enzymes serve two roles. They break down things such as tiny bits of food that you eat into smaller things. Or they combine smaller things like the amino acids from proteins into bigger things. Enzymes make possible every vital function of living things. Sometimes enzymes already exist in living things like your gut.
But most times they are used process things into food or drinks. Without the enzymes in malted barley, for example, it’s unlikely that either bread nor bread would exist as they do today.
Enzymes from koji have been used in European and American food manufacturing for at least 100 years now. We will get into what they have sometimes been combined with (other microbes, yeasts, techniques).
They are very safe to use, but you must be careful when handling them. Anything that can tear through grains or the muscles of animals should not be handled carelessly (see below).
“Curiously enough this tiny and important hustler has scarcely attracted attention in the Occident, and this fact made me determine to work for it’s introduction to industrial use in the United States”
This quote is from a paper printed in 1914 in The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (Vol.6, No.10). The author is Jokichi Takamine. He’s talking about koji (A.oryzae).
One of the things he was trying to do was to address the concerns of brewers and maltster – the people that make sprouted grain malt for beer – about the cost of the ingredients to create diastatic enzymes. The price of barley could vary. considerably from season to season. He had earlier filed a patent in the US to do so, “in a process not hitherto practiced”. He succeeded.
On February 23, 1894, a patent was filed in the US : “The object of this invention is to prepare and manufacture diastatic enzyme, or soluble ferment in a concentrated form which possesses the power of transforming starch into’ sugar for use in various industries, by a process not hitherto practiced, and in a very economical and practical manner.
My invention is based upon the utilization of the property possessed by certain fungi during their growth on proper media of producing diastatic enzyme.“
Typically, barley was malted. Malting creates diastatic enzymes. But Takamine thought of using something that was pretty much being thrown away, yet which could produce way more diastatic power and be less perishable.
Despite some violent outbursts suspected to have come from the maltsters at the time afraid of losing both money and their businesses, the brewing and food manufacturing industries in in the US ultimately adopted the use of enzymes, sometimes malt from barley or other grains for beer, but overwhelmingly from fungal enzymes from Aspergillus in baking, food processing and medicine.
Today both brewing supply houses and enzyme companies sell specific enzymes from many fungus, molds, even bacteria but different types of Aspergillus (koji) are used extensively throughout the world.
Takamine’s substance became an amazingly useful drug used to help people digest food. Enzymes are a very big deal. You can make your own as described below, but be aware that a small microbrewing operation can very quickly become larger than the brewing or refrigeration or heating capacity of your space.
How to Make Takadiastase
5 gallon container
2 1/4 pounds (1024 grams) wheat bran
3 gallons lukewarm water (9000 grams)
1/2 cup (138 grams) coarse 100% NaCl salt
Aspergillus oryzae spores (1 gram pure spores)
Taka-Diastase is made with Aspergillus oryzae, the hardest working fungus in the world. It is made on wheat bran. We milled off the bran from winter wheat berries – they have tasty bran, but other types of wheat brans work well – but you can buy it in sizes from one to 50 pounds.
We suggest you start off with 2 and 1/4 pounds (1024 grams) of wheat bran. Remember that wheat bran is unlike wheat berries or even flour. It is typically very light when dry and flies everywhere.
This is especially important when you are about to harvest (or dekoji) your finished Taka-Diastase. Unlike, say, rice koji, you have to consider how to reduce the temperature without fans after a certain point.
As the temperature decreases and it dries out, fans will blow it everywhere. I recommend either using wood that can absorb a lot of water – when you reduce the heat of something the water will either evaporate in the air or soak into whatever it is on.
We often use lots of cloths when making bean or rice koji. Whatever you chose, be prepared to have lots of cloth changes or at least one other wooden to container to transfer the koji into as it dries.
Unless you are going to use it almost as soon as it is finished – we sometimes have a salt brine ready to throw prepared koji into while still warm – you have to dry it out. Otherwise, it will continue to grow.
And a moist pile of amino acids are a feast for all the wild microbes that hang out in the air.
Did any of this seem complicated or overwhelming? Most people don’t ever make their own koji. You can easily buy it. In 35 pound boxes rice koji can be quite reasonably priced.
But if you only want to make a pound or two of koji, it’s cheaper making it yourself. You can also buy the powdered enzymes. But here are basic guidelines to make any type of koji. (Part 2, next post.)
The Awesome Power of Koji
There is actually a large body of evidence on why bread and pastry bakers, farmers, and koji growers must be very careful about both inhaling aspergillus spores, as well as getting it on their skin. We will talk about that as well during the year long series, just remember to always wears gloves and masks when dealing with enzymes.
It makes sense that something with the power to break down meat, fish, or very hard grains would be something to treat with caution. Sometimes things that are obvious to someone working in a professional, including the pharmaceutical industry and food manufacturing industries where Aspergillus and enzymes are used extensively, are not well known or made public.
Please be careful when handling enzymes created by anything, either from a sprouted grain or a fungus. Here are is a very small sample of some of the things that can happen when inhaling spores or enzymes from Aspergillus oryzae. As in the koji we are describing how to make.
Valdivieso, R & Subiza, Jose & Hinojosa, Mariel & Carlos, E & Subiza, E. (1994). Baker’s asthma caused by alpha amylase. Annals of allergy. 73. 337-42. Abstract: Two bakers with bronchial asthma and two with rhinoconjunctivitis are described. Prick and RAST tests were positive with wheat flour in all of them, but the challenge test (nasal or bronchial) with wheat flour extract was positive only in one asthmatic baker. The prick test, RAST, and nasal or bronchial challenge done with alpha amylase extract (a glycolytic enzyme obtained from Aspergillus oryzae and used as a flour additive) were positive in all four patients. Our results support previous data indicating that alpha amylase used in bakeries is an important antigen that could cause respiratory allergy in bakers. It can function as sole causative allergen or in addition with other allergens used in the baking industry.
Sharma BB, Singh S, Singh V. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis: the dug-well lung. Allergy Asthma Proc 2013;34:e59–64.
Gerfaud-Valentin M, Reboux G, Traclet J, et al. Occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis in a baker: a new cause. Chest 2014;145:856–8.