Jalapeño Kasuzuke


Jalapeno Kasuzuke

A master class by Kevin Farley of The Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, California on using sake kasu, or the microbe rich remains after a sake is pressed, to make pickles.

Although there is a tradition of using something like this to ferment or preserve vegetables, fish, meat or even to make condiments throughout Asia, over at least the last 500 years the Japanese have developed an extensive array of pickles (tseukemono) and food preparation techniques that are acclaimed throughout the world.

In a sense, the Japanese have codified the ways in which they make pickles, each type it’s own class. Of course, a specific locality might have a way they make their pickles. What is available after the harvest, or sometimes what can be foraged, often dictates what gets pickled.

But the technique pretty much remains constant. As with all fermentations getting to the appropriate water content of what is being pickled or , usually by using salt or some drying technique, is the paramount concern.

As Kevin explains in this video, if water from a vegetable crashes out into the pickling medium it can change the entire fermentation process. One of the more brilliant techniques used by The Cultured Pickle Shop is to create a type of mirin, a traditional Japanese cooking seasoning, from the kasuzuke brine.

How that is then aged or immediately utilized is discussed, as well as the characteristics of aged kasu itself. This very little known technique of aging sake kasu to be used in a year or two to make pickles based on the taste of the kasu is also explained.

This video was originally created to celebrate the release of Sandor Katz’ Fermentation Journeys, one of Sandor’s many amazing books. In fact, you can pick up a copy when you visit The Cultured Pickle Shop.


Available from Independent Bookstores and other online sources. Coming May 2022

Indian Himalayas: Cheese


Maeshraej Cheese or Kalari is a cheese from the Indian Himalayans. In this video by Anita Tikoo, a longtime friend and contributor to Cultures.Group, she explains the wonders of this cheese. Sometimes they are sun dried and a very tasty fungus grows on them. Most people have no idea of the amazing cheeses made throughout India for thousands of years.

Anita is a practicing Landscape Architect who enjoys cooking with seasonal ingredients. In her terrace garden she grows some of the foods that fuel the ferments in her kitchen. She conducts online Food Workshops where like-minded people join her in the kitchen on weekends to cook with locally sourced seasonal ingredients, and has recently started pop-ups with some great Indian Chefs, Bakers and Brewers.

Anita has been baking sourdough breads at home for years using her lively wild yeast starter and local flours. Anita blogs about food matters at A Mad Tea Party Her Instagram handle is a_madteaparty


According to Kashmiri Life: “Kalari cheese is one of the favorite snacks of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Kalari is a dense cheese and is also called the mozzarella of Kashmir. Like mozzarella, it melts on heating and hardens on cooling. The flavor and taste of Kashmiri cheese are just fingers licking well.

Folklore says Kalari is an authentic traditional cheese of the Dogra dynasty of Jammu and Kashmir. Kalari is indigenous to Ramnagar, a town in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir. As shepherds the Gujjar and Bakarwals are highly dependable on Milk, it is popular among the Gujjar and Bakarwal community of Jammu and Kashmir. This cheese is also called “milk chapatti” or “maish krej” in Kashmiri.

Traditionally Kalari cheese is made from Cow’s or Buffalo’s milk but nowadays people also made Kalaris from Goat’s milk, which is whitish in color. Preparation of Kalaris takes hard labor and the nomadic women of Jammu and Kashmir have proved to be the best in this Task.

Preparation of kalari cheese of Jammu and Kashmir is women power: 

Yes, the women play the most important role in Kalari preparation. It is more like a skill that has been passed on among every Gujjar and Bakarwal women folk in Jammu and Kashmir from generation to generation.


December 19 - Fruit From the Sands 11AM to 1 PM EDT 

With Dr. Robert Spengler III, author of Fruit from the Sands . Co-hosted by Zizinia de Les Flors’ Caspar Hall. The last Zoom event is free, as they all have been over the last 11 years.

Available from Independent Bookstores and other online sources.

Anita Tikoo’s Kalari Cheese Sandwich

Rice as Medicine and Food


“Like the millets, Asian rice first evolved in eastern China but eventually became prized in cuisines far to the West. Rice is indispensable in Arabic and Turkic cuisines today, and it was a significant part of the diet, at least as far as back as the medieval period. Persian, Arabic, and Islamic cuisines cook rice in oil or steam it and serve it with a wide variety of vegetables, spices, and meats. Rice also featured in the diet in other ways: It was an important component of medieval Arabic desserts, rice flour was used to make breads, rice was fermented into beer and vinegar, and it was used medicinally. However, among most Central Asian cuisines today it’s starring role is in pilaf.” from Fruits from the Sands by Robert Spengler III.

“Long grain basmati and short grain rice . Anyone who has eaten rice with curry at an Indian restaurant and the sticky rice in sushi rolls knows that rice grains vary in  shape. Although there are many varieties of domesticated rice, they fall mainly into two well defined clades, or branches: O. sativa ssp. indica and O. sativa ssp. japonica- or Indian and Chinese rice. Indica Rice is generally long-grained: the claimed is exemplified by the well known basmati rice. Japonica is usually short-grained and is sometimes referred to as pearl rice. Many locally grown Asian varieties are intermediate in size between indica and japonica. Many japonica grains become sticky, or glutinous, with cooking, although there are glutinous and nonglutinous forms of both japonica and indica. Some varieties of both clades have traits that make them suitable for growing in wet paddies, other forms are adapted to grow on drained land.” from Fruits from the Sands by Robert Spengler III.


December 19 - Fruit From the Sands 11AM to 1 PM EDT 

With Dr. Robert Spengler III, author of Fruit from the Sands . Co-hosted by Zizinia de Les Flors’ Caspar Hall. The last Zoom event is free, as they all have been over the last 11 years.

Available from Independent Bookstores and other online sources.


Koji Idlys



Idlys are usually a steamed soft bread made from fermented rice. In this case, Maya used basmati rice koji. Maya Seetharaman is a globally trained designer, passionate cook, and fermenter, with a passion to enhance meaning, equity, and quality in people’s lives, through research, food, and human-centered design. Maya has lived and worked across multiple cultural contexts, and spends most of her time – when not covered in flour, oil, or Koji spores – observing and unearthing socio-cultural insights for fortune 500 companies, that can drive innovation, sustainability, and cross-cultural empathy.


InRetrospect

There are now 3 ways to register for InRetrospect  or to  get on our mailing list. Either follow us on Instagram at cultures.group and DM with your email address and name, or use https://paypal.me/FermentsandCultures or Venmo: @Ken-Fornataro.


December 19 - Fruit From the Sands 11AM to 1 PM EDT 

With Dr. Robert Spengler III, author of Fruit from the Sands . Co-hosted by Zizinia de Les Flors’ Caspar Hall. The last Zoom event is free, as they all have been over the last 11 years. But we’re moving on.

Available from Independent Bookstores and other online sources.

Corn Misos and Corn Koji



Alan Callaham began his career hitchhiking around the west coast, volunteering on small farms and working in kitchens. He found beauty in the intersection of these two worlds and set off on a journey to explore connections between agriculture, restaurants, and local food traditions. In pursuit of this he has managed market and kitchen gardens, cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants, established preservation programs for kitchens, and worked on food-related projects in Sri Lanka, Turkey, Denmark, and Norway. He currently resides in his home state of Massachusetts. Currently with Food Preservation Lab at @bluehillfarm / @stonebarns


Sweet Corn Miso

There are hundreds more videos like this, and hundreds more on the way! There are now two ways to register for InRetrospect or to get on our mailing list. Either follow us and DM at  https://www.instagram.com/cultures.group/ with your email address or PayPal: https://paypal.me/FermentsandCultures

Follow us here at Vimeo https://vimeo.com/culturesgroup and you get to watch a whole lot of them as they are created for free, and decide if you want to watch lots of them by subscribing.

Again, if you made videos in the past and want access to them all you have to contact us and let us know. It’s that simple. DM us on Instagram. 

These are corn grits koji. In other words corn grits that have been steamed to pre gelatinize the sytartch, then inouclated with different Aspergillus spores. In this case a combination of spores was used including Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus sojae. Made by @kenfornataro


Water Kefir



Water Kefir science, selling, production, tastes, skills, safety, cider, fermentation, mistakes and successes. Peiman Koshravi discusses how it is made, how it can be flavored with everything from wild flowers to roots to fruit and even amasake, and how it might serve as the foundation for a business.

What is it and how is it different than cider? Peiman is the only person I’ve ever heard discuss how to ferment water kefir in the fridge at a low temperature to divine different flavors. Is it probiotic or just a tasty drink? What happens if you ferment it at different temperatures – or if a temperature variation occurs? What do you package or bottle it in? What happens if competing demands of running a business or your life prevent you from getting to it? What are the legal and health implications of allowing people to bring their own bottles?

Don’t start a fermentation business before watching this. He’s made all the mistakes you might make and what considerations you should take into account. This is not a lecture, or a staid discussion of business principles, it’s real life experience being shared by someone that has been there. And now makes amazing bread.


There are now two ways to register for WritersCultures or get on our mails list. Either follow us and DM at  https://www.instagram.com/cultures.group/ with your email address or PayPal: https://paypal.me/FermentsandCultures ($1 or more, whatever you can afford)

InRetrospect is $75 USD and has been extended to June 1, 2022. That also means we are adding 200 more videos to the program. Follow us here at Vimeo https://vimeo.com/culturesgroup and you get to watch a whole lot of them as they are created .

Again, if you made videos in the past and want access to them all you have to contact us and let us know. It’s that simple. DM us on Instagram. 


December 19 - Fruit From the Sands 11AM to 1 PM EDT 

With Dr. Robert Spengler III and Caspar Hall of Zizinia de Les Flors)

Answers to how we can bring our world back from the precipice of destruction from climate change and unsustainable practices?. Factual evidence about who invented what, and how agriculture often drives the movement and destruction of countries and civilizations. Or, how taxation and ownership and religion and sovereignty often kills the farmers and those we count on to feed us? All about grapes and legendary wines from China, the actual origin of foods the Italians claim as their own, and the role of Sogdians, Persians, Russians, and Indians in shaping civilization and the food that is on our tables today. 

Robert N Spengler III is currently the director of the Paleoethnobotany Laboratories at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte) in Jena. He recently wrapped up his research also a Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World through New York University. Dr. Spengler was also a research fellow in Berlin, Germany, as a Volkswagen and Mellon Foundations Postdoctoral Fellow jointly appointed at the German Institute of Archaeology (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, DAI), in the Eurasia Department and Freie Universität, Berlin. During which time he also retained his affiliation with Washington University in St. Louis in the Anthropology Department where he held a posting as a Research Associate the previous year. He defended his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis in March of 2013.

He is studying the paleoeconomy and ecology of Central Asia from the third millennium B.C. onward and has ongoing research projects in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China, and Mongolia. While he has used several methods in the archaeobotanical sciences, he primarily analyzes macrobotanical remains. Through this research he has shown that farming was an important part of the economy across eastern Central Asia for at least four millennia and that many important crops spread through this region in prehistory. Through his archaeobotanical studies, he is helping to fill in the last major gaps in the global map of agricultural spread, and showing how important the Silk Road was in the spread of specific crops and technologies. In addition, his data feed into a broader understanding of human adaptations, social development, and the linked nature between agricultural intensification and social complexity.

“The foods we eat have a deep and often surprising past. From almonds and apples to tea and rice, many foods that we consume today have histories that can be traced out of prehistoric Central Asia along the tracks of the Silk Road to kitchens in Europe, America, China, and elsewhere in East Asia. The exchange of goods, ideas, cultural practices, and genes along these ancient routes extends back five thousand years, and organized trade along the Silk Road dates to at least Han Dynasty China in the second century BC. 

Balancing a broad array of archaeological, botanical, and historical evidence, Fruit from the Sands presents the fascinating story of the origins and spread of agriculture across Inner Asia and into Europe and East Asia. Through the preserved remains of plants found in archaeological sites, Robert N. Spengler III identifies the regions where our most familiar crops were domesticated and follows their routes as people carried them around the world. With vivid examples, Fruit from the Sands explores how the foods we eat have shaped the course of human history and transformed cuisines all over the globe.” 


Mumallaengi Muchim



Christine Kraus of Chirp Foods demonstrates not only how to make Mumallengi Muchim from dried radishes, she urges all to consider the tastes and textures of a plant based (#vegan) cuisine that can easily integrate koji, wild fermentation and even pickling techniques to create flavor. As usual, she uses plants based seasonings that can be foraged and are often considered invasive plants. Why that is a good idea , and why cultivating plants and reducing their genetic diversity might not be the best practice, is discussed in Rob Spengler’s Fruit from the Sands around which we are holding our last event of the year on Dec.19th 11 AM EDT. 

There are now two ways to register for WritersCultures or get on our mails list. Either follow us and DM at  https://www.instagram.com/cultures.group/ with your email address or PayPal: https://paypal.me/FermentsandCultures ($1 or more, whatever you can afford)

InRetrospect is $75 USD and has been extended to June 1, 2022. That also means we are adding 200 more videos to the program. Follow us here https://vimeo.com/culturesgroup and you get to watch a whole lot of them as they created (but not the InRetrospect ones).

Again, if you made videos in the past and want access to them all you have to contact us and let us know. It’s that simple. kojibook@earthlink.net or DM us on Instagram. 



December 19 - Fruit From the Sands 11AM to 1 PM EDT 

(Co-hosted by Caspar Hall of Zizinia de Les Flors)

“The foods we eat have a deep and often surprising past. From almonds and apples to tea and rice, many foods that we consume today have histories that can be traced out of prehistoric Central Asia along the tracks of the Silk Road to kitchens in Europe, America, China, and elsewhere in East Asia. The exchange of goods, ideas, cultural practices, and genes along these ancient routes extends back five thousand years, and organized trade along the Silk Road dates to at least Han Dynasty China in the second century BC. Balancing a broad array of archaeological, botanical, and historical evidence, Fruit from the Sands presents the fascinating story of the origins and spread of agriculture across Inner Asia and into Europe and East Asia. Through the preserved remains of plants found in archaeological sites, Robert N. Spengler III identifies the regions where our most familiar crops were domesticated and follows their routes as people carried them around the world. With vivid examples, Fruit from the Sands explores how the foods we eat have shaped the course of human history and transformed cuisines all over the globe.”


Pelutska from Summer Kitchens


Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules is available through Quail Ridge Books

Dec. 19th 11 AM to 1 PM EST : Fruit from the Sands with Rob Spengler. Dr. Spengler is the author of “Fruits of the Sands: How the Silk Road shaped your dinner table” (2017). The book comprehensively explores archaeobotanical data from the broad region of Central Eurasia, from Western China to the steppe and from the Altai Mountains to the Kopet Dag. Using these data, he explains when and from where certain crops spread into this region and how, from there, they eventually reached the disparate ends of Eurasia.

While most historians mark the beginning of the Silk Road as occurring during the second century B.C., archaeological artifacts illustrate just how wide spread the movement of material culture was in these mountain valleys as far back as the late third millennium B.C.

Agricultural crops moved through these mountain valleys along with other goods and as a result shaped cuisines around the world. The book traces the story of many familiar grain crops, as well as fruits such as the apple, which originated in Central Asia, in doing so, it lays out the history of many of the foods on your dinner table today. Zoom events are free of charge but registration is required.


Fermentation Journeys is now available from Short Mountain Cultures  https://www.shortmountaincultures.com/shop/p/fermentationjourneys 

Lebkuchen and Dark Koji


Happy Holidays with Fermented Cookies

Dec. 19th 11 AM to 1 PM EST : Fruit from the Sands with Rob Spengler. Dr. Spengler is the author of “Fruits of the Sands: How the Silk Road shaped your dinner table” (2017). The book comprehensively explores archaeobotanical data from the broad region of Central Eurasia, from Western China to the steppe and from the Altai Mountains to the Kopet Dag. Using these data, he explains when and from where certain crops spread into this region and how, from there, they eventually reached the disparate ends of Eurasia.

While most historians mark the beginning of the Silk Road as occurring during the second century B.C., archaeological artifacts illustrate just how wide spread the movement of material culture was in these mountain valleys as far back as the late third millennium B.C.

Agricultural crops moved through these mountain valleys along with other goods and as a result shaped cuisines around the world. The book traces the story of many familiar grain crops, as well as fruits such as the apple, which originated in Central Asia, in doing so, it lays out the history of many of the foods on your dinner table today.


Zoom events are free of charge but registration is required. To watch videos from now until 4/1/2022 subscribe to InRetrospect at the same registration link. The InRetrospect ticket provides access to all events (live or prerecorded), 400+ food, fermentation and culture videos. Includes videos from the last 5 years including never before screened archive interviews and full length videos. Until 4/01/2022. Follow and DM us on Instagram for details


Fruits of the Sands: How the Silk Road shaped your dinner table by Robert Spengler III (2017).

As soon as you register and/or subscribe you can watch videos with these people: Dr. Johnny Drain, Dr. Darra Goldstein, Dr. Robert Spengler III, Dr. Maya Hey, Erica Carson, Dr. Esther Miller, Dr.Tejas Sameer, Dr. Julia Skinner, Terri Ann Fox, Sandor Katz, Mara Jane King, Zoe Mitchell, Chef Greg Dunmore of The Japanese Pantry, Esteban Yepes Montoya, Peiman Khosravi, Misti Norris, Alexis Nikole Nelson, Katrina Kollegaeva, Laura Valli, Andrea Billar, Ed Delteil, Cortney Burns, Alan Callaham, Nancy Matsumoto, Kristine Krauss, Maria Jessica Alonzo, Meredith Leigh,  Mallory O’Donnell, Sonoko Sakai, Llewelyn Maire, Nicholas Repenning, Shinobu Kato of Kato Sake Works, Markus Shimuzu, Pao Yu Liu, Rich Shih, William Rubel, Soirée-Leone, Heidi Nestler, Naomi Duguid, Will Moffat, Holly Davis, Sean Doherty, Umair Khakoo, Anna Drozdova, Sònia Dguez, Maya Seetharaman, Kirsten Shockey, Zoe Christiansen, Margaret Sevenjhazi, Jae-Sang Choi, Eve Jazmati, Jennifer Solow, Haruko Uchishiba, Connie Chew, Leda Meredith, Yoko Lamn, Andrea Billar, Kimiko Ito, Ellie Markovitch, Pratap Chahal, Harry Rosenblum, Pascal Baudar, Priya Mani, Melanie McIntosh, Ekta Maheshwari, Laurent Serin, Javier Gutiérrez Carcache, Kartik Sinha, Zizinia de les Flors, Alex Hozven and Kevin Farley of The Cultured Pickle Shop, Sharon Flynn, Riley Henderson, Eiko Takahashi, Jeremy Umansky, Nina Mong, Gabriella Gershenson, Anton Nicola, Eleana Hsu, Kevin Gondo, Amy Kalafa of Cultured and Cured, Taylor Erkkinen, Jenny Bardwell, Joel Orsini, Mark Tan (in formation)


Rye and Potato Sourdough


Sweet potato inoculated with A.awamori with rye koji porridge sourdough bread. I’ve been working on the unsalted rye and coriander koji part to make a whole rye miso type add in instead of salt. That part ages beautifully. I had some sweet potatoes I inoculated with A. awamori so I cooked them into a type of porridge with lots of rye berries I had prepared for a rye shoyu but had leftovers. This just keeps getting tastier. Does the protein content and fall rate of rye actually matter? I will try to replicate but these have already made amazing pain perdu with buttered sweet potato nectar, and a  sweet potato and caramelized onion bread pudding. 


December 19, 2021, 11 AM to 1 PM EDT Fruit From the Sands

(book by Dr. Robert Spengler III): The Silk Road Origins of the Foods. Videos and a live discussion about the most fascinating archeobotanical history of the dissemination of food and culture and civilization from Central Asia to the rest of the world through The Silk Road and it’s predecessor. DM us here: http://www.instagram.com/cultures.group/



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