All posts by Nirinjan

Here at Organic Cultures.Com, we provide fresh traditional raw food cultures, including kefir grains, kombucha, and tempeh spores, from different regional sources from around the world. All cultures are maintained with certified organic or natural ingredients. From dairy kefir and 5 different water kefir grains, kombucha tea starter, tempeh spores, and amasaké koji, we provide many cultures for the home food culturist. Bringing these traditional foods cultures back into your life nourishes you and your family with healthy pro-biotics, real living foods, and a bit of 'culture', too! Our Location: We are located in the area of Traverse City of Northern Michigan at the bottom of beautiful Lake Michigan. The area contains lots of farmland, Wild plants/herbs, local foodies, and many farmer's markets. A great area for fresh water, healthy living, and culturing awesome fermented foods. Happy Culturing!

How to Make a Japanese Nuka Zuke Pickle Bed

Looking for a new way to ferment vegetables?  Something quick and easy to make fermented pickles that are a great condiment to any meal.  A Nuka bed offers a way to get lactobacillus bacteria and wild yeast, without having to vent or clean up exploding glass jars!  It makes a great RAW, fermented/cultured, and vegan condiment.

NUKA BED

What is a Nuka ‘Bed’?

Nukazuke (糠漬け) are a type of Japanese pickle, made by fermenting vegetables in rice bran (nuka). Almost any edible vegetable may be pickled through this technique, though traditional varieties will include eggplant, Japanese radish (daikon), cabbage, and cucumber. The taste of nuka pickles can vary from pleasantly tangy to very sour, salty and pungent. These pickles also retain their crispness which adds to their popularity.

Fish nukazuke is also common in the northern part of Japan. Sardines, mackerel, and Japanese horse mackerel are frequently used. Some people pickle meat in nuka-bed, too.
If pickling meats, use a separate nuka bed and not the bed for vegetables.

The nuka-bed is traditionally kept in a wooden crock but ceramic crocks or even plastic buckets are also common. Many Japanese households have their own nukazuke crocks which are faithfully stirred by hand every day. Due to varying methods and recipes, flavors vary considerably, not only from region to region, but also from household to household.

Pickles (tsukemono) are an important staple of Japanese cuisine, and nukazuke are one of the most popular kinds. They are often eaten at the end of a meal and are said to aid in digestion. The lactobacillus in nukazuke pickles may be a beneficial supplement to the intestinal flora.  They are also high in vitamin B1.

How to Make Your Own Nukazuke Pickle Bed
RAW – Vegan – Gluten Free

nuka zuke
Japanese Pickles Ready to Eat

Needed Ingredients…

–  Rice Bran, no-GMO and/or organic
–  Kombu Seaweed – cut into very small pieces
–  Sea Salt
–  Korean Chili Flakes
–  Dried Citrus Peel
–  Dried Bonito Flakes – Optional
–  Condiments of your choice

Directions…

Note: It needs to be stored under refrigeration after opening to avoid rot.  Storage term: 12 month (This usable time is only a guide. If you stir well NUKA-BED with your hand once every 2-3 days, add extra NUKA rice bran and salt as necessary, it can be used semi-permanently.)

If you are using the nuka kit purchased from us, you will receive two packets.  The larger pack is the rice bran and flavorings.  The smaller packet is the Nuka starter with fresh sliced fruit.

1.  Start by opening the large packet or mixing the above ingredients together and adding enough filtered water (no city tap water please) to make a thick paste.  Add the water in small amounts until the correct thickness is obtained.  Over time, the addition of the vegetables will add water to the mixture and more fresh rice bran will be needed.

2.  Now add the small packet that contains the nuka starter and fresh fruits.  If making your own nuka bed, just add some slices of fresh cut organic or wild apples.  Mix in the nuka starter by hand until well blended.  Also, when starting a new nuka bed from scratch,  it will take time for the bacteria and yeast to grow through the bed and become 100% active.

Japanese pickles NUKA-BED

3.  Add the vegetables that you wish to pickle.  Common choices are roots like burdock and carrots, small eggplant, Japanese radish (daikon), cabbage, and cucumber.  We like doing radishes and cucumber!
Rub the vegetables with sea salt then place into the nuka vessel pushing them down to cover with the rice bran mixture.

4.  Allow the vegetables to sit in the nuka bed for 3 to 5 days. Culturing time may vary depending on the vegetables used and temperature.  The taste will move from tangy to very sour the longer the pickles set in the nuka.  Do not ferment at room temperature during the hot summer months or the bed may become contaminated with molds.

Hand Mixing NUKA-BED
Daily Hand Mixing nuka bed

Mix by hand each day making sure to replace the vegetables under the rice bran.  Salt may be sprinkled over the top to help retard mold growth, too.  Once complete and to your liking remove the nuka pickles, slice, and serve.  Start a new batch or place fermenting vessel in the refrigerator keeping it mixed to prevent mold growth.

Enjoy this method of making great quick pickles without the mess of multiple jars, airlocks, weights, and other unnecessary items.  The taste and flavor of the cultured nuka vegetables is second to none!  If you want a premixed nuka bed, we have them available in traditional or vegan, at our web store – store.organic-cultures.com

Happy Culturing!

MANGO PULISSERY w/ Chilli & Yogurt

MANGO_PULISSERY

MANGO PULISSERY / MAMBAZHA PULISSERY Recipe

Sounds like a great recipe for fermentation!
It has yogurt in the mix and you may ferment or use fermented chilli, too!  The mangoes could be fermented the day before, too, however cooking will kill off the pro-biotics.  Happy Culturing…

INGREDIENTS:
Mango –1 Cup Chopped
Curd / Yogurt – 1 cup
Water – As required
Salt – To taste

GRIND to a PASTE…
Fresh Grated Coconut – 1/4 Cup
Green Chilli – 1
Jeera (cumin) – 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – a pinch

FOR TAMPERING…
Coconut Oil – 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli – 2
Curry Leaves – a spring

INSTRUCTIONS…

– Peel and chop mangoes. Heat 1/2 cup water in a wok. Bring to a boil and add in the chopped mango chunks.
– Add in salt to taste and cook until the mango is cooked.
– Add all the ingredients listed under ‘grind and paste’, blending them into a smooth paste, add water if needed.
– Add in turmeric powder. Cook for 2 minutes in low flame.
– Take the thick yogurt curd. Beat until you get a smooth consistency. Add to the mango mixture.  Cook for few minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat oil in a tampering pan. Add all the ingredients listed under ‘for tampering’ and saute them.

Add the tampered contents into the ‘gravy’ and mix them slowly.

Delicious Pulissery is ready to eat.  Serve hot with steamed white rice.  Enjoy!

“Aguas Frescas” or Fruit Waters – Fermented & Cultured Summertime Drinks

  The hot summer months are one of the best times to ‘drink your cultures’!  With the warm days and abundance of fresh seasonal fruits the wild and cultured yeasts are in their element.  Many traditions throughout the world have fermented drinks some more alcoholic than others.  Most are very easy to make by the addition of fruits and sugar.
Tepache Vendor  Today the focus will be fruit waters or ‘fresh waters’, otherwise known as aguas frescas in Mexico.

For the following recipes the basics are all the same.  To produce a beverage, a starter culture strain, such as water kefir grains, will be needed or the available wild yeast may be used.

Tepache de Pina: Mexican Homemade Pineapple Brew

Fermented/Cultured – Vegan – RAW

Tepache de Pina
A classic aguas frescas commonly sold by street vendors throughout Mexico.  The drinks are prepared with a combination of sugar, grains, and cut or pulped fruits.  The flavors range from Tepache, Papaya, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Lemon, horchata (hibiscus flower), fruits like oranges, banana, mango, and even jamaica or cucumbers.

Ingredients Needed…
Tepache ingredients

  • 1 Pineapple – Ripe or canned, diced or pulped.
    Hint: Save some of the pineapple for a garnish when serving
  • 1 cup or large cone of Piloncillo, cut in pieces, or use an organic sugar/molasses combination, or dark brown sugar.
  • 2 quarts of filtered water
    Optional:
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves

Directions…

Easy for wild fermentation.   Combine all ingredients into a large pitcher or ceramic pot.   Cover with plastic wrap or several layers of cheese cloth.   Allow to set for 12 to 24 hours.   Remove any white foam that may have formed.   Cover again and allow the Tepache to set for 12 to 20 more hours, or until taste is correct.   Adjust the sugar level if needed.   Dilute the finished beverage with water, if the taste is to strong/sweet.   Strain and Chill.
Serve by the glass garnished with a slice of pineapple.

If using water kefir to culture the beverage, combine the water, fruit, and sugar allowing it to set for 12 to 20 hrs.  Remove the kefir grains from the mix and add in the optional ingredients if desired.  Allow beverage to set another 12 to 20 hours, until taste is to one’s liking.  Finish as above.

Notes:  DO NOT let it ferment longer unless you need pineapple vinegar which is used to flavor other condiments pickled chipotle peppers.

Mexican Strawberry Water (Aguas de Frescas)

Fermented/Cultured – Vegan – RAW

Tepache strawberry
Tepache Strawberry – Aguas Frescas

Another simple Tepache, this one made with strawberries, mint leaves, and lime.  A very refreshing summertime beverage, this frescas brings the cooling properties of mint and the tartness of lime.

Ingredients Needed…

  • 4 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup cane sugar or any sugar
  • 8 cup cold water or cultured water kefir
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges (optional)
  • Mint leaves, fresh (optional)

Directions…

Mix strawberries, sugar, and 2 cups water in a bowl.   Cover and allow it to set for 4 hours.   This will help to remove the juice from the berries.
Tepache beverage
Take the strawberry mixture and pour into a blender.   Add some of the fresh mint and lime, if desired.   Blend on high until smooth.   Pour the blended berry mixture through a wire mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl; discard the pulp and seeds if desired.

Add the remaining 7 cups cold water to the pureed strawberries and mix well. Place the Aqua de Frescas in the refrigerator to chill for several hours or pour over ice and serve immediately.
Garnish with lime slices and/or mint leaves.

If using water kefir in this recipe the strawberries may be added when making the kefir.  Then the whole amount is blended after removal of the water kefir grains.  Fresh berries may be added when blending if the sugar content has dropped to low.

  Tepache is an easy homemade beverage that can vary in taste and what fruits are local and in season.  Try making different combinations of fruits like watermelon or blackberries, a batch with wild yeast fermentation, or with a stable culture strain like water kefir.
Water Kefir Grains  If water kefir grains are needed we have 5 different strains at our store –
store.organic-cultures.com

Enjoy.  Happy Culturing!

How to Make Natto…Natto Kin Spores

natto kin


 

What is Natto?
Nattō (なっとう or 納豆?) is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto. Some eat it as a breakfast food. Nattō may be an acquired taste because of its powerful smell, strong flavor, and slimy texture. In Japan, nattō is most popular in the eastern regions, including Kantō, Tōhoku, and Hokkaido.

Before Making NATTO:

  • Be sure the entire processing area is cleaned for production. Make sure all utensils, pots, cheesecloth (FUKIN), etc. are as sterile as possible. (Boil utensils for 5 minutes prior to using.)
  • The packet of NATTO spores comes with a special small spoon; be sure to use the small spoon to measure the appropriate quantity for the recipe.
  • The fermentation process requires the NATTO be kept at approximately 100°F (37°C) degrees for 24 hours. Ovens with a low temperature setting can be used, an oven w/ light on only, or inoculate in large cube-shaped food dehydrators.
  • NATTO is quite odorous while fermenting, and you may want to isolate the fermenting NATTO during this time.

Ingredients and Supplies needed for Making NATTO:

  • 2 pounds (900g) soybeans (about 4 cups)
  • 10cc water, boiled for 5 to 10 minutes to sterilize
  • One spoonful (0.1 g.) NATTO-kin spores (use the special spoon that came with the packet)
  • Cheesecloth or butter muslin (FUKIN in Japanese)
  • Non-reactive pot (i.e., stainless steel, enameled, ceramics, etc.) or Pressure cooker
  • Large stainless steel, wood, or plastic spoon or spatula
  • 3-4 oven-proof glass containers with lids

Instructions for Making NATTO:

– Wash the soybeans using running water to gets rid of tiny dirt or dead skins off the beans.

Washing soy bean
Washing the Soaked Soy Beans

– Soak with clean water for 9 to 12 hours (longer soaking time recommended during colder months). Be sure to use approximately 3 parts water and 1 part soybeans to allow for expansion. You will end up with 8 to 12 cups of beans.

drained soy beans
Draining Soy Bean for Steaming/Boiling

Drain the beans from the soaking water. Place beans in a large pot with mesh bowl and pour in water. Steam it for 3-4 hours. Or fill with water and boil 5-6 hours. The recommended way is to use a “Pressure cooker”, that can be cooked faster than in a normal pot. Please refer to the pressure cooker instruction manual for operation guidelines.

cooked soy beans
Steaming Soy Beans for Natto-Kin

– Drain the cooked beans and place in a sterilized pot.  Dissolve 1/5 special spoonful of NATTO spores (0.1g) into 10cc of sterilized water (or mix by package directions).

natto spores bulk

japan natto
Types of Natto Spores From Japan

– Immediately pour the NATTO spore solution over the beans while the beans are still warm but not hot to the touch. Stir the beans and water mixture together carefully using a sterilized spoon/spatula.

inoculation of spores
Inoculation With Natto Spores

– Place a thin layer of beans in each of the 3 to 4 containers. If at any point during the process some beans are spilled on the counter, etc., discard the spilled beans as they can contaminate the other beans if added back in to the batch.

package inoculated beans
Natto Being Packed into Serving Trays

Place the sterilized cheese cloth over the top of the containers and place the tight-fitting lid over the cheese cloth. Preheat the oven, dehydrator, or KOTATSU Japanese Warmer to 100°F (37°C). Place the covered containers in the oven, dehydrator, or warmer and allow the NATTO to ferment for 24 hours being sure to keep the temperature steady at 100°F (37°C). Check the temperature throughout the day/night.

inoculation
Inoculation Time !
At the conclusion of the fermentation period, let the NATTO cool for a couple of hours, then remove the lid and the cloth, replace the lid, and store the containers in the refrigerator at least overnight.

NATTO can also be aged in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Smaller portions of finished NATTO can be stored in the freezer and thawed for later use.

natto dish
Ready to Eat…YUM!

Need Natto spores fresh from Japan?  We have them in our store with many other types of food culturing spores:

Japanese Natto Spores
More Food Spores

Happy Culturing!


 

Nasu no Mizure Itame – Japanese Eggplant in Miso/Soy Sauce

This sweetened miso and eggplant stir-fry is great with a simple bowl of steamed rice!
A quick and easy dish, that is nice and healthy.

miso eggplant
Vegan – Veggie – Cultured

Ingredients…

1 cup Dashi of 9 kinds of vegetables, no fish. Start with kombu seaweed, onions/scallions, garlic, carrots, and other veggies to your liking.
1 tbsp organic aka-miso/RED miso
1-2 tbsp organic soy sauce
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp sugar or mirin
2 tbsp organic sesame oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 cup radish, daikon, Julienned
5 tbsp vegetable/cooking oil of your choice
4-5 long Japanese eggplant, cut long ways, then into 1 inch pieces

Directions…

Try to use as many organic ingredients you can buy/find…the taste and flavor will be stronger.  Start by combining the miso, soy sauce, sake, and sugar until dissolved and smooth.

Fry the ginger in the sesame oil for a few seconds, just to flavour the pan/wok.  Remove and set aside.

Add the vegetable oil and then the eggplant.   Fry until soft and golden.  Then add the ginger and daikon, stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.  Add the miso mixture, tossing to coat each piece evenly.

If you prefer it saltier or sweeter, simply add more miso or sugar.

Alternatively, eliminate everything but the miso sauce and eggplant. Slice the eggplant into disks and deep fry it, then simply pour the miso sauce over it.

Garnish with finely sliced green onion and serve hot.

Enjoy!


 

Quick and Easy Japanese Condiments


miso eggplant
These condiment sides are a great way to enhance a meal or dish.  Very easy to make and uses only a few ingredients.  The Japanese use many of these condiment sides every day and most contain minerals and micro-nutrients that normal
salt and pepper cannot compare.


 

Seaweed Furikake (Nori Fumi Furikake)

Nori Fumi
In Japan, Furikake is a popular table seasoning that comes in a variety of flavors.
Nori fumi furikake, meaning seaweed flavored furikake, is a very popular flavor, and for good reason! It’s a classic combination used on plain rice, for a cheap meal.  Just a sprinkle gives the perfect boost of flavor for rice, noodles, soup, or other dishes!

How to use furikake besides adding to white rice?  Try using Japanese furikake with any recipe that calls for shredded nori on top.

Ingredients…

  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 sheets nori seaweed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions…

– Start by grinding the black and white sesame seeds.  Add the sea salt and sugar, grind until texture is correct.
– Next, toast the nori over an open flame for a few seconds, if not already toasted.

nori seaweed
Cut nori sheet into long thin strips.  Now layer several strips and fold over 2 or 3 times.  Cut the folded nori into very tiny strips.  For better looks, cut the nori into very small pieces vs. grinding/blending them up.

Shichimi Togarashi, Japanese Seven Spice

Shichimi Togarashi
Shichimi Togarashi

With the expanding appreciation of Japanese cuisine here in this country, there is a need to incorporate the seasonings needed to create and enhance them as well.  This seasoning is popular in Japan and used to add both heat and flavor to dishes such as soba noodles, udon, beef tataki, jasmine rice. The heat of this seasoning, unknown in most Japanese cuisine, is just a little.  So there is just a hint.  Hand mixed from orange peel, black, white and toasted sesame seeds, cayenne, ginger, Szechwan pepper and nori.

Ingredients…

1/8 c – Orange/tangerine peel, dried
1/8 c – Black sesame seeds
½ c  – Toasted white sesame seeds(dehulled)
– Toasted nori – 2 sheets
– Japan or Korean chili, to taste
– 1/8 or 1/2 teaspoon – Dried ginger root
– Szechwan pepper, to taste
– Optional, one may add hemp seeds and shiso to the mix

Directions…

Start by grinding the orange peel, black/white sesame seeds, ginger, pepper, and chilies.
Once your happy with the grind and flavor, next is to add the nori sheets

Toast the nori over an open flame for a few seconds, if not already toasted.
Cut nori sheet into long thin strips.  Now layer several strips and fold over 2 or 3 times.  Cut the folded nori into very tiny strips.  For better looks, cut the nori into very small pieces vs. grinding/blending them up.

Yukari Shiso Salt – Yaki Onigiri

Yukari Shiso Salt
This is very easy and no recipe is really needed…
Ingredients…
– Shiso leaf, dried, ground
– High quality sea salt, ground

Yukari Shiso
Directions…

Mix 1/3c shiso leaf with 2/3c sea salt
Place in sealed container for long term storage

Dashi

japanese dashiNot really a condiment as it is used as a base, to build other flavors from.  Used in many traditional Japanese dishes for that great added layer of flavor, called umami.  Simple to make, but it adds a lot of flavor to a dish.  Vegans and veggies can just make a seaweed and veggie dashi vs. using the bonito flakes.

Ingredients…

– 2 (4-inch) square pieces kombu
– 2 1/2 quarts water
– 1/2-ounce bonito flakes or katsuobushi, about 2 cups
Note: For vegans make a vegetable broth w/ carrots, onions, seaweeds, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms

Directions…

Put the kombu in a 4-quart saucepan, cover with the water and soak for 30 minutes.

Set the saucepan over medium heat until the water reaches 150 to 160 degrees F and small bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, 9 to 10 minutes.

Remove the kombu from the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the bonito flakes. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer lined with muslin or several layers of cheesecloth. Reserve the bonito flakes for another use.

For long term storage, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within 1 week or freeze for up to a month.

Gari – Pickled Ginger

gari_pickled
Mostly known for its use as a condiment in sushi dishes, it has a great sweet zingy taste.
So easy to make and will last under refrigeration for a long time.

Ingredients…

6 ounces fresh ginger
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp sea salt
6 Tbsp plain unseasoned rice wine vinegar

Directions…

– Peel ginger and slice very thin, almost see through.
– Put ginger in a bowl with
– ¼ c of sugar and 1 Tbsp salt and mix together and let sit for 30 minutes.
– Boil enough water in a pot to cover the amount of ginger and cook the now marinated ginger slices in it for 45 seconds and drain through a strainer.
– Put hot ginger slices in a jar.
– Boil the rice vinegar and sugar together and pour over the ginger.

– Let sit out on the counter for 24 hours.

– Place jars into the refrigerator and leave at least 1 week before tasting. Taste will improve with time; a month in the fridge does well.  It will keep well for 6 months.

We hope you have enjoyed learning some new recipes that will make any meal tastier no matter if you’re a vegan, veggie, or meat eater.

Many of the items can be fermented, if one likes, or ingredients can be cultured, too

Live, Grow, and Share Cultured Foods !


 

Traditional Lactose-Fermented Beverages…

Looking for something different to drink this summer…try our some traditional fermented beverages…Enjoy!

Traditional Lactose-Fermented Beverages…

Bouza (Egypt): An opaque drink made of wheat, water, and sourdough yeast starter..
Gv-No-He-Nv (Cherokee, Native American): A thick, milky drink with the sweet flavors of corn accented by a mild sourness.
T’ej (Ethiopian): A simple honey type wine/mead.
Braga (Middle Europe): A fermented gruel or sour porridge.
Chicha (South America): A clear, bubbly beverage made with corn. Balls of cooked corn mush are chewed and inoculated with saliva, then added to water and allowed to ferment. The taste is similar to kombucha.
Kiesel (Russia and Poland): An important grain-based lacto-fermented drink.
Kvass (Russia and Ukraine): A lacto-fermented drink usually made from stale rye bread. Another version is made with beets.
Mead (Europe): Made from honey, water, and wild yeast. Some methods produced a lacto-fermented drink, very low in alcohol or bottled and aged for more alcohol content.
Munkoyo (Africa): A low alcohol lacto-fermented brew made from millet or sorghum. Also called sorghum beer, consumed in large quantities by field workers and at celebrations. Given to babies to protect them against infection and diarrhea. The missionaries to Africa discouraged its use because it contains alcohol in very small amounts.
Tesguino (Mexico): A low-alcohol beer made with sprouted corn.
Chicha (Andean, Peru): Chewed corn beer having a light, delicious corn flavor.
Pulque (Mexico): A lacto-fermented drink made from the juice of the agavé cactus. With time, it goes alcoholic.
Palm Wine (Africa): The lacto-fermented sap of the palm tree, consumed in tropical areas of Africa and Asia.
Rice Beers (Asia and India): These were traditionally very low in alcohol, and mostly lactose-fermented. In Japan, koji rice mold is used for making sake, amasaké, and simple grog’s.


 

 

Kvass a Lactose-Fermented Drink from Russia – Quick Kvass Recipe – Update2

Today we’ll talk about kvass, a traditional beverage from Russia, drunk for good health and to give energy.  All classes of people enjoyed this beverage from the czars as well as by peasant folk.  Traditional, kvass is sold on the street by vendors with a large tank full of fresh kvass.
In wealthy households, various kinds of kvass contained rye bread and/or currants, raspberries, lemons, apples, pears, cherries, bilberries and loganberries.  The possibilities and combinations of breads and fruits are endless!

kvass street vender

So What Makes It Kvass?

Kvass starts from stale sourdough rye bread so it was natural for bakeries to make it from the bread that they do not sell.

Bread that has gone past its shelf life is cut into 1-inch cubes, spread on trays and dried out in the bread ovens, set to low temperature.  Then the pieces are added to a 200-liter tank filled with good quality water.  This brews for 12 hours at room temperature.  Yeast and a small amount of sugar is then added and the kvass is left another 12 hours at room temperature.

The kvass is then bottled.  Three or four raisins are added to the bottles, which are then capped tightly.  The kvass will be ready in about three weeks—foamy and refreshing.  However, the shelf life from that point is only about one week (or three weeks refrigerated), after which the kvass turns alcoholic.  The short shelf life has left this beverage pretty much untouched and unadulterated by commercial food/beverage companies.

bottled kvass

Beet Kvass

Another type of kvass is made from beets.  Not as epicurean as medicinal, although beet kvass is often added to borscht, which is a great cold RAW soup.  Traditional Ukrainian homes have it at the ready for a pleasing, sour flavor added to soups and vinaigrette.”

Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver cleansing properties and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe.  Anecdotal reports indicate that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems.
beet kvass

Making Kvass at Home…

Homemade Kvass

Kvass made at home requires careful attention to detail, especially to temperatures.  To avoid failures and frustration, purchase a thermometer that will measure liquids between 50-175 degrees F.  You will also need to find a warm place that stays about 76-78 degrees in your kitchen or in a closet.  We use a preheated room for brewing ferments such as these.

Be sure to use bread that is made only with rye flour, and that contains no food additives or preservatives.  Kvass made from bread that contains oats or other grains is not used as it turns the fermenting liquid bitter.

Do not worry about using white sugar, as most it will brake down and turn into beneficial acids.

The kvass should be stored in bottles with screw on tops or tops with wire fasteners.  This recipe makes about 5 quarts.

– 1 pound rye bread, cut into 1/4-inch slices
– 1 1/2 cups sugar, in all
– 1 package dry active yeast or a fresh sourdough starter if you
maintain one
– 1 tablespoon unbleached white flour
– Filtered water
– About 1 dozen raisins

Spread the bread on cookie sheets and bake for about 30 minutes at 250 degrees F.  When cool, chop into 1/4-inch pieces in a food processor.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and then cool to 175 degrees.  Add the bread, stir well, cover with a lid and leave in a warm place (76-78 degrees) for 1 hour.  Strain and reserve both the bread and the liquid.

Bring another 2 1/2 quarts of water to a boil, cool down to 175 degrees and add the reserved bread.  Cover with a lid and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.  Strain and discard the bread.  Combine both batches of liquid.

Next is to make simple syrup: Place 1/4 cup sugar and 1-tablespoon water in a small cast-iron skillet.  Stir continuously over heat until the mixture turns golden brown, but do not caramelize.  Remove from heat and gradually blend in 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid.  Then stir this mixture into the entire batch of liquid.

In a small saucepan, place 1 cup water and the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming once or twice.  Stir this syrup solution into the reserved liquid and allow the mixture to come to room temperature (about 75 degrees).

Mix the yeast with the flour and combine with 1 cup of the liquid.  Return this yeast mixture to the pot.  Make an X of masking tape across the top of the pot.  Cover the pot with two layers of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place (73-78 degrees) for 8-12 hours or overnight.  Cool the kvass to about 50-54 degrees.  Transfer to bottles, seal tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours.  The kvass will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

In addition to its role as a refreshing drink, kvass is traditional added to a number of typical Russian cold soups containing vegetables, sour cream and fish.

kvass drinkKvass update on recipe and results…#2

This was the first time making kvass, turned out pretty well.
The beet kvass is very fizzy, however, the traditional kvass has more depth of flavor!!!
Both have their own benefits, so try making both!  This is a low cost way to include pro-biotics into your body.

kvass drink
Beet Kvass (L) and Traditional Kvass (R)
kvass beverage
Beet Kvass (L) and Traditional Kvass (R), Ready to Drink !

Other Traditional Lactose-Fermented Beverages…

Bouza (Egypt): An opaque drink made of wheat, water, and sourdough yeast starter..
Gv-No-He-Nv (Cherokee, Native American): A thick, milky drink with the sweet flavors of corn accented by a mild sourness.
T’ej (Ethiopian): A simple honey type wine/mead.
Braga (Middle Europe): A fermented gruel or sour porridge.
Chicha (South America): A clear, bubbly beverage made with corn. Balls of cooked corn mush are chewed and inoculated with saliva, then added to water and allowed to ferment. The taste is similar to kombucha.
Kiesel (Russia and Poland): An important grain-based lacto-fermented drink.
Kvass (Russia and Ukraine): A lacto-fermented drink usually made from stale rye bread. Another version is made with beets.
Mead (Europe): Made from honey, water, and wild yeast.  Some methods produced a lacto-fermented drink, very low in alcohol or bottled and aged for more alcohol content.
Munkoyo (Africa): A low alcohol lacto-fermented brew made from millet or sorghum.  Also called sorghum beer, consumed in large quantities by field workers and at celebrations.  Given to babies to protect them against infection and diarrhea.  The missionaries to Africa discouraged its use because it contains alcohol in very small amounts.
Tesguino
(Mexico): A low-alcohol beer made with sprouted corn.
Chicha (Andean, Peru): Chewed corn beer having a light, delicious corn flavor.
Pulque (Mexico): A lacto-fermented drink made from the juice of the agavé cactus.  With time, it goes alcoholic.
Palm Wine (Africa): The lacto-fermented sap of the palm tree, consumed in tropical areas of Africa and Asia.
Rice Beers (Asia and India): These were traditionally very low in alcohol, and mostly lactose-fermented.  In Japan, koji rice mold is used for making sake, amasaké, and simple grog’s.

We hope you enjoy this Blog post on Kvass, a simple to make fermented beverage for health and well-being.
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Fermented & Pickled Condiments in the Korean Style


This is a standard plate served at meals in our house, in Korea they do the same.  Called banchan, they are set in the middle of the table to be shared.  At the center of the table is the secondary main course, such as galbi or bulgogi, and a shared pot of jjigae.  Bowls of cooked rice and guk (soup) are set individually.  Banchan are served in small portions, meant to be finished at each meal and are replenished during the meal if not enough.
 
This method of eating allows each person to customize their dish to with flavor, heat, and spice.
Who can guess the condiments in the photo?
I start you off with B.R. – gochujang – hot fermented chili paste
B.L. – fresh Japanese wasabi paste
Good luck!
Fermented & pickled condiments in the Korean Style


 

Tsukemono Pickled & Fermented Condiments Part 2

Here’s part two of our Blog on Tsukemono
type pickles from Japan.
These are great for eating plain or a side dish,
a condiment, or mixed with plain rice!
Listed below are recipes that have been modified from the traditional form for the USA consumer as some ingredients are hard to find.
fermented picklesWhat is Tsukemono?

Tsukemono (漬物?, literally “pickled things”) are Japanese style preserved vegetables (usually pickled in salt, brine, or a bed of nuka  rice bran).  Many are served with rice as an okazu (side dish), with drinks as an otsumami (snack), as an accompaniment to or garnish for meals, and as a course in the kaiseki portion of a Japanese tea ceremony.

Type Kanji Pickling Ingredient
Shiozuke 塩漬け salt
Suzuke 酢漬け vinegar
Amasuzuke 甘酢漬け sugar and vinegar
Misozuke 味噌漬け miso
Shoyuzuke 醤油漬け soy sauce
Kasuzuke 粕漬け sake kasu (sake lees)
Koji 塩麹 malted rice
Nukazuke 糠漬け rice bran
Karashizuke からし漬け hot mustard
Satozuke 砂糖漬け sugar

Today we’ll look at some new recipes that you can make at home.  Place in the refrigerator and they can last for weeks…

Shibadsuke –


Sliced cucumber and tree ear mushroom salted and pickled with red shiso.

To make yourself, use any hearty mushroom that will hold it’s shape.
– Start by cutting fresh cucumber in half, removing the seeds and skin, then cut into thin strips.
– Soak the mushrooms, if dried, in enough water to cover.  Once soft cut into thin strips.  We used shiitake mushrooms.
– Bring the required amount(dependent on batch size) of rice wine vinegar to a boil, remove from heat, and add the shiso leaf and mushrooms.  Allow to simmer until colour turns red and taste develops.  If you don’t have shiso leaf try a Japanese shop or grow your own.  You may be able to find the leaf already pickled, too.
– Remove from heat and add the cucumber slices.  Mix together.
Add sea salt to taste.  Allow mixture to set covered with vinegar at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.  Then pack into jars and keep in refrigerator.  Will keep for a month or more if kept cold and under brine.  Hint: Add a little extra vinegar if liquid is not enough.

Here’s a photo of our results…
Shibadsuke


Sesame & Kombu –

Sesame & Kombu

Strip of kombu vegetable is cooked with sugar and soy sauce with bonito dashi.  This is one of our favorites hands down.  The saltiness of the sea combined with sweet sugar and rich soy sauce!
This Japanese quick pickle is easy to make…
– Start by washing the kombu and soaking until soft.
– With the kombu soaking, make a dashi broth by bringing the amount of water needed to a boil.  Once water boils, remove from heat and add bonito flakes (a type of dried fish, shaved very thin).  For good flavor you’ll want about a 1/2oz per 4 cups water.  Once flakes the are steeped, strain liquid to remove the flakes.  We like to eat the fish flakes, so they don’t have to be removed.
– Cut the kombu into thin strips
– Place the cut kombu into the broth and add sugar and soy sauce to taste.

– Allow to simmer until liquid concentrates then add the sesame seeds at the end.  Adjust sugar and soy as needed, to taste.

Allow mixture to set covered with vinegar at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.  Then pack into jars and keep in refrigerator.  Will keep for a month or more if kept cold and under brine.

Here’s a photo of our results…

Sesame & Kombu

Ginger & Kombu –
ginger kombu pickle

Strip of kombu is cooked with sugar and soy sauce with bonito dashi.
Hint of ginger taste.

The same as making the sesame and kombu recipe but with the use of ginger root verse sesame seeds.

– Start by washing the kombu and soaking until soft.
– With the kombu soaking, make a dashi broth by bringing the amount of water needed to a boil.  Once water boils, remove from heat and add bonito flakes(a type of dried fish, shaved very thin).  For good flavor you’ll want about a 1/2oz per 4 cups water.  Once flakes the are steeped, strain liquid to remove the flakes.  We like to eat the fish flakes, so they don’t have to be removed.
– Cut the kombu into thin strips
– Place the cut kombu into the broth and add sugar, sliced or grated ginger and soy sauce to taste.  Note: ginger root is strong to taste so not much is needed.

– Allow to simmer until liquid concentrates.  Adjust sugar and soy as needed, to taste.

Allow mixture to set covered with vinegar at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.  Then pack into jars and keep in refrigerator.  Will keep for a month or more if kept cold and under brine.

Fuki Sansho –

Fuki Sansho

Fuki is a kind of edible wild plant in mountain side in Japan.
Picked in Yamagata or Akita prefecture, north part of Japan.
Simmered in sweet sugar and soy sauce.
A hint of  Japanese pepper tree seed.
This one we have not tried, but it could work with many plants.
The method is the same to simmer the plant in sugar and soy sauce.
The recipe is finished with a hint of strong pepper, like schezwan pepper.
Experiment with this one and see how it goes!

More recipes for Japanese cultured foods
See more at our main site – organic-cultures.com