Microwaves bad for food, bad for you…

microwave

We gave up the microwave 20 years ago, no good can come from zapping your food.

  1. Microwave dishes are highly processed
  2. It messes with the vibrational energy of the food
  3. Take the time to love your food by slow cooking or eating it raw for the best benefits

Rasta Man say so, Yogi Brahmans say so, I and I say so, too.

Eat raw, live well.  Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods!

http://www.naturalnews.com/039404_microwave_ovens_vitamins_nutrients.html

Kombucha Culture Strains Worldwide

  The name Kombucha or Kombu Cha refers to any of a variety of preparations of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea beverages that are commonly used as functional beverages for their detoxifying and other health benefits. Kombucha is found in many cultures in
China it is called: chájūn (茶菌),
Japanese: kōcha-kinoko (紅茶キノコ),
Korean: hongchabeoseotcha (홍차버섯차),
and Russian: chaynyy grib (чайный гриб).
kombucha tea culture
In this Blog page, we are talking not of different flavorings of kombucha, whether through herbs, fruits or sugars but to different strains themselves.  Today in the west, other kombucha type ferments or stains are known as kombu tea SCOBY, JUN or Jun Honey culture, Snow leopard, Monk Tea, Himalayan strain, and Kocha-Konko Kombu. Much is unknown on the origins of the strains, how they traveled the globe, and their culture makeup.  We have traveled throughout the world looking for new cultures, like our water kefir strains and yogurts.
We have brought back kombucha tea cultures from many places.
Friends and customers have sent them, too.

  Many call the kombucha culture a ‘mushroom’, however, KT does not produce spores like fungi mushrooms and really is a culture or SCOBY of yeasts and bacteria. Kombucha production starts by fermenting a tea/sugar solution using a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast strains (SCOBY)”. The actual contributing microbial populations in the kombucha cultures vary, but the yeast component generally includes Saccharomyces and other species, and the bacterial component usually includes Gluconacetobacter xylinus to oxidize yeast-produced alcohols to
acetic and other organic acids.

kombucha showing CO2Common Kombucha Strain – Most widely known strain in the USA and the west. Many sellers are producing cultures for sale over the internet. The culture produces the familiar taste and
standard flavor used by commercial and home brewers alike.
Traditionally kombucha maintained with black tea and cane sugar.

Monk Kombucha teaKombucha Monk Tea Strain – A strain from Tibet made with raw honey, Pu-erh tea, and herbs like goji berries. This strain produces a rose-colored culture and taste unlike the standard strain. Procured from monks in different Tibetan monasteries,
it is one of our favorites!

forbidden city strainsImperial Place Strain – Imperial Place strain is not very renowned or even seen by the common masses. Said to be for royalty only. Chinese legend says that even the palace workers may not view the culture. This culture type seems unavailable to the public and only known through legend. The stories may be true or
just a myth, only time may tell.

kombucha tea cultureRussian Red Rose Strain – A strain called ‘chaynyy grib’, said to have survived World War II by using ingredients on hand. In this culture strain’s, upkeep and tradition, brewing happened mainly with herbs (such as rose hips and elder berries) vs. tea, with the introduction of honey or sugar beets as the sweetening agent verses processed cane sugars. Tea and sugar was rationed or unavailable to the common person at that time. Over time, this culture has adapted to the new ingredients. It produces a red colored culture from the beets and herbs
used in the brewing cycle.
Today many people use sugar again due to availability, however,
traditionalist still use the old style recipes.

Japanese Kombu ChaJapanese Kocha Kinoko Kombu Strain – Supported with matcha green tea and sea vegetables Kombu Cha is very healing culture strain. Kombu Kombucha provides umami flavor, nutrients, anti-oxidants, and minerals from the matcha tea and seaweeds used. This strain produces a very clear white culture unlike
the traditional kombucha culture.

Himalayan Kombucha Himalayan Kombucha Strain – Regionally sustained kombucha strain from Northern India. Most likely, this strain of scoby migrated from China or Tibet through the trade routes. This kombucha strain is maintained on raw sugars and fruits, with no tea used in the fermentation process. Tea is an expensive commodity to many in India and may be why this strain developed without the need for tea in the brewing process.

JUN honey cultureJun Honey Culture – Becoming more popular in the west.  Some brewers and sellers of cultures try using a kombucha culture with honey; however, this does not make it JUN.
However, close to kombucha culture it is a culture strain unto it’s self. Sometimes it is called kombucha honey culture.

It is widely found in parts of western Tibet. Each province of China has a version of Chang beer, in some parts of Tibet the beer has Jun in it. The most easily found and tastiest Jun in Tibet comes from the Khampa Nomads – former monks turned physical and spiritual warriors who learned their knowledge of how to make Jun from the Bonpo monks. The warrior/monks would carry the JUN with them as they rode into battle using it as a tonic,
energy booster, and maybe a little alcohol, too!

JUN snow leopard strainSnow Leopard JUN Strain – The rarest form of Jun is the “snow leopard” and one taste gives the equivalent effect of increased energy and stamina.  The Bonpo monks who produce this fine Jun are of Taoist, Buddhist, and Shamanic origins and are thought to have been gifted a heirloom culture by Lao Tzu.
This Jun strain is very, very hard to find.

We hope you have found this blog page helpful in learning more about kombucha types and introducing people to new strains from other areas around the world.  We are always on the lookout for more cultures to add to the ‘culture bank’, which allows others access to less common culture types.  We have some of the culture strains listed above that are available at our culture store/bank.  Instructions for the cultures we maintain can be found on our main website www.organic-cultures.com.

Happy Culturing!
Live, Grow, and Share Cultured Foods.

Cultured Cheese Stromboli – Meatless Mondays #12

What is Stromboli?

Homemade stromboli

  Stromboli, on the other hand, is more of a sandwich than a turnover, although you might mistake it easily as calzone because of their similarities in appearance. The dish, however, does not contain the sheep’s milk cheese, ricotta. Although it can be considered as an Italian dish, it was made up somewhere in the United States, although the location is not quite known, some say in Philadelphia, some say in Washington state.

The Stromboli is rolled with a stuffing of choice before cooking. You can add many different ingredients to create some great flavor profiles. Try fresh herbs, sun dried tomatoes, or wild leeks &mushrooms! Other cheeses like a mix of ricotta, aged Parmesan, and mozzarella. Stromboli is great for a lunch or as a main for dinner. Below is what you need for two different styles.

What is Needed…

Style I – Cheese and Vegetable Stromboli
• 10 ounces pizza dough
• 1⁄3 cup cultured cheese or fresh mozzarella cheese
• ½ cup sliced artichoke heart
• 3 chopped roasted red peppers
• 1⁄3 cup chopped black olives
• Herbs of choice like fresh basil, thyme, and parsley
• Salt and pepper to taste

Alternatively…

Style II – Cheese, Spinach, and Garlic Stromboli
• 10 ounces pizza dough
• 1⁄3 cup cultured cheese or fresh mozzarella
• 1 or 2 fresh garlic cloves or fermented garlic honey cloves
     Note: If fresh garlic is too strong of flavor fry in a little olive oil before stuffing
• ½ cup chopped fresh spinach, well drained
• Salt and white pepper to taste

Directions…

Have the cultured cheese ready to go a few days in advance. The cheese needs to be a ‘hard’ cheese with little moisture, so that it stays within the crust.
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with olive oil.

stromboli ready to roll

3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
4. Spread the cheese, leaving a 1-inch border.
5. Add the other veggies.
6. Roll like a jellyroll and crimp the edges.
7. Score the tops almost through and brush the top with egg white wash or olive oil for a golden top, if desired
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted through.

stromboli
Serve hot with a side of marinara sauce, if desired. Being versatile, stuff Stromboli with many different ingredients for a change from old style pizzas. For the holidays, make smaller sized Stromboli for ‘finger food’ at gatherings.

Feedback: This recipe, though simple, is delicious. Being vegan I substituted home made soy cheese for the mozzarella, and I made my own pizza dough. I also added some fresh basil leaves. Yum. This would be great made in miniature versions as finger foods for a holiday get-together.

3HO Solstice Hot Sauce – Meatless Mondays #11

Solstice Hot Sauce
By 3HO org

This is a great condiment that is used on the tantric burgers during summer solstice.  Easy to make.  Use it during any meal for a spicy, tangy fermented sauce to bring some heat to any dish…Enjoy!
hot chilli

What is Needed…

3 large onions, chopped and/or diced
¼ cup dried crushed red chilies
8 ounces tamarind concentrate
16 ounces hot water
1 ½ cups sesame oil
1 tablespoon turmeric
10 whole small dried red chilies
2 cups apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Put the onions in a large bowl.
Sprinkle with the crushed chilies.
Melt tamarind concentrate in hot water.
Add sesame oil and diluted tamarind to onions.
Sprinkle with the turmeric.
Add the whole chilies and vinegar.

Stir and cover.
– Let sit overnight or several days for the fullest flavor and mild fermentation.
– After the sauce is to your liking, in taste and flavor, store in the refrigerator.
– The sauce will keep a long time and gets better with age.

Yields about 2 quarts.
Use on veggies burgers or as a fermented condiment!

Cashew Rice with Peas – Meatless Mondays #10

This is a simple and easy to make recipe for lunch or dinner.

Start by steaming rice, Basmati rice is traditional rice from India. Basmati is imported from the east and available at all Indian grocery stores and many health food stores. Substitute with white or brown rice if needed, however, basmati rice is extra special in that it is nutritious and has very good flavor.
cashew rice

What is Needed:

2 to 3 cups steamed basmati rice
½ cup roasted cashew pieces
½ cup of peas
2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
pinch of turmeric powder
pinch of hing (a spice used in many Indian dishes)
½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Fresh tomatoes diced, for garnish
Freshly chopped coriander leaves or dry spice

Once the rice is steamed, the dish is ready to assemble…

Add the ghee to a clean pot, and then add the steamed rice.
Add turmeric, hing, coriander, and salt. Stir ingredients together until well mixed, making sure not to crush/over work the rice.
Add cashews and peas, blend into rice mixture and heat through.

Garnish with the tomatoes and more coriander.
Serve with chapatis or flat bread if desired.

Hint: Replace the ghee with extra virgin olive oil to make a vegan dish.
Serves 4

~ pH Readings for Kombucha & Fermented Food Cultures ~

Why Check pH Levels in the Kombucha Tea Beverage & Other Ferments?

Though pH readings is not always needed, adding pH checks to the culturing process helps to maintain proper viable and healthy culture strains/starter. Each type of starter culture will produce different amounts of acid as part of the fermentation process. Checking these levels, insure that your cultured foods and ferments are safe to consume. For the safety factor, all ferments should measure below 4.6 on the pH scale, as per FDA regulations. This insures that the cultured food is free of human pathogens, safe to consume, and that the desired bacteria/yeast cultures are viable and does not become overrun by foreign yeasts or bacteria.

pH test strip,
How Does Fermentation/Culturing Work?

Fermented foods, which are foods produced or preserved by the action of microorganisms, are great for health and well-being of the body systems (especially the intestinal/gut system). In this context, fermentation typically refers to the fermentation of sugar to alcohol using yeast, but other fermentation processes involve the use of bacteria such as lactobacillus, including the making of foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.
The art and knowledge of fermentation had been around for 1000’s of years and the scientific community calls it zymology. We call it wild fermentation or raw cultured foods.

It all starts by choosing the culture starter medium, such as kombucha tea culture or kefir grains, then ‘feeding’ the culture with the correct food source. After the recommended fermentation time the cultured food is ready to consume or used for making other cultured food products. An example would be making milk kefir and then using the ready cultured milk to make RAW living cheeses. Testing the pH before and after the process insures that the finished product is safe for consumption.
Many pickled or soured foods ferment, thus dropping the pH levels, as part of the pickling or souring process, like Japanese pickles. However, many preserved/fermented food stores go through a process of brining, vinegar induction, or the addition of other acidic foods sources such as lemon juice.

How to Test pH Correctly

Correct procedures when checking the pH levels allows for the most accurate readings. A short-range strip (o-6 pH) works the best over a broad range strip (0-14 pH). Human or saliva testing strips will not work due to the range of the product, from 5 – 8 pH. If you have purchased testing strips from us then the process is very easy. Simply open the roll of kombucha ‘test strip papers’ (0-6 pH range) and remove about an inch long piece of testing paper. Make sure the hands are clean and dry.

Check the pH reading by pulling a small sample of the ferment vs. placing the test paper in the ferment. Use a straw, spoon, or ‘wine thief’ to pull a sample to test. Dip the kombucha/culture test strip into the liquid to check. Then with a flick of the wrist, remove any excess liquid and immediately check the pH against the color-coded chart. The check should be within the desired range for the ferment tested, see below.

pH and Dairy Cultures

dairy kefir grains
With dairy type cultures, such as milk kefir or yogurt starters, the pH is high to start with a drop in pH as the milk is cultured. There is not a starting point to check pH with dairy cultures. At the end of the process, the pH should read 4.5 or lower on a
color-coded pH chart.

pH and Water Kefir Strains

Water Kefir Grains
Water kefir grains act somewhat like the dairy kefir in that the initial pH test will be on the alkaline side of the scale. Depending on the strength of the old starter liquid, the test may fall within the correct range. Why we recommend use a slice of lemon to lower the pH and keep it below 4.5 pH.

pH and Kombucha Tea Cultures

kombucha tea culture
For kombucha tea beverage, you should take two pH readings. One check is done when adding the starter tea to the new batch of tea/sugar solution and the second at the end of the brewing cycle.
This first pH test reading should be 4.5 pH or below, if it is too high then keep adding starter tea from your old batch
until the desired pH is reached.
Many kombucha recipes found online have a certain generic amount of starter tea added to a new batch. However, depending on the acidic strength of the old starter tea the amount added will vary from batch to batch. One may find that only a small amount is needed from a strong sour batch and much more required from a sweet batch of tea.
Adding the correct amount of starter, by reading pH, insures that the fresh tea solution is acidic enough to combat any human pathogens, foreign molds, or yeast.

Measure the second pH test at the finish of the brewing/culturing process. After your tea has brewed for the required amount for time,  7 to 14 days in most cases, then it is recommended to test the pH until it is at, or close, to 3 pH.
The desired range of the complete kombucha tea
is between 3.2 and 2.8 pH.
This reading tells you that the brewing cycle is complete and the tea is at the correct pH point to drink. Of course, this can very a bit to suit your needs and taste. If this final pH is too far on the alkaline side of the pH scale, then the tea will need a few more days to complete the brewing cycle.

pH and JUN Honey Culture

jun honey culture
Many people now have access to the JUN honey culture. JUN is much like kombucha culture, yet a different strain and results. The ingredients in JUN are different from kombucha tea culture. Kombucha is made with black tea and cane sugar, whereas, JUN is created using honey and a lighter tea,  such as white or green tea.
For checking pH levels, the steps and range is the same as kombucha tea.

We hope this post on checking kombucha pH levels in kombucha and other ferment will help in producing healthy and safe fermented beverages.  See all our products at our culture store.

Happy Culturing!
Live, Grow, and Share Cultured Foods

Trinity Rice with Spiced Chapatis & Cultured Yogurt – Meatless Mondays #09

Trinity Rice with Spiced Chapatis

Here are two easy to make dishes from India, which works with Ayurvedic medicine system.  Chapatis are Indian flat breads that do not require resting or yeast.  In the Ayurvedic system, onions, garlic, and ginger are the ‘trinity of roots’.
The rice and flat breads make a nice simple meal.
Serve with fresh cultured yogurt on the side.

Trinity Rice

India trinity rice

What is needed…
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 inch ginger root, peeled and grated
1 cup basmati rice or a short grain white rice
½ to ¾ cup ghee (known in the West as clarified butter, buy or make your own)
1 tomato, peeled
4 to 5 cups assorted vegetables

Directions…

Rinse the rice thoroughly.  Sauté any spices desired and then add the trinity roots of onion and ginger until onions are cooked through.  Then add garlic and cook another minute.
Add tomato, assorted vegetables, and rice along with 4 cups of water.
Cover and let simmer on low heat, checking frequently. Add more water if necessary.
Cook until vegetables are soft and rice is done.

Yields 4 servings. Serve with spiced chapatis, recipe below.

Spiced Chapatis

Chapati flat breads

What is needed…
2 cups whole-wheat flour
Ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom seeds, pods removed
1 tsp fennel seeds

Directions…

Place flour in a bowl.  Mix in spices. Stir in enough water to make a soft dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Add more flour if needed.  Remove dough from bowl and knead on a floured surface until it becomes smooth, soft and springy.  The dough should not be sticky at all.

Heat an iron skillet over a medium-high heat.  Form dough into ping pong size balls.  Flatten balls into squat patties.
Flour patties on both sides and roll out on flour covered board into 6-inch diameter circle and 1/8 inch thickness.

Place in hot skillet.  Cook on the first side until lightly crusted, but not browned.  Flip over and cook second side the same way.  Next, place the chapati directly over a gas flame, flipping it once or twice so that it puffs up, or flip it over in the skillet and lightly press to make it puff up.  Then flip and puff the other side.

chapati puffed

Note: When properly done, there should be only a small amount of browning on either side.  If the chapati browns too rapidly, the heat is to high.
As each chapati is done and still hot, spread ghee (or melted butter) on top of each one and stack.

Yields 8-12 chapatis

Enjoy this great light and easy meatless dish for lunch or dinner…enjoy!

Making Japanese Shinshu Miso and Shiro Miso

  All Japanese Misos have the same basic recipe format; main difference is the quantities of the ingredients and incubation times. A dark or heavy miso will have less koji rice and more salt verses a sweet or mellow miso.  Once the koji-kin/koji rice is completed, you can use it to make this Shiro miso.  The fermentation time is quicker for this miso, 3 to 4 weeks, over a heavier miso, which can take 6 months to 3 years.  The following instructions make two very classic types, one fast and one aged for 6 months:

Japanese Miso Production
Traditional Japanese Miso Production.  Stones are used to hold down the koji/soybean mixture in wooden vats..

Making Shiro Miso

shiro miso

So let us get started! What you will need…

1-cup dry soybeans
3 ½ -cups light rice koji
2 ½ -tbsp sea salt
1-cup soybean cooking water
1 -tbsp un-pasteurized seed miso (optional or buy locally)
Note: The seed miso aids in the faster culturing of the fresh koji rice

Any type of un-pasteurized miso paste will work. It contributes active beneficial cultures, which in turn assist in the maturing/aging process. If you make a good batch of miso, make sure to save some of the paste for the inculcation of new batches.

Yield: 4 ½ cups
Fermentation Time: 3 to 4 weeks
Aging Temperature: 77F (25C)

Shiro Miso Directions:

Cooking the Soybeans…
Start by soaking the soybeans overnight or for 8 to 12 hours in 4 cups of water.
After soaking, drain the soybeans and bring to boil in fresh water. Boil until the soybeans can easily crush between your fingers. Add additional water as needed. Time for cooking is around 4 to 5 hours, or 30 minutes in a pressure cooker at 15 pounds.

Mixing the Miso and Ingredients…

Drain the soybeans, reserving enough cooking liquid. Transfer the soybeans to a mixing bowl and mash thoroughly. Add the reserved cooking liquid and salt over the beans, mix. Allow the soybeans to cool below 140F (60C), before adding the koji rice and seed miso. If the soybeans are too hot, the heat could kill the
koji-rice mold culture. Mix again.

Packing the Miso Crock or Jar…

Now that the ingredients are mixed, it is time to pack the miso mixture into your jars. This recipe will pack a 1½-quart jar. Sterilizing the crock or jar is recommended to help prevent contamination. Sterilize a dry crock or jar by heating it upside down, in the oven at 300 F for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before moving. You can use a beer sterilizer, too.
Pack the mixture into straight-sided jar or fermenting crock. Expel any air bubbles trapped in the mixture (a chopstick works well for this). Flatten the surface and sprinkle enough salt to cover the miso mixture making sure to cover the edges. Cover this with clean plastic wrap, placing it directly on the salted mixture and up the sides. Place a weighted lid or bag over the plastic wrap. Make sure the weights are pushing down on the mixture. Lastly, cover the top with a breathable cloth or paper to keep out dust and contamination. You can vary the recipe a bit if desired,
until it is to your liking.

Letting the Miso Culture…

This part of the process involves allowing the packed koji rice miso to ago. For Shiro miso, the period is 3 to 4 weeks. Once minimum ago is reached, take a sample to taste. However, try to save some to allow further aging to compare taste. Smooth the surface once again adding a bit of salt to cover.
Make sure to label each batch with information such as type, date packed, recipe used, date completed, etc. Keeping good records will allow the next batch to taste the same as previous batches or you can try new variations to your liking.

types of Japanese miso
Different Types of Japanese Miso

Shinshu Miso – Light Yellow Miso

Here is another classic miso recipe using koji rice and soybeans. You may experiment using other types of grains like wheat, barley or other substitutes for the soybeans. Unlike the quick fermentation of Shiro miso (3 to 4 weeks), Shinshu miso takes 6 months to a year time frame. Miso has a great earthy flavor and umami taste sensation!

So let us get started! What you will need…

2-cup dry soybeans
2 ½ -cups light rice koji
½ -cup sea salt
1-cup soybean cooking water
1 -tbsp un-pasteurized seed miso (optional or buy locally)
Note: The seed miso aids in the faster culturing of the fresh koji rice

Any type of un-pasteurized miso paste will work. It contributes active beneficial cultures, which in turn assist in the maturing/aging process. If you make a good batch of miso, make sure to save some of the paste for the inculcation of new batches.

Yield: 6 ½ cups
Fermentation Time: 6 to 12 months
Aging Temperature: 77F (25C)

Shinshu Miso Directions:

Cooking the Soybeans…
Start by soaking the soybeans overnight or for 8 to 12 hours in 4 cups of water.
After soaking, drain the soybeans and bring to boil in fresh water. Boil until the soybeans can easily crush between your fingers. Add additional water as needed. Time for cooking is around 4 to 5 hours, or 30 minutes in a pressure cooker at 15 pounds.

Mixing the Miso and Ingredients…
Drain the soybeans, reserving enough cooking liquid. Transfer the soybeans to a mixing bowl and mash thoroughly. Add the reserved cooking liquid and salt over the beans, mix. Allow the soybeans to cool below 140F (60C), before adding the koji rice and seed miso. If the soybeans are too hot, the heat could kill the
koji-rice mold culture. Mix again.

Packing the Miso Crock or Jar…
Now that the ingredients are mixed, it is time to pack the miso mixture into your jars. This recipe will pack a 1½-quart jar. Sterilizing the crock or jar is recommended to help prevent contamination. Sterilize a dry crock or jar by heating it upside down, in the oven at 300 F for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before moving. You can use a beer sterilizer, too.
Pack the mixture into straight-sided jar or fermenting crock. Expel any air bubbles trapped in the mixture (a chopstick works well for this). Flatten the surface and sprinkle enough salt to cover the miso mixture making sure to cover the edges. Cover this with clean plastic wrap, placing it directly on the salted mixture and up the sides. Place a weighted lid or bag over the plastic wrap. Make sure the weights are pushing down on the mixture. Lastly, cover the top with a breathable cloth or paper to keep out dust and contamination. You can vary the recipe a bit if desired,
until it is to your liking.

Letting the Miso Culture…
This part of the process involves allowing the packed koji rice miso to ago. For Shinshu miso, the period is 6 to 12 months. Once minimum incubation time occurs, take a sample to taste. However, try to save some to allow further aging to compare taste. Smooth the surface once again adding a bit of salt to cover.
Make sure to label each batch with information such as type, date packed, recipe used, date completed, etc. Keeping good records will allow the next batch to taste the same as previous
batches or you can try new variations.

White miso soup
White miso soup with scallions

Now that you miso is finished aging, your ready to use it in many recipes.  We have several miso recipes at our main site and are always adding new recipes.
Making miso is a great way to add living cultures into your lifestyle…Happy Culturing!

If you need pre-made koji-rice or koji spores please visit our store for fresh spores and other miso making items.

How to Make Koji-Kin Rice From Koji Spores

Use for Amasaké, Saké, Light Misos, or Japanese Pickles

Making your own fresh koji rice is not complicated if you have the correct tools and utensils on hand.  Some equipment listed will make the process easy for someone with culturing experience.  Making koji rice may not be the best culture for someone
new to fermentation or culturing..

What is needed…

  • A large bowl or pot for soaking 6 cups (1420ml) of sushi style rice
  • A sieve or colander for draining the rice
  • Wooden (traditional) or metal spoon to stir the rice
  • A large cooking pot for steaming the rice.  Also, a modified bowl and a bamboo or metal vegetable steamer (See photos)

    Tools for making koji at home
    Items for steaming sushi/polished rice
  • Pans or trays for inoculating the steamed rice
  • Heating mats/incubator with temperature control or a food dehydrator
  • Flour sacks material or cloth for holding the steaming rice.  No cheesecloth.
  • Towels for covering the inoculating rice

Ingredients…

  • 6 cup (1420gr) polished sushi rice (Plain white or brown rice will not produce the same results)
  • ¼ cup (237gr) white rice flour or fresh grind from sushi rice
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) koji spore starter

Fermentation Time:
24 to 48 hrs
Incubation Temperature:
85 F (30 C)

How to Make Koji Rice…
Let’s Us Get Started…

Step1:  The first step is to rinse and soak the sushi rice for 6 hours or more.  Time this to end at the point you wish to start steaming the rice.  Rinse the 6 cups of rice several times in fresh cold water until the water runs clear.  This will take around 3 to 6 washes.
Soaking sushi/polished rice  Rinsing is very important to remove the starch from the rice kernels.  If not removed, the finished steamed rice can stick together and makes complete inoculation difficult.

  After rinsing, cover the rice with 2” or 50mm of water and soak the rice in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.  We soak ours overnight. 
Note:
  If allowed to soak more than 10 hours will make the rice soft and may affect the inoculation process.

Step 2:  After soaking, drain the rice in a colander to remove excess water.  Removing the extra water between towels will also work.  This step aids in keeping the cooked rice lump free.  Once ‘dry’ place the rice in the pan setup.  The setup includes the large cooking pot, a bamboo or metal steamer, and the modified bowl that will fit into the bottom of the pot.  Add two inches of water to cover the bottom of the pot, but does not touch the steamer.
Steam koji rice setup 01steaming koji rice 02

 

 
Line the steamer with the cloth and add the soaked rice.  Press the rice out to the sides so the steam will go through the rice and not around it.
We find that making a hole in the center of the rice helps in correct steaming.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  When the steam rises through the rice (not just up the sides), time the steaming rice for 50 minutes.  Watch to make sure the water does not boil dry.  Add additional water by pulling rice bundle to one side and pouring the water down the side of the pot.  About halfway through the process you may wish to turn the rice so the bottom will not over steam. 
Note:
Do not poor the water on the rice. 

CAUTION: Steam is very hot, so use utensils to avoid injury and safety.
Steaming sushi ricesteaming sushi rice

 

 

 

Step 3: As the rice is steaming, prepare the koji spore starter for inoculation.  Start by heating a dry skillet and lightly toast the rice flour to sanitize it.  Not not burn the rice flour.  Cover skillet and place in the refrigerator until cooled to room temperature.  Once cooled, add the koji spores and mix well with clean spoon.  Expel the air from the spore starter bag and reseal.  Spores are very small and adding them to rice flour helps in even distribution of the spores.  At this time, clean your work area, too.  Wash and sanitize the trays for inoculation.
Prepping the rice flour mixture Step 4: After steaming for 50 minutes, the steamed rice will look like a hot rubbery lump.  You may check to see if the rice is ready by taking a small sample and tasting it.  Properly cooked rice will have a rubbery feel and taste, the colour is somewhat clear.  Rice should not be hard (under cooked) or soft like boiled rice (overcooked). 

Steamed rice ready for koji spores  NOTE: Over cooking of the rice will not produce the desired finished product, as the spores cannot encapsulate each grain of rice.  Most important is that the rice grains are whole and not broken by over cooking/steaming.  The trick is to have enough moisture within the rice grains for the koji mold to form, yet not overcooked to the point that the rice will start decomposing.

Remove the rice from the steamer and place in the incubation trays.  Use a wooden spoon or rice paddle to brake up any clumps in the rice and create a uniform overall moistness and spread evenly in pan or tray.  Cool to a temperature between 113 F (45 C) to 80 F (30 C).

Polished steamed rice ready for inoculation

Once cooled, the freshly steamed rice is ready for inoculation.  Use the previously prepared spore and flour mixture for this purpose.  Sprinkle half the starter-flour mixture over the cooled rice and mix thoroughly.  Again, spread out the cooled rice, add the second half of the starter-flour mixture, and mix well.  Now cover the trays/pans with the cover or use plastic wrap and place tray(s) in the incubator or on the heating mat.  Sometimes an oven with the light on will produce the required heat.  Incubate at a temperature of about 90 F (35 C). 
Note: It is important to get the koji mold actively working before unwanted bacteria can take hold.  It is also fine to add extra spore starter, which will speed up the culturing time.

Step 5:  Throughout the day, every 2 to 4 hours, check the internal temperature of the rice koji.  Should hold temperature at 81-96F (27-35C).  This temperature range is optimal for the development of enzymes necessary to make sweet cultured foods like amazaké and make sugars available for saké yeast.  Temperatures higher than this will not ruin the koji for miso making, however, prolonged overheating will kill the koji mold and unwanted bacteria may take over.  Once the temperature is checked, make necessary adjustments to the incubator.

After 24 to 48 hours at 85F (30C):  Wash your hands and open the trays.  There should be a faintly yeasty smell with a sweet fragrance of mushrooms.  The grains should start to show white, fluffy signs of mold growing.  If the koji rice is not fully cultured, mix the koji and allow incubating several more hours.

Inoculating koji rice

Note:  As the koji rice ferments, it will produce heat from fermentation so decreasing the incubator temperature will be needed.  To allow better heat distribution, run furrows one inch deep and two inches apart.

Replace the lids and place back into incubator or on heating mats.  Make sure lids are tight to keep in moisture.  If the rice becomes to dry fermentation will decrease or stop altogether.  Adding a damp cloth over the trays can help if more moisture is needed.
The internal temperature should not drop below 77 F(25 C) nor go above 104 F(40 C) for very long.  If the rice is over heating, stir the koji rice mixture, level off and replace furrows.  Cover and place into the incubator and adjust temperature.

Step 6:  Keep checking the temperature about every 4 hours and stir koji rice at this point.  Level off, replace furrows, and cover.  Keep incubating the koji rice mixture, until rice grains are about 70 to 80% encapsulated.  Check this by breaking some of the grains in half.  By now, the rice should have a chalk-like whiteness and a sweet taste.  Once mature, bring trays to room temperature and stir from time to time, until cooled.

Measure out the amount needed for immediate use.  Once cooled, package the koji-kin into airtight containers and place in refrigerator or freezer.  Dry the finished koji rice product for longest-term storage (Dry at a temperature below 85 deg F).

Fresh koji-kin rice will last about a month, dried and keep refrigerated 6 months, and dried and frozen will last up to a year.

See our koji recipe section for ideas on how to use your fresh koji in many traditional Japanese dishes.

Advanced Techniques

 Some have asked on how to make koji spores themselves.  If the finished koji-kin rice is left on it’s own, without drying, it will start to produce spores.  Koji spores are dark green in color, as pictured below.

Koji-kin rice going to sporesTray of Koji-Kin Spores

koji rice spore productionTray of Koji Close Up

  Once the spores are produced, the natural culturing cycle is complete.  The cultured rice is dried at a temperature of under 85 Deg F and then ground to a powder.  The only problem arises from doing this yourself, is that of quality and purity controls.  Because the spores are produced in a home environment vs. a lab the chance of contamination by other molds and/or bacteria is high.  We do not produce any spores at our Culture Bank.  We buy our tane-koji and kin-koji spores direct from Japan! 

Happy Culturing… Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods

Spore selections from our store:
15gr Koji-Kin Spores    ‘EM’ Tane-Kin 454gr Packet
Tane-Koji Spore Packet 20gr

Raw Fermented Traditional Gazpacho

Raw Fermented Traditional Gazpacho

Fermented Gazpacho
Fermented Gazpacho Garnished with Rosemary

For us here in the land of culture, we always look for ways to enhance dishes by adding a healthy dash of pro-biotics and natural umami flavors (a savory taste)
One taste of this chilled gazpacho instantly transports you to a land of whitewashed walls, red-tiled roofs, and the golden sun…of Spain. Try this twist on a traditional recipe that is great for a cool thirst-quenching summer drink!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients Needed:

• 10 oz of old or dried white or wheat bread
• 2 lbs of fresh tomatoes, chopped, save some for a garnish
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 2 white onions diced
• 2 red or green peppers, chopped
• 1 cucumber (optional)
• 7 tablespoons of oil
• 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
• 1 1/2 tablespoon of very cold water
• Salt to taste
• Cumin (optional)
• Small amount of raw miso paste for a stronger taste (optional)

To make this traditional recipe fermented, premix the tomatoes, onions, and a few tablespoons of liquid from a culture of either a ginger brew/bug or a water kefir starter. Ferment for a day or two until fermentation starts. For extra pro-biotics, soak the bread over night in some water to make a Kvass type ferment (Find recipes online). When you are ready to make the gazpacho, squeeze the moisture out of the bread.
1. In a mortar, grind the cumin, garlic, miso paste, and the soaked bread.  Tip: If using the miso paste the amount of salt is reduced.
2. In another bowl, mix the chopped onions, the chopped tomato, olive oil, vinegar, salt and the contents of the mortar.
3. Place in a blender or mash it with the mortar and add very cold water to mix well.
Tip: Some like it thicker like a soup or add more cold water for a more drinkable fermented beverage.
4. Add more salt (if needed) and strain it. Keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Serve with the tomato, the cucumber, the pepper and toasted bread cut to dices.
We hope that you will enjoy this great summer time beverage…raw, pro-biotic, and refreshing! Happy Culturing!