Using Herbal Teas, Flavored Teas and or Wild-crafted Plants – A Quick Word
Remember your purchase from us goes to maintaining these culture starts
and allows us to procure more types of culture starters. Holding onto these traditional food starter cultures allows us a larger array of food stocks, preservation, and natural pro-biotics.
Thank you again for your support.
We have not posted of late to the Blog. We have been traveling about the planet looking for new food cultures to pass along to you.
It has been a very great outcome!!! In the near future, we will tell you more about the food cultures in detail.
At the store page, there is now JUN cultures (somewhat like kombucha tea), a new Russian Rose kombucha strain (using traditional old school rosehips & elder berries), and topping it all off is Sea Rice from India!
You can visit our store front at any time to read more on these new food cultures
What is Jun? Those of you who are familiar with Kombucha may have heard of its rarer cousin, Jun.
Kombucha is a slightly different fermentation process from Jun, and contains different strains of bacteria.
Some call Jun Honey Culture the ‘champagne of kombucha’ due to its slightly sweeter more exotic qualities.
Jun taste like a raw honey mead with a sour note – fizzy sweet with a tangy back taste.
Kombucha is made by the fermentation of raw sugar and brewed black tea by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast –
also known as a SCOBY. It likes warm, humid climates and takes an average of 5 to 14 days to ferment –
once the fermentation process starts
Jun, on the other hand, is a fermentation of raw honey and brewed green or white tea also by a SCOBY. However, since Jun
was widely brewed and cultivated in the colder Tibetan regions, it may take longer to ferment and reproduce a new JUN culture if the climate is cold. It likes slightly cooler temperatures and seems to have as shorter brewing cycle, 3 to 7 days,
to complete the fermentation process if temperature are higher, around 65 to 70 deg F.
Jun, is known to some as the ‘champagne of kombucha’, it is like a honey mead when finished brewing The fact remains that this is still a relatively unknown quantity with a deep mystery and reverence surrounding it. The oral tradition of Jun goes back several millennia and it is thought that, Lau Tsu, himself gave an heirloom culture to the monks of Bon in Tibet.
Our JUN culture was brought back from Northern China/Tibet within the last few months and is a new strain that we now carry. The price is higher over kombucha starter, due to the cost of ingredients (raw honey) and the rarity of the strain. You will maintain the Jun culture strain (oc-0978JUN) on a food source of raw or pasteurized honey and good quality green or white tea. Darker black teas are not recommened.
Buy your Jun honey starter culture today and start making this new honey beverage that is x2 as good as kombucha tea!
Next posting we’ll talk about the Russian Red Rose kombucha strain (oc-0643RRR)
Talk to everyone again soon. Until Then…Happy Culturing!
To all on the blog…Happy New Years.
Let make it a goal to share cultured and living foods with as many
people as we can this year!
LIVE, GROW, SHARE CULTURED FOODS !
This has been a great method, developed by Organic Cultures, for wrapping soy beans inoculated with tempeh spores. The culturing/fermentation times are shorter, which could be in part from the wild yeast spores on the burdock leaf. Burdock wrapping of the tempeh cakes makes it easier and faster to produce vs. filling plastic bags.
The burdock leaf is prefect this time of year for trying this tempeh production method yourself. Hurry though as the burdock will start the flowering and seed production cycles soon, which is still OK for wrapping the soy beans. This method is more like the traditional recipe and replaces plastic bags and the mess of poking all the holes.
Once the cakes are inoculated and growing tempeh spores medium, simply place cakes into a freezer bag and freeze. We find it best to take the finished cakes out right before you plan to use them and allow thawing about half way through. Letting the cake thaw completely seems to make a softer lower grade product.
Let us know in the comments how this method goes for you. Remember to identify correctly the plant used or have someone knowledgeable in herbal medicine assist you.
As with most of North America, we cannot produce tempeh in the traditional manor. Traditional tempeh is a mix of cooked soybeans inoculated with the proper spore starter. The inoculated tempe mixture is wrapped in fresh banana leaves to ferment outside for a day or two.
Here in the USA, it is common use plastic bags with perforated with holes for fermenting the soy cakes; however, this is not following traditional ways or sustainable methods. The following experiment, brought about by looking for an alternative, is as follows: …
Experiment #: Tempe1012AB274 –
Alternative Sources for Tempeh Fermentation
Equipment Used: Dehulled split soybeans, tempeh spores, burdock leaves, common kitchen and lab utensils and glassware.
– Experiment started via the standard tempeh recipe found on our organic-cultures.com website. Once soy beans are cooked and processed, the steps changed from placing tempeh mixture in perforated plastic bags to encasing the spore inoculated soy beans in a sustainable and eco-friendly wrapping.
– Cakes then wrapped in fresh burdock leaf. Found single layer of leaf material breaks and needs more holding strength. Some blanch the burdock leaves; in this case, we did not. Used two to three leaves placed opposed to each other. Proper amount of tempe spore soybean mixture placed within leaf ‘basket’. Secure with toothpicks or bamboo. Amount of mixture can very due to size of leaves, however, for better fermentation times use around
a 1/3 cup or 4 oz/ 113gr per leaf.
– Fermented cakes for 29 hours at 75 degrees F on breathable rack lightly covered with layer of plastic film to keep moisture in. Cakes need air circulation but not enough to dry out. Cover with additional layers of burdock leaves for future testing.
– Extra mixture placed in glass baking tray vs. plastic bags, mixture pressed down to better inoculate soybeans and covered lightly with plastic wrap. Within same time frame as above, soybeans showed complete growth with pure white ‘fuzzy’ growth on top of the soy beans. This method seemed faster for quick use or where a sliced ‘cake’ packaged in plastic bags, is not desired. Allows easier mixing of a sauce or marinade with the fermented tempeh. In our test, we mixed the tempeh with BBQ sauce, pressed into cakes, battered and deep fried. Not the healthiest tempeh recipe it is a great vegan substitution for meat!
With a cultured dipping sauce, it makes a very nice appetizer or snack.
Traditionally, brewing and maintaining kombucha mushroom culture required black tea and a sugar source. There are reasons for using black tea that aid in the longevity of the cultures vitality by working as a nutrient solution.
When using herbal teas or plants to brew kombucha tea mushroom cultures the concern lays is the amount of volatile oils contained within the plant in question. Using herbs, plants, or flavored traditional teas with high amounts of volatile oils may affect the growth of the Kombucha culture. An example of a tea not to use would be peppermint tea. Also, avoid herbal or flavored teas that contain high amount of bitters. The benefits of using medicinal herbs when preparing kombucha tea can greatly enhance the beneficial properties of the kombucha tea tonic.
A great old time Kombucha recipe, from Russia, is an alternative to traditional black tea is dried rose hips, dried elderberries, and a sugar source. This is a very old traditional recipe as both ingredients could be gathered in most areas with very low cost, if any, compared to imported tea, which only the wealthy could afford.
Teas NOT recommended for brewing kombucha tea, include but are not limited to: Sage, peppermint, St. John’s Wort, chamomile flower, ginger root, or plants
within the pepper family.
Herbs Safe to Use for Brewing:
Aniseed, young blackberry or raspberry leaf and berry, chicory root, club moss, dandelion, elder flowers and berries, fennel, hibiscus flower, nettle leaf, oat straw. In addition, Rooibos tea (red bush tea), plantain leaf, rose hips common, yerba maté leaf, and valerian root.
NOTES on Fresh Plant/Herbs: First, use low oil teas, Google herbal sites for complete listing. One draw back to using herbal tea is that they contain more wild yeast spores over green or black tea. This may contaminate the kombucha cultures; on the other hand, the wild yeast may assist in producing a fizzier beverage. This happens by introducing more yeast into the brewing vessel. The draw back is that you have no control over what type of yeast you introduce. In short, there may be a higher chance of contaminating your kombucha mushroom cultures by using herbal teas or plants. Use a backup culture for experiments! To prevent contamination, make sure your pH readings are within the proper range.
Today someone searching to buy kefir grains on the web will find many sites selling ‘living’ kefir or dried/dehydrated kefir grains. For someone new to food culturing there are many questions…, What is the best source to buy kefir? What type of grains do I need? Where to get the best grains?
There are two types of kefir that one can buy, Milk kefir grains, which are a naturally occurring organism originating in the Caucasus or water kefir grains from Meso-America. Of the two, the live fresh active grains are the best buy for your money and time. However, both types offer benefits unique each to itself.
The fresh kefir grains re-balance quickly and begin producing drinkable pro-biotic kefir within just a few days of arriving after shipment. This is an excellent option if you live within the USA and are able to attend to them immediately.
If you are either
a) not located within the U.S. or
b) not able to attend to the fresh grains immediately upon arrival, then dried kefir grains are the best option for you.
These will take longer to activate – about a week or so to ‘wake up’ and adjust the balance to where they are producing a drinkable kefir beverage. This is a great option if the grains will be in transit internationally, since they are in a dormant stage and will not degrade or less likely to be damaged over the fresh grains. This also gives you the option to stick the dried grains in your cupboard or refrigerator if you receive them, but, are not ready to use them (or want to hang onto them as a backup source or a gift to give). Water kefir grains are known to sometimes be difficult to revive from a dried state (or just takes a long time) in some cases. Usually it’s hard to put the blame on any one thing, they just tend to be more fragile and pickier than milk kefir grains.
Below are a list of companies and websites that sell different kefir grain starters. Below is information from the company’s website pages on kefir:
From their website…“These kefir grains are real grains maintained on organic milk. Unlike the pre-packaged kefir starters, such as Cultures for Health, Helios, or Body Ecology, that you may find on other sites or selling in retail stores, these are the real living grains of the kefir culture. Our kefir grains are ready for use out of the packet, no failed productions or waiting several rounds for the kefir grains (milk or water types) to become ‘active’ again. You will not find our strains of kefir grains in any store! These grains will last a lifetime with proper care. Our Kefir Cultures are Always Live & Fresh…Never Dried & Dehydrated.”
Benefits: Five different kefir types to choose from, plus many other food cultures. Fresh, active culture starters, organic grown, kefir is ready to use from the package and a first batch of kefir is ready within 24 to 48 hours. A 100% replacement guarantee, if the cultures are not viable.
Drawbacks: Not able to ship to international destinations (but for Canada) due to fresh raw nature of culture starters.
From their website…”Contains 6 packets that can be used an average of 7 times each. Six tablespoons of previous batch will ferment 1 quart of liquid.”
Benefits: Convenience and great for short time usage,
Drawbacks: Isolated lab grown cultures, repurchase required, limited usage. Invest in real kefir grains for long term usage.
From their website…”Yogourmet kefir starter is prepared from selected strains of dairy cultures and yeast as well as kefir grains, so that each batch you make produces excellent quality kefir. Yogourmet kefir starter does not require the use of a yogurt maker, since the milk is incubated at room temperature for about 24 hours. Each box contains 3 envelopes of 2 X 5 grams and each envelope makes 2 liters of kefir”.
Benefits: Convenience and great for short time usage,
Drawbacks: Isolated lab grown cultures, repurchase required, limited usage. Invest in real kefir grains for long term use.
From their website…”Putting a bottle of Lifeway Kefir in your hand just makes so much sense. It allows you to be proactive about your health, filling your digestive system with friendly bacteria. Lifeway Kefir is also loaded with nutritious ingredients.”
Benefits: Convenience in a ready to go drink and great for short time usage or when traveling,
Drawbacks: High price, isolated lab grown cultures, extra packaging, and limited pro-biotic content.
From their website…”Our milk kefir grains are shipped in a dehydrated state in a barrier-sealed packet. Upon receipt, the dairy grains can be rehydrated in fresh milk (this process usually takes 5 to 7 days) and then used to make kefir by adding the grains to fresh milk, stirring, covering, and leaving at room temperature until the desired consistency is reached.”
Benefits: Cultures are cheap to buy, due to mass production. Great for shipping to countries outside the USA.
Drawbacks: No moneyback or return policy. Small packet of lab produced and dried starter culture, leaving little room for error. Must rehydrate the grains before use, wasting milk and time. Dehydrated grains may not reactivat depending on the shelflife.
Each type of starter has it’s own benefits depending on what and how the cultures are to be shipped or transported. This is a final note on food cultures…”Buying or obtaining the freshest kefir or other starter cultures, one can, will assist in producing the best cultured and viable product. I suggest fresh culture over dried/dehydrated if possible.”, Nirinjan Singh, Director – Organic-cultures.com
“Hi, I’m new to making Kombucha and I have a concern about bottling KT after the second ferment. I have read on many sites that there’s a chance the bottle can explode from carbonation buildup and that …I should be very careful. So how do I be very careful? Moreover, is that really a concern? I see on your site that you do not mention it when explaining how to bottle KT. Is that only a concern after the second ferment?”