Corn Koji

Corn in the process of being inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae or koji (こうじー麹) It’s a pretty high maintenance process. The corn is not nixtamalized for this go around. This will be ground into masa or made into miso or a dessert. Hopefully a book will be ready by an upcoming forum.

Finished corn koji needs to be quickly used, or chilled down and dried

When we make corn based horchata we typically nixtamalize the corn with which we make corn amasake, our horchata base, but not the koji. In a pinch you could use rice or oat koji. We always sour some out to a pulque type drink using some thick cooking water and yeast.

Home after a very long journey with a cold corn cooking liquid based Khao Mahk, a fermented Thai dessert (or beverage when we make it). No rice in this version, though.

After soaking the corn, and other grains, we typically pressure steam large amounts in an 8 quart steamer. Why such a small steamer? We reuse the steaming water until the final water is almost a thickened sauce. Many of the things you can do with this corny, carbohydrate rich liquid will surprise you. There are several recipes in the book.

Corn koji sporulating at day four

Ginger kojizuke

We decided to take all our organic ginger and do a classic fermentation japanese style with salt, a special sugar and sake lees. We still haven’t gotten the vegetables we’re going to layer between all this yet, but maybe we will just make some pickled gari or sushi style ginger for fattier fish.

The recipe and description of fermenting and pickling with koji will be in our upcoming book series, The Book of 麹 – こうじ or Koji. It’s not an all Japanese oriented book series although we honor the incredible contributions to the field of over a thousand years of Japanese innovation and research while providing relevant and useful recipes.

We are still very much in need of people that can translate kanji into English (from Japanese, Chinese, etc.) and English into Japanese or Chinese. We are a not-for-profit organization so there is no money in it yet but we can most definitely make it worth your while if the honor and prestige of sharing thousands of years of brilliant Asian culture does not meet your needs.

If you are interested please e-mail ありがとうございます!


Fermentation on wheels gave a presentation yesterday to a packed house yesterday in New York City. Today, Tara – that girl with the cat that drives the fermentation bus throughout the country empowering people to take control of the food they eat and where it comes from – is giving another presentation tonight February 8, 2015 in Brooklyn New York. (see for details). Check Tara’s website to see where she is next scheduled to be. Here the recent article in the New York Times Fermentation on Wheels Bus

Before getting into the specifics of all the different kinds of cultures she brought for participants to take home and try she laid out her philosophy. It’s yet another reason why we support her. TheKabochaFactory special ferments.

“I drive a mobile creative project, also known as an old converted old bus, equipped with a fermentation lab and workshop space. It’s my tool to inspire people to live more simply and sustainably, as well as encourage people to prepare their own food: a strong point being to get back in the kitchen and better nourish ourselves. When we do we bring more richness to our lives. It helps build community, health & wonder.

Thriving communities realize the interconnectedness of food, health, and education. If we don’t have access to good food and the education to prepare it then how will we have the energy and mental capacity to discover new alternative energy systems or think up the next Google. Our current factory-based food system is a system destined to crash & burn: it destroys our planet, it disregards the sacredness of us as living things, an ecosystem – whether it be plant, animal, or microbe – and it desensitizes us to the amazing array of flavors we can experience.

We will have the materials we need to stay healthy if we join forces with people who are growing & making good food. Not only do these people help individuals, but they are helping the earth in their care of the land. Our planet needs all the help it can get right now and it must start with us.

I’m trying to show people there is a way to refuse the flawed food, health & education systems. There are alternatives ways to live. There are other ways to get and make the foods our bodies crave, to stay robust — and I’m here to educate & support people in that journey.”

Tara spoke about Kombucha, a tea fungus and sugar based fermented beverage that was once a marginal beverage in the United States but which now sells billions of dollars worth of bottles made by so many different companies that wherever you live you can probably by the local brew if you like. You can order SCOBYs (symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast) to throw into the tea of your choice along with some type of sugar and preferably a little bit from a previous batch. Get them online from Cultures for Health,Organic Cultures, or even Amazon which sells kombucha SCOBYs from all over the country from an incredibly diverse group of brewers. We recommend either asking a friend for a SCOBY, getting one from a local group such as a meet-up such as New York City Ferments or joining one of many social networking groups where members exchange cultures and often discuss techniques.




Also, if you happened to be in San Francisco for Valentine’s Day you can catch Sandor Ellix Katz or go to his website for some really cool opportunities, including an Advanced Fermentation Residency Program with Sandor Ellix Katz in Liberty,TN. Sandor’s traveling schedule is also posted here.

Part 2 tomorrow!


Making Preserved Citrus – Key Limes with Vanilla Pod and Cinnamon

So instead of making our yuzu or Buddhas Fingers or mixed ume or hard apricot and lemon preserves we used several dozens key limes with a spice combination used earlier for a water kefir. We made a kind of clear jam for the second ferment for the water kefir but In this case we used a vanilla bean ( which of course is itself fermented), cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, salts and some fragrant seeds. Here are some pictures





So how would you use these organically grown preserved limes in cooking? Well, you don’t actually have to cook them at all. Just a little juice is an amazing addition to a marinade with shio-koji for example. A piece of lamb, beef, chicken or even oily fish like mackerel or line caught sea fish that is marinated then grilled over hot coals or broiled or roasted in an oven becomes spectacular. We made a hot soba noodle dish with an intense dashi of Maine kombu, some glace de poulet, tamari from a miso we are making and one half of a very finely minced up lime from a previous batch and it truly was an umami assault.

Each bowl was finished with a teaspoon of the lime liquid and some chopped fresh seaweed we deep fried with some scallions and green shiso leaves.


We finished it off with a slow baked egg, milk kefir, maple syrup, fresh ginger flan we made and served with a fermented maple syrup and ginger sauce. Then back to our mochi experimentation!




Oats and Grains: Magic of Koji!

Koji,usually in the form of rice inoculated with a culture, can make an amazing array of things. Here, we’re talking about amazake, a kind of very quick, very lightly fermented sweet drink. If you heat it up gently after it is done turning the carbohydrates of your whole grains into simple sugars while greatly increasing both the digestibility and the availability of the vitamins, minerals, and proteins, you can then either throw it in the fridge or use as a sweetener right away.

Leftover or freshly cooked brown or even white (any kind really) rice can be used here. I like the oat version, especially with fresh or dried cranberries (organic, unsulfured) or raisins, and some coconut. You can just use rice, or oats, or wheat.

Wash 250 grams of steel cut oats very well. Just keep washing them until they run clear water. Then you can rinse off with some water you will cook them in, about 800 gms. Add up to 2 grams cooked brown rice (or whatever kind) and 50 gms cranberries (1/3 cup packed) or raisins or no fruit at all, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened, organic dried coconut. Cook very slowly in a dutch oven that has a lid. Skim frequently!

After about fifteen minutes turn off heat, cover and let cool down to 120 degrees. Add 1/4 cup or 45 gms brown rice organic Koji or whatever kind of Kojio you have and mix very well. Cover again and either stick in warm (not at all hot oven just like for yogurt) or wrap in a blanket or towel and let sit for at least 4 hours. Stir once if you like, replacing lid quickly and putting back in warm place. Please make sure your oven is clean and free from burnt on grease smells.

After about 8 hours you can either very gently reheat to a very low temp and eat with some raw honey or regular or strained kefir or cultured butter or maple syrup. Or just eat it as is. Or add chopped fresh fruits and toasted seeds or nuts. This is a salt free version. Instead of the Koji you could add live, unpasteurized mellow white miso (maybe 2 TB at most) or even half the amount of an older miso. If you do that either grate a little fresh ginger in there or chop up a tablespoon of candied organic ginger.

Once chilled, I take two firm, sweet apples (washed well, quartered and cored), a cup of goat or cow kefir (or coconut or grain milk ferments) or even strained yogurt, a cup of ice or frozen yogurt or Kefir or whey cubes, and two TBS raw honey and put in blender until smooth but not too thin and still cold. That’s an easy, great breakfast. If you use one or two bananas forget the honey.

I might also toast a lot of bread and eat with some kraut or kimchi butter or a version of natto miso (see recipe for chick pea, azuki, barley, Kombu, ginger, barley malt, and Koji miso next week). I often also make raisin bread or cookies with this mix, which just keeps improving in flavor in the refrigerator. The amount described here will last you ten days at best. Two days in this place.

“Je suis roi de Gonesse et d’Ay” – Wild Fermentation and French Old Regime Bread Pastry and Sweets

Henry IV de Navarre, “Je suis roi de Gonesse et d”Ay”! In 1711 Louis Liger writing in “Le Ménage des champs” mentioned that the recipes for Pain de Gonesse that depended on either spontaneous leaven or very fresh beer yeast could not be made in Paris as opposed to Gonesse because their quality depended on the local water (i.e the local microbes) in the air, water, soil and most definitely on the grains themselves. (English Bread and Yeast Cookery, by Elizabeth David, “Notes on French Bread”)

Bread, Pastry and Sweets in Old Regime France

Pierre Jean-Baptiste Le Grand d’Aussy Jim Chevallier discusses a great many things that once existed that should be reclaimed. Now. You’d think the French would be all for making sure that living of their spectacular contributions to the world history would continue to exist. This is an exciting book that should challenge them to get on it. From the description

Le Grand d’Aussy traces French bread history from the first Tameliers and Fourniers to the Boulangers whose bread evolved from a simple boule to the pains mollet of the seventeenth century and the long breads which already began to replace round breads in the eighteenth century. Along the way he looks at the different types of bread, typically made from wheat, and also the other grains and even other products which were used to make bread.

He then presents the history of French pastry, which began, essentially, as meat pies and other foods cooked in pastry before evolving into a dizzying array of tarts, wafers, nieules, ratons, cassemuseaux, flans, rissoles, beignets, marzipan and other treats.

This leads naturally enough into the subject of sweets, of various spices and fruits preserved in sugar and honey, sweet pastes, nougat, macaroons and other treats sometimes eaten after dinner and sometimes all through the day.

Along the way, as always, Le Grand draws in a rich variety of older sources, studding his inventories of facts with colorful anecdotes. The result is itself a rich box of tasty treats.

Wild fermentation and wild yeast were most definitely a part of what is described in the above book that I just bought as an e-Book. Ironically, I was reading this book that I added just a small excerpt from Dr. Martin below because they definitely express the cultural arrogance (“diseases” in beer and “infected yeasts”) and condescension unfortunately still pretty much supported by science and the industries that so often manipulate, direct, and oppress science determined to be unimportant to their corporate interests. We can discuss just how many times the results from research studies that don’t put a research sponsor’s product in good light never make it into the public spotlight that is the only place that anyone can ever honestly say their work is real or honest or even ethical, or the fact that a whole lot of what is pronounced as science is creative writing produced by ghosts.

(Google Books – Industrial and Manufacturing Chemistry, G.Martin See Chapter: FERMENTATION INDUSTRIES I.— FERMENTS, ENZYMES, BACTERIA, MOULDS, YEAST, Etc. By G. Martin, Ph.D., M.Sc. with a description ) Other Yeasts. — Saccharomyces pyriformis (Marshall Ward) produces alcoholic fermentation of English ginger beer. Used in conjunction with the ” ginger-beer ” plant, Bacterium vermiforme. Saccharomyces matt, Du Clauxi, Kayser, from cider, ferments invert sugar and produces esters (bouquet). Schizosaccharomyces pomhe, the yeast in pombe (Negro millet beer), ferments dextrose ; used in South American distilleries; Schizosaccharo myces me/tacei, in Jamaica rum.

(b) Wild Yeasts The ” wild ” yeasts occur free in nature ; they are not cultivated systematically like ordinary brewery or distillery yeasts, usually because they possess unpleasant characteristics and, indeed, often set up various ” diseases ” in beer, or affect the fermenting power of infected yeasts. Thus S. pastorian vs I. produces a bitter taste in beer, while S. pastori- anus III. produces cloudiness. They occur as sausage-shaped cells. Saccharomyces ellipsoideus II., Hansen, is a dangerous disease yeast for breweries, causing turbidity.

The ” Kahm ” yeasts (Kahm He/e), e.g., Mycoderma cerevisice and vini, consisting of round or elongated cells, form a skin on the surface of the fermenting liquor. They require oxygen ; and can produce from sugar a small percentage of alcohol, but usually oxidise the alcohol directly to CD2 and water, with the rapid absorption of oxygen. S. cxiguus (from compressed yeast) ferments monosaccharides and cane sugar, but not maltose. S. apicula/us also ferments only monosac charides. Both are useless for the brewery. S. ilicis (bottom yeast) and S. ai/ni/blii, Gronland, produce a bitter and disagreeable taste in worts. S. membranit/aciens, Hansen, found in wines and polluted waters. Generates acids from sugar. Propagates in presence of 12 per cent, alcohol. Destroys the bouquet of wines. Certain Moulds also possess the power of fermenting sugar, e.g., Afttcor racemosus (see under Moulds).”

I got some actual ginger beer plant the other day from the wilds of Utah ( and it’s doing quite well so far but what is “Negro Millet Beer” as mentioned in Dr. Martin’s Book? Go directly to the source: Sandor Ellix Katz’s “The Art of Fermentation”, Chapter 9: Fermenting Beers and Other Grain-Based Alcoholic beverages for a better idea about Wild Yeast Beers and both wild or cultured ferments for breads, beverages and just about anything else. It’s most likely Tonga. Amazing the things you can find in the US today as the movement to reclaim traditional practices of fermentation, farming and existing (Sandor calls us Cultural Revivalists) are in as pitched a battle against homogeneity (dominance of one strain) and the elimination of everything that might get in the way of tax revenues or corporate interests as are the microbes in the Dead Sea. Every type and variation of Curd and Kurd is a treasure that we cannot let be destroyed as quickly (or at all) despite the ongoing destruction local fermentation practices and cultures by warring religions, corporations, and tribes.

“Only the wild strain of fermenting nature,…”

“Is this everything now, the quick delusions of flowers,
And the down colors of the bright summer meadow,
The soft blue spread of heaven, the bees’ song,
Is this everything only a god’s
Groaning dream,
The cry of unconscious powers for deliverance?
The distant line of the mountain,
That beautifully and courageously rests in the blue,
Is this too only a convulsion,
Only the wild strain of fermenting nature,
Only grief, only agony, only meaningless fumbling,
Never resting, never a blessed movement?
No! Leave me alone, you impure dream
Of the world in suffering!
The dance of tiny insects cradles you in an evening radiance,
The bird’s cry cradles you,
A breath of wind cools my forehead
With consolation.
Leave me alone, you unendurably old human grief!
Let it all be pain.
Let it all be suffering, let it be wretched-
But not this one sweet hour in the summer,
And not the fragrance of the red clover,
And not the deep tender pleasure
In my soul.”

Translated by James Wright
Hermann Hesse