What a long strange trip it’s been.

IMG_2198The first interview ever with Chef Ken Fornataro on Brooklyn Heritage Radio. The last 50 years of his life including stories about everything from making beef sake to wild, Russian ferments, fish miso, sourdough bread and baking to hishio, jiangs, tamari, five element Chinese philosophy and the transformative processes of life, the ActUp years, microbiology, Erewhon, Aveline and Michio Kushi, the soyinfocenter created by William Shurtleff and colleagues and culturesgroup. Three books in process – and why they are important.IMG_5165


culturesgroup

Tseukemono • Nukazuke • Miso • Sake • Tempeh • Mirin • Koji 麹 • Fermentation • Culture • Tamari • Preservation • Soybeans • Cheese • Cultures • Fish • Amazake • Wood • Milk Kefir • Raw Milk • Microbiology • Microbiome • Wild Yeasts • Consultation • Natto • Food History • Kimchee • Recipe Testing • Whole Grains • Sourdough

culturesgroup’s mission is to educate, support, preserve, research and share culture through traditional food preparation, gathering, farming and fishing, preservation and fermentation, and how individuals and societies survive, communicate, celebrate, address illness and health, and enhance their lives through food and water.

• To educate, share and collaborate with individuals, educators, businesses and students through e-books, printed materials, videos, photos, presentations and conferences

• Microbiology (especially Aspergillum) and lactobacillus – To create resources and training opportunities in the use of aspergillum cultures and lactobacillus through food microbiology, safety and history

• To document, celebrate, and market regional and ethnic cultures, foods and practices

• Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian and Indian fermentation research and education (including the study of Kanji)

• Probiotics, Dysbiosis, Dysphagia – To assist and support individuals of any age to deal with symbiosis, dysphagia and PEG and Tube feeding with enhanced taste, nutritional value, and provide a solid scientific output of reliable information on pre and probiotics.

We actively solicit donors, patrons and sponsors, and collaborations with other groups, organizations, institutions, artisans, small businesses and corporations for one or more of our programs. Our extensive network of consultants, educators, presenters, writers and communicators donate their services (pro bono), but are encouraged to present and promote whatever they are working on including their products or services.

Donations are accepted but not tax deductible at this point.

If you would like to be interviewed about your work, or have a product you want us to review or know contact us. Because our goal is to assist and support the members that work in our field, our policy is not to publish or communicate negative feedback publicly.

http://www.culturesgroup.net
E-mail: culturesgroup@earthlink.net
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Twitter: @culturesgroup
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http://www.culturesgroup.net

Fiery Ferments

We won’t even try to say we didn’t already love our friends Kirsten and Christopher Shockey of ferment.works (National Tour Dates) but getting this book has been the best thing that has happened in the last year.

This is a really good basic cookbook and primer on fermentation for professional chefs, cooks, farmers, fermenters, and institutions like libraries, schools, and community centers that would greatly benefit from what this book includes. It’s way more than about hot sauce.

Kirsten and Christopher Shockey bring something that makes this book a real treasure for professional chefs, cooks and food lovers whether they are working from a home or local farm community: they have actually made the things in this book before and they detail every step that takes place. In some cases that can be up to a year! Fear not, though, They and the people that created this work know us well enough to provide some quick recipes and some clever workarounds.

The introduction by one of our long time heroines Darra Goldstein is enough for us to snap any book up. But we already loved the Shockey’s last book as much as we loved Professor Goldstein’s books (obviously the ones on Russian and Georgian foods as well as Cured. We love that this book includes reference to some of the lactofermented foods we’ll include in our in progress book, Sour Russian (2019), but that’s just a few of some truly unique recipes.

Kirsten’s Banana Story following a recipe for fried bananas with a pineapple habanero syrup tells you where she comes from, and the underlying celebration of culture and living that is as wonderful and bracing for multiple reasons in the recipes for hot ferments, pepper facts, and spice lore.

If you don’t like fire you could substitute any hot pepper with a sweet one, or even a semi-dried cucumber or zucchini when your garden demands you do so. The fact that the book brings a probiotic, lactofermented approach to many classics and some really cool inventions at the same time demonstrates a belief we chefs, fermenters, and health conscious people believe. Eat locally, sustainably and real food with nutrient rich quality whenever you can.

Fermentation as preservation is one of the ways that can be accomplished. It’s the ultimate lagniappe of eating great tasting food! Want some great ideas on how to make tempeh, tofu, grains, toast and even homemade sausages explode with flavor? It’s in this book that is also available a a paperback or Kindle book at Amazon and all these places!

The peppers and spice background and technique sections would have made this book indispensable without a single recipe. But if spicy food is your thing the Extinguishing the Fire in the Sauces chapter – another brilliant reference section for any chef or fermenter – is the most useful thing you’ll read on the subject. Because unless you are in a professional, well equipped kitchen you won’t be able to stick you head in a vat of frozen, syrupy vodka in a walk in freezer.

This also seems to be the year of rhubarb the vegetable and super pickle especially chutney ingredient. Their rhubarb or cucumber achar recipes are absolutely thrilling. The absolute best step by step recipe on how to make gochujang we’ve ever read – a riff on Emily Kim’s @maangchi recipe from her book – as well as a clever 2 to 3 week hot fix very similar to an old style Chinese fermented wheat paste based sauce.

There is so much more. It’s just the right time of the year in the US to get ready to eat and enjoy! Buy this book now! It’s truly one of those rare books that chefs and home cooks will have on hand and at hand for years to come.

Reviewed by Chef Ken Fornataro of culturesgroup.net

Miso Making with 麹

So we finally got some assistance on our three most important projects! The researching, writing and publishing of our first three books: Sour Russian, Swallow and Fish 麹 . Yes, of course we would still welcome dedicated volunteers to assist us! We need lawyers and fundraisers and social media assistance and research and writing help!

There are also quite a few people we would like to interview for all three of our publications. But there is now a co-author with Chef Ken Fornataro for Sour Russian, and several new dedicated volunteers to the team. That’s a big deal.

Our second book that we hope to introduce at the Berkshire Fermentation Festival, Fish 麹, is perhaps the most research and microbiology oriented. But the objective of this book is to not only make chefs and cooks and others comfortable with making and using koji for various purposes but also to feel well equipped with an accurate microbiological background for what they are doing.

There are quite a few new Aspergillum oryzae A.orzae experts expounding on the internet that have very little scientific knowledge. We are working to provide the definitive guide to koji (麹) and fish but always welcome trained scientists or interested students!

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So follow us here or anywhere @culturesgroup and volunteer if you like.

どうぞありがとございます!And help us learn Japanese (nihongo)!

IMG_8878 Two year old miso opened for the first time in a year. Fish 麹 Looking good! Ready at the end of summer!

Junmaidaiginjo tane-koji

We wanted to see what would happen if we tried to make this small portion of a very large batch of koji made from extremely polished rice (78% of the bran and outer layer removed) which is 1% more than the absolutely brilliant Dassai 23. Started to sporulate but don’t yet know what will happen since we are testing different humidity and temperatures. So if any koji makers out there are reading what temperature would you try to sporulate at? Have you ever tried with extremely polished rice?

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Goat Milk Kefir

At the recent NYC Fermentation Festival we samples some of our goat milk kefir. Singly pasteurized goat milk is available at a price at places such as Whole Foods. You can also buy raw goat’s milk if you are in a state the allows people to purchase raw milks from quality controlled, typically small family farms that know very well how to prevent contamination and diseases. Although goat’s aren’t breeding as much as when the Spring comes around some farms have a year-round goat breeding scheduled to make it available.

Our milk kefir grains are over a decade old. The amount we  need to make a gallon of milk is about a teaspoon. In 4 to 5 hours and several vigorous shakes and burping along the way the kefir is just about to start separating out. At that point we strain the grains or SCOBYs out and start the second fermentation.

Second Fermentation or 2F is very important for the development of key nutrients, as well as the ongoing reduction of lactose. The bacteria and yeasts in milk kefir love the milk sugar lactose. As the eat over time they produce byproducts the flavor and unlock the vitamins. They will eventually make the kefir a bit more sour.

Our 2F process usually  involves adding either a sugar source (raisins, dried figs, dried apples, fresh berries, andimg_3228 even fruit juice or raw sugar) and perhaps raw fruits, spices, herbs or vegetables. For example a 2F kefir with garlic, mint, pre-salted cucumbers, scallions and celery seeds is a great drink.

After 4 or 5 hours – unless it’s really cold – your kefir is done and it can be refrigerated. It will last at least few a weeks refrigerated, but burp then shake once a day and drink it when you can. Store your grains in good milk in the fridge. The grains like to be used frequently, especially with raw or singly pasteurized milk.

At the New York City fermentation festival we brought a gallon of a raisin, cardamom raw goat milk kefir. It was well received. We just finished making a few more gallons.

Grilled broccoli with fermented garlic and cultured butter

Broccoli is a great vegetable. We peeled some and cut it up into large pieces including the stems. In a cast iron skillet heated until very hot we added some high temperature sunflower oil and really seared the broccoli. Then we added slivers of fermented garlic and some toasted walnut oil and some sea salt. Covered until just tender we added some cultured butter (cultured with kefir grains). If you want to serve as a main dish or a full vegetable course add chopped well roasted walnuts and a little extra butter or olive oil in place of the butter and a dab of umeboshi paste.