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.

Leftover grains bread made with fresh yeast

Red Bhutan rice and green bamboo rice congee bread made with fresh yeast

Four days, twice frozen bread. One baked in a cast iron kettle, the other a traditional loaf pan. The results were amazing.

I got some fresh yeast at Fairway the other day. Its really cornstarch and yeast (the Fleischman brand). I think it’s a much better yeast to use with sweet or dairy or egg heavy breads and when making huge, fluffy sweet challahs. Restaurants and bakeries on the Lower East Side of New York used it a lot. In any case I think its the same distinction as between the red version of Saf-Instant yeast and the Gold Label Saf-Instant yeast. Most people will use the red version of the Saf-Instant which can turn out a very fast high rising bread. The Gold may take a little longer to rise but is the yeast I would use if baking anything sweet, breads with cheese or eggs.

We all know that sugar can actually really mess yeast up, right? So instead of listening to people (and professional bakers complain) say that it was taking forever for their sweet dairy based breads to rise the Gold Label Saf-Instant was released. Any yeast including either the Red or Gold can be left in the freezer or refrigerator until needed. You can order them online, including usually for far less through Amazon than King Arthur for example, than buying them in a store. I think that fresh yeast is a very special thing, however. It rarely over ferments or acts sluggish if you keep dough a little on the warm side (Use milk, water or any liquid at 110 or even a little hotter to start things off then add the eggs, farmers cheese, butter etc. when its already clearly active).

If you get jammed for time punch it down and throw in refrigerator or even freeze and the dough will come back slowly and really taste good. Its also great for making holiday related fermented drinks like meads, fermented fruit drinks or beers, etc which you could get away with doing because who knew you were doing anything other than baking? We’ll talk about making some really wildly flavored frozen vodkas with the stuff from leftover potato cooking water and solids, leftover buckwheat groats and a few other ingredients.

Before leaving Saturday night we’d throw some fresh yeast cakes and the potato water and leftover groats some fresh yeast cakes and a few handfuls of whole wheat flour together and put it into a 20 gallon stainless steel container with lid that the butchers liked to use. Then before anyone said something early Sunday morning we’d mix it together really well and put half under the dishwashers where it was always warm and mix the other half up with buckwheat flour, eggs and salt and just start cranking out hundreds of blinis. People either ate these pancakes with sour cream, different types of caviar, fresh dill and chopped onions or they ordered them with maple syrup or fresh fruit based things we had made.

One of the morning cooks would take a half glass of the stuff before we added anything and add some mashed fruits to it. In two hours she would start drinking the stuff and gladly cook non-stop for the next ten hours at L’Hermitage, an imperial Russian restaurant (food designed by Escoffier and Czar Peter) in Boston that I was the Executive Chef of for a few years. The pumpernickel bread was made outside and delivered in huge paper bags every Sunday morning as well. It was the best bread I had ever eaten. You could refrigerate those for at least a week and heat them in the bread warmer about an hour before needed and the bread would be even better.

Although when they delivered those one chef would stuff the driver with food and the rest of us would eat about a half pound of cold butter with a loaf or two. You can still buy Orwasher’s raisin pumpernickel in their New York City store. A slow ferment and the right freshly ground flours and oven (use a cast iron or enamel crock) and you can make it as well. It’s not a very sour bread either.

Next I’ll describe what a bakery that uses slow ferments does with fresh yeast and a two to three hour rise to oven every day. Great bakers typically will only use yeast when they are on a tight production schedule and then have to get stuff out there instead of going bankrupt.

Sandor Katz and Dosas

Sandor Katz and Dosas Sandor Katz’s book, The Art of Fermentation ( has lots on idli and dosa. Here’s a presentation along with lots of other ones on from Sandorkraut!