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

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!


Winter Ferment – Fennel KimChi


Spying some really great looking fennel in the organic section of the market we decided to make a few types of kimchi this week. In the first one we cut the long stems off of the fennel and set them aside. We then mixed the fronds and the 6 fennel bulbs and a big yellow onion with lots of salt to draw out the brine and get it ready to suck up the the other seasonings. In less than 30 minutes it was already smelling really goodand lots of brine was being released.


So we proceeded to chop up some carrots, scrubbed but unpeeled daikon radish and several really big fat scallions into big chunks.


We mixed them lightly with a little of the salty fennel and onion brine, omitting the sugar that is often used when doing a ferment with daikon. That started producing brine very quickly.


We made a purée of garlic cloves, lots of fresh, organic, unpeeled ginger, some red pepper flakes another yellow onion and a small amount of cooked steel cut oats (instead of a traditional rice paste).


The fennel and onion mixture was well drained (but not rinsed) and the brine was saved. We threw the fennel and onions in with the carrot, daikon, scallions in their brine. It was pressed down overnight by putting another bowl into the bowl the mix was in and covering it to prevent any flies, insects or an overwhelming smell. By 24 hours it was already a little bubbly and tasted great so we packed it in jars and put a parchment top on it with a rubber band because it was going to stay out at room temperature for a few days.  Of course we checked the pan that we put the jars in and at 48 hours both large jars had lost fluid. This is why we always take the leftover brine when we first make a ferment it and let that ferment separately.


Then we packed the vegetable part of the ferment down very well to remove air and make it look pretty. Each jar got a pretty heavy (about one pound) glass disk directly on top of the brine covered vegetables which kept the kimchi very well packed and wet but not swimming in brine. We the screwed wide mouth mason jar lids with plastic washers tightly on them and let them sit out another day.


Just a tiny bit of leakage so we threw a few big crystals of sea salt on top after pushing everything down again and sealed them tightly. They hung out in the refrigerator for about 10 days. We then tasted them again. Perfect. So we packed them back up and in about a month we’ll just start going at them! What did we do with all the saved, released and extra brine? Tell you in a little. The next huge crock vegetable ferment couldn’t wait: a root vegetable extravaganza that we thought we just would never be to our liking. We were so wrong!