Archives for posts with tag: Bacteria

Not necessarily! I’m getting old, and it looks dire for a lot of other species in the near future, but my friends, the good old bacteria, will go on thriving forever it seems. 

Todays sauerkraut.


One jar has home grown chili mixed in. 

After a day, the rejuvenating starter was doing great, bubbling and smelling fruity and yeasty, so I added more rye flour and warm water, a deciliter of each.

A day later again.

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The smell and consistency are perfect. It’s up to full strength, so tomorrow I must make some bread and then the starter will be kept in the refrigerator.

Making brown rice koji is much more difficult than polished rice koji. More often than not I have failed. I thought I should try again when I noticed a bag of ecologically grown brown rice that looked like it might work (Italian, long grain). I washed and soaked 750 grams, which is less than usual but easier to manage. I then broke up and inoculated the rice with the same tane koji I use for the other rice cultures.

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I put it into the terracotta trays.

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Then into the heat chamber as usual.

After the first day growing, the smell seemed ‘off’ – as if a bacteria growth was going to take over and cause a bad culture that would have to be thrown out on the compost like many times before. With extra aeration and spreading out, the mold took hold again, and it turned out fine.

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After two and a half days growing.

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Spread out to dry.

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Brown rice has a covering that is polished off when making white rice. This barrier hinders the koji mold from growing into the kernel. The trick is to soak and steam the rice just enough, so as to break this shell. That way the mold can get in. At the same time one must not let the rice get too soggy where bacteria thrive. Another method is to find a rice that is slightly polished but can still be considered brown rice. A little rice polishing machine would be good to have. I could polish it just right and throw in the polishings.

Brown rice koji making is for the experienced koji maker and whole foods enthusiast. It is more difficult to keep the mold growing ahead of the bacteria. It is also less efficient in enzyme production because the mold doesn’t get into all the grains.

So I recommend starting out koji making with white or polished rice, which is by far the easiest, while learning the procedure, the look, the smells, the consistencies, etc. Then move on to experiment with other grains.

The boys were home today and eager to work, so we decided to make some lactic acid fermented carrots. The last batch was finished off at last nights dinner. We fetched about 8 kilos of carrots from the root cellar. They were in very good condition and had surprisingly little damage from carrot fly larvae.

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The ingredients:
– carrots
– garlic
– mustard seeds
– caraway seeds
– seasalt
– canning jars

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Make the pickles:
– clean and shred carrots
– weigh up carrots in 1 kilo portions
– to each kilo mix in 15 grams seasalt
– add several garlic cloves
– add a pinch of caraway seeds
– a pinch of mustard seeds
– mix all together
– press into canning jars
– close and seal jars
– label them

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Now we place the jars in a warm corner of the kitchen (18 – 22 degrees centigrade), so that the lactic acid bacteria can begin to grow vigorously for about 10 days. They are then moved to the cool food storage cellar, and after about 6 weeks the carrots have fermented sufficiently and are ready to eat.

We’ll eat quite a lot of these pickled carrots, but most will be taken to the farmers market for selling.

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Before and after pickling. This kind of cucumber is small and bitter. After pickling they become slightly salty with a delicious dill garlic flavor. And they keep for months.

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This what you need for pickling:
Cucumbers
Garlic cloves
Dill crowns
Mustard seed
Salt
Water
Pickling jars

How to do it:
– clean cukes, garlic and dill
– prick small holes in cukes with a knife
or fork
– put garlic, dill and mustard seed in jar
– stuff cucumbers in jar as tight as
possible
– mix salt into water figuring 30 grams
salt per liter water
– put salt water into jar covering
everything
– put on lid sealing it to keep air out
– label jar with date and type
– put in room temperature for two weeks
– then put in cool place for storage (like cellar)
– ready to eat after about 5 weeks

The temperatures are rather important. Here in Sweden the ambient temperatures are low. The first period in room temperature is around 20 C, but anything between 15 and 25 C will do it seems. I keep them in the kitchen in a corner on the floor covered with a towel to keep light out. Light kills bacteria. Then they go down to the basement food storage room where it’s dark and the temperatures vary between 10 to 15 C from winter to summer.

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Lactic acid pickling is an ancient method of food preservation and flavor enhancement. The salt concentration becomes about 1.5% which keeps microorganisms from growing but allows the lactic acid producing bacteria to thrive. The lactic acid acts as a preservative as well as adding a slightly sour punch to the flavor.

Where do these bacteria come from? They are all around us in the environment. In the air, in our food, on our skin etc. We wash the cucumbers to get the dirt off but even then there are enough bacteria left to propagate without competition because of the salty water. The other ingrediants also add to the bacteria count. The salt and the lactic acid preserve the cucumbers. I have had good tasting pickles over two years old.

Perhaps the best thing about lactic acid pickling is the flavor changes that come about. Now for a pickle sandwich.