Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Making me some miso

I don’t actually eat that much miso at home, but having gone to all the effort of obtaining my koji inoculated rice, it seemed a shame not to. In any case, I figured that once I had my home made miso, perhaps I could use it as a swap item at future crop swaps; or that I would use miso more frequently.

The recipe I used was based on Sharon Flynn’s “Ferment for good”, and I was aiming for a sweet white miso. Miso keeps fermenting, so I thought that if I started with the sweet white, as it kept fermenting it would settle towards a ‘red’ style miso.

Mistake one: Don’t plan on making miso on your yoga weekend away.

You are supposed to be relaxing. Attendance at all activities is compulsory. And you’ll end up getting super stressed watching your soy beans alternating between refusing to cook and boiling over.

Mistake two: check the batteries in your kitchen scales. Bring a spare set of batteries. Or raid all the kitchens at your yoga retreat for any other sets of scales available.

Otherwise ‘guessing’ the weight of salt ends up with astounded comments of “you put HOW MUCH in?!” when you ask about the progress of your miso in an internet forum.

I ended up with…
500g dry rice koji
360g soy beans
185g salt (Note: Use LESS if you want a sweet white miso)

Pinch test:
Soybean cooked yet

I was supposed to cook the soybeans until the point that I could squash the bean together between my fingers. At this point, I figured “that’ll do”, plus I had one hour to finish this before the next yoga session, lunch, and packing up to go home.

After mushing the soybeans up (very hard to do manually), I then mixed it with the dry rice koji, salt, 2 tbs “starter miso” and soy bean cooking water.
This was formed into balls and then “thrown” into my cookie jar fermenting vessel – to remove the air pockets, and once again “squashed down”.

Capping layer

I put a thin layer of organic genmai miso on top as a protective layer, and then fine salt into a zip lock bag ontop as a weight. The lid on the cookie jar with its rubber seal was placed on top, and then the ‘seam’ sealed with some plastic wrap, and my concoction stored under the house.

Seven weeks later… well I was supposed to ‘turn’ my miso one month in, based upon discussions with another Australian miso maker. I forgot. Also I was busy.

The jar smelled amazing when I opened it up:
Miso - open jar

The miso has expanded above the salt weight during the fermentation process. Or perhaps the action of pushing the lid down has pushed the stuff below up.

After removing the salt weight:

Tamari

I’m pretty sure that the dark coloured liquid is tamari. This is confirmed later on by the internet forum. I excitedly decant this off – later on I smell this again, and it smells a little more alcoholic than tamari like. Apparently this is a problem in smaller batches.

Stirring:
Miso layer

I break the crust, and I can see the top 1cm has darkened in colour. This is definitely a thicker layer of the darker colour than the protective miso layer that I smeared on top originally. I stir the whole lot through, then replace my salt weight and reseal my jar.

So my sweet white miso was only supposed to ferment for up to six weeks. I’ve let it go past that, plus I have no fridge space to slow down the fermentation, so it’ll probably keep on going until I can use it. Under the house is the closest I can get to ‘fridge’ I tasted a little of the tamari – and it tasted yummy and moreish, or perhaps I was just craving salt.

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Finding Koji in Australia

I’m not quite sure how this happened. I read one fermenting cookbook that mentioned nukkado, then another, then I found an article that mentioned using Koji to inoculate meat and give it a funky unami taste. So of course I was interested.

I was trying to find a source of Koji and sake lees in Sydney. Mail order and shipping in Australia starts at $11 (2017 prices), but I was trying to reduce the amount of packaging and food miles I’m using.

The Fermentary (Daylesford, Victoria), stocks dried Koji rice and frozen sake lees.

Rice culture (Gold coast, Queensland) sells dried Koji rice that they have made themselves.

Jfc Australia claims to sell frozen sake lees and Koji rice from Japan but I wasn’t sure how to order, how much it was, and if I had to order wholesale quantities.

The Go-shu sake factory (Penrith, Sydney) sells a limited quantity of sake lees and shio koji. Availability is dependent upon the brewing cycle.

Vision brewing (Western Australia) sells Koji kin, the actual spores, for $16.50 USD.

Grain & Grape Homebrew (Yarraville, Victoria) onsells vision brewing’s Koji kin for $19.95.

Finally, I remembered Tokyo Mart in Northbridge. This place used to be the only place in Sydney you could buy Japanese Plum Wine, so I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner.

So finally, here we have it, my stash of koji in three stages:

Three stages of koji

Koji Kin or aspergillus oryzae spores ($19.95), inoculated koji dry rice ($16.75), sake lees ($5.45).

Now let’s make something!

Post-post edit:
After visiting Brisbane and Melbourne recently, I figured that I needed to add a few extra koji related product availabilities.

Rice cultures (Gold Coast, QLD) has multiple stockists of its non-pasteurised miso, generally in the Queensland/Sunshine Coast area. Fundies wholefoods, Paddington QLD, stocks the miso.

Alice (Sunshine Coast, QLD), sells her own homemade miso.

Tang Emporium (Melbourne, VIC) sells a liquid from Japan called “shio koji”. Alchohol is one of the ingredients.

Hinoki Japanese Pantry (Melbourne, VIC) sells Inaki Miso (Chunky rustic style miso that includes bits of the koji), shelf stable shio koji (looks a lot like the stuff in the fridge @ Tokyo Mart, Sydney); and shelf stable amazake.

Taste Organic (Newtown and Crows Nest, Sydney NSW) and About Life (Sydney, NSW) sell shelf stable amazake.

Alfalfa House (Newtown, NSW) sells organic genmai miso. It is probably shelf stable, as it is not stored in the fridge.

[not checked] Saskani Kobo (Brisbane, QLD) sells fresh koji rice (white rice, brown rice); Shio koji, tamari koji, Gochujang Style shio koji, miso (brown rice, white rice, barley), and amazake. All products require refrigeration.

Yoshiko Takeuchi (Sydney, NSW) sells the raw ingredients to make miso, as part of her “power of miso” cooking class. This class is only run during winter.

[not checked] Soramame (Sydney, NSW) sells Ama koji (amazake), shio koji and tamari koji at the Kings Cross markets. They claim that there is no alcohol in their product – which doesn’t make sense at it is a by-product of the fermentation process; unless it has been pastuerised.

Southern Wild (Tasmania) sometimes sells fresh shio koji at the Sunday farmgate markets.

Learning to brew

When you “make” honey (after you extract the honey from the honeycomb), you are left with a sticky mess of wax and honey. I then wash this wax mixture so I can then refine the wax from the propolis and other bee related items. It feels so wasteful to then throw away this honey water (honey washings), that I tried several times to make mead. But each time, I made vinegar. I then went out and bought a bottle of mead to see the end product that I was aiming for: and I did not like it .

Oh dear.

Now what?

Then up popped an ad for a beer brewing workshop at the cornersmith picklery. Sold!

The beer brewing kit that is readily available in Australia is kind of like mixing cordial. Add substances A, B, C to water, let sit (brew) for 7 days then decant into your bottles, adding a carbonation ‘drop’ (dextrose sugar tablet) to each bottle.

The brewing method at this workshop was the next step along, where you might select the hoppiness of your brew by selecting the type of hops, and how long your brew your mixture for.

We were guided by Chris Sidwa of Batch Brewing in the method of extract brewing, which is a little more hands on than cordial brewing.

He ran through the importance of sterilisation, the difference that the type of hops makes to the flavour profile, as well as how long it is boiled and when it is added to the mixture.

Working in groups of 3, we got our 3 litres worth of water per person boiling, before adding the light malt extract, stirring to prevent the sugar burning on the bottom, or the foam exploding out of the top.

malt:

Malt

Cascade Hops:

Cascade Hops

These hops were developed by Oregon State University, and is one of the few freely available non-trademarked variety of hops. We added these at the -30 minute mark, and at the -5 minute mark. Everything is measured in terms of “time from ending the boil”.

You pack your hops into a double muslin bag, so that you can remove it from the brew when you put into the fermentation vessel.

Wrapped in muslin:

Hop bag

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble:

Brew

The process of boiling is to drive off unwanted flavours and remove bitterness. The reason the second lot of hops is added is to add the hoppy flavour back into the brew.

After adding the second lot of hops, we divided the mixture into our brew buckets, and enjoyed a small taster of Batch Brewing’s American Pale Ale, sourdough, cucumber pickles and capsicum (sweet pepper) relish.

We got to take our fermenting buckets home with us, and issued with a second set of instructions.

I didn’t think this one through:

Public transport

After carrying my brewing and decanting buckets home on the train (Luckily I didn’t have my pushbike, unlike one of the other attendees), we were instructed to add 3-4 litres of cooled boiling water and let brew for 7 days.

Recipe (makes approx 5 L):
3 litres boiling water
840 g malt after the ‘hot break’
1 x 30g hops @ -30 minutes
1 x 30g hops @ -5 minutes
Place mixture into your brew bucket.
Cool to approx 20 C
3g yeast (US-05)
3L chilled boiled water*.
Let brew for 7 days in a constant temperature environment, about 20 deg C, away from sunlight
35g dextrose into sterilised bottling bucket
Decant from brewing bucket into bottling bucket, leave yeast cake behind
Decant from bottling bucket into each bottle – gently – you don’t want the yeast to get all excited and foamy
Leave a little headroom (equivalent to your bottling wand)
Cap the bottles.

I had trouble capping the bottles with the supplied ‘hand capper’.

I left the lids on top of the bottles for a day to keep contaminants out, whilst I looked around to borrow someone else’s bench capper. I ended up buying one second hand.

Capped (L), Uncapped (R):

Capping

Considering the amount of force required to push the cap onto the bottle even with the benchtop capper, there is no way that I could have made the hand capper work. No wonder they are known as the deathstick in the industry!

Buy one bench capper, receive microbrew kit for free, BOGOF:


Bench capper


This was not my intention, to gain the equivalent of three home brew kegs in the space of 8 days! I’m going to have to try this recipe again, because instead of the second lot of chilled boiled water, I added honey washings which I had boiled (pastuerised). Note to self – if you do this, the beer may need to ferment for a longer period of time. This style of beer is called a braggot.


Braggot

A few months later, I did try my beer. I was left with 1/4 in the bottle, as the other 3/4 ended up all over the kitchen walls, floor and counter. Yep, it was still fermenting in the bottle. I was lucky it didn’t explode! The result was very tasty, but highly alcoholic.

The class was attended and paid for anonymously by A Sydney Foodie.

Olives, three ways

Olives! Available as a crop to swap. I got about 1kg (and then another 1.3kg later) from one crop swapper of mostly black olives. I swapped a hairy winter melon cross, about 1.7kg.

My dream olive is a green sicilian olive from Darling Mills Farm; or a smoked olive picked up from the Orange Grove market.

I tried three ways of preparing my olives.

1. heavy salt brine
(1 litre water, 1 cup liquid)
To tell the correct amount of salt, you float an egg in it. The first egg chosen was a little long in the tooth, so I then used a slightly younger egg (3 weeks old). Then I read up at skillcult, how to make a Sicilian style olive, but more importantly, proportions of salt to water was given.

2. A dry salt pack

This I got from milkwood permaculture. You put a layer of olives in your jar, then cover with salt. Repeat.

I was at a little loss as to what to do with the olives that had slightly bruised or bad bits. My source of the olives said to throw them out, because they turned mushy. My maltese neighbour told me that she put them all in , warts & all. I made a slight compromise, chopped the bad bits off, but then I fermented them separately in a heavy salt brine. I figured that with the extra exposed surface area, they would take less time to ferment.

Here they are (left to right, as above):

Olives, two ways

I’m already having trouble from stopping my olives from floating to the surface, and my weights are obviously not weighing them down.

I also notice the bubbles of the fermentation process coming to the top. About a week in, I tried one of the olives. When I cracked open the lid, I noticed the aroma was starting to smell like the familiar ‘olive’ type smell, but it was still quite bitter. I also noticed that the colour actually starts leaching a little out from the partially green and black olives, so they turn more green.

With a later batch of green olives (swapped for a pumpkin, which I swapped previously), even though I know that they weren’t the Sevillano type, I thought that I should ferment them the skill cult way.

3. Skillcult way
One litre water. 1/4 cup salt. 1/4 white vinegar. I chucked an orange leaf in to add a little tannin, to follow in the steps of my neighbour.

I can’t wait to try the finished products!

HCB Comparo, 2017 Edition

I wasn’t planning on doing this, honest. But since Easter was such a long way away from the indulgence fest known as Christmas, and the supermarkets just happened to start baking these pretty much on Boxing Day… I ended up eating just a few. Then of course, I had to take a photo, and after that I might as well keep looking for my favourite bun of all time.

Sonoma Not Cross Buns:

Sonoma not cross bun

Love this. By not putting a cross on the bun, all and sundry from all religious denominations can eat it. First bun I ate cold, I couldn’t stop raving about it. OK, so the ‘s’ was a bit tough to eat, but the aroma, I couldn’t stop inhaling it. I think it was the orange glaze. The fruit had been soaked in possibly earl grey tea. The second bun I ate warm after heating in the microwave. There was a very intense cinnamon aroma. The bread had a ‘dough-y’ texture. Fruit mix included orange peel.

$3.50 Each, $19 for six.
Sonoma Bakery Cafes @ Alexandria, Bondi, Glebe, Paddington, Rosebay, Waterloo, Woollahra.

Stoneground Bakery:

Stoneground bakery HCB

Available in blueberry (slightly blue cross), raspberry and white chocolate (pink-ish cross), and “normal” fruit. I bought the latter, and probably didn’t eat it at its best. Overnight in my fridge turned it rock hard. Even after microwaving it, the bun was just ‘meh’. I couldn’t remember any fruit apart from the sultanas.

$2.20 each, $9 for six.
Stoneground Bakery in Annandale and Hunters Hill.

Zumbo’s Fruit HCB:

Zumbo HCB

I had to check my records (blog) to work out if I had tried the Zumbo HCB in the past. Turns out no, I had only tried the chocolate version. This was heated up in the microwave. I got a slightly odd scent above the cinnamon note that I couldn’t quite place. Too much yeast?

This year I tried again the chocolate version, it seem less intense that four years ago; more of a ‘cocoa HCB’ rather than a dense chocolate mudcake.

$2.20 Each, $12.50 for six.
There are Zumbo stores in Rozelle, Star City (Pyrmont), QVB (Sydney City).

Boon HCB:

Boon HCB courtersy of Boon Cafe

Photo courtesy of Boon Cafe Instagram. I’ve been here several times checking out the baked goods, and suddenly there was a hot cross bun. Buttery flavour with a sweet glaze. The cross has a nice chew texture. Made with spelt flour!
Boon Cafe, 425 Pitt Street Haymarket.

Campos Coffee HCB:

Campos coffee HCB

I couldn’t resist, the buns were so enormous and a glossy dark chocolate brown with the glaze. The cross marked ontop was a bit tough to eat. High on the cinnamon factor. We spied a little orange peel and a little red cranberry (or possibly currant). Very buttery flavour.

$3.50 Each, $19 for six.
Campos Coffee, 193 Missendon Road, Newtown 2042.

So for 2017, I have to say that the Sonoma HCB with lots of glaze, eaten cold was my favourite. I could not stop inhaling that lovely scent, or gobbling up the buns.

Devon Cafe, Surry Hills

I had the opportunity to go to a work conference in the city, so I went to bed early, and caught an early train into central station. Devon Cafe was the destination, and I had a mere 40 minutes to order, consume, and then walk to Hyde Park. Truffle cheese toasties are only available when in season, and only on the weekend. Darn it! Worker Bees need truffle toasties too!

Two breakfast dishes caught my eye, and after being reassured that it would take ten minutes, I made my choice.

Breakfast with the Sakuma’s ($25):

Breakfast with the Sakuma's

Miso grilled king salmon,smoked eel croquette, 63′ egg, radish petit salad & kewpie mayonnaise. This had a extra unami scattering of seaweed and sesame flakes, plus some brown crunchy stuff that I couldn’t identify. The croquette was mostly rice, and very crunchy on the outside. It came with lots of different elements that kept me interested, all the way to the end. I couldn’t really use the mayonnaise as I found that the salmon was quite rich even without it.

The other dish that piqued my interest *had* been the Eggs Blini – for the mere existence of the blini, but having seen my communal table mate get his serving, I was very happy with my choice.

Ovvio Ginger Zap tea ($6.5):

Ginger Zap Tea

This was nice and tingly ginger flavour. I was surprised that it didn’t come served with honey, but then I didn’t ask. It felt like such a waste to use this loose leaf ‘tea’ tissane only once, so I took the remainder with me in a little container and enjoyed its zippiness for the rest of the day.

Crop and Swap Feb 2017

I haven’t attended a crop and swap in quite a while; one because they’re an 80km round trip for me, and secondly – I’ve run out of honey! I haven’t harvested honey since November 2016. The season has been a bit odd and a lot of colonies have failed around the Sydney basin due to infestation of small hive beetle overcoming them, or not enough pollen/nectar due to the funny weather.

Up until now, I have just been doing one-on-one swaps, and racking up an incredible number of kilometres on the car.

But for the last crop and swap for February 2017, I figured that I would make an effort to head to the proper event in Lane Cove.


Crop and swap – out:

Crop and swap - out

This is what I brought with me to the swap event. Two pots of thyme. Two jars of preserved guava – from 2015. I didn’t think it would be safe to bring or subject anyone else to my jars of unset seville marmalade (5 years ago), or various guava jams and guava jellies, made even longer ago! Two jars of kombucha scoby “jerky”.Two packets of native frangipani seeds, collected from my own tree. Beeswax (of course), some rendered as cupcakes, and some as it had come out of my solar wax extractor.

Crop and swap – in:

Crop and swap Feb 2017 - in

1.5litres of worm wee. Kale. Warrigal greens. Genovese Basil. Armenian cucumber. 2 cloves of garlic. 2 finger limes. 1 lime. Lemon balm (plant). 3 chilli peppers – one of them was a scotch bonnet. I love getting chillies, I love their shape, but I can’t eat them!

I had put in a special request for bee friendly plants, so I ended up with several kinds of salvia cuttings (black knight, hot lips, something with bluish flowers, one with lilac/blue flowers); Fruit salad sage cuttings and indian borage. There was a shopping bag filled with chocolate mint. I was debating whether or not I could try and and get a curry leaf branch to take as a cutting (since I had failed earlier in the month), and then another crop swapper offered me a seedling from her garden, I just had to pop past on my way home.

For the seeds I got some for crookneck squash, kohlrabi, dill, and ‘warpaint watermelon’ – which were a wonderful iridescent blue colour. With a name like that, I thought the watermelon would be similarly coloured, but a search for information on the seeds says not.

My drive home was in a scented lemon-ish, chocolate mint haze.

I then spent the afternoon potting my newly acquired cuttings in the glorious, glorious sprinkling rain, and playing “identify this cutting”.

I stir fried the warrigal greens as a side dish to dinner

I turned the fruit salad leaf cuttings (which I had had taken off to reduce transpiration loss) into a iced tea tissane:

Herb infusion