Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Moroccan Soup Bar Two Go, Fitzroy North

I love the Moroccan soup bar. I love its ethos, the fact that it gives refugee woman a place to work and find their feet, and I love the vegetarian food.

Everytime I visit Melbourne, I find an excuse to wander past on the no. 11 tram and have my fix of the chickpea bake. I have tried to make this dish, but even with the release of the recipe as part of the cook book, I could not get the taste right.

So when I found out that Hana Assafiri had opened a second soup bar, it was open for lunch and now PIZZA was available: how could a good foodie say no?

At lunchtime, there are two options, an open plate and soup with bread.

Open plate ($12.50):
Lunch plate - angle 1

Lunch plate crispy potatoes

Moroccan cabbage salad, cous cous salad, pearl barley salad, a little chickpea bake, hummous, a piece of deep fried haloumi, a mixed vegetable fritter, crispy slices of potato. I was dining in a party of four, and everyone else had googly eyes for my plate.

Spinach and Lentil Soup ($7.50):

Spinach and Lentil Soup

There are two kinds of soup available when we visit: harira and a spinach and lentil soup, both with a tomato base. The harira soup is like an Italian minestrone with chickpeas instead of pasta. It’s lifted with the addition of pureed preserved limes. The spinach and lentil is tangy, perhaps with a little vinegar.

Marrakizza pizza ($15):


Moroccan pizza. This has a thin crust but an extra yummy chewiness. It’s not just pizza toppings on a flat bread. Tomato base with feta, dried black olives, diced tomato. The whole lot is topped with crispy sweet potato shards, fresh rocket, a swirl of spicy chermoula and preserved lemon puree. Gluten free is available for $1 more.

Dinner box ($12.50):
Dinner Box

You can order an open dinner plate to eat in ($15), takeaway with or without your own container. The takeaway dinner bowl included chickpea bake, saffron rice, tomato & lentils, baked vegetables, some green salad and a few pickles.

Nus nus:
Nus Nus

This is Moroccan style coffee, served with a mini piece of Turkish delight. There is a layer of milk, a shot of espresso, and a layer of foam on top. Like a little weather system, the whole thing kind of swirls around with the temperature differential. It is good to sit and sip, and I want another one.

I love the Moroccan soup bar, but I love the two go version a lot more. It’s open at lunchtime (so i don’t have to wait until after 6pm for my fix), and the lunchtime open plate is a bargain. You can still get the banquet here. Service at night can be a little haphazard as they rely on a raffle ticket numbering system for both dine in and takeaway. You save $2 if you bring your own takeaway container. And yes, you can still ask for a whole serving of chickpea bake in your takeaway box.

Moroccan Soup Bar Two Go
street: 316 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, VIC 3068
Phone: +61-03-9486-3500

11:00AM – 3:00PM , 6:00PM – 10:00PM
1100-1500 hours, 1800 – 2200 hours.
Closed Monday lunch

Plastic Free July Day 28

47-53. Zip lock bags

Plastic Free July

I went to the markets to buy sourdough bread. I can’t really eat a whole loaf of bread quickly enough before it goes stale, so I have to freeze some of it. I used to use single use cling film/plastic film/sarin wrap to wrap my loaves of bread up in before freezing, but I have recently shifted to zip locks, because at least they are sort of reusable. But I guess the question is:

Which has less impact: aluminium foil or a zip lock plastic bag?

I think aluminium foil has a larger energy footprint to produce. Generally though, you can really only use it once before it tears. But the foil itself *is* recyclable, if it’s clean and as long as your country’s waste system actually recycles it.

A plastic bag is petrochemical derived. A zip lock bag I can reuse multiple times. Again, it *is* recyclable, if it’s clean and as long as your country’s waste system actually recycles it.

What would you do?

Buying bread on a “as needs” basis isn’t really an option, because sometimes I just get super busy and I just need something in the freezer to pull out if I need to.

Plastic Free July Day 11

21: Foil tray & cling film wrapping from a takeaway dinner

Plastic free July

It had been a long day. I didn’t feel like cooking. So I popped past a thai grocery store to pick up a already cooked tilapia fish with a clear spicy dipping sauce. It came in this packaging. I washed the foil container & hid it. That will be reused for my solar beeswax extractor during summer. The plastic bag will be reused as a bin liner. The sauce container, once I’ve used up all the sauce, will be reused.

Food Scrap Kim Chi

I told you last year that I had obtained via swaps a delicious vegan kimchi. I had badgered poor Megan, so many times for the recipe, and I was running out of kim chi, so I decided to try and make my own:

Kim Chi (vegan)

Yeah, so I didn’t keep track of the recipe, or the quantities I used but I’m pretty sure it came from Serious Eats.

My sister did a taste test of the two kinds of kim chi:

KimChi comparison

The plate on top is the version she had made (Sarah Wilson’s “Everything but the kitchen sink kimchi” from Simplicious, recipe finally obtained from Megan); the plate on the bottom is my version. She decided that she preferred my version because it had a little more complexity, chilli, smokiness and fish-like taste. Going back, and tasting all three (yes, I had a teeny tiny bit left over from last year): the simplicious version seemed to have just a salt background, and mine was much more interesting.

So I had to make it again.

I had a giant home grown overgrown kohlrabi that I had harvested at the end of spring, and it had been sitting around in my fridge crisper for nearly six months. It was a bit too tough to eat on its own, or too hard to prepare. I had one lonely home grown daikon radish, and a parsnip. I wanted to get rid of my onion weed, so the flower heads went in (and I then syringed glysophosphate down the stem. The only way I know of to remove this weed).

The items in italics were home grown.

Food Scrap Kim Chi
Kohlrabi – tough outer layer peeled off; then grated
Daikon, daikon leaves
Perilla leaves
Onion weed flower heads
Scallions/Spring onions (green part)
purple chillis – two small, deseeded
beetroot leaves

garlic – 4 small cloves
old ginger – 2 cm
onion – 1/4 medium sized onion
miso – 1 tsp white, 1 tsp genmai
sweet smoked paprika
wakame – 1 tsp, reconstituted
dulse flakes
1/8 cup water

Food scrap kimchi

The recipe I followed is that from Serious Eats, and I hope that in a month’s time, it is as good as my first batch!

HCB Comparo, 2018 edition

The hot cross buns appeared on supermarket shelves on boxing day, 26 December 2017. I resisted until February, then I started walking past the supermarket on a Monday morning, on my way to work. My weakness – mocha hot cross buns, particularly if they were still warm from the oven and slightly undercooked. I can stop any time. Really. I’m not addicted. Then that big supermarket chain “ran out of mocha flavouring” about a fortnight before easter and my hopes were dashed two fold.

This year, we take the HCB smack-down trans-Tasman. That’s right, show us what you got, New Zealand!

Kitchen by Mike ($5):

Kitchen by Mike Hot Cross bun
It was a bit dry from the air as they were all separated in the cabinet. They were cut apart rather than pulled apart by hand. Very dense dough, the glaze on top was very yummy, possibly infused with orange peel. This might have been a bit better if it had been heated in the microwave.
$5 ea.
Kitchen by Mike @ Mascot (Sydney Airport, International)

Zumbo ($2.80):
Zumbo Hot Cross bun

Also taste tested in 2017. Still soft a few days after buying. This was heated in the microwave. Lovely and doughy with a nice strong spice with sultanas and orange peel.
$2.80 ea.
There are Zumbo stores in Rozelle, Star City (Pyrmont), QVB (Sydney City), South Yarra (Melbourne).

Ima Bakery (NZ):
Ima Bakery (NZ) - Hot Cross bun
This bun had just come out of the oven. Not as heavy on the spices as the zumbo HCBs. The bun felt quite heavy, but it was nice and doughy. The glaze seemed to be just a sugar glaze. The custard cross was nice, but it didn’t blow me away like the one from Le Chocoreve. I think that one had a lot more spice.
$5.50 NZD Ea.
Ima bakery @ Auckland, New Zealand.

Amano Bakery (NZ):

Amano Bakery (NZ) - Hot Cross bun
I like the “A” is for “Apple” (or possibly Anarchy or Amano) on top of the bun. Brioche like texture. The bun was a little less heavy in weight than from Ima. The dough was fluffy but more ‘dry’ than the others. Sultanas and mixed peel that left a tingly mouth feel. Interesting, but not a fave.
$3.50 NZD each.
Amano Bakery @ Auckland, NZ.

Wild Wheat (NZ):

Wild Wheat (NZ) Hot Cross bun

The cross is very faintly marked. These are a fave of a mum of a friend of taste tester two, because they taste “wholesome”, and taste tester two is in agreement. It isn’t overly sweet. Spices are noticable, but not too over the top. It left a slight tingling feeling in the mouth which is likely the nutmeg and mixed peel. The glaze/wash on top of the bun seemed to be something more than the usual sugar glaze which was nice. The dough was good, not over the top doughy, but not brioche in texture like Amano.
$3 NZD each.
Wild Wheat @ Auckland, NZ. There is also a Brisbane outpost, I shall have to visit next time I’m in the area.

Flour and Stone ($3.50):
Flour and Stone Hot Cross bun

I had the advantage of grabbing this one just out of the oven. The glaze was very sticky, with bun itself having a good orange peel taste (leaving my mouth tingly), and a solitary sultana. This was last tasted in 2013.

Flour and Stone @ Wolloomooloo.

Earth to Table ($7.90):

Earth to table hot cross bun

If a HCB is ‘raw’, can it really be termed a “bun”? This was very dense and kind of like a HCB flavoured protein ball rolled in coconut. Raspberry Chia jam in the middle.

Earth to Table @ Bondi Junction.

Le Breton ($1.80):

Le Breton hot cross bun

This was an interesting looking cross, yellow in colour and skinny. It actually had a taste (slightly sweet, custard like), and wasn’t inedible. The HCB had a lovely dense dough, not very spicy and a custard-like cross, which was preferential to Ima (Auckland, NZ).
$1.80 ea, 6 for $8.50, 12 for $16.
Le Breton @ Mosman.


Delica hot cross bun
Almost like a control, this one was tried originally in 2014.

Not exactly a memorable bun, but I like the cross because it was actually edible and not just a decoration.
$2.40 each, 6 for $12.50.
Delica Bakery @ Naremburn.

Victor Churchill:

Victor Churchill hot cross bun
Super sticky and thick glaze that was a little jam-like. Decent spices. Tingly mouth aftertaste. Very doughy texture, almost as if the dough is still raw.
Victor Churchill @ Woollahra.

San Antonio Bakery ($2.5):

San Antonio bakery hot cross bun
I liked the look of the cross, but it was tough and inedible. Slightly spicy, but a bit of a bitter aftertaste.
San Antonio Bakery @ Kirribilli, Balmain, Coogee.

Zumbo, with salted caramel injection:

Zumbo Hot Cross bun
Is there anything that salted caramel doesn’t make better?
Actually, this.
You take one good thing, add another, but unfortunately the salted caramel completely overwhelmed the taste of the chocolate hot cross bun.
$3 ea.
There are Zumbo stores in Rozelle, Star City (Pyrmont), QVB (Sydney City), South Yarra (Melbourne).

Merchants of Ultimo ($3.50):

Merchants of Ultimo - hot cross buns

Orangey fanta spicy smell. Puffy texture. Good eating when baked on that day and eaten cold. The cross decorative mixture has been used to make hot happy buns as well as hot cross buns. The cross mixture has me a little intrigued, as you can see that it was puffy once, and has defalted with cooling. Perhaps more oil than just a flour water mixture? Reminds me a little of edible paint that I used on the eye pies. This is actually produced by “Bakers Lane”, a concession stand inside the Merchants of Ultimo eating area.
$3.50 ea, 6 for $12.
Merchants of Ultimo @ Glebe.

Coogee Bay Pavillion ($3.50):
Coogee Bay Pavilion hot cross bun

A surprise find, this place was open on Good Friday. Noticible spices in the dough. Spares on the fruit with only cranberries and currants. Dough on its own seemed quite sweet. Nice fluffiness in the dough, but on the drier side. The cross was sweet like custard, and edible when cold.
$3.50 ea.
Coogee Bay Pavillion is @ Coogee.

Saga, Enmore ($4):

Saga Hot Cross bun
“Spiced brioche, tons of fruit and peel, standard cross, glazed with tears from the Easter Bunny” – Andy Bowdy.
Nice strong smell of spices. Very buttery dough, slightly bitter/sour taste from the spices. Once heated, the cross was nice, not too hard, but nothing special. Different sized sultanas that had a nice spiciness and not overly sweet like other HCB.
$4 ea.
Saga @ Enmore.

La Bancz ($3.5):

La Bancz hot cross buns
There was a hot tip on this one having a “custard-like cross” that we used to take for granted from Le Chocoreve. One morning at 7am when the bakery opened, they weren’t available. the next time at 10am, they were all sold out. Third time lucky.
A pleasant fruit bun – was nice to eat cold. Almost no spice flavour with sultanas, currants, cranberries, and a little mixed peel. Very soft pillowy bun. Custard cross was quite sweet and the glaze soaked into the base to make it a little wet. Overall, quite sweet. Still pleasant when heated but does not improve with heating. The dough was noticeably darker in colour than your ‘standard’ HCB; and had a slightly gritty mouthfeel.

$3.50 each, 4 for $12, 6 for $16, 12 for $30.
La Bancz@ Rozelle.

Victorie ($3.5):

Victorie hot cross bun

This one is a strange beast, a franken-bun. The top is croissant. The base is hot cross bun. The HCB dough was nice and gooey. Nice spice flavour without too much bitterness. Some sultanas and mixed peel. Not too sweet.

$3.50 each, 6 for $18.
Victorie Bakery @ Cammeray and Rozelle.

Woolies fruitless
No photo.
Seriously, why bother? Tasted and smelled like plastic.
6 for $3.50

Woolies Mocha
No photo.
When I had these hot out of the oven, and slightly undercooked, you had this heady mocha-spicy chocolate aroma wafting throughout the office. When they were running out of ‘flavouring’ they were a dry and overcooked hamburger bun, and when I stopped to taste them as they were, without the smell crying “eat me, eat me”, they were a little bit ordinary. Taste tester two tried one at an easter bun function at work, and declared that it had a faint plastic aroma.
6 for $3.50

Paddy the Baker (three for $10):

Paddy the baker - hot cross bun

Big, puffy. A slight glaze on top. Taste and smell inoffensive. Not memorable. Not made from the same stuff that the Irish Soda Bread is made of. I don’t think it contains potato. I like the potato bread much better.

Paddy the Baker @ multiple market locations around Sydney.

If we are comparing Le Bancz to Le Breton, Le Breton is better flavour wise (less sweet), and much better value for money. Le Bancz is like a very pleasant fruit bun that is nice to eat cold.

The HCB preferences this year (in no particular order):
Merchants of Ultimo – smells like fanta, and the hot happy/cross bun face motif
Zumbo chocolate – nice and strong on the spices
Victor Churchill – very dense dough, and crazy amount of spicy glaze
Le Breton – incredible value, and a yummy custard cross.

Pineapple Tepache

Fermenting using fruit scraps.

First encountered through a facebook homebrew group – recipe from Mary Izett’s Speed Brewing.

Comment was that the brew was left for too long, and the end result was like a bad homebrew. The advice was to “brew on thursday, drink on saturday”.

A few months later, I bought a pineapple. Rather than compost or put into the landfill the outer skin, I decided to try my hand at pineapple tepache. Recipe is based upon Sharon Flynn’s Ferment for Good cos I’m lazy.

Skin scraps of one pineapple
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 tsp tamarind paste
1-2 star anise (whole)
1/2 cinnamon stick
Water to cover (approx 1.5 litre in my jar)

This was brewed in my house with an average ambient temperature of 25 deg C (77 F).

Tepache at 0 hours:
tepache 0hours

It smells sweet, like pineapple.

Tepache at 24 hours:

tepache 24hours

There is some fizz action going on. At 24 hours it tastes like a ‘dry’ mineral water (like a champagne can be ‘dry’), with a pineapple nose.

Tepache at 48 hours:

tepache 48hours

Wow, look at that head! You can see by the watermark that the fizz has been at a higher level in the brew vessel and then subsided. At 48 hours it has more fizz and a more alcoholic aftertaste. The brew has started to attract the vinegar flies.

Tepache at 56 hours:

tepache 56hours

I started to decant the wine at this point. Forgetting that it takes ages to separate through my coffee filters, decanting/separating takes another 8 hours. So total brew time got to 64 hours.

I gave up at this point, and switched to using a metal tea ball – that keeps most of the bits out. I’ve added a little more golden syrup to my bottle and a piece of pineapple to “keep it real”. It’s starting to taste on the sour side. It’s probably beyond saving, but I’ll add a little more sugar to the bottle and keep in in the fridge.

Next time if I brewed this again (and why not, it was so much fun!), I would stop the fermentation at 24 hours and use more sugar in the original mix; alternatively let it go all the way to vinegar. Pineapple vinegar!

What about you, dear reader? Have you got an innovative way to reduce your food waste and make something tasty?

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:


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.

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.

Finding Koji in Australia

Date of original post: 18 September 2017
Date of most recent edit: July 2019

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, 500g), sake lees ($5.45).

Now let’s make something!

This is the Australian stockist list that I have so far. This will be edited as I come across new stockists:

Queensland Stockists:
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.

In Brisbane, The Sovereign Foods stall at the West End Markets (6am – 2pm), sells unpasteurised Sunshine Coast Miso and The Cottage Collective Miso.

[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.

NSW Stockists:

Sydney’s Maruyu Supermarket, sells liquid shio koji, and a snap-dehydrated koji kin block (200g, $9.50). The method for using this is a little different to how I have described in later posts. See Miso Spot for instructions.

In Sydney, Tokyo Mart’s koji rice (kome koji) is now a 300g for $9.15.

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.

Taste Organic (Newtown and Crows Nest, Sydney NSW) and About Life (Sydney, NSW) sell shelf stable amazake. [2019 Note: About Life closed its last etail store in Rozelle in December 2018. It is now a food catering service]

Alfalfa House (Newtown, NSW) sells organic genmai miso. It is probably shelf stable, as it is not stored in the fridge. They also sell meru miso’s chickpea miso (stored in fridge).

[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.

Enokido miso sell koji and multiple types of miso at the Saturday morning Carriageworks markets in Redfern. They are not there every week, but once or twice a month.

Victorian Stockists:
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.

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

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

Meru miso (Tasmania) sells a DIY miso kit and unpasteurised miso.

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.



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:


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):


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.


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!