Tuesday, June 4, 2013


A block of tofu
So in my last post I wrote about making soy milk, but really for me it's just part of the process of making tofu. Tofu isn't as bland and soggy as people like to think. While it handles like a block of milky jelly straight out of the fridge, you can dry tofu out which allows it to hold together when it's stir fried. Or deep fried. And let's face it, everything is better when smothered in soy sauce or deep fried.

So making tofu really isn't that hard.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Soy Milk

Soy milk
Soy milk, isn't that tasty, and it's not something that I would normally strive to make. In fact, raw home-made soy milk is even less tasty than store bought soy, as it doesn't have any sugar added which is what gives the commercially produced product it's slightly sweet, creamy taste. But there's an end goal here that's bigger than the short-term goal of making soy milk. I want to make tofu.

Ok, tofu isn't that tasty either, I hear you say? Well, yes and no. I like to think of tofu as a transporter of flavour - it's like the drug mule of the vegetarian world. Heat it up and serve it naked and it's going to be pretty bland; but stir fry that little white nugget in some soy, ginger and garlic and it suddenly become a tasty meal. It's only as good as the flavours that surround it.

But enough about tofu. Let's learn to make soy milk first...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Camembert Style (White Mould) Cheese

Camembert ageing
Making a camembert style cheese isn't the hardest thing in the world to do. It requires a few select ingredients that you'll have to source from a specialty cheese making store, a bit of equipment that you can cobble together cheaply if you know how, and some trial and error to work out the best way to mature the cheese. Despite this, it's probably one of the most rewarding cheeses that a beginner cheesemaker can attempt because it has high yield and is relatively simple.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bok Choy Kimchi

Bok choy kimchi
When I first started this blog, I posted a kimchi recipe which was one of my early attempts at fermented foods. Don't get me wrong, it makes a delicious kimchi and it's still a favourite of mine, but it's a slightly westernised version and it makes a kimchi vastly different to the traditional Korean version. The main difference lies in the fact that it uses fresh chilli as opposed to dried red pepper flakes, and it's heavily flavoured with garlic and ginger.

So lets make something a bit more traditional...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Are fermented foods bad for you?

Beer is bad for you?
I don't really do editorials much, possibly because I don't really have too much of an opinion either way when it comes to what other people think or do. It's not really laziness, just indifference. I'm happy fermenting and creating food projects in my own little bubble, and I don't give too much thought towards what's happening in the outside world. I certainly read any article that comes my way, and in some way I guess I give it consideration over time, but there's all sorts of opinions in this world, and it's not my place to point the finger and say what's right or wrong.

But I do love a good, well thought out discussion of scientific principles!

So recently, someone forwarded me this article on the risks and benefits of fermented foods, and asked what I thought about it. If you're time poor, and can't be bothered reading it, I'll sum it up for you (hopefully the author won't mind if I create my own little synopsis of the article):

Fermented foods are beneficial in small amounts and have their place in modern diet, but shouldn't be consumed daily due to the production of aldehydes (which are bad and can make their way to the brain) and because they feed and encourage candida yeasts (resulting in candidiasis). 

The way I see it, this argument is off on both points.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sour Dill Pickles

Dill pickles fermenting
I love pickles. Not those sickly saccharine-sweet gherkins that masquerade as pickles - they deserve only to be picked off fast food hamburgers. I like dill pickles, with their big, bold, salty, sour flavours that overwhelm any other food that they are paired with, which makes for an ideal excuse to eat them straight out of the jar. Dill pickles are made from cucumbers, but the cucumbers are just essentially a mechanism of transport for the flavour. They do provide a crisp crunchy texture, but any delicate cucumber flavour is quickly crushed under the zesty sourness of fermentation, the sweet aroma of the dill and the pungent heat of the garlic. Dill pickles are the culinary equivalent of a bull in a china shop.

Someone once asked me if these were anything close to Polski Ogorski polish-style dill pickles, and the answer is... they can be if you want them to be. I used to keep a jar of Polski Ogorskis on hand for a regular snack, but personally I think these are way better and much cheaper. And they can be tailored to suit your tastes! Lacto-fermented dill pickles can be fermented for short periods (known as half sours) or long periods (known as full sours). They can be flavoured with chilli or spices, or fermented simply in brine without any  other seasonings.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Making Vinegar

White wine, cider, red wine and malt vinegars

I don't think you can have too much vinegar or too many styles of vinegar in your house (my wife disagrees with me on this one). It's so useful for cooking and cleaning, and it is so easy to make at home it's criminal. Almost too easy to make, which is evident by the amount of vinegar we now have fermenting away in our laundry. My wife may be right.

Vinegar is made by the conversion of alcohol to acetic acid by bacteria, specifically acetobacter. As the acetobacter chew through the alcohol, they produce acetic acid which gives vinegar it's characteristic flavour and bite. Additionally, acetobacter produce cellulose which forms into a mat that forms in the vinegar, termed the 'mother of vinegar'. This cellulose mat can looks like anything from a wispy cloud floating around in the vinegar to a thick rubbery jellyfish that floats on the surface.

There's a few ways of producing vinegar, but they basically involve the production of alcohol by yeast, and the subsequent conversion of alcohol into acetic acid by the acetobacter.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jalepeno Chilli Sambal

Jalepeno sambal
So for once I'm not posting about a fermented food, which is surprising I guess, given that I have so many fermented projects that I need to document. But our jalepeno chilli plants have been extra productive this year, which means that I've been experimenting with other uses for them. After making enough fermented chilli sauce to last me well into next chilli season, I started playing around with making sambal, a hot, sweet and sour chilli sauce to be served alongside anything from stir-fry to crispy chicken wings.

And I know that I tend to forget these seasonal recipes from year to year, so I really need to write this down while it's still floating around in my head.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Fresh home made yoghurt
Sure, it's really easy to buy yoghurt at the supermarket in small, convenient sized packages, but where's the fun in that? Why not try making it? Yoghurt is one of the simpler things that can be made at home with very little time or specialised equipment. So why would you bother? Well, despite the sense of satisfaction  that comes with making something rather than buying it, and the security of knowing exactly what is contained in it, it's far cheaper as well. We'll do the maths later, first let's look at what you'll need.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Raw Milk Blue Cheese

Stilton-style blue cheese
Obtaining raw unpasteurised milk to make cheese is not the easiest thing for me, given that I live in suburbia. Our council don't support the grazing of cows on our small suburban blocks, and believe me, I've checked. The easiest way to get raw milk is for me to visit the local healthfood store, where unpasteurised milk can be swapped for my first-born child or my kidney. It's prohibitively expensive is where I'm going with this. So I make cheese with supermarket bought pasteurised, homogenised, sterilised, de-personalised milk and dream of the day when I can own a cow. And this is part of that dream.

Raw milk, left at room temperature long enough, will coagulate into curds and whey naturally. This is termed 'clabbering' and occurs due to naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria increasing the acidity of the milk. Once the milk has coagulated, it is possible to make cheese from the lactic curds in a similar way to making cheese from rennetted curds, however there are some notable properties of lactic curd that necessitate a different process to regular cheesemaking. Most importantly, lactic curds produced by clabbering are softer and more fragile that rennetted curds, and therefore more whey needs to be drawn out through several methods - cutting, heating, stirring, draining and pressing.