Because there’s so much cool stuff.
So much has been happening the past month! For starters, the Birch trees have come into full foliage, which blocked our line-of-sight antennae to the repeater tower of our ISP, so we’ve been without internet for a couple of weeks. Thankfully this situation was resolved today by a professional (thanks to Mats). The compost pile has a load of horse manure added and it has heated up quite nicely.
But yes, onto projects!
I downloaded (LEGALLY of course) a copy of “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Cultured Foods” by Sandor Elix Katz. The digital copy was parsed a little weird, but thankfully a friend here in Finnskogen has a hard-copy, which they were not able to read because their reading list got too large, and loaned out to us here at Solbakken.
I’ve been brewing kombucha and kefir before, using a nifty culture hack I stumbled across at Instructables, and I had a short but successful run fermenting tempeh when I was living in the bus; However I had not stepped into the wide, wild world of lacto-fermenting vegetables, making vinegar, and such. All that has now changed. Especially with going to a predominately plant-based diet (for the time being, blame Dr. Whals), eating “pickled” vegetables makes the nutrients more bioavailable.
Fermented projects so far include:
-Kimchi (we’re on our 2nd batch now)
-Onion-Rye Sourdough bread (my personal favorite bread, not so much gluten as the wheat breads)
-Braided Challah bread
-A sourdough-modified recipe on a raw sprouted-grain bread based on a recipe originally used by the Essenes. Dang that was a lot to type out; I’ll use the term “‘Essene’ bread” from now on, and you’ll excuse the blatant cultural appropriation. Vær så godt
-Alaskan Sourdough hotcakes
-Savory Sweet Potato Pancakes
-Vinagre de Piña (Pineapple vinager, still in progress)
-Fruit Scrap Vinegar (still in process)
-Raw milk kefir
-Almond/oat milk kefir (the kefir culture is versatile, and can ferment most grain/seed milks)
The raw/fermented food revolution is booming in our home, but as exciting as all this is, I’m even more excited about the Open-Source Protein project. . .so where were we. . .um, we had oyster mushrooms, tried a couple of different modes for fruiting (that were not that impressive, to be fair), then. . . .compost worms. No, we didn’t buy worms, we were given some by a friend who collects them for fishing (I like to think of it as an animal rescue on our part. We’re not going to kill the worms to get another animal on our dinner plate. . .we feed the worms our delectable food scraps and collect their manure for plant fertilizer and mushroom feed).
And HERE is where it all gets cool. Permaculture, vermicomposting, and mushroom farming, all in one.
The Oyster mushrooms LOVE the worm-castings, and both the fungus and the worms love spent coffee grounds, as well as general kitchen waste. The worms are faster at eating, but the mushroom is a slow, thorough march whereas the worms will eat their weight in food waste every day. The oyster mushroom however, loves to eat the worm casts, so the two get along quite well.Materials. Make it like a vermicompost bin, but crumble oyster mushroom culture on the bottom layer of paper/cardboard.
Once the worms and mushroom got settled in, it was just 1) add food and 2) stir the mycelium every week to break it up and redistribute it (it helps it propogate faster). If you have moss readily available, you can just set a thin layer on top to hold in moisture and it looks a lot more koselige than a piece of cardboard.
Among the food waste that was added to this bin was the remains of a melon (cantaloupe), including the see
ulp. P. Ostreatus is a saprophage so it only feeds on dead matter, and these seeds were still alive, so instead of digesting them, it waited for them to sprout, and then went immediately into a mycorrhizal relationship with the new roots. The seeds have been removed and planted, now to see how they do this summer
As the mycelium filled out, I changed the top layer of moss to take some of the worms to the safety of another compost bin, as I assumed the mycelium would force them out as it grew in. Two weeks ago I poured a couple of pitchers’ worth of water into the culture, and allowed it to drain off (keeping the rich dark yellow/brown tea to water plants). After a few days the culture began to show pins. . .this time much larger than previous fruitings in the fruiting chamber. 2 days later, we had well over 200 grams of mushroom.
Well said, Wendell.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL, FOLKS
When these beauties were harvested several worms were seen rapidly fleeing the scene into the mycelium. They were too fast and strong to catch, so they slipped away. I dug down to the bottom of the culture in just that one corner of the tub to discover the worms were alive and well, thriving throughout the mycelial network and cleaning up small dead regions of mycelium (the mycelium then absorbs the casts and in this way seems to repair itself.
It reminded me of a BBC documentary where David Attenborough was explaining coral reefs as a super-organism. This discovery of sustainable symbiosis of the compost worms and p. ostreatus has led me to dub this superorganism “Garden Coral”
That’s it, no witty ending tale or quaint quotes, just a final picture demonstrating the indomitable will to thrive
So I was sitting and thinking about how to write about kombucha. Truly though, just look it up on wikipedia
Kombucha is simple, easy, and tasty for sure, but there’s so much more than just tart, fizzy tea. As this adventurous individual discovered, the zoogleal mat can be inoculated with the culture that ferments milk to make kefir. I did this when I had access to raw milk in Oregon during 2009-2010, it was delicious! You got an old kombucha scoby hanging around (If not, you can use one of ours)? You can make kefir, sourdough bread, and who knows what else (please please please let this also work with bioluminescent bacteria). At least with kombucha/kefir, vinegar is your friend for keeping spaces clean, though over-brewed kombucha will also do the trick.
Quite the culture for the aspiring biohacker.
Next up: All the uses for kombucha (cleaner, shampoo, beverage, biohacking, etc)