Culture time!

No, not ballet, though I have been known to slip on a tutu from on occasion. We’re talking bacteria, yeast and mould today, more specifically, LAB, Milk Kefir, Kombucha, Apple Cider Vinegar and Koji.

There’s a plethora of good microbes in each of those and mixing them into our diet has had some great health benefits. We’ve been a bit slow replenishing some of them so this is a great opportunity to share some of our activity with you!

LAB or Lactic Acid Bacteria (not Athena’s kind of LAB though) is the generic term for a bunch of bacterial species that are integral to most of humanity’s fermentation experiences. There’s a whole bunch of them so I’ll just call them LAB for this article.

I caught some wild LAB using the rice wash method, which I’ll be dedicating a whole page to when the culture’s bred up enough to show. These are doing their thing in a couple of cups of full cream milk as I type.

Catching Lactic Acid Bacteria
Catching Lactic Acid bacteria

The rest of the carton of milk that Marlon didn’t drink went to become the home for a new bunch of Milk Kefir grains that I bought online. These are souring up the milk right now. I had my first taste this morning and feel better already!

Milk Kefir grains
Milk Kefir grains

We’re going big on the Kombucha and Apple Cider Vinegar at the moment, breeding up a lot of large, thick scobys fro Jelina to dry and process into fabric for wearable, organic, vegan clothing. We’ll need a lot and the potential health benefits of drinking lots of the fermented tea and apple juice has our gut flora jumping for joy! Jelina and I separately worked out techniques for making the scobys and mothers stable and odour free, something that the big players haven’t cracked yet! We were chatting one day and discovered that our separate experimentation had yielded convergent results (that’s science talk for ‘the same thing but different ways’). Up until now, fashion folks and artists have only managed small display pieces and have had trouble scaling up. Hopefully, when we’ve more material bred up to experiment with, we can put our ideas into play and prove the small scale findings.

The water bath.
The water bath

I’ve made up a large water bath in Jelina’s work area outside in which we keep our jars of fermenting tea, Apple juice and other gooey stuff at a constant temperature. It looks like a mad lab experiment and it is!

Koji has made its presence known at Ligaya Garden over the last few months. Since a visit from John aka The Mould Farmer, I’ve experimented with making Amazake, a deliciously sweet sloppy porridge that is the result of Koji mould working on sticky rice for a few hours. It’s healthy for us and Malron and I use it as a sugar substitute on our breakfast oats. It’s delicious!

Mushrooms are also really kicking off around the place. We’ve harvested a few kilos from the buckets over the last couple of months and the recent rains reinvigorated the spent spawn in the garden and rewarded us with a big flush of Oysters. Then disaster! I left the chicken run open one night and the girls worked their way through the piles of spawn and mushrooms and distributed them much more evenly over the garden, especially on the footpath. I was pretty ticked off when I found the mess, there were wood chips everywhere!

We’re starting Lion’s Mane too now, Danny from Barossa Gourmet Mushrooms has got the process pretty well down pat at his place and we’re trying it now at Ligaya Garden. The goal is to team up and produce fresh and dried Lion’s Mane and also extracts and tinctures to sell. It’s excellent for the brain as we age and for things like Alzheimer’s and Dementia and I reckon a lot of folks are heading that way.

Ligaya Garden looks like a living laboratory and that’s exactly what it is, a place of experimenting and learning about small scale and urban farming and intensive growing. We’ve a lot more glassware about the place than we intended but its all good – we get to eat the products!

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