Perth City Farm, run by the awesome Bonnie Wykman (of PeaceTree Permaculture). The workshop was a great overview of fermented and cultured foods, from yoghurt and kefir through to sourdough, ginger beer, and mead, as well as the history and some of the health benefits of eating active (probiotic, i.e. containing live microorganisms) cultured foods.
Bonnie also gave us all samples of her sourdough starter, kefir culture, and water kefir culture. And then a friend of mine gave me some of her kefir grains as well, so I have two different strains which I’ve merged. For science!
I’ve been thinking about trying some lactofermentation for ages, but getting the starter cultures meant trying it now – and led to a massive bout of making and eating fermented probiotic foods. Since the workshop, I’ve made all the things. Kai & I have even (as of last night) started experimenting with lactofermented pickled vegetables. So in about 3 weeks we’ll be able to try them and see if it worked, and if adding a few olive leaves has the same keeping things crunchy effect as grape leaves apparently have. Watch this space.
Bourke St Bakery recipe book (which was amazing), and now – as in it’s in the oven right now, and smells delicious – a straight sourdough loaf from the same book.
My first attempt at kefir smelled a bit funny when I strained the kefir grains out. Not bad, just not the way I thought it should smell.. so I dutifully put the grains in fresh milk, and then left the kefir to continue to burble to itself for a few days. And as a result I ended up with over-fermented super sour kefir which is inedible (for me) but seems to make excellent hair conditioner. (Thank you, Natalia, for that idea)
I also tried eating a kefir grain. Weird. Chewy, like a gummy sweet, but not sweet at all. Quite nice, in that I’m not sure what just happened kind of way. The water kefir grains are much less odd to eat, just mildly sweet and bland with the texture of a strong jelly. Not chewy or sticky, just .. there.
I’m hooked. This is awesome. And since I can’t have a dog or a cat or chickens yet (we’re still renting until our house is built, and rental agents are pretty much universally anti-pet), these microbes (and the worm farm and the houseplants) are the next best thing.