New Dawn Trader

Tres Hombres image from New Dawn Traders

Cultures going on a voyage

Here are two of the three jars of starter cultures that I gave to Dr. Lucy Gilliam to take aboard the Tres Hombres, a 32 metre brigantine which set sail yesterday from Holland on a seven month voyage trace the Atlantic trade routes. The project New Dawn Trader has been following this route since 2009, hoping to explore the possibilities and ramifications of trading by sail power, all the while operating and living as sustainably as possible. 

Lucy will share the duty of cooking for the 20-strong crew from a tiny galley kitchen. I gave her three starters. The first is a sourdough culture, started in february with the yeast from two bottles of Kernel IPA and with the subsequent addition of wild yeast. The second jar contains a kombucha starter, born in Denmark aboard the good ship Nordic Food Lab with birch sap and a starter, and fed on Pu’er tea and raw cane sugar since April. The third jar (not pictured) is a ginger bug started in July.

The ship’s route takes her first to Norway, then over Scotland and Ireland before turning south for Lisbon. She will then cross the Atlantic to Brazil, and head north to the Caribbean then back east, and home,  via the Azores.

The project is still seeking funding for various activities, you can see what and how to contribute on IndieGoGo. Follow them on Twitter here, and you can read Lucy’s blog here.

Berry Juices

The english fruit season has become bountiful after a fortnight of sun and strawberries and cherries have benefited hugely - deeply coloured and with intense sweetness. They smell and taste exactly as they should.

This fruit came from Perry Court Farm, who have a stall at Herne Hill Market. Since my interests are directed towards drinks at the moment, I wanted to take all the juice out of the fruit, without using a juicer. I set water bath set to 41°C, one degree below the temperature at which vegetables are considered ‘cooked’ as opposed to raw. The temperature (more or less equal to a hot bath) is sufficient to soften the cell walls and draw the juice out of the fruit. The fruit stays relatively intact, so the juice that results is not as cloudy as it would be if it were cooked any hotter. Cooking in a vacuum-sealed bag means keeping hold of aromas that would be lost in an open pan.

The gooseberries are a little bit more tired looking, perhaps I am a week late for their sweet spot. I added powdered sugar (caster sugar would be slow to melt at low temperature), honey infused with pine shoots, and a branch of dried douglas fir and its needles.

After two hours I squeezed the fruit inside the bags and then heated them for another two hours. The cherry juice is destined for kombucha, with some birch sap scoby and mother, demerara sugar and gunpowder green tea. I will also add the crushed cherry stones - the benzaldehyde in the kernels will add an almond taste. The strawberry will probably also be turned into kombucha, and the gooseberries will become a fizzy pop, given life by adding some of my turmeric root and ginger ‘bug’.

Growing Ginger

Ginger Naturalisation 
 I bought a half kilo of organic ginger from  Franklins Farm Shop  in Dulwich, which had been imported on a boat from the  Côte d’Ivoire. All but a small knob went into my ginger bug and subsequent ginger beer, but that one little knob is doing well in my new greenhouse, planted with some really nice compost mixed with vermiculite. It has grown an inch this week. With luck, it will provide me with a lot of ginger, to satisfy my new love of homemade ginger beer.

Ginger Naturalisation

I bought a half kilo of organic ginger from Franklins Farm Shop in Dulwich, which had been imported on a boat from the Côte d’Ivoire. All but a small knob went into my ginger bug and subsequent ginger beer, but that one little knob is doing well in my new greenhouse, planted with some really nice compost mixed with vermiculite. It has grown an inch this week. With luck, it will provide me with a lot of ginger, to satisfy my new love of homemade ginger beer.

A batch of ginger beer, made from my ginger bug, raw and pasteurised honeys, and a little live yoghurt whey. It seems to have formed a kind of SCOBY (yeast and various bacteria manifest as a layer of rubbery cellulose) and is pleasantly effervescent. 
 Really good with whisky :)

A batch of ginger beer, made from my ginger bug, raw and pasteurised honeys, and a little live yoghurt whey. It seems to have formed a kind of SCOBY (yeast and various bacteria manifest as a layer of rubbery cellulose) and is pleasantly effervescent.

Really good with whisky :)