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.

Kombucha Mats

Kombucha SCOBY mats

(S)ymbiotic (C)olony (O)f (B)acteria and (Y)east,

Mat - a polysaccharide biofilm matrix formed by the colony.

Both scobys come from the same source, a Birch Sap Mother from Nordic Food Lab. They are just over three months old. They have started to outgrow their jars, and so I have been sending pieces to other people who can nurture them and start their own kombucha obsessions.

The third image shows how the structure formed, layer by layer, over the last three months - generally speaking, a new feeding produces a new mat on the surface of the liquid which eventually joins up with the layers below, sometimes compacting into a homogenous mass. The furthest right round disk in the top image was around 1.5” thick before I sliced it horizontally.

These kombuchas have been fed on Pu’er tea, sucrose and honey. Sadly the ethereal, barely-there aroma of birch sap has vanished into the proverbial ether, but while the flavour exhibits nothing of it’s origins, its complexity is ever-increasing. I am using them as bases for all the other kombuchas I’m looking after, including bottles of strawberry, elderflower, gooseberry, lingonberry and cherry.

More adventures with Juniper Wood - lo-fi steam distillation

As per a suggestion from Ben Reade at Nordic Food Lab, I filled the coffee basket of my stovetop coffee pot with Juniper wood and the bottom chamber with water and a piece of unsalted butter. I filtered the peach coloured liquid that came out, and have a decent glass full of juniper stock. I had no end result in mind, save for a wish to capture the amazing aroma of juniper wood, and am considering making it into a fizzy soda or perhaps a new kombucha.

Elderflower Kombucha 
  I just fed the jar with sweetened organic gunpowder green tea, which is trying to push it’s way past the SCOBY and into it’s new home (elderflower/birch sap/yoghurt whey) . 2 weeks old

Elderflower Kombucha

I just fed the jar with sweetened organic gunpowder green tea, which is trying to push it’s way past the SCOBY and into it’s new home (elderflower/birch sap/yoghurt whey) . 2 weeks old

The underside of a birch sap and pu’er tea kombucha. The birch sap kombucha was given to me as a liquid at  Nordic Food Lab , having been made with reduced sap and and honey/verbena kombucha starter. I recently fed it 200g Pu’er tea, sweetened with a tablespoon of raw forest honey, and the scoby started to form three days later.

The underside of a birch sap and pu’er tea kombucha. The birch sap kombucha was given to me as a liquid at Nordic Food Lab, having been made with reduced sap and and honey/verbena kombucha starter. I recently fed it 200g Pu’er tea, sweetened with a tablespoon of raw forest honey, and the scoby started to form three days later.