Le Cidre 2016 – Local Crop Processing Project

•February 22, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The cider (le cidre) is well known alcoholic drink in parts of the world like Normandie, Bretagne, South West England, Ireland, Asturias and more could be named. I’m Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck, and I’m really into the cider so it came to me that it would be good to visit at least one of those regions with long history of cider making. I thought it would be very interesting and beneficial for future projects in this field in which I want to be involved. After quite some thinking I’ve decided for France and it’s famous cider making region Normandie. There were several reasons for that, the main having already contacts there from our previous Dancing Drops Fermentation Tour around Europe and easy and cost effective way how to reach it, in this case by car. I’ve split my visit into two because of my harvesting and processing activities of apple crop in Kout na Šumavě which was part of the Local Crop Processing Project (LCPP).  I’ve tried to learn as much as I could about cider related activities and I’m sharing this information now with you, I hope you will find it valuable.

The mode of transport for the trip was VW minivan, the same one which we used with Food Hacking Base (fhb) several times before and which is part of the OpenLab Augsburg hackerspace. I would like to thank again for letting us to utilize it, it was a great help! The advantages of this vehicle are numerous. For me being able to relay on it’s sturdiness is number one. Because of the size and design it allows to transport quite a selection of equipment, harvested crops and still you are able to use it for sleeping if necessary. In a way the trip started with a train ride from Czech Republic to Bavaria to Augsburg, where I’ve picked up the car and return to Czech to do the first phase of harvesting. I’ve collected variety of apples for tasting which I was brining to France because I was interested, if there is a potential to use them for high quality cider production in the future. Before I hit the road I have bought some “presents” like Czech sausages, beers and spirits so I would not arrive empty handed. It was a long journey for me, I did it in one way with just minimal number of stops, it took me over 15 hours of driving but all went fine, I’ve arrived in one piece and just in time for dinner, what more could I wish for?

I’ve found the farm or rather cidrerieLa Ferme du Vastel” quite easily, it came quite handy that I’ve visited the place before. I came late in the evening so actually I was quite lucky because all the work was done and the dinner was being served. I’ve talked to the folk a bit (in English), enjoyed the fire and quite soon went to bed because I was really tired. Christophe (the owner of the cidrerie) is every year inviting his friends and people who support his business to join him for the harvest season opening his house for week or two. People help with harvest and they get bed, food and lots of fun in exchange. With just few hours of work every day in the afternoon and partying late nearly every day it is really good deal, people have been very happy to come back again over the years. I’ve enjoyed my time during the harvest a lot, learned quite a lot about the harvesting and processing work, got back to cooking preparing variety of dishes, learned a bit how the farm is operating and socialized with many interesting people. Most of the visitors spoke English, alas with me not knowing any French than, I had to pass on quite a few conversations.

Now lets talk a bit about harvesting and processing of the apple because we will probably agree on that being an important part of  the cider making activities and the main reason why I came made this trip in first place. If it is not heavy rain, the normal picking day during the collective harvest time starts around 13:30 or 14:00, that translates you are on the field ready to start and finishes latest around 18:00 or before. Christophe is first coming to the field in advance with tractor and trailer for the apple collection and transportation and the people who help with the harvest arrive later with cars. We bring food and drinks for the break time with us. When on the field people get their “le panier” basket and they start to pick the apples from the ground at the beginning of the tree line. It is really important that you start to pick from the edge because otherwise when walking around you crash the apples with your feet which would later on get rotten and likely to spoil the apples which fall down around later on. Each orchard is generaly being harvested more than once during the autumn season. Before the harvest time comes the grass is cut as short as possible, it makes the picking of the apples much more easy. So you start from the edge of the tree canopy towards it’s trunk in the center, going down on your knees and you pick all the good apples to the panier, throwing the rotten apples out from below the tree into the middle line where they are left to rot leaving the area under the tree nice and clean of all the apples. Once your basket is nearly full you call “panier” and the person who is dedicated to the job of bringing the full baskets will come and give you empty one so you can continue without having to get up and move around. Panier man is normally “employed” when there are four and more people picking, it is good to change after hour or two because with each paniet being around 10-12 kg it is quite hard job. The panier man hands you the empty basket and brings the full basket to the tractor trailer. Before he disposes the panier into the trailer trying to keep the apples level, he takes one small apple out (every time for each basket) and puts it in the counting bucket. In the meanwhile someone else is already calling “panier” so he is on his way again. The apples in the counting bucket are counted at the end of the shift so the number of panier collected is known. That is very important for the purpose of keeping track on your efficiency but also because in same cases on the rented orchards it is traditional habit that you “officially” harvest all the apples for the orchard owner, but you keep all the apples and you pay only every second panier to the owner of the orchard. However this depends on the situation and changes from place to place and person to person. The panier are therefore counted and the amount of money going to the orchard owner is set and paid later in money or products or not at all depending on the agreement. The apples in Normandie, well definitely in the region of  Vallée de Sair are generally of smaller size, as small or even smaller than usual chicken eggs, some of them are however really tiny more or less size of big cherries, picking up those is definitely taking up quite some time but they are important because of their high tannins and aromatic compound content. During our harvest time we have visited both the really traditional orchards with high trunk tree varieties designed for cattle grazing and the newer ones, where shorter trees, quarter or half trunks, are planted in lines and where the grass is generally cut by machine. Proper grass management before the harvest season is very important.

Around 15:30 or 16:00 we take a break, sit all together and we eat and drink. It is really nice, relaxed and slow moment, with lots of talking and joking. After that more picking and when the six is getting close we finish up, gather all what is needed and leave for Ferme du Vastel. If the trailer is full or if we go for another field next day, Christophe brings the tractor with the trailer back to the farm and unload it at the “parking lot” where he first disperse big plastic tarp so the apples do not get extra dirty from the soil. In this way he collects several tuns of apples before he process them. For this season he asks his neighbor who has mobile crashing and pressing unit to come because it is very time efficient, he can process around 1.5-2 metric tonnes of apples per hour (however with the wash up of the apples it takes longer). Using the mobile “apple processors” (le presseur ou le pilleur) is actually very traditional way in Normandie dating many hundreds of years back as variety of books, photographs and museums show.

During my first part of my visit this autumn we have been picking up the apples for making apple juice for drinking because the apple harvesting season was very late this year. The idea is to pick up all the apples which falls too early having therefore low sugar content which is not suitable for cider making and process them into juice which is usually pasteurized and sold later on. The first step of the processing is washing up of the apples removing soil, grass and other impurities and of course also apples which are too rotten (the apples should be processed after harvesting as quickly as possible, within one week should be quite OK if they are harvested manually). Next phase is crashing the apples into the pulp which is subsequently pressed into the apple juice. The crashed apples and apple juice are oxidizing quickly turning brown, therefore once the apples are crashed no time should be wasted and the apples should be pressed and the resulting juice pasteurized as quickly as possible, at least that is one of the ways. For this purpose Christophe has a pasteurization device EHA18 (Gebhardt Anlagentechnik) which can process around 200 l of juice per hour. The pasteurized beverage is bottled into 1 l clear glass wide mouth bottles and to the “bag-in-box” (la caisse-outre) plastic bags with spigot in paper box and stored at room temperature. During the 2016 autumn season Christophe has harvested  around 30 metric tonnes of apples in total (including apples for cider harvested later on), producing 8000 liters of apple juice. Rest of the apples were used for cider production, but at the end, only the best is to become cider. The rest goes for calvados, bisou (like pommeau) and vinegar. The pressing efficiency is around 60-75% (600-750 l) of juice from one metric tonne. Unfortunately I could not be present for the processing phase because I needed to come back to Czech and continue with my own harvest and processing.

During my time in Normandie I’ve took some time off and visited some interesting places in the region. For me number one was the Musée Régional du Cidre in Valognes, which was really impressive and I can recommend it to anyone who is interested in the subject. If you go, make sure that it is open because it is closed for most of the year and opens just at some certain times during the harvest season. I would say that spending there three or four hours is well used time. When in the area I visited also Cherbourg which is the main regional town. It is very lovely place with sea clearly playing very important role in it’s past and current history, unfortunately it has also strong military tradition and recently it became also quite nuclear friendly. The maritime museum Cité de la Mer is highly recommended place to visit, probably the main attraction of the town. Of course if you have your own transport and the weather is reasonably good, then taking the coastal road from Réville or Barfleur is amazing thing to do, stop from time to time on the beaches or the protected marshlands, enjoy like me the view of the former Atlantic Wall bunkers being slowly taken by the sea and just relax, it is worth it.

All in all I’ve really enjoyed my stay and decided during my time here that I would like to come back to learn more during the harvest season and I started to play with the idea of coming back here and staying for longer. Be careful it may happen to you too!


Rice preparation for brewing makgeolli – 15/5/2013

•May 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This manual is going to show us how to prepare rice for brewing makgeolli. In order to obtain the best results it is important to keep in mind that the preparation of different rice varieties and rice types is giving us many options which results in different flavours. For example preparation of japonica variety of rice, “white type” is going to be different than preparation of japonice rice, brown type, also choosing steaming or boiling will have major effect two. This manual is going to focus on preparation of japonica variety, white rice, sticky glutinous type in Korean 찹쌀 [chapsal].


The main steps in rice preparation are measuring the rice, washing away the starch, letting the rice soak, drying it, fallowing by steam cooking and finally cooling it down, making it ready to be used as growing medium for the microbes in nuruk culture (Kim et al., 2011). The whole procedure can be divided into the active and passive time as shown below. Active time represents various actions and procedures when we are generally fully occupied with the brewing process. The passive time corresponds to the procedures like soaking the grains, steaming them etc. therefore we can do, at least to some degree, other activities. The passive and active time results in total time needed for whole process to take place.


  • Active time (minutes)

10 place preparation, measuring the rice

15  washing  the rice

5 draining the rice

15 steamer preparation and rice transfer

10 cooked rice transfer and cooling down

10 storing rice

30 cleaning

95 TOTAL (around one and half hour)


  • Passive time (minutes)

180 soaking the rice

45 draining the rice

40 steaming the rice

40 cooling down the rice

10 storing the rice

315 TOTAL (bit over five hours)

410 minutes of TOTAL (around 7 hours)

  • Materials

1 kg of white sticky rice (var. japonica)

tap water


  • Equipment

working bench – to work on

sink or other water source and drainage – to dispose excess water and to clean the equipment

cup or spoon – to transfer the rice

small 2-3 l bowl (stainless steel or other material) – to measure the rice into

scales 5-20 g accuracy – to weight the rice

large 10-15 l bowl (stainless steel or other water resistant material) – to wash the rice

drier (net or sieve) – to dry the rice

steam cooker – to steam cook the rice

cotton cloth – to steam and cool the rice (alternatively silicone cloth)

temperature resistant gloves (oven mitt) – to move the hot steam cooker parts

spurtle – to turn around the rice

fermentation container (ceramic, glass, stainless or plastic) – to ferment the rice


Working Manual

  • ensure that your working bench and all the equipment which you need is ready and clean and you have enough time to carry out all the steps without hurry
  • measure 1000 g of the dry rice grains into a smaller bowl (simple to handle) using the scale

  • transfer the rice into the big bowl and add up to 5 l of tap water (cold or room temperature)

  • start to mix the rice in circular motion by your hand, notice how the colour of the water is turning to a milky colour because of the release in cold water insoluble starch

  • once the colour of the water turns more white, which takes around 60 seconds, stop for a moment to let the grains to settle down to the bottom and dispose carefully the starchy water mix not losing the grains (if you are not sure use strainer or sieve to capture the floating grains), if you see impurities as for example rice husk, remove it

  • add another 5 l of water and repeat the process

  • keep repeating the washing and draining till the water stops getting too white, which is generally between 5-7 repetitions (for 1 kg of rice, up to 10 times for 3 kg of rice etc)

  • once the rice is washed add around 3 l of water but do not mix, just note the colour of the water, it should be close to transparent, if it is so

  • dispose the water once more add another 3 l of water and let the rice to soak for approximately three hours at room temperature (20-25°C), if warmer shorten the time period to 2 and half or even to two hours (30-40°C)

  • after the soaking wash the rice twice in 5 l of cold water again mixing just briefly

  • dispose the water and transfer the rice into the drier and spread equally thin to dry quickly, it should take around 30 minutes (can be speeded up by directing a fan  on the rice), note that the rice doesn’t have to be completely dry at  the end of the process (*NOTE-1)

  • in the meanwhile when the rice is drying prepare the steam cooker, making sure that it is steaming when the rice is ready so you do not waste time. Remove the steamer holder to the bench first (so it is cold and easy to manipulate) and place a cotton cloth on it

  • once the rice is dry transfer it from the drier on the cloth spread on the steamer holder and spread as thin and equal as possible however bit thicker around the middle where more steam is likely to be passing and therefore the rice will be cooked faster, it ensures an equal steaming which is desirable. Cover the surface of the rice completely by the cotton cloth to prevent excess drying during the steaming

  • when the steam cooker starts to steam move the rice into it making sure that the steam is filling up the steaming chamber properly and it is not escaping before passing through the rice (check the bottom parts of the steam cooker for steam leakage)

  • let the rice steam for around 20-25 minute

  • after 20 minutes of steaming open carefully the steamer wearing oven mitt avoiding the impact of the escaping hot steam on your face, remove part of the cloth and taste few grains of the rice, if the texture is a bit chewy but not too soft

  • switch off the rice steamer and transfer the rice in the cotton cloth carefully to the place where you want to cool it down (be careful about contamination by insect!)

  • unfold the cloth and spread the rice thin and equal to cool down to temperature below 35°C (Note 2), turning it around with spurtle few times, if you are in hurry direct a fan on the rice

  • once the rice cools down transfer it to the fermentation vessel and use it for brewing the makgeolli or store at 4°C but use it as quickly as possible. Alternatively the rice can be also frozen to store for longer periods of time.



Note 1 – When the rice is steamed it absorbs certain amount of water, if it is too wet it absorbs more moisture and the ratio of added water during the fermentation has to be decreased.

Note 2 – Temperatures over 35°C could be harmful to some of the microbes present in the fermentation starter.


Interesting links

Kim H. R., Kim J.H., Bai D.H. and Ahn B.H (2011) Identification and Characterization of Useful Fungi with α-Amylase Activity from the Korean Traditional Nuruk. The Journal of Microbiology, 39, 278-282.

Sugar wash and distillation adventure 15/11/2012

•November 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So here it comes again. After trying several months ago with help from more experienced brewers and distillers, I decided to “take the things into my hands”. Being blessed with full access to a very well equipped fermentation laboratory, having a budget for ingredients and finally also time, well there were no excuses which would allow me to further postpone this adventure to, at least for me, to the new realms of fermentation. The last note actually did not turned to be completely true. During this journey I have experienced flashbacks of my childhood and teenage years and my frequent visits of my grandfather. The smell which I’m now experiencing when distilling, “the head, the tail” and the potent product just show me that I’m certainly not the first one on this road. At least my grandpa wandered far far away in these fields bringing back some true treasures which rarely had less than 60% of alcohol content. It took my ankle many years of intensive tasting to take care about the heritage which ranged from cognacs, whiskeys, rums, gins and vodkas to more experimental ones like for example “propolisovice” high spirited miracle made from propolis (well most people possessed substances of this type “for external uses only” well I do not believe that my grandpa ever tried something “so foolish and wasteful”). Also the memory of family relicts especially like the ones left behind by my grandfather’s father came to me now. Unsurprisingly most of them were actually in an active service of my grandpa for the same noble cause with the only difference that his father was “fully officially certified” and allowed to make the spirits and sell them in his shop. Well the times changed and moving to illegality become the way as many other moonshiners know just too well from their own experience.

Anyway lets not get lost in the past and move to the lovely presence where we can legally brew and distill, at least here in Seoul, for experimental and educational purposes 🙂 For this brew I decided to use turbo yeast because of the high tolerance to alcohol stress (claiming up to 18% of alcohol per volume, but reaching more likely around 16%). However they are suppose to produce more ethyl acetate than the more slowly fermenting yeast. Also the yeast used in “turbo yeast brand” (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) probably it’s strain EC-1118 is suppose to be highly hybridized which results in quite fast mutations and changes in their behavior, which of course affects their fermentation properties. Anyway I decided to try them out because they were already available. So below is what I have done and what were the results. I’m fully aware that there are lots of things which should be done better if not omitted at all but well one learns from mistakes, at least should try …

  • Sugar wash preparation

final culture volume – approximately 15 l
3 kg (20%(w/v)) of white sugar
1 kg (6.67 %(w/v)) of dark brown sugar
70 g (0.47% (w/v/)) of turbo yeast (with nutrition included)
purified water (??? what type of purification)

20 l fermentation stainless steel container with sealable lid – for fermentation of the brew
air lock – to release the carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation
10 l stainless steel bowl – to hold and dissolve the sugar
water kettle – to boil the water for dissolving the sugar
weight boat – to weight yeast
small 1-2 l bowl – to dissolve the sugar in warm water to activate the yeast
stainless spoon – to mix ingredients
incubator – to keep the brew at dedicated temperature
bleach or strong detergent – to sanitize the equipment

– sanitize all the equipment which you are going to use, especially the fermentation vessel with water mixed with bleach or strong detergent, rinse several times thoroughly!
– take one or two spoons (2-4 g) of sugar and dissolve in approximately 150-200 ml of warm water
– weight 70 g of yeast into weight boat, transfer to the bowl with sugary solution (around 30°C) and mix till the yeast is dissolved, let the yeast to activate at 30°C for half an hour or hour
– start to bring the water to the boil in the water kettle, around 4 l in total
– in the meanwhile weight 3 kg of white sugar and 1 kg of dark rich brown sugar into the big stainless steel bowl and start to stir the mixture dissolving the sugar
– once the sugar is dissolved, transfer the mix into the sanitized fermentation vessel and add water (cold or room temperature) up to 80% of the final volume (approximately 12 l) (keep in mind that oxygenation of the water helps the yeast to prolifer so shaking intensively the water half on half with air in some sealable container for several mintues helps)
– start to add hot water aiming for 30°C, keep under the final volume so around 14 l
– once the brew (sugar wash or growing medium) is at 30°C add the primed yeast and stir well for few minutes
– add the rest of the water bringing the final volume to 15 l keeping in mind that the temperature should be around 30°C
– close the fermentation vessel and install the air lock
– transfer the vessel into the incubator and let to ferment at 30°C for the start, if you do not have the incubator, wrap the vessel by some insulation material
– keep at 30°C till you see the fermentation to take off, the air lock starts to bubble because of the escaping carbon dioxide which is being produced

– I did not sanitized the equipment as well as I should but it worked out, there doesn’t seem to be any contamination
– I decided to make 15 l of the sugar wash because the distillation still which I wanted to use has around 12 l of working volume so it left me with around 3 l of the wash for my own non distillation use, being able to do just one distillation run with the rest
– Instead of 30°C for the fermentation I brought the temperature up to 35°C within first six hours and kept it for first two days at that – it was unintended and it is not recommended because higher temperature of fermentation results in creation of more undesired compounds
– it took around two days for the brew to start to ferment (judged by the bubbles in the air lock)
– on third day I removed the brew from the incubator and let it ferment at approximately 20°C till the distillation
– on third day I tasted the sugar wash which was very sweet with a hint of alcohol
– on the fourth day the alcohol content started to rise – tested by taste buds and by smell 🙂
– on fifth day the alcoholic smell became quite strong but still the brew was happily fermenting, the taste was quite potent
–  I started the brew on 1st of November and distill it on 12th of November, with last few days not noticing any active fermentation, so with roughly 10 days interval in total

  • Distillation

12 l of sugar wash

distillation still – to carry out the distillation
condenser – to condensate the evaporating alcohol (and other substances) produced in the still
glass beakers – to capture the condensed alcohol
foil – to cover the beakers with alcohol to prevent evaporation
hydrometer – to measure alcohol content

– clean up thoroughly the distillation still, condenser and the glass beakers used for collection of the alcohol
– transfer 12 l of the sugar wash into the distillation still bowl
– connect the condenser, make sure that the water used for cooling the condenser is running and being disposed properly into the sink
– prepare sufficient amount of beakers of appropriate sizes and label them in advance (on the side where it is unlikely that the alcohol will spill and erase the markings)
– close the still making sure it is well sealed and start to heat the sugar wash
– in the meanwhile start the water flow into the condenser and set up the first beaker to capture the head, 100 ml recommended
– the liquid fractions collected at the beginning  of the fermentation are called singlings and contain volatile oil contaminants and are of higher alcohol percentage
– the liquid fractions collected towards the end are called low wine and are of lower alcohol percentage
– repeat with another 100 ml of distillate and move for 250 ml beaker and later on to 500 ml
– keep collecting the distillate and in the meanwhile
– measure the alcohol content of the first 100 ml of distillate by transferring part of it into the 100 ml measuring cylinder and use the hydrometer to measure the alcohol content
– repeat the process with other distillates which you collected until the alcohol volume drops below 20% per volume. At that time you should start to smell ??? the volatile compounds in the “tail”
– stop the distillation
– decide how much of your brew is “head” and how much is “tail” and dispose it
– pool together the rest of the distillate and measure the final volume and alcohol concentration
– clean the still and equipment and prepare for second run

– I started the distillation switching on the heating of the still at 10:15 with 12 l of sugar wash
– at 11:00 I got the temperature to 50°C
– at 11:20 I got the first 700 ml of distillate captured in the “receiving flasks” respectively beakers
– I collected first two fractions in separate 100 ml beakers and disposed them as a head
– I captured 500 ml in third beaker (700 ml total) and so on till number nine (3700 ml from the start)
– I measured the alcohol content of all fractions and tasted them
– fractions – 1 = 100 ml, 75%; 2 = 100 ml, 69%; 3 = 500 ml, 67%; 4 = 500 ml, 62%; 5 = 500, 56%; 6 = 500 ml, 50%; 7 = 500 ml, 38%; 8 = 500 ml, 26% and 9 = 500 ml, 13%
– I stopped distillation at 12:30, therefore after two hours and 15 minutes
– the fraction eight and nine smelled strongly of some ethers or higher alcohols so I disposed them
– I decided to pull together fractions three to seven, resulting in 2.5 l of 54% alcohol which I distilled again to purify them farther

  • Second distillation/run

– I transferred 2.5 l of 54% alcohol to the distillation still and started to distill at 13:45
– all distillation was done at 14:30, therefore within 45 minutes
– I collected following fractions measuring their volume and alcohol content: 1 = 100 ml, 82%; 2 = 100 ml, 85%; 3 = 250 ml, 83%; 4 = 500 ml, 83%; 5 = 250 ml, 81%; 6 = 250 ml, 72%; 7 = 250 ml, 49%; 8 = 250 ml, 5%
– I disposed faction number one and eight
– I pulled together fractions two to seven, resulting in 1500 ml of 75% alcohol
– I kept the distillate in a glass beaker, covered by plastic foil at 20°C ready for the third distillation

  • Some Links

http://homedistiller.org/  Home Distillation of Alcohol
http://homedistiller.org/sugar/wash-sugar/yield  http://homedistiller.org/sugar/wash-sugar/yield
http://homedistiller.org/wash/ferment/which  yeast strains overview

Tofu preparation, manual 3/3/2012 Omura, Japan

•August 6, 2012 • 1 Comment

Tofu (bean curd) is a food made by coagulation of soy milk by various agents where the resulting curds are collected and pressed in cheesecloth (or more dense cloth) to remove the excess liquid which results in a white soft blocks of tofu. Tofu is originating in China, where it has been discovered several hundreds years before the Christ. It has low caloric value, it is low on fats and high on proteins. It’s flavour is mild which makes it optimal for marinating and seasoning. Due to the nigari/magnesium chloride which is the coagulating agent used in this manual it is also high on magnesium. It should be noted that consumption of non fermented tofu is in Asia not recommended to the children and old people because it is difficult to digest. This is being solved by fermentation of tofu. The manual below is a result of tofu making workshop which was organized by Jasper Language School in Ōmura, Japan where I was volunteering in March 2012 and I would like to thanks for the opportunity to participate. It is just slightly altered in places where I was not sure and I used info from another online sources.

Final weight of tofu – ??? g has to be calculated ???

  • Ingredients

500 g of dried soy beans
water (purified if possible)
nigari – magnesium chloride (MgCl2) – for 500 g of dried soybeans is recommended to add 4 teaspoons, exact weight has to be found out, in manual 9 g are mentioned but that may not be exact because I am not sure what amount of dried soybeans we used

  • Equipment

2x pot (10 l)
2x bowls (3-5 l)
canvas bag or cheesecloth
500 -1000 ml measuring cup with scale
tea spoon
tofu mould (see the image)
weight (cup filled with water)
plastic bag (to store tofu)
glass closeable box (to store tofu)
glass closeable box (to store okara)

  • Procedure

– wash the dried soybeans in a cold water two or three times and try to remove outer skin
– steep the soybeans in a filtered water if possible for up to two days, if the temperature is below 15°C or just for 10-24 hours, if it is warmer 15-40°C
– after “24 hours” of steeping wash the soybeans again, twice, trying to remove the outer skin
– prepare the blender and add 0.5 l of steeped soybeans and 1 l of cold water, ratio 1:2
– blend on high rotation per minute (rpm) for 90 s, pause for 30 s and blend again for 90 s (the tofu master insist that this is an important part and you should keep following the intervals, I do not know what is the reason of that yet)
– decant the mixture into the canvas bag/cheesecloth placed in a bowl
– squeeze the bag to separate the particles (okara) from the liquid (soy milk)
– add around 200 ml of water to the okara in the bag and squeeze it again into the bowl
– transfer the okara into the bag or container and store at cold till used (up to a week)
– prepare a larger pot (10 l) filled with 4 l of water and bring it to the boil and let to cool a bit down to 85-90°C
– add the soy milk and mix slowly bringing the mixture to a boil on a low flame
– once boiling lower the flame and continue mixing for another 10 minutes, keeping it simmering
– weight the nigari/MgCl2 (9 g)
– switch off the flame and let the mixture cool to 74-76°C
– add slowly the MgCl2 to the soy milk and mix vigorously and observe the coagulation process, stop adding the coagulant when the coagulation is complete, be careful not to add more MgCl2 than necessary
– clean and make ready the tofu mould and place it into the bowl to capture the liquid (which will be disposed later on)
– place a canvas bag (cheese cloth) inside the tofu mould and over the edges and pour the coagulate into it
– fold the cheesecloth on the top and close the mould by the top part and add some weight of around 0.5 kg as for example tea cup with water on the top to create the pressure to facilitate the straining
– keep the tofu straining for 30 to 60 minutes, remove the liquid if the tofu starts to be submerged
– after the 30-60 min remove the liquid from the bowl completely and add larger quantity of water (6-8 l)
– remove the cup, open the mould, turn it sideways keeping it submerged and remove the bag with tofu keeping it floating in the water so it doesn’t brake
– remove carefully the bag and let the tofu float, you may cut it in half to easy up the manipulation
– transfer the tofu into the container adding the pressed liquid ??? (or water) and keep it submerged or put into the plastic bag and keep in the container, in both cases keep at cold (fridge)
– use within several days if left at cold without any additive
– for nutritionally optimal consumption you should ferment the tofu (Katz, 2012) to increase its digestibility
– unfermented tofu should not be consumed by children, older or ill people because it is hard to digest

  • Recommended Literature, links and contacts

Katz S. E. (2012) In The Art of Fermentation. Goodman M. and Jorstad L. (ed.), 1st edn., Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont, USA, pp 333-335.

Shurtleff W. and Aoyagi A. (1983) In Book of Tofu. 2nd edn. Ten Speed Press, ISBN-13: 978-1580080132, USA.

SoyDirect Soy Milk Maker. Available at http://www.soya.be/soyadirect.php (6th of August 2012)

Continuous fermentation of kombucha (cfko) 23/6/2012

•June 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment
  • Goal of this experiment: start up of a continuous fermentation of kombucha probiotic culture which should results in following:

– increase in the speed of growth of the kombucha SCOBY
– increase in biodiversity and resistance of the culture against possible contaminants
– decrease of the time needed for the upkeep of the culture, harvesting and handling in general
– improvement of the flavour of the beverage produced
– increase in the variety and amount of health benefiting compounds
– shortening the time needed to produce the beverage when needed

  • Concerns

– increase in waste of beverage if the beverage get over fermented
– amount of time needed to re-establish the balance of the culture if the equilibrium gets disturbed

  • Ingredients

culture volume, Vc = 11 l
dark rich brown sugar (sugar cane) – 6 % (w/v), 660 g
ceylon loose tea (black) – 0.6 % (w/v), 66 g
kombucha mother (SCOBY) – 2 % (w/v), 220 g (two bigger younger top layers, one smaller, half circle SCOBY)
kombucha vinegar – 5 % (v/v), 550 ml (kombucha harvested on 23/5/2012 and left to ferment at room t, anaerobicly; very acidic flavour)

  • Equipment

induction stove
digital scales (max weight up to 1 kg or more)
plastic fermentation vessel with spigot in the bottom (12 l final total volume)
bowl (holding around 0.5-1 l) (to weigh the tea)
bowl or pot (holding around 2-3 l) (to weigh the sugar)
bowl or pot (holding around 6 l) (to dissolve the sugar)
spoon (stainless)
3-5 l pot (2x) (to boil the water for the tea and steep it)
strainer (to strain the tea)
bag for the waste
cheesecloth or muslin (to cover the final brew)
string (to keep the cheesecloth tight)

  • Procedure

– clean the place for the experiment and prepare the equipment and ingredients
– label by tape and permanent marker the water level in the fermentation vessel, especially from 7 l up
– start to heat up 1.5 – 2 l of the water in the pot
– simultaneously weigh out the tea and to another bowl the sugar to have them ready
– when the water boils, switch it off and add the tea, steer it in so it is submerged
– let to steep up to 10 minutes
– strain the tea using the strainer to another bowl and dispose the leaves to compost bin
– add the sugar to the hot brew and mix it till dissolved
– add around 2 l of cold water to cool it down (transferring to glass or plastic container)
– transfer the tea-sugar syrup to the fermentation vessel
– add another five litres or so (up to 80% of Vc)
– measure the temperature making sure that the liquid is not too warm (less than 30°C)
– add the kombucha vinegar and stir a bit
– bring the volume to very close to the final culture volume Vc = 11 l
– add the kombucha SCOBY’s by the new whitish side up being in touch with air
– cover the wide mouth opening by cheesecloth and attach it tightly by a string to the vessel, so no insect can get in
– let the kombucha ferment at room temperature, preferably within the range 20-30°C
– wait 3-5 days and taste every day waiting for the culture to be ready for the first harvest
– observe the kombucha mother SCOBY making sure that the culture doesn’t get contamintated with mold, examples: SCOBY contamination 1,  SCOBY contamination 2 and SCOBY contamination 3.
– once is the brew ready, bottle around 20-30% of the brew (around 2-4 l)
– replace with the same amount of a sugar tea brew (based on the 6% (w/v) ratio for sugar and 0.6% (w/v) ratio of tea; for 3 l = 180 g of sugar and 18 g of black tea)

  • Links to more information:

Curtin L. V. (1983) Molasses – General Considerations.

Jayabalan R., Malini K. and Yun S.E. (2010) Biochemical characteristics of tea fungus produced during kombucha fermentation. Journal of Food Science and Biotechnology
19(3), 201-205.

Jayabalan R., Subathradevi P., Marimuthu S., Sathishkumar M. and Swaminathan K. (2008) Changes in free-radical scavenging ability of kombucha tea during fermentation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 109, 227-234.

Mayser P., Fromme S., Leitzmann C. and Gründer K. (1995) The yeast spectrum of the ‘tea fungus Kombucha’. Mycoses 38(7-8), 289-295.

Olbrich H. (1963) Molasses

I would like to thank to Susubori Academy for a support of this pilot experimental project.

Increase in biomass of the kefir grains during their growth 26/6/2012

•June 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The goal of this experiment is to find out the increase of the biomass of the kefir grains during their growth in milk.

  • Objectives

– monitor the increase of the biomass of the grains
– find out how easy, likely are the grains to separate (handling them with care)
– speed of fermentation, observing the separation of the whey and kefir coagulate

  • Ingredients and equipment

whole pasteurized and homogenized milk – Seoul milk brand
kefir culture (grains)
1.5 l glass container
1-3 l glass containers (several)
digital high precision scales Experiment started 21/6/2012 at 19:00
weight boat
2 l bowl

  • Procedure

– warm up 1 l of milk to 30°C and pour it to the bowl
– transfer the grains from old batch (trying to clear them from the excess kefir coagulate) to the bowl  washing them thoroughly in a lukewarm milk (30°C) to remove as much of the coagulate as possible
– transfer the grains into the strainer covering them so no insect can infect them and let them drain for 5 minutes moving them around one or two times
– clean in the meanwhile the jar which you used for the fermentation and pure the fresh milk which you used for washing the grains in to it
– transfer the fermented/cultured kefir coagulate and whey to the storage container and move to the cold (fridge 4°C)
– switch up the scales, and “tare” the weight boat on them
– place the grains to the weight boat counting them in the same time, write the number down
– write down the weight
–  transfer the grains into the container with the fresh milk
– close the jar and let to ferment at room temperature (in this case 25-30°C)
– open the jar at least once per day to allow for a bit of aeration (advantageous for the yeast)
– note when the firm (kefir coagulate) and liquid (whey) parts start to separate
– after 48 hours take a picture of the culture and note the ratio of separation of the firm and liquid part
– repeat the procedure harvesting the old and starting a new batch of kefir

  • Data:

Experiment started 21/6/2012 at 19:00

21/6/2012 – 19:00: amount of grains = 7; weight = 62.2 g

23/6/2012 – 19:00: amount of grains = 8; weight = 65.9 g

25/6/2012 – 19:00: amount of grains = 8; weight = 69.15 g (grains drained just for +-3 min and placed to milk of 20-25°C)

27/6/2012 – 19:00: amount of grains = 9; weight = 72.6 g; the “new grain” is very small

29/6/2012 – 16:30; amount of grains = 10; weight = 84.2 g (the “new grain” is a part of the old one, it is of very small size)

1/7/2012 – 20:00; amount of grains = 10; weight = 87.28 g (the added milk has room temperature)

3/7/2012 – 18:30; amount of grains = 9; weight = 96.27 g (one small grain lost) (the added milk has room temperature)

5/7/2012 – 18:30; amount of grains = 9; weight = 107.57 g (the added milk has room temperature)



The realisation of this experiment would be not possible without support of Susubori Academy, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

  • Links to more information:

Guzel-Seydim Z., Kok-Tas T., Ertekin-Filiz B. and Seydim A.C. (2011) Effect of different growth conditions on biomass increase in kefir grains. Journal of Dairy Science 94 (3), 1239-1242.

Guzel-Seydim Z., Kok-Tas T., Greene A.K., Seydim A.C. (2011) Review: functional properties of kefir. Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 51 (3), 261-268.

Simova E., Beshkova D., Angelov A., Hristozova Ts., Frengova G. and Sposov Z. (2002) Lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in kefir grains and kefir made from them. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 28, 1-6.

Wouters J.T.M., Ayad E. H. E., Hugenholtz J. and Smit G. (2001) Microbes from raw milk for fermented dairy products. International Dairy Journal 12, 91-109.

Probiotic Workshop at Susubory Academy 10/6/2012

•June 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This workshop on probiotics was one of the relaxed ones. We have met at Susubori Academy, starting around 17:30 with a short presentation about my travels in Central and Northern America and Europe and what type of fermentation projects I have been involved in there.

Next step was tasting. First we have tried the kefir ferment, which was “the culture of the focus” of this meeting. We talked about the origin (Caucasus mountains) and history of kefir and its beneficial activities and differences compared to the yogurt. Some of the participants took home the culture which was great!  The next taster was the a Larry’s cooler which is a drink based on kefir whey (liquid drained part of the kefir ferment) culture therefore lactic fermentation of brown sugar and in this case flavour was added by steeping 3 bags of earl grey tea. Most of the people considered the result tasty so you are welcome to try to brew it by yourself, link to the blog post about the “unflavoured” version is here.

After that we have moved to the practical part and one group was harvesting and making a new batch of kefir when second group started to prepare special fermented dish “livance” which is very similar to pancakes but more fluffy. We have prepared strawberry/kefir variation and honey based version, both of them disappearing very quickly.

After the “break” we tasted some kombucha beverage. The long expected ginger beer was served with livance and it was enjoyed greatly. We have moved to the practical demonstration when we did two five litre batches of the ferment as a group based on the recipe posted here with ginger concentration being around 3.5% (w/v) therefore 180 g per batch (cleaned and blended). The brews were finished quite pretty fast and left to ferment at Susubori at room temperature.

We have just relaxed after that and talked a bit discussing fermentation in general and also what to do on the next meetings. The date was not challenged so next meeting is going to happen on Sunday 17th of June at Susubori Academy starting around 16:00, please see the web page here for directions

And the best at the end. We have received 20 000 won in donations up to now (not including the snacks which Benjamin and his friend brought in and which we really nice!) which has covered our expenses for the workshop. It is hard to say exactly what are exactly the costs because all the different experiments which are on going and ingredients which were used just partly etc. But we are on the safe, plus side for sure. I hope we will be able to build up nice and strong budget for our future activities which would be great to have on line based and transparent, because I think that it works the best.

Once more thanks to everyone for coming, it was really nice.

I hope to see you next week on the more gathering style event where it would be more chat and taste based with variou people introducing their fermentation “successes” and the people who are new being inspired by their art.


Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck