Workshop on Probiotics in Hacker Space Seoul

After being in Seoul for a bit more than two weeks I was finally organizing another “get together” event on fermentations. This event was hosted by Hacker Space Seoul during their “Open Wednesday night” and it was really great that we could use the place with it’s handy location by the Euljiro 3-ga (directions). There were around ten of us coming with various level of experience with fermentations ranging from people new to the subject, to the ones experienced with preparation of probiotics like kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha and water kefir grains to brewing of beer, cider and even distilling. Several people who came were members of Hacker Space Seoul and Seoul Moonshiners.

This evening I was mostly explaining concept of probiotics from the point of view of traditional cultured foods and beverages, today’s use around Western World both on a small to medium scale and also on a large industrial level. I was stressing the need and potential for the use of probiotic cultures in developing countries which I have personally promoted during my visit of Chiapas in Mexico. We have covered bases of current scientific definition of probiotics and prebiotics (for both see below) and stressed various beneficial aspects of consumption of pro and prebiotics. We have slightly touched the topic of biofilms however I feel that we should dedicate a separate meeting to this very exciting topic! We had tasted several different beverages like kombucha and water kefir and kefir yogurt at various stages of fermentation. However due to the fact that we are still working on getting our own fridge and building an experimental incubator the taste of the drinks and foods was rather for “orientation”.

The second half of the meeting was more practical we have harvested batch of kefir prepared on 5th of May separating it by draining into the liquid kefir whey and firm kefir yogurt, following the manual here (see attached photos). The whey was transferred into the glass container and closed properly and the kefir yogurt was split on a part stored in a container for future use and the second “half” which was mixed with a cooked rice, cut pineapple and banana, dark rich sugar and cinnamon. This recipe was a very simple practical demonstration of how to preserve various staples at room temperature for prolonged period of time, preventing them from being contaminated by pathogenic microbes. It was nice and simple and looked like a success! The whey will be used next day for a preparation of non alcoholic ginger beer/ale with dark rich sugar being the energy source. This brew will be tasted on the next weeks meeting and if people enjoy it we will repeat it, making maybe also alcoholic version based on brewers yeast culture (strain has to be decided) and I suggest inspired by local brewer Jason to try traditional Korean probiotic culture called nuruk/tapai which comprises of yeast, fungus and bacteria.

Well that would be the basic info about our first meeting, hopping to cover more or less all important aspects, suggesting to have much more hands on workshop next week. I should also mention that we have spend around 7 500 won for ingredients and we have collected 10 000, therefore we kept in a plus numbers which is cool, lets keep it like that!

Once more thanks everyone for coming and let’s see each other next week!


Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck


PS – The name of our group is set for now to Hacker Space Seoul Kvasirs and link to our Google group is here. Please do check what is the story behind the word kvasir it is really beautiful and I have started to describe by this term myself and people who are doing what I do.


Here is a link to a free on-line version of an excellent book called Wild Fermentation, written by Sandor Ellix Katz and by him founded portal Wildfermentation where he is actually just promoting his new book Art of Fermentation

In addition here is a Short info on probiotics and prebiotics, abstract taken from:

de Vrese M. and Schrezenmeir J. (2008) Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Symbiotics. Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology 111, 1-66.

General introduction to probiotics and prebiotics

Probiotics are defined viable microorganisms, sufficient amounts of which reach the intestine in an active state and thus exert positive health effects.Numerous probiotic microorganisms (e.g. Lactobacillus rhamnosusGG, L. reuteri,bifidobacteria and certain strains of L. casei or the L. acidophilus-group) are used in probiotic food, particularly fermented milk products, or have been investigated as well as Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917, certain enterococci (Enterococcus faecium SF68) and the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii with regard to their medicinal use. Among the numerous purported health benefits attributed to probiotic bacteria, the transient) modulation of the intestinal microflora of the host and the capacity to interact with the immune system directly or mediated by the autochthonous microflora, are basic mechanisms. They are supported by an increasing number of in vitro and in vivo experiments using  conventional and molecular biologic methods. In addition to these, a limited number of randomized, well-controlled human intervention trials have been reported.

Well-established probiotic effects are:

1. Prevention and/or reduction of duration and complaints of rotavirus-induced or antibiotic-associated diarrhea as well as alleviation of complaints due to lactose intolerance.

2. Reduction of the concentration of cancer-promoting enzymes and/or putrefactive (bacterial) metabolites in the gut.

3. Prevention and alleviation of unspecific and irregular complaints of the gastrointestinal tracts in healthy people.

4. Beneficial effects on microbial aberrancies, inflammation and other complaints in connection with: inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, Helicobacter pylori infection or bacterial overgrowth.

5. Normalization of passing stool and stool consistency in subjects suffering from obstipation or an irritable colon.

6. Prevention or alleviation of allergies and atopic diseases in infants.

7. Prevention of respiratory tract infections (common cold, influenza) and other infectious diseases as well as treatment of urogenital infections.

Insufficient or at most preliminary evidence exists with respect to cancer prevention, a so-called hypocholesterolemic effect, improvement of the mouth flora and caries prevention or prevention or therapy of ischemic heart diseases or amelioration of autoimmune diseases (e.g. arthritis).

A prebiotic is “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well being and health”, whereas synergistic combinations of pro- and prebiotics are called synbiotics. Today, only bifidogenic, non-digestible oligosaccharides (particularly inulin, its hydrolysis product oligofructose, and (trans)galactooligosaccharides), fulfill all the criteria for prebiotic classification. They are dietary fibers with a well established positive impact on the intestinal microflora. Other health effects of prebiotics (prevention of diarrhoea or obstipation, modulation of the metabolism of the intestinal flora, cancer prevention, positive effects on lipid metabolism, stimulation of mineral adsorption and immunomodulatory properties) are indirect, i.e. mediated by the intestinal microflora, and therefore less-well proven. In the last years, successful attempts have been reported to make infant formula more breast milk-like by the addition of fructo- and (primarily) galactooligosaccharides.


~ by algoldor on May 10, 2012.

2 Responses to “Workshop on Probiotics in Hacker Space Seoul”

  1. Hi, do you share / sell milk kefir? I live in Seoul. thank you.

    • Hi Asami,
      We moved to Jeju and yes we do have milk kefir grains which we are glad to share. Do you plan to visit Jeju any time soon? The other option is to send it to you by post which is also possible, we would just ask you to pay the delivery fee. However I would rather suggest to get in touch with someone directly in Seoul who has the kefir grains at the moment, if you like we can help with that. Please let me know what do you prefer.

      Sincerely from Jeju, enjoy your fermentations!


      PS My email is algoldor (“the sign”)

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