Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Kitchen Mold Farming

I keep having this terribly haunting dream that I'm treading barefoot through the dark furrows of a field, my steps labored not just by the quicksand-moist soil but the girth of my tummy. I think I'm going a little wonk for lack of healthy dirt.

So I've been planting crops in my little apartment kitchen. Mold crops. This one is koji mold: aspergillus oryzae, for the cultivation of miso, sake, and unusual pickles. Look! I even got to make furrows in the rice-substrate. Perhaps you can't tell from where you are, but the rice is covered with a white chalky mold, which I liken to the luminous green mist hovering over a distant field of freshly-germinated sprouts.

This is another one for the cookery-book.


Anonymous said...

I feel somewhat voyeuristic, reading about all this without anything between my teeth. I appreciate being able to escape from the scorn heaped high vinegar-using pie crust makers. Now I have at least a little hope of attaining an edible crust without standing in shame. But I still miss yours!

Ken Albala said...

OH How totally cool. Did you have to buy an inoculant? This can't just be growing wild, can it? Aren't there also dozens of things made with koji. I should remember this, but miso and also soy sauce, no? Ken

Unknown said...

If you're brave enough, try eating a little bit of the koji directly -- it's really, really sweet, despite the fact that the koji smells like strong cheese.

(the biology of this is easy : aspergillus oryzae excretes alpha and beta amylase enzymes which decompose the starches in the rice into simpler sugars. this is why Koji is required for brewing sake -- yeast eat simple sugars and convert them into alcohol.)