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31 May 2010 radio show - wild fermentation

yes it was  a hubble bubble show when we talked about harnessing the wild things in the air to make our food more delicious and healthier.  Our wonderful new bellysister Andrew gave us a quick introduction to permaculture, it sounds like you can adapt its principles to gardens large and small, wild and messy or neat and contained. And he has a fermentation fetish!  (His words I promise)  We love a boy with a fetish on belly.  This intro will drive the search engines crazy I reckon. Sister T

GUEST : Andrew Carter, permaculture, sustainable living and delicious fermented things educator

Introduction to wild fermentation – by Andrew

My approach to pickles and ferments is inspired by living in Korea several years ago. Also Sandor Katz has been a huge inspiration. He wrote a great Wild Fermentation Book which you can get from the wild fermentation website  The book’s called Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003). It’s the best and most accessible book on fermentation. Sandor is a long-time HIV survivor living in the States and boosts his natural immunity with a range of ferments that he makes (from miso, to sourdough to sauerkraut and much more). Sandor has earned the nickname “Sandorkraut” for his love of sauerkraut.

There is a wide range of scientific evidence that traditional fermentation techniques like these create healthy, disease preventing foods. But for me it’s also about the unique tastes that fermentation creates, no two ferments are ever the same.

Some people worry about germs and contamination which is understandable given the social emphasis against germs, bacteria etc. We forget that we have co-evolved with microorganisms and need them for optimum nutrition. Anyone not into yogurt these days. In the war on germs, we forget that some bacteria are highly desirable to add nutrients, assist in preserving, and removing toxins. Further, presence of many probiotic, healthy lacto-bacteria displace other unwanted ones. I believe we should take precautions against spreading disease and contamination but I sometimes think our society’s obsession with sterile conditions is linked to our state of chronic disease.

For both of the following recipes you need some equipment that can compress the pickle contents. Different cultures use different strategies. I find it easiest to use a wide mouthed, round food grade container and then find something that fits snuggly inside to weight down the ingredients. Use either food grade plastic (a honey container), glass jar or ceramic crock that easily fits your ingredients (with room to spare). The size depends on the quantity but for these recipes 1-3 litre capacity should be fine. This technique helps the material ferment and also protects against contamination. You will find that the salt draws liquid out of the ingredients which rises above the other contents – this is what you want.  You can use a saucer weighted down by a glass jar full of water, or just use a glass jar which fit inside the mouth of your chosen fermentation vessel. You will also need a muslin cheesecloth to cover the ferment to keep out flies.

Organic ingredients work best and have healthier bacteria. Also don’t use iodised salt. Iodine is anti-bacterial and will compromise your fermentation, sea salt is best. Use clean equipment and clean hands at all times.



Andrew says this is a great way to use the abundance of papayas we have in this area – practically weeds, we see them popping out everywhere, laden with fruit.  That’s the bellysisters idea of a good street tree!



Glass, ceramic or plastic crock
Another jar (or saucer) that fits snuggly inside the mouth of the jar
Muslin or cheesecloth or tea towel


1 or 2 green papayas skin and seeds removed (total weight approx 500 grams)
I clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of ginger (grated)
Two teaspoons of salt (or to taste – should be on the salty side but not too much)


Chop or grate papaya, finely or coarsely, however you like it.
Add papaya to your container, and sprinkle salt on as you go. The salt pulls water out of the papaya (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the pickle can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the papaya crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. You might need to experiement with the amount of salt. I use more salt in summer, less in winter. For larger quantities 2 kilos of ingredients will need 2 tablespoons of salt.
Mix ingredients together and pack into jar. Pack just a bit into the jar at a time. This packs the ingredients tight and helps force water out.
Cover papaya with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the jar. Place a clean weight (a glass jug filled with water) on the cover. This weight is to force water out of the ingredients and then keep the ingredients submerged under the brine. Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
Press down on the weight to add pressure and help force water out of it. Continue doing this periodically (as often as you think of it, every few hours), until the brine rises above the cover. This can take up to about 24 hours, as the salt draws water out of the ingredients. Some veggies, particularly if old, simply contain less water. If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine level above the plate. Add about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
Leave the container to ferment. I generally store the jar in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen where I won’t forget about it, but where it won’t be in anybody’s way.
Check the pickle every day or two and taste it. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes. A minimum of 2-3 days should have it tasting great. In the cool temperatures of winter, kraut can keep improving for a longer period (5-10 days perhaps). In the summer or in a heated room, its life cycle is more rapid and it may taste less pleasant sooner. Trust your senses about whether it’s okay.
Enjoy. I generally place the finished pickle in a jar in the fridge and eat as a condiment with meals.


as above


3-4 fresh beetroots peeled (500 grams)
1 tablespoon Caraway seeds
2 teaspoons of salt


Follow same process as for papaya pickle. Watch the brilliant crimson liquid doesn’t escape from the jar and make a mess. Beetroots can exude a lot of liquid – hence the name.


Andrew tells me there is a word “to yog” meaning to make yogurt – so follow his recipe and advice for happy yogging.

Insulated cooler
Storage Jars

Ingredients: (for 2 litres)
2 litres whole milk
2 tablespoons/30 millilitres fresh live-culture plain yogurt for starter

Preheat jars and insulated cooler with hot water so the yogurt stays warm to ferment.
Gently heat milk to 82o stirring frequently to avoid burning the milk (heating the milk results in a thicker yogurt)
Cool the milk to 43o or as close to body temperature as you can (+/- 4o is okay as the culture is pretty robust)
Add the starter mixing it thoroughly into the milk.
Pour the mixture into the sterilised preheated jars and seal.
Place the sealed jars in the insulated cooler and place towels or bottles of hot water in with them to ensure a warm temperature is maintained.
Place the insulated cooler in a warm spot where it will not be disturbed.
Check yogurt after 8 to 12 hours – it should have a tangy flavour and some thinckness.
If your happy with the flavour and the thickness remove from insulated cooler and place in the fridge ready to be consumed.

Things to remember:
It takes 8 to 24 hours to make yogurt.
Starter Culture – you can buy specialised cultures for this or use any commercial live-culture yogurt make sure it says “contains live-cultures” on the label.
When cooling the milk to 43oc don’t let it get to cool as the yogurt cultures are most active in the above body temperature range.
With the starter less is more: The bacillus, if crowded, gives a sour, watery product however if the culture has sufficient Lebensraum (German for ‘room to live’) it will be rich, mild and creamy.
If after 8 hours the yogurt isn’t thick then it hasn’t “yoged” if this happens warm it up again by filling up the insulated cooler with hot water around the jars of yogurt, adding more starter and leaving it for 4 to 8 more hours.
You can leave the yogurt to ferment longer if you wish, if you do it will become more sour  more of the milk’s lactose is converted into lactic acid.
A longer fermentation period can often make yogurt digestible even for lactose-intolerant individual.
Yogurt can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks, though its flavour will become more sour over time.
Save some of your yogurt to use as starter for the next batch.

yogurt being incubated in a recycled veggie box



This is not fermented sorry, just a quick easy pickle for a tasty snack, but you can eat it while drinking something fermented, and chokos are the very definition of abundance.

Peel your chokos, slice them, put them in sterile jars with garlic cloves, coriander seeds, peppercorns, fresh tarragon sprigs, or any flavours that take your fancy.

Bring to the boil 1/2 cup white wine or cider vinegar and a cup of water with 2/3 tbs salt, dissolve the salt.  If you have a lot of chokos of course multiply these amounts.Fill the jars and wait 10 days if you can.


*garlic lovers’ alert, local almost all finished, get some now
*chokos, still some, throw one at the fence to plant them is choko grower Craig’s advice, make choko pickle so you won’t miss them when they finish
*lots of green leafy things & rooty things like turnips, if you find fresh and local roots you can eat the tops of many, blanch in salty boiling water, squeeze and chop in spinach recipes, or on pasta with the steamed root – you can do this with beetroot, some turnips,  also try them with Japanese  miso dressing and make like a Buddhist monk
*lots of local citruses, great with sharp leafy things in salads: lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges, pink grapefruit -  make marmalade, experiment with flourless cake and muffin recipes because there are  new season local nuts too, pecans and macadamias, try nuts in short pastry bases or biscuits or in jams
*pineapples, passionfruit, they seem all wrong to me in this cold weather, but still in local markets
*plant some chervil – Debbie the  belly herbologist, says now is the time to plant herbs that like rain and cool weather, divide gingers/galangal, and harvest them


Di , one of the many wonderful bayfm listeners is doing a fundraiser in Suffolk Park this Friday June 4 for the breast cancer foundation.  This is part of the Cancer Council’s biggest morning teas, if you missed one of the others in May – cake and tea at the Suffolk park centre 9.30 to 12, ring Di to pick up raffle tickets or donate a cake, she is near the  Suffolk shops, 6685 9970, the raffle prize is a great painting by local artist Alexandra Spiratos, – so go to Suffolk eat cake and do some good.

Tuesday June 1 is the screening of The Future of Food, a fundraiser organised by Seed Sowers Organic, to raise funds for school gardens at the Byron Services Club  [at 4 pm and 6 pm]

The first 200 people at this event will be invited to participate in the installation of a school garden,at which time Seed Sowers Organic and friends will conduct free workshops related to Gardening, Fermentation, and Raw Food Preparation.
More details at

And Byron Council is running mini composting workshops at New Brighton and Mullumbimby farmers markets, and selling cheap compost bins and worm farms.


Rick Stein,  a travelling food presenter that doesn’t completely ignore the dark side of the places he visits – he says, no matter where you are:    “Food is all about good times even if there are terrible things going on all around you”. Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey – ABC1


Andrew Carter ,        0432 406 228 – to enquire about Andrew’s courses or other sustainable living courses

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