Koji – history and process

 by Josh Evans Koji is our lifeblood. It is the basis of many of our fermentation experiments, the functional backbone of our pursuit for diverse flavours and umami taste. This post reviews its cultural and evolutionary history, and describes our technique for producing koji at the lab. The Basics Koji (kōji in Japanese, qu in Chinese, nurukgyun in Korean) is a culture made by growing different fungi on cooked grains or legumes in a warm, humid place (Shurtleff & Aoyagi 2012). The koji moulds produce many enzymes, including amylases, proteases, lipases, and tanninase, that break down (hydrolyse) macromolecules like starches, proteins, and fats into their constituent parts, such as dextrin, glucose, peptides, amino acids, and fatty acid chains (Chen et al. 2008). These simpler substrates provide nutrition for cultures of yeasts and bacteria that come in subsequent fermentation stages (Mheen 1972). The cultures are ancient technologies used to produce a … Read more

Beer Foraging

posted by Ana Caballero & Josh Evans Back in the early summer we had a guest: Rick Stepp, an ethnobiologist from University of Florida. He was in town and came by to tell us all about his current work on the bio- and cultural diversity of tea in Yunnan Province, China. But he’s also a extremely knowledgable about other plants, and, as it happens a keen brewer. This seemed an ideal opportunity to head out to some green spaces and collect ingredients for some wild ingredients we could make beer with. We gathered a small group and went for a good ol’ forage.  We asked Trevor Moran, ex-long-time Product Sous-Chef and master forager at noma, to come with and lead the way to some favourite foraging spots. We were keen on collecting as many plants for beer-making as possible, but the further we got into the woods, the more and more we … Read more