FERMENT: Experimenting with grains

What happens when you ferment grains?  What can you do with them after?

All grains are of course different, and some grains aren’t even grains at all…  We tried with a few different products.

Spelt, Bulgur, Freekah and Quinoa (not a grain)

I started with an equilibrium brine, weighing the grain and the water, and adding 2% of the total weight in salt.  Of course the grains will drink a lot of the water so you really do need to add a lot more than just covering with water.  A lot like chickpeas, beans, and other dried legumes.   I put them in large containers covered with muslin cloth and swirled them each day.  Our fermentation area is almost a constant 30 degrees underground.

Spelt: This was the greatest success, after 7 days it was pleasantly sour, and the structure had softened a little like it was almost cooked in water, a little chalky in the middle.  Suitable to then boil in a little water, very tasty, then dried and puffed in very hot oil.  This was awesome.

Bulgur:  Not good.  To me it smelt horrible but a couple of other cooks thought it was ok.  Like smelly cheese?  The structure was lost, and I made a puree from it.  However…  Not really a success.

Freekah:  This was nice!  The freekah was broken or cracked as they say, and pretty much ready to eat!  It was very high on flavour so I just blanched this a few seconds, shocked in ice water and it was ready to go!

Quinoa: Minimal affect actually after 7 days.  Nutritionally I can imagine it has improved, but that is beyond my means to discover!  Cooked it as normal.  Tasty!

It should be mentioned that in all cases the cooking needed after fermentation was greatly reduced.  And as we all know fermentation makes nutrients more available.

I tried puffing all the grains in the end too.  Very tasty and very pretty.  The quinoa burnt a little for some reason and was a little bitter.  Mixed through some puffed wild rice.  Nice crunchy garnish…


CARROT TOPS: Can we do something with these…

These look so amazing!  But they’re not edible, or are they???

We’ve experimented quite a lot with this product, with mixed results, but try these ideas:

Deep Fry:

Wash them really well in very cold water, pick most of the thick stems out.  Dry VERY well.  Deep fry for 10 seconds @ 180 degrees.  Drain on absorbent paper and season well with salt or vegetable powder.



Wash well again, blend in a high speed blender with oil, salt and pepper.  Add your favourite pesto flavours…  Garlic, parmesan?



SOUR: Making your own vinegar

Every dish needs acidity.  I think so.  It makes everything a little more exciting.  It’s also very interesting and easy to do!  Here are three ways…


Simply choose a nice plain vinegar.  Or any vinegar really.  But to get the most out of it you want quite a neutral flavour.  A bit like sauerkraut, or kombucha… choose your vessel, pack it full of fruit, smash it up a bit.  Cover with vinegar.  Cover or close, it doesn’t really matter because you’re leaving this on the bench overnight.  Strain well through a cheese cloth / muslin and funnel into the same bottle the vinegar originally came from.  If you use a fermented natural ‘real’ vinegar, and you strain all the solids out, it’s going to last forever.


Hard to believe, but sometimes you don’t finish that bottle of wine.  And it doesn’t keep forever.  If it tastes a bit funny, you can use it for cooking in a braise, a sauce, sangria!  Or you can make vinegar…  The best way it to add a little ‘living’ fermented vinegar to whatever you have, and wait.  Two to three months.


You can also smash up fruit, maybe add a little water and sugar, cover with a cheese cloth and wait 2 – 4 weeks, up to 8 if the weather is cold.  Strain the liquid and there you go.  Natural yeasts and bacteria present on the fruit will start a wild ferment, but important to keep your vessel covered with muslin to prevent dust, flies, mould etc from getting in.


But I have a lot of fruit and a lot of wine, but no living vinegar or vinegar ‘scoby’ to start the process.  What if I mix the fruit and vinegar?

I chose three fruits and three wines.  Pear and red wine, mandarin and chardonnay, and grapefruit rosé.  I filled the glasses with the fruit, covered them with the wine, then with some cheese cloth.  After three weeks I will strain the fruit out and continue the ferment.  What will happen I wonder…  My Ph meter is ready and waiting!



DRY: Fruit and Vegetable Powders

Everyday @ Instock we make fresh juices to drink, or to make recipes with.  There is always so much pulp left over, so I thought it could be fun to dry them out and see how they taste…  Just put them in the dehydrator, or in your oven.  Spread it super thin for faster results.  When it’s hard and dry put it in your blender, blend on high for a few seconds.  If your blender isn’t so strong you may need to sieve afterwards.

Here we have carrot, beetroot and tomato powders.

The flavours are really interesting, you actually get quite a lot of umami.  And if you think about it, it’s really a very slow form of cooking.  You can also ferment items first for and extra dimension.

Looks cool, full of flavour.  What else can we use it for?


CHEWY: Beetroot Mochi

Starter: Beetroot mochi, soy gel, pickled apple, smoked gomasio

Mochi is a very popular dessert through asia, they can be filled, like the Japanese daifuku, the chinese have a black sesame version they eat for the new year.  It’s based on glutenous rice flour and water, not at all sweet, but quite often served with a super sweet syrup or filling.  Every recipe is flexible if you know how so here I’m experimenting with vegetable juice again.  And I’m adding a little salt and glucose to make it a bit more interesting…


100g flavourful liquid, here beetroot juice reduced from 200g and skimmed

100g glutenous rice flour

25g glucose / honey

1g salt


When you’re reducing your liquid, dissolve the sweetener and salt, skim and chill.  Then mix into your rice flour.  knead a little by hand and portion out little balls.  Boil some water (you can also flavour this too…) Roll your balls, boil them gently until they float.  Refresh in ice water, drain and reserve for later use.  The flavour is subtle but the colour and texture are really great!  Have a play!

CRISPY: Vegetable Meringues

We received at Instock yesterday 200 halloween pumpkins.  So of course this was a great chance to explore the pumpkin and see what techniques were a good fit!  Turns out a there are many.

Dessert: Pumpkin brûlée, pumpkin olive oil cake, pâte brisée, VOC spiced cream, pumpkin meringue crisps

The key ingredient here is egg white powder, sounds horrible right?  But it makes sense.  The intention is to add water to reconstitute the egg white, but the opportunity for us cooks is to swap that out for something more flavourful.  Try it with anything.  Here I used pumpkin juice, reduced it by half, skimming the scum as I went.

I read a very cool article about desserts at Noma the other day, so I played with a less sweet dessert, adding a little salt and citric acid here and there.  The pastry crust (brisée) went a little too far in the pizza oven giving a slight bitterness.


250g fruit or vegetable juice, cold

50g sugar / isomalt / glucose / honey

30g egg white powder

citric acid to taste?

salt to taste?


The most important thing here is the ratio of cold juice to egg white powder.  What’s really cool is you can whip this up with little to no sugar.  Good for starters and other savoury dishes.

Dry blend your powders, whisk into cold liquid.  Hydrate for an hour covered in the fridge.   Transfer to your kitchenaid type device, whip until stiff.  I spread it out thin on silicone mats and baked at 110C for about an hour, but you can do anything you like. It does behave slightly differently so be careful.  It colours faster too.

Something we’re trying tomorrow…  When you make your juice for the meringue, dehydrate the pulp.  24-48 hours on 60C and blend to a power, then dust over your meringues.  Beetroot looks super good.






“Eigenlijk doe ik hier precies wat koks vaak doen als ze laat thuiskomen: je bent een beetje dronken en kijkt in je koelkast of er nog dingen zijn waar iets van te maken valt,” zegt Lucas Jeffries. “Uiteindelijk zet je iets heerlijks in elkaar en ben je trots. Dat heb ik hier elke dag.”

Ontmoet de chef die supermarktvlees van de biovergister redt