Welcome Slow Food Fermentation/Gut Project Participants!
Here you will find info on your Nukadoko (Rice Bran Fermentation Bed).
As of Sunday 3/19, ready-to-eat produce is fermenting in your nuka bed. Dump contents of jar into a metal bowl or onto a piece of parchment paper. Pull out pieces of cucumber, sweet peppers, turnip, rutabaga, and/or cantaloupe from the bed. Rinse with cold water, shake off water, and savor. Each piece of fruit or vegetable will taste familiar but different.
Taste them in their current state or continue fermenting up until 5pm Monday. The longer you wait, the more funkier and pungent, saltier, and fermented they will taste, but don't wait too long or they will be too salty and inedible. Refrigeration is not necessary, but keep the jar in a cool place.
What else can I do with the fermented produce besides eating them as is?
Chop them and put them in salads. They're great in sandwiches or over grain bowls. Serve as side dishes or garnishes.
Mince or puree and made into a vinaigrette with a little bit of vinegar/citrus juice and oil, salt.
Throw them in your morning smoothie for an extra dose of probiotics.
What is Nuka, Nukadoko, Nukamiso? In other words, what's the brown stuff? Is it edible?
Nuka literally means rice bran, and you have been gifted a fermentation bed which is called a nukadoko or nukamiso. This bed can be used over and over to ferment vegetables (and some protein). This mature mixture can be used to inoculate new and bigger beds. (Directions coming - check back in a few days.)
Fermenting new produce: Start with cucumbers and radishes and go on to experiment with other fruit and vegetables. Gently wipe off vegetables of any firt or debris. Don't wash it because some of the natural yeast on it is good for the nuka bed. Bury the vegetable into the nuka, covering and making sure no oxygen can reach the vegetable while it's being fermented. Less dense fruit and vegetables can take as little as an hour or two to ferment. Denser vegetables, such a root vegetables, can take a day or more the impart the flavor and benefits of the nuka.
Can you eat the nuka? Technically, everything in the jar is edible, but the nuka isn't very tasty on it's own. The nutty, yeasty, fruity and pungent smell in more complex to the nose than the palate, which resembles a salty mush. If left out to continue maturing, eventually the nuka will get funkier, smoother and more complex.
How to take care of nuka bed known as the nukadoko or nukamiso. Find a ceramic, wood, glass or plastic container that is wide and shallow (about 8" square). Dump the nuka in it. Aerate and mix by hand daily. Keep feeding it new vegetables which will mature the bed further. As the phrase goes, you feed the nukadoko and it feeds you. If you want to take a break, stick the container in the fridge to let it hibernate. When you're ready to use it again, take it out, aerate it, and feed it. Within a day or so (depending on how warm it is), the bed is ready to use, again.
How to make a bigger nuka bed. Add a mixture or toasted rice bran, salt and and purified water. Rice bran can be bought at Asian stores or health food stores. Buy organic to ensure there's been no spraying, since the bran will directly touch what you're eating. Do not use tap water without filtering out chlorine and other impurities. Use kosher or sea salt without any additives or anti-caking agent.
Here's a basic ratio:
1 part rice bran
13% salt (relative to bran weight)
1 part purified water
Inoculate with mature nukadoko.
For the amount of mature nukadoko that came in the jar. I would use: 500 grams rice bran, 65 grams salt, 500 grams water.
Toast rice bran in a shallow pan on the stove top. You'll know when it's done when you can smell it and the color changes to a light amber. You can go darker if you prefer. Add in salt and mix well. Finally, add in water. If the mixture is too hot (100 degrees or above), let it cool, before inoculating it with your mature nuka. If the bran mixture is too hot, it may kill the good bacteria in your mature nuka. Mix the mature nuka into the new nuka mixture by hand. The consistency should be like wet sand.
Add and remove vegetable/fruit scraps for a week to let the whole bed mature. On the 5th day, put in a persian cucumber and let it ferment for 6 hours. If it's to your liking then proceed using the bed. If the cucumber is too salty, keeping adding and removing scraps to let the bed mature. Once you get the bed to where you want it, the process is the same: aerate daily, add vegetables daily and enjoy. To hibernate, cover with a lid and put it in the fridge. To keep it active, I leave it out, covered with a double layer of clean muslin or cheesecloth.
History of your nukadoko. I started the original bed in 2015 with organic Koda Farms rice bran, unpasteurized stout beer, 13% salt, kombu, garlic, ginger and leeks. I've since added melon and other fruit scraps (that's why it smells a bit sweet). From that mature bed, I've created a larger bed that has been fed all kinds of farmers market vegetables. When creating this specific bed, I used a 15% salt ratio to account for movement and different environments. You want enough salt to keep the bed from going bad or attracting bad mold, but not too high that it will kill the good bacteria or make your pickles taste too salty.
I adore this way of fermenting because I can play around with the flavors of the bed based on ingredients and ratio. I can make a quickle (quick-pickle) in as few as 4 hours (cucumbers, melons) or create more complex ferments (nuka fermented capeberries that have been aged 30 days are amazing!)
If you really dig this way of fermenting, here's something to dream about: check out this a cedar box nukadoko. Also, I have tons of experimental nukabeds going. Email me about them or any other questions you have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have fun and enjoy the benefits of lacto-bacilli!