Tending yeasty gardens

It took a while but I’m well into cruising mode now with long spells at sea without access to supermarkets and I’m extending my repertoire of home grown products.  A herb garden you think? Umm no… I now have a garden of yeast to tend daily, woo hoo! I have pots of yoghurt, a barrel of fermenting beer,  a ginger beer bug and to-die-for yummy bread dough all on the go at once.

The yoghurt is the least demanding, just a few tablespoons of active yoghurt with reconstituted milk powder and pop it into the EasyYo thermos for 8 hours or so.  Ta – da, fresh pot of pro-biotic goodness ready for the fridge.  Lots of recipes that call for cream, milk or even water can use yoghurt and I’m really keen to try making fresh cheeses suitable for hot climates.

We have a brewing kit aboard so there is a batch of Amber Ale now in the fermenter bubbling away – that’s the little yeasts turning sugar to alcohol. In a few days when they’ve finished the job I’ll bottle the beer, store it as cool as possible in the bilge and start a batch of Dark Ale in the fermenter. Theory says the beer is ready 3 weeks after bottling and the flavour gets better both with time and low temperatures.  As we are impatient when thirsty and on a boat in the tropics it rarely makes it to the better stage. Note to self, hide bottled beer in bottom of really inconvenient locker..

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The ginger beer bug is way cool. It’s grated ginger, sugar, yeast and water all mixed together to do their stuff.  After only a day in this heat there’s lots of frothy bubbly activity and each day I ‘feed’ it with more grated ginger and sugar to keep the living ginger yeasty alive and happy.  Why? To turn this into fizzy drink treats. We don’t have a soda stream and carting a months worth of coke/lemonade etc to the boat is heavy. It’s super easy, strain off the yeasty liquid and add it to a few litres of extra-sweetened fruit juice or ginger tea (simply grated ginger steeped in hot water, cooled drained and sweetened) for ginger ale and bottle it.  Make it sweeter than you think as the yeast eats the sugar to create the fizzzzz, the longer you leave it to drink, the drier it gets.  I’m still experimenting, some batches are awesome and some, well… aren’t.

And finally the bread. A wholesome boat-baked loaf is a real treat for us here in Malaysia and I use the ‘Famous New York Times no-knead’ recipe where the yeast does all the work of kneading and flavour adding.  All I need to do is mix flour salt yeast and water in a bowl with a spoon for 2 minutes and leave the bowl on the counter overnight or over the day to let it bubble and grow tasty. I also fold/flour/rest in the bowl before turning into a tin to bake – its a one bowl no mess affair on Tiki. The resulting bread is like a rustic air-pocketed chewy sourdough with a crispy crust, sooo good.

There’s quite a few more foods and drinks derived from yeasts and fermenting I’d love to try just as soon as boat space allows. Please let me know if you have any boat – friendly in tropical climate suggestions!

Photo credit: Tne gorgeous bread picture is from a food blog which I love http://www.theculinarychronicles.com  Mine turns out just the same (honest!) but I’m without a camera until we reach the next big city.

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5 thoughts on “Tending yeasty gardens”

    1. Yes, do! Let me know how it turns out, I’ve had some OMG this is better than boutique results, and some… got poured back to Neptune. Trial and error will win in the end so any tips you find will be very much appreciated!

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