Biologigaragen is growing, and that means more meetings! We will start having monthly meetings to coordinate the goings on in the lab and related projects, and discuss where we are going with the lab in the future. The meeting is open to all users and biohackers in biologigagagen, and anyone wanting to actively join the biologigaragen community.
The first monthly meeting will take place wednesday, May 28th at 17:00 in Labitat. see you there!
We will continue with our Thursday hacking nights and sporadic show and tells.
For GEN 5, we spent another beautiful spring day inside hacking to our heart’s content. Noah (cofounder of Biolgigaragen) led this GEN where we tried to cultivate oyster mushrooms in the lab. Even though Noah hasn’t actually grown mushrooms before, he inspired us how to learn how to grow delicious oyster mushrooms while learning alongside the group himself! That’s sorta the whole idea in Biologigaragen– to get inspired and learn together. No one AND everyone is an expert.
He might look like he has it all figured out, but really we’re all in the same boat of exploring and experimenting a new process together.
This coming Monday the 24th from 1900-2000, Biologigaragen will be hosting the first in a series of informal get-togethers where people working in lab share/present their projects to each other. The idea is to have an idea of what is going on in the lab and how we can hack cooler things together. It is also a good time to float interesting ideas for future projects, troubleshoot any puzzling problems you might be having with an experiment, for new people to plug in, and to talk about any issues/ideas for the Biologigaragen lab space.
We will try to do this around once a month, but no stress. Happy biohacking!
The mystery of miso is so compelling that it drew nearly all of the participants who came in on Thursday to help us make fresh koji from sporulated koji into lab on one of the first nice days of spring. Miso paste doesn’t mash itself and there was as much fun to be had in lab as there was in the sunlight outside!
To start, we finished boiling soybeans that had been soaked overnight.
Amalie then unveiled the fresh koji that the group had made on Thursday. She had spent all weekend tending to it to ensure it didn’t get too hot. At one point, though, its temperature did rise above 43 degrees which is potentially dangerous for the culture but it should be ok.
The grains of barely are covered in a lovely white coating of aspergillus oryzae. It smells and tastes very sweet and delicious!
After that we started the miso paste preparing part of the GEN. We undertook these steps to make paste:
1. We sterilized all of the equipment we’d be using as it is very important to avoid contamination during any fermentation.
2. This being Biologigaragen, we even had to hack a table in order to attach the grinders. Biohacking is a flexible term, apparently!
3. We decided to make a variety of salty miso by taking inspiration from _The Art of Fermentation_ (a book we use a LOT in lab). You can see the recipe for miso here on page 318. Somewhere along the way we forgot to record a few variables and had to do some math to figure out the correct proportions for the miso paste recipe. Math is hard! We’re just biologists.
We eventually sorted it out and came up with the following proportions:
4. Having settled on a recipe we then started grinding the boiled soybeans.
5. Then we ground the fresh koji.
6. We dissolved the whopping 292.5g of salt into water to create something resembling a saturated salt solution.
7. We mashed the ground soybeans, koji and salt water together to form miso paste.
When all was said and done, Amalie gave us some closing thoughts on miso preparation, its history and its benefits.
All participants were sent home with fresh miso. It will have to sit for about six months before the fermentation has created something that can be recognized easily as miso paste. Due to the high salt content, it can last for as long as a decade.
Tusind tak to everyone who helped make this GEN a smashing success! Amalie Knage was an inspirational and informative instructor, Avery McGuire from the Nordic Food Lab gave us much appreciated background and Noah Weiss provided solid lab support and coordination.Of course, thanks go in great part to you, the participants! We hope to see you at our future GENs and in lab at any other time.
We are really hoping to get more people involved and active as we have lots going on (including a huge upcoming open science festival called KopenLab that we need volunteers for, see here for more info), so please feel free to stop down or contact us at any time. Of course a core component of Biologigaragen is its GENs. The next one will be awesome–Noah Weiss will teach you how to innoculate wood with oyster mushrooms. It’s scheduled for March 20th. See the full schedule of GENs here. Vi ses snart!
To kick off our spring season of hands-on DIY science/art/culture/gastronomy/exploratory Group Experiment Nights, our very own Amalie Knage led the first part of a GEN wherein she showed a full house of participants how to make fresh koji from scratch, which after a few days will be ready for part two of this GEN, where we will make the fermented miso paste from soy beans and our fresh koji. We also tasted a wide array of fermented Japanese delights all made from koji. We sampled miso, natto, roasted koji, sake and more.
Amalie first learned the koji and miso making technique when she was staying with a Japanese family on the West Coast of the USA. This means we had a Dane teaching a very international group of participants ancient food science learned from Japanese living in America—this GEN perfectly encapsulates the international and inclusive spirit of Biologigaragen! Knowledge has no borders.
Avery McGuire from the Nordic Food Lab was also in attendance. We have close links to the Food Lab and we in fact initially obtained the sporulated koji we used for making our own fresh koji. Avery was happy to share her knowledge on the subjects of koji, miso, fermentation and beyond. She gave us a great history lesson, starting by discussing the first time miso was mentioned in China in 300BCE and progressing from there.
To make our koji, we followed four basic steps:
1. We steamed pearl barley.
2. We let it cool to 40C (temperatures above 40C will kill the culture).
3. We inoculated the barley with sporulated koji, which is grains (pearled barley) covered with spores of the mold aspergillus oryzae (a. oryzae is the same fungus that also helps to create sake and soy sauce).
4. We put it into the sterilized incubator at a temperature of 30C and will leave it there for 48 hours. It has to be checked on every six hours during that period.
Feel free to come down to lab over the weekend and see the incubation in progress! We look forward to seeing everyone who was at the GEN yesterday on Sunday at 3pm when we will use the fresh koji to prepare the actual miso paste.
That GEN is already full but please join us for future GENs! Each GEN is limited to 15 attendees, sign up now for the upcoming ones to make sure you get a spot: http://biologigaragen.org/gen/
The innovation page on the world-leading biotech-company’s website features a description of the collaboration between Biologigaragen/Labitat and Novozymes.
“The motto of the day is do-it-yourself”, as Gernot Abel, Senior Science Manager from Novozymes explains: “We have moved from financial sponsoring [of Biologigaragen] to active engagement. These are new and exciting times for us where we explore open source collaboration(…) We hope to learn how we can accelerate R&D at Novozymes by employing smarter and lower cost approaches.”
We are now officially launching “Baessy” [Bessie].She’s our community project for development of open source tools & assays for citizen science. We hope that we in time can bring designers, scientist and artist together to develop simple and robust tools for citizen biology. One of the first Baessy projects, is the ethanol sensing project, a collaboration between Biologigaragen & Novozymes. We are currently testing various gassensors and prototype designs. The first proof of concept challenge is to on-line monitor vinegar and Kombucha fermentations, that we anyway have running in our open culture collection “kulturkollektionen“. If you have any successful experience with this, please share and let us know. You are also welcome to join us in the lab on thursdays. We are looking forward to many fun days and evenings in the lab.
The current goal is to create a setup that can handle 24 wells plates, and allow for a fast and robust diybio screening.
Each group that participated made two different batches of sauerkraut, one using the kombucha culture and one using no starter culture that will rely on the presence of wild lactic acid producing bacteria to ferment. We were also experimenting in culinary terms as some of the attendees were foodies and wanted to branch out from the base recipe—in the end we produced spicy kraut, Indian-style kraut, garlicy kraut and more. When all was said and done, the kraut was sealed up in vacuum storage bags and sent home with the participants.
We expect that the kraut made with kombucha will ferment a bit faster than the wild fermentations. We hope to have our final results back after Christmas Eve, when participants will serve up Science in the form of an easy and (hopefully) delicious food fermentaion alongside their traditional jule dinners!
In the event that you want to run this experiment at home, here is the base recipe we used in brief:
1 head red cabbage
6 cups raw cranberries (this is sadly next to impossible to find in Denmark)
3 mandarins, zest and juice
1 lemon, zest
juice of ½ lemon
2 inch knob of ginger, shredded
1-2 cups dehydrated cane juice or coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 4 sticks of cinnamon
2 T unrefined sea salt
Enough kombucha to cover top layer of sauerkraut in fermentation vessel
For our third in our Group Experiment Night Series, we approach a simple ferment suitable for sharing during your winter holiday traditions. Fermentation has traditionally been used as a storage method for preserving food into the winter time, when fresh food might not be available. While there are many fermented products already on the holiday table, it never hurts to add one more to the mix. This untested (by our lab) wild ferment should either impress or gross out your in-laws (for better or worse in either direction eh?) and will hopefully make fermentation a dinner table conversation.
We will bring whats necessary to make a fermented red cabbage dish, which should at least be able to replace some of the more common red cabbage on your plate with something which in this researchers opinions is a bit more interesting, and will help you digest the heavy holiday meals a bit better. If anyone is up for a bonus challenge, we also considered the idea of a fermented risengrød. We can provide organisms, but please bring ingredients yourself if you so dare (note it on the pirate pad if you will, so we can prepare). Hopefully everyone can make some fermented cabbage to take home with them to share.
Our second Group Experiment Night was delightfully bubbly. We worked on isolating yeast strains from an assortment of commercial beers. The goal was to isolate yeast strains and determine if we could grow viable yeast for use in further beer fermentations.
The first step in the process was to make growth media from such varied ingredients as potato starch, sugar, body builder mix, and agar agar (for fermentation in petri dishes). We sterilized the media in our pressure cooker for 20 minutes and then allowed it to cool.
Meanwhile, we had acquired an assortment of beers. Because the yeast sinks to the bottom, it was necessary to drink all of the beers down to the last quarter to get a good yeast sample. This was highly enjoyable, and someone took tasting notes. The beers sampled were a variety of unfiltered bottled beers, from both wild fermentations and specific strains. We included Belgian style ales to see if we could isolate the yeast strains which give their distinctive flavors. We also included beers which were fermented with brettanomyces, a unique yeast species.
Once the beer was mostly drunk, we poured out the media into petri dishes and allowed it to cool. We practiced our sterile technique and streaked the plates with samples of the different beers, and set them at 30C for a week.
Here are some of the plates we produced, two weeks from the night of the experiment:
There was quite a lot of contamination in most plates due to many factors BUT there were also some clean plates that featured happily budding yeast cells as can be seen here:
We finished the spiker-box, and measured neuro-potentials in earth worms (after anesthetizing them in alcohol first of course). We built the earth worms a nice little home from an old aquarium. If anybody have cockroaches at hand we would love to receive a few to live in our new ecosystem.
We also started our own production of Koji, a solid state culture of aspergillus oryzae from both rice and barley, from which we will try to make miso and possibly soy sauce in the coming weeks. This involved soaking and then steaming rice and barley (separately) in the pressure cooker (saved hours of time this way), and then inoculating once cooled to 33C with a dry koji generously shared with us by folks at the Nordic Food Lab. we then incubated wrapped in a towel and then put in a tray at 30C, and will watch over the coming days as it hopefully takes to our barley and rice.
We also prepared some samples for our GEN2 next week, yeast for home-brewers. come by next week to see what we cooked up!
Throughout the world practices aimed at open and collaborative life science and biotinkering are on the rise. While open and collaborative documentation systems exist (wiki and other systems). We have identified a need for an interactive and collaborative protocol platform to exchange methods and data on skill based practices.
Diybio experiences a pull and desire from the design and art scene to get hands on the biological engineering toolbox. During Re-New 2013 we will be conducting action based research, in the form of a series of workshops and talks, that will test, prototype and iterate a new form, layout and design of diybio- and professional scientific protocols. In this process a novel approach to merging the distinct aesthetics and ethics of the scientific, artistic and DIY community need to be acknowledged and defined.
Our final design proposal and our findings will be documented for a continuous collaborative development, and compared to the current laboratory practices published in scientific journals.
The aim is to have experts and enthusiasts share and crowd curate their current best practices.