I just love Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation. I’m always inspired to try something; even some things I never thought I’d try. Seeing how I have a plethora of mothers (of vinegar) on hand – including a lovely thick mother from a recent batch of pineapple vinegar– I decided “why not” and had a go at making nata. Nata is candied mother (or SCOBY or jun) – something I never thought of eating until I saw it in The Art of Fermentation.
Nata is made by cutting the mother into bite sized pieces, then a combination of rinsing and soaking in cold water followed by rinsing and boiling for 10 minutes, several times, is used to remove acidity. Some, like his friend Billy, prefer no boiling and/or rinsing at all. Then the pieces of mother are covered with sugar and heated until a syrup forms. Cool, pour off extra syrup and crisp in the oven or air dry. Billy made up his own method and I did too.
I decided to go the living foods route and that meant no boiling. To get a feel for the acidity I decided no rinsing either. And instead of sugar and making sugar syrup I’d use honey and then dehydrate at around 105. I let the pieces of mother marinate in the honey overnight while I soaked some granola to run through the dehydrator since there were empty trays.
In the morning I placed the pieces of mother on the dehydrator trays and started it up. It took quite a while to dry to a slightly tacky fruit leather like point. I tried to turn them over toward the end but they stuck to the drying sheets and stretched out a bit. When the pieces finally felt like fruit leather I made the mistake of placing the pieces in a jar instead of wrapping them separately. They quickly stuck to one another and formed a sticky ball. However, my kids LOVE this stuff and a sticky ball is all the better to them. Personally I thought it was pretty good- the texture is kinda like those gummy fruit snacks, there’s a light fruity flavor and a bit of a zing from the vinegar. It was a tad acidic so in the future I’ll probably rinse and do a cold water soak or two.
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