Slow drinks: Lacto-fermented coconut, by Luca Cicalese

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

28 May 2020

With more time than ever to experiment at home, we've launched a special series on slow drinks – recipes for those DIY tinctures, tipples and toddies that take time to create. This week it's the turn of Luca Cicalese, junior bartender at The Savoy's American Bar

What I'm fermenting

Generally, I've been lacto-fermenting the likes of fruit and vegetables, but today I will be lacto-fermenting coconut.

Why I'm fermenting

I ferment to discover new flavours. Fermentation evolves the flavour of a base ingredient, discovering new ones that are much more complex and can be used in many ways.

I have known the lacto-fermentation technique for some time, but I have never put it into practice before. I relied much more on labels in my mixology, rather than fresh products, but since we've been  forced to stay at home, I have opened my mind much more to new flavours.

I started fermenting with a friend and collague of mine, Stefano Bussi, doing experiments for a blog called Dedycated.uk. I take a lot of inspiration from the famous book The Noma Guide to Fermentation and Filippo Sisti (a Milan-based bartender) who, in my opinion, is one of the best in this kind of preparation.

What my ferment can be used in

Lacto-fermented coconut can be used in various ways. It can be used to make a different Pina Colada, in an Alexander or as a cream in an Irish Coffe. There is also the possibility of infusing it in other liquids, such as vermouth. 

Recipe

50g fresh coconut
250ml double cream
Salt (2%-4% of total coconut weight depending on how sour you want it)

Method: Cut fresh coconut into small pieces to allow the coconut to fit more snugly into the fermentation vessel and eliminate the air gaps between pieces. Add your salt and mix well. Then weight the coconut down so that the resulting liquid covers the coconut (best way to do this is placing a plastic bag full of water on top of the coconut). Then, cover the jar with a lid.

Leave for four or five days, depending on your taste.

Next, put the lacto-fermented coconut in a pan, add the double cream and cook over low heat for around 10-15mins, until the liquid has reduced. Then, blend together and filter through a colander.

Finally, bottle and let cool in fridge.

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