How to Propagate Lacto

This week in the Flog:

  • How to make super strong lacto (aka propagate lacto culture)
  • Sidenote: cheers to the innocent bystanders

A few weeks back, I posted a Flog on How to Make Super Strong Lacto. I subsequently used it to treat some bokashi juice which smelled a bit foul (quite foul actually). If I’m going to use the bokashi leachate on the garden, it needs to smell a bit better, not for me or the plants, but for my wife who already puts up with all my weird experiments taking over the balcony…

That sparks an interesting topic – our significant others. You have to agree they are pretty awesome for tolerating our strange “things” we’re into. Imagine, I have an aquarium on our balcony with literally thousands of cockroaches in it, swarming around in there waiting for a chance to invade the house. Randomly something goes wrong or breaks, as in the case of the bokashi bin, and there are just horrible smells emanating from our outside living area. But you know how, when someone isn’t happy about what you are doing, but they love you and they know you care about this so much, that they kinda get mad without getting mad? Like “oooooohhh Patrick, what are you DOING out there, oh my god that smell is so BBAADDDD, how long is it going to last THIS time?? PHEW!! HAHA wow how did you make that bad a smell??? Can you please get that lacto stuff and spray it? PHEW! HAHA what am I going to do with you??!” I’ve heard that quite a few times, like the time I mistreated the cockroach compost. Or once when I left out a bunch of seafood shells, meant for a batch of calphos, and the bits of meat and such still left in them….well you know. I’m from the country – on the farm there is space for this to happen without anyone noticing. In the city, in a little apartment, it’s not like that. So, cheers to the ones in our lives who selflessly support us. :)

Now about this super strong lacto + bokashi. The full article on treating bokashi juice can be found here. It has been a few weeks more now, and it is still fermenting! When I crack the lid it still hisses, but it’s alllllmost done. The smell, while still kinda strong, is nothing like what it was before. I think once I dilute it in the water basin, it will be ok to use on the plants (before, 1 tsp of the stuff in a 5 gallon bucket would make the whole water stink. I’m mixing it at more like 1tbsp/gal, so that just wasn’t gonna fly).

But it’s interesting how it has changed over time. The color has changed, from almost black to a brown color. Check out the comparison between when it was first started, and now:

Bokash Juice + Lacto - before and after

This is a great before/after shot of the bokashi leachate that I treated with lacto to get rid of the smell. You can see how with fermentation, it lightens up a bit (hopefully the smell goes away too).

Cool huh? It’s almost ready to use on the garden, but it still has a smell. I’m curious if it will finish out and become more or less scentless at that point, as what happens when making fish fertilizer.

In hindsight, I think I could have used much less lacto to turn the bokashi leachate from foul to fragrant. I’d like to see how little you could use and still have it ferment successfully. But for now, I’m out of super strong lacto. I’m going to document the process of making more, so you can see how easy it is to make. We start out with the ingredients – sugar source (in this case brown sugar, though best is molasses), clean unchlorinated water, and diluted lacto serum:

Ingredients for Super Lacto

These are the simple ingredients to make super lacto (propagate lacto). You essentially need water and sugar and a bit of the existing culture.

Now we will combine the ingredients. Before I mentioned a general guideline like this:

PER 500ml (half quart) OF WATER:
– 4 tbsp (120ml) sugar source (molasses is best)
– 2 tbsp (60ml) diluted lacto (“diluted” means the lacto you get after you mix 1:20 with water)

Yeah I know my measurements are a hodgepodge of US and Metric. I guess that’s you get for being half American and half Canadian, haha. Well I try to include the conversion these days for your reference.

Anyway I’ll go ahead and use those application rates for this batch of Super Lacto. Since I have around 1 L of water, I’ll add 8 tbsp of sugar and 4 tbsp of diluted lacto. Once mixed, check out the bottle:

Freshly Mixed Super Lacto

This is immediately after mixing 8 tbsp sugar, 4 tbsp of lacto, and the roughly 1 L of water. It will change color and consistency over time, which will be exciting to see!

Easy as that! Seal it up and wait. Since this has no airlock, I have to crack the lid every day or so. The color and composition of the bottle will change as the lacto multiply, it’s very interesting. I will update you guys with pictures as the process progresses. Look for an update in the next few weeks, going to be pretty interesting to see!

So at the start of this post I talked about our significant others. I’d like to hear from you! Share stories about your exploits and their consequences in your house. It’s a rich topic :)

  • Patrick,
    Is this shelf stable after the fermentation is complete? Or should it be kept cold/ more Molasses added to stabilize it?

  • Maxwell

    Patrick, what are the benefits of propagating the lacto further? I make serum with unpasteurized milk and a fermented alfalfa wash as a carbohydrate. Is there any additional properties when you introduce a simple carb like sugar and ferment a second time?

    • Patrick

      Hey Maxwell,

      Nope, not really. I mean, you are literally multiplying the LAB, to make a larger, stronger culture. But it is less diverse, since only the species of bacteria most successful utilizing sugar will propagate, outcompeting the others. So you won’t have as much diversity but you’ll have strong lacto.

      Cheers – Patrick

      • kris

        i am from india.where will i get brown suger?

  • Jacob

    Patrick,
    Is this shelf stable after the fermentation is complete? Or should it be kept cold/ more Molasses added to stabilize it?

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