Lactobacillus is a wonderful microorganism that can be used around the house, for animals and for our purpose the garden! The process to make LABS takes a few weeks but requires little time and effort.
- Water (nonchlorinated)
- Milk (unpasteurized is best, organic whole milk if raw milk is unavailable)
- Molasses/brown sugar
- Mesh strainer
- Glass Jars
How to Make a Rice Wash
- Fill half of a jar with rice (I use white but any will work) then fill the rest of the way with water.
- Let this soak for about 20 minutes and shake a few times. The water should become cloudy.
- Next, strain the water into another jar, cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band. This now needs to sit for 4-7 days depending on temps.
We are looking for the rice wash to separate into 3 different layers and have a bit of a sour smell. The top layer is mostly mold, the middle layer is lactobacillus and other bacteria (what we want) and the bottom layer is starches and other byproducts of the process.
- Siphon off the middle layer into a new jar or container that is much larger than the original.
- This is because we will now mix the middle layer with 10 parts milk. Using milk ensures the lacto is the dominating bacteria. For example, 1 cup of rice serum needs 10 cups milk.
- Now this mixture will sit for about a week depending on the temps. I cover with the mason jar lid but I don’t seal it. There can be some bubbling during this process and overflow might occur.
- After about a week you’ll notice it has separated into 2 layers. The top will be a large curd consisting of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. The bottom layer will be a yellowish color and this is what we want.
- You can either siphon the bottom layer out or scoop out the curds and strain the remaining serum using a fine mesh strainer. The curds are great for animals, soil or compost piles. (My dogs love them!)
- You can stop here and refrigerate the serum in a sealed jar and activated when needed.
Or, what I prefer is to activate right away and then store.
Activating Your Lactobacillus
- Mix at a 1:1 ratio with molasses or brown sugar. I usually use molasses. So 5 cups of serum would be mixed with 5 cups of molasses and then stirred until it is all mixed together.
- Seal that and keep it at room temps (should keep for close to a year) or store in the refrigerator for longer life as it slows down the activity of the lactobacillus.
- This is further diluted when you want to use it. Typically 1:1000. I like to use 1 part serum to 20 parts clean water, then use 1-2 tbsp per gallon of water. The diluted serum will stay good for weeks even months if kept in the fridge.
This serum is perfect for making organic nutrients more immediately available. For example, if I make a kelp tea I will add 1-2tbsp of LABS per gallon the day before using and let it sit, stirring a couple times. This will allow the lactobacillus to start breaking down the kelp into a useable form more readily available for uptake.