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How to Ferment Ogi


Ogi is a fermented millet porridge.

Millet is a grain crop that makes up a large part of the caloric intake in many Asian and African countries. In the US, though, it is mostly used as bird food. 

That’s a shame, really, because millet has a lot to offer. It can be grown in arid climates that suffer from drought. It has a fairly quick growing season. It can be threshed fairly easily, making it a good grain option for the small-scale sustainable farm.

It is also gluten-free.

Millet can be used in a variety of ways. It cooks up into a fluffy, rice-like grain when cooked, much like brown rice. It can be ground into flour and made into a host of different non-yeast breads such as pancakes, biscuits, and batter loaf breads.

Another great way to enjoy millet is in the form of porridge. Millet porridge is popular in Africa where they ferment the millet first and then cook and eat it. Some also go through the step of removing the bran from the millet to make it even easier to digest.

Because that is a painstaking task and because the digestive problems inherent in bran are mostly neutralized through the fermentation process, this recipe does not include the bran-removal step.

While we usually think of porridge as a sweet breakfast item, historically most porridge was served as an accompaniment to a savory meal.

How to Make Ogi

  1. Coarsely grind 2 cups hulled millet in a grain mill, high-powered blender, coffee grinder, or food processor.
  2. Place cracked millet into a non-reactive vessel made of glass or plastic. Cover with about 4 cups of warm water. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot for 24 hours. 
  3. After 24 hours you can drain off the water and rinse if your millet is barely cracked. Add fresh water and continue fermenting for up to a week, depending on the sour flavor you wish to acquire.
  4. If it has more of a flour consistency then just leave the same water and continue fermenting up to a week. 


For a larger, continuously-fermented batch: If you want to eat Ogi on a regular basis you can create a constant ferment for a week. To achieve this just double, triple, or quadruple the batch, depending on how much you’d like to make.

Do the initial 24-hour fermentation, scoop out the amount you wish to use in that day’s porridge, and leave the rest to ferment until you have gone through the whole batch. 

To cook the Ogi: Add the amount you’d like to cook to a pot, put it over low heat and add 1/2 cup of water for every cup of fermented millet you add to the pot, along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook until it reaches the desired consistency. If it seems too thick then simply add more water or milk.

Sweet and Savory Serving Options

Serving this porridge as a sweet porridge is as simple as adding butter or cream and jam, berries, honey, or sweetener of choice. 

Or, you can choose a variety of savory options:

  • Serve with scallions, fresh minced chili, and ginger for an Asian flavor.
  • Serve with butter and cheddar cheese for a dish reminiscent of southern grits.
  • Serve with a sprinkling of coriander, turmeric, cardamom and a drizzle of coconut milk as a curry twist.
  • Serve with fresh minced parsley and basil, red chili flakes, and sun-dried tomatoes for an Italian taste.


Ready to learn more? 

How to Ferment Ogi

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