For several years now I have been harnessing the transformational abilities of fermentation to produce tasty alcoholic beverages. Building on my successes with brewing it is now time to try my hand at a few more of this processes magical feats. I wanted to start fermenting foods and non-alcoholic beverages. Unable to much information in one place online I picked up a copy of Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Cultured Foods.
What is this Wild Fermentation all about?
Here’s what Katz has to say about wild fermentation and his book on the topic:
Bread. Cheese. Wine. Beer. Coffee. Chocolate. Most people consume fermented foods and drinks every day. For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed the distinctive flavors and nutrition resulting from the transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi. Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods is the first cookbook to widely explore the culinary magic of fermentation.
The flavors of fermentation are compelling and complex, quite literally alive. This book takes readers on a whirlwind trip through the wide world of fermentation, providing readers with basic and delicious recipes-some familiar, others exotic-that are easy to make at home.
The book covers vegetable ferments such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and sour pickles; bean ferments including miso, tempeh, dosas, and idli; dairy ferments including yogurt, kefir, and basic cheesemaking (as well as vegan alternatives); sourdough bread-making; other grain fermentations from Cherokee, African, Japanese, and Russian traditions; extremely simple wine- and beer-making (as well as cider-, mead-, and champagne-making) techniques; and vinegar-making. With nearly 100 recipes, this is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging fermentation cookbook ever published.
I literally couldn’t put this book down and read it cover to cover in just a few hours. In contrast to many other books on the subject of fermentation you will not find references to complicated processes, rigid temperature constraints and a plethora of chemicals to sanitize, stabilize and control the process. Instead the focus is more on basic cleanliness and working with nature to produce healthy and tasty ferments with simple equipment and processes.
The first new ferments I plan to tackle are sauerkraut, kombucha (or jun as it is called when sweetened with honey instead of sugar) and t’ej (which is honey wine created by using wild yeast present in the air to ferment the honey water). Will keep you updated on how these little experiments turn out.
Image credit: AlyssssylA