Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adventures in Fermentation

Wow, what a difference a week can make. Its hard to believe that last weekend I was enjoying the warm weather, basking in the rosy glow of fall sunshine and the ferments featured at both the Kennett Brew Fest and the Fermentation Festival. Inspired by the buzz of community surrounding the fermentation extravaganza that took place in Kennett Square last weekend(click here to see lots of wonderful pictures of the fermentation festival), I have spent these past few rainy days experimenting with the fermentation process here at the farm. I turned the left over CSA share produce into sauerkraut and kimchi. I am hardening cider (glenn willow sells unpasteurized cider if you are interested) and have started my own ginger bug (to mix with new favorite Root). With the exception of the rather strong sulfurous odor that escapes from the newly capped jars of kimchi and sauerkraut each time a check the fizzy brew of cabbage, radish, ginger, and daikon--its been a fun process. The "cultivation" of good bacteria and fungus in the process of making these very live and delicious foods is the perfect indoor activity for one who likes to be doing the very same thing in the garden soil. A most appropriate rainy day activity for a farmer.

So what's the big deal about fermented food? I think both the cultural and health benefits are summed up quite well on the website of Zukay Live Foods, a participant and sponsor of the Fermentation Festival. Fermenting food has long been a way to both preserve food and make the nutrients more readily available to the body. My field guides to the fermentation process have been both Sallon Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and the essential Wild Fermentation by fermentation guru Sandor Katz (both of these great books are available at Harvest Market Natural Foods in Hockessin, a co-sponsor of the Fermentation Festival). Wild Fermentation is also a great website, if you are interested in fermentation its is an amazing resource. To quote Sandor from the intro to his book "This book is my song of praise and devotion to fermentation. For me, fermentation is a health regimen, a gourmet art, a multicultural adventure, a form of activism, and a spiritual path, all rolled into one."

So I too have been singing the praises of fermented food--imagine a life without beer, wine, cheese, cured meats, bread, yogurt, and yes sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi--and beyond these essentials to our diet and health, what has been become very apparent in this fermentation journey of mine--is the connection between the culture of foods and culture of community. As I said before I am still basking in the buzz and bubble of this new group of enthusiastic fermenters and their contribution to our community, a process that is already making me healthier, happier, and ready for the winter.

Read all about the amazing community in the links below:

Recap of the Fermentation Festival from Flow of Love blog and Earth Mama blog

Great article from CCDwell along with a Fermented Carrot Recipe.

Pickle recipe from the Farmers' Daughter

Finally a very interesting article(and some good recipes) about the "economics" of fermentation.

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