Long before it was trendy or hip, my mother was a practitioner of home fermentation. I have lots of childhood memories of some sort of bubbling, brewing, living culture tucked away in the corner of the kitchen, under the woodstove, or adding a sour odor to her own special brand of refrigerator ecology. I remember the frothy fizzy gallons of cider that used adorn our counter tops-looking like something from a mad scientist's lab, all expanded and occasionally blowing their lids. Her bread made out of the left over porridge would rival that of any European bakery. Her yogurt cheese added a gourmet element to many a meal. We were lucky children and I did not even know it, it was like growing up with the female version of Sandor Katz (wild fermentation expert).
Fast forward some 25 years, and Cintra is back in full swing fermentation mode (during our early teenage years Cintra went back to work, and with less time to tend to these living cultures, abandoned much of her home fermenting projects). When the kombucha craze hit the East coast, Cintra was one of the first to order a little mother a.k.a SCOBY. She quickly turned that tiny jelly fish-looking "mushroom" into a thick large pancake-like mass, remenisent of a creature out of a horror movie. Her special fermentation powers have produced many a healthy SCOBY baby, which she has passed on to friends and family. Pictured below is her old school yogurt maker, a scoby baby that she is about to give away, and some raw cider she is "hardening."
Today is my mother's birthday. Its a big one (I won't say which). I thought on this day all about celebrating her life, it would be appropriate to share some of her fermentation favorites, bringing culture and life to the food around us. As amazing as Cintra is at all these creative and delicious forms of ferments, she has a hard time explaining the "what" or "the how to". It is almost as if she has some sort of fermentation sixth sense. Lucky for the rest of us, there are some great resources online. Enjoy the links below.
Great Food in Jars posting on Creme Fraiche
How to Make Yogurt website (recommended on the Wild Fermentation site)
The Fresh Loaf--An online community for amateur artisan bakers and bread enthusiasts.
Wiki-how on Kombucha
Happy fermenting and Happy Birthday Cintra!