Adventures in Fermentation
Welcome to my adventures in the wonderful world of fermentation. Fermentation is universal, and essential to all life on earth. In the broadest sense, fermentation is the chemical breakdown of substances by bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms. It happens naturally throughout the life cycle of all life on earth.
Food & Beverage Fermentation
Food and beverage fermentation is the controlled transformation of raw foodstuffs by beneficial microbial culture- friendly critters including bacteria, yeast and mold. This may not sound appetizing until you think of some of our favorite fermented foods: bread, masa and porridge; tea, chocolate and coffee; sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and other vegetables; beer, wine, cider, spirits and kombucha; cheese, yogurt and kefir; cured meats like bacon and sausage.
Fermentation requires very little energy, costs almost nothing, increases nutritional content and bioavailability of nutrients in food, eliminates pathogens and above all, creates an amazing spectrum of unique flavors including umami, or savory. It is ancient, safe, easy, cheap and fun! Along with drying, it is the oldest and most continuously used method of food preservation through time and across all cultures.
We are living in a fermentation revolution, literally taking back our cultures and ways of life that have been eliminated through sanitation, extermination, commodification. Think of the wars on bacteria, on animals and insects, on flora and fauna, and on peoples. In a way, the elimination of culture has been the goal. Hearty thanks to the craft beer, food and cultural movements that are bringing us all back home.
I teach all kinds of fermentation classes throughout the year at my home near Reading, PA. Here in eastern Pennsylvania, we begin in early summer when the fresh produce comes in. We start with radishes and cucumbers then move to summer tomatoes and peppers and fruit and berries, then to fall cabbage, carrots, other root veggies. In October during the apple harvest, we turn apple juice into lovely, naturally fermented Hard Cider. During the cold quiet of winter, we make warming fermented condiments such as Miso, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, ketchup, chili sauce, garlic, turmeric, ginger and more.
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