The Art of Fermentation

When you spend most of your time as I do, playing with various forms of food and beverage experiments (cue mad scientist music with loud thunder and bright bolts of lightning), you find yourself searching for information in quite a few different places.  I recently ran across a news article revolving around the subject of pickling and it mentioned The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.  Needless to say I had to pick this one up.
Amazon Link
After being diagnosed with HIV around 20 years ago, Sandor Katz began a journey to redefine his diet and bring more stability to his health.  His quest for fermentation enlightenment led to living off the grid in a “Radical Faerie Community.”  Granted you don’t have to go to such extremes but the idea is sound.  Going back to our roots, building a relationship with our food and those who produce our food as well as producing it ourselves brings us back to our community.  This is something that we as a whole need to embrace in our ever shrink wrapped homogenized world.  
In his book The Art of Fermentation, he explores the world through different methods of fermentation.  Preservation of the harvest through the use of different bacterias is something universal within all cultures.  In a time when we have grown to fear bacterias as a dangerous and evil creature, we have become almost as homogenized as our factory processed foods.  It is are very war to destroy with antibiotics and antiseptic chemicals that has made us even more susceptible to micro-organisms that are infinitely more adaptable than we are.  
From the epilogue:
We must reclaim our food.  Food is much more than simply nourishment.  It embodies a complex web of relationships.  It is a huge part of the context in which we exist.  Reclaiming our food means actively involving ourselves in this web.  
Over the past week I have been flipping back and forth through the book.  Each time I stop I find a new tidbit or a forgotten slice of information, always a kernel of wisdom and understanding of the traditional ways our foods were once cared for.  I was surprised to find a section that detailed Natto.  This is a Japanese soy fermentation that to the uninitiated can seem very extreme (most Western palettes can not appreciate its extreme flavors).  I like to feel superior, because I actually enjoy it, but the metallic and ammonia notes that can be present can throw most people off.  
I find this book may very well be a resource that I will need to spend months if not years going through and exploring the possibilities posed within its pages.  It is well worth the space on your fermentation book shelves.
Time for a pint…

8 thoughts on “The Art of Fermentation

  1. Very interesting. I doubt I'd go as far as fermentation, but the main point is relationship to food. I'd like to think the purer the better. As soon as we begin cutting and creaming our fruits and vegetables, we begin to lose the nutritional value. What we put in our mouths is so important, and it affects our attitude and disposition. But a pint or two isn't bad. 🙂

  2. I love books like this. You're never sure whether to keep them on the book shelf or with the cookbooks. I know I've gotten to the point I want to just buy the ingredients to just about anything and make it myself, instead of settling for the prepackaged versions.Good stuff, Jon.

  3. It may be because I am a bit demented, but I keep my most often used cook books in my office area. Of course, this is also where I keep brewing books as well. As much as possible we make what we can at home. Even when made from bleached white flour, home made white bread is still better than store bought. The bread you buy tends to have stabilizers and fillers and all manner of other odd chemicals to keep it soft and fluffy.

  4. I believe this would be a book I would enjoy. The story of the why and how would be really fun to read. It looks to encourage us to make our own product instead of buying a commercial brand. That I like. 🙂

  5. I have about 3 or 4 books that I am digging through right now for various research or enjoyment readings right now. This one keeps pulling me in, it really is something new to discover in every section.

  6. I have a friend back in Idaho who lives on a ranch. I know she would love this book. Who knows, maybe she owns it already. She has a gigantic garden and spends days and days pickling and canning every year.

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