Cool Tools - April 8, 2011
Yogurt, bread, beer, kimchi, wine, cheese, miso, kraut, and vinegar are among the many foods that are produced with the aid of microorganisms. Those are living beasties of a type that we ordinarily try to remove from what we eat. This cookbook is full of fermentation recipes. It presents a unified theory of "live-culture foods," a way of connecting their different methods in order to understand why fermentation is a Good Thing, and why there should be more of it.
Fermentation is fairly easy to do. It can self-correct many beginner's errors. It is definitely a slow-food process, but at the same time, a low-effort process since the bugs do most of the work. The recipes here are starter ones, broad in scope, easy to do, just to get you going. The appendix contains a good roundup of sources for a large variety of live cultures. You can find deeper more complex recipes in specific books, but here in one slim volume is a great introduction to how to ferment. At least once, you should make your own yogurt, bread, beer, kimchi, wine, cheese, miso, kraut, and vinegar. Find what you do well and make more of it.
More importantly, ferment something new.
Read the original review.
Macalla Eco-Farm Blog
WILD FERMENTATION by SANDOR ELLIX KATZ
“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.” (Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation, p.1)
In Wild Fermentation Sandor Katz, or Sandorkraut as he is nicknamed, brings fermentation out from the mouldering cupboards of pungent Northern Eastern European cuisine to present it as the edgiest of today’s food thinking.
As to whether the “wild” in the title designates the binding’s whacky fluorescents, assimilates the thinking to that of wild food, acknowledges the unconventional, even anti-conventional mindset from which the book is written or searches to highlight the experimental methods and DIY aspect of fermentation... I don’t know. We could assume it is a sort of all-encompassing wildness, or perhaps merely wild as opposed to straight.
For Katz, a self-proclaimed “fermentation fetishist”, fermentation is an integral part of a movement, a lifestyle, a sort of ecosystem even. He lives in a queer community, a “rural homestead” built from wood salvaged from a coca-cola bottling factory, rearing goats and chickens, powered on solar energy. Bound within this thinking Katz does not let his vision remain in specific potted form but always draws it out to explore larger issues such as community, harmonious living, sustainability, mortality.
Drawing widely from scientific sources, in the first chapter Sandor Katz outlines the health benefits of fermented foods. Although he flirts with complex formulae and equations he lets the facts surface to show that: fermentation preserves food, breaks down nutrients into more digestible forms and removes toxins from foods... on a primary level, the living cultures contained in fermented foods ease digestion and facilitate the assimilation of nutrients (7). And this is it: the consumption of live foods offers a spiritual and practical interaction, interdependence with what we eat. We can move then from the near passive consuming of long dead food, to a creative, transformative action.
An invitation to commune, to communicate with our living entourage – his is a (brave) positive reading of contagion (contact, Latin : con-tagere, touch with) as a form of life-giving communion as opposed to the foreboding it evokes in this double-glazed anti-bacterial fear era. ...
Read the original review.
The New Yorker Magazine
By Burkhardt Bilger
November 22, 2010
I Like my Food Live and Kickin
Queen of One's Blog
November 16, 2010
A few years ago I was having huge “gut issues” as my mother would say. Couldn’t eat, felt ill all the time. Took a year, docs treating symptoms not the cause and an elimination diet to figure out me and gluten had to break up. Gasp…I know…During the first year of acclimation both for myself emotionally and my colon I started playing around with live food. By live food I mean live culture foods. Like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso etc… I made a lot of sauerkraut and wished I was blogging then cuz those would have been some wicked pics and recipes. During my research and hunting out other fermented yummies I discovered Sandor Katz and his wild fermentation site and book.
It was with his earnest and light-hearted style of writing that I stopped being afraid of playing with live cultures in my kitchen. Granted this year I moved to a place half the size so haven’t been making any yummies and my gut is starting to reflect the loss to its health. A friend of mine recently made his first batch of sauerkraut and its so yummy. I just eat it right from the jar. The current issues with kumbucha has also encouraged me that its time to try my hand at my own kombucha culture…that will be a fun journey to share.
Read the original review on Queen of One.
Metro Farming Escapades
August 17, 2010
Sandor Ellix Katz—Wild Fermentation
I recently picked up the book "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz. Wow! This book is inspiring and challenging in all the right ways!
It all starts off with the Foreword by Sally Fallon. In it she writes, "Sandor Katz has labored mightily to deliver this magnum opus to a population hungry for a reconnection to real food and the process of life itself. For fermented foods are not only satisfying to eat, they are also immensely satisfying to prepare. FRom the first successful batch of kombucha to that thrilling taste of homemade sauerkraut, the practice of fermentation is one of partnership with microscopic life. This partnership leads to a reverence for all the processes that contribute to the well being of the human race, from the production of enzymes by invisible bacteria to the gift of milk and meat from the sacred cow."
Imagine, Americans waking up to the reality that they are living in a world of industrialized, generic, chemical, food and wanting to know what food is really supposed to taste like, how its made, and where they fit into the process!
Read the whole article here.
InDigest’s Summer Reading List
Sandor Ellix Katz—Wild Fermentation
I make a lot of fermented foods, like cheese, yogurt, saurkraut, and sourdough bread, and this book basically summarizes what I love about it. The author, who lives in a rural, queer, cooperative community, emphasizes the magical aspects of fermented foods—that you’re essentially relying on the cooperation of invisible micro-organisms to work over long periods of time to make your food healthier and more delicious. The preparations break down apprehensions about contamination—a markedly political act, particularly for minority cultures—by remaining unfussy, and ultimately sensible about working with wild organisms. Also, the recipes are generally delicious and innovative, including both a highly recommended Pineapple Vinegar recipe, as well as an as-yet-unverified-by-me procedure for hooch, developed and shared by an 18-year resident of the Illinois prison system.
The Jewish Daily Forward
The Pickle: No Second Fiddle
By Leah Koenig
Published July 15, 2009, issue of July 24, 2009.
Oh, the poor, humble pickle. Whether lying next to a hamburger or slipped as an afterthought into tuna salad, pickles routinely play second fiddle in American cuisine. Of course, with its greenish complexion and homely bumps, the fermented cucumber hardly qualifies as leading lady material. Still, something feels amiss when the pickle is not around. What good is falafel without that extra hit of something sour? Or pastrami without a few kosher dills parked nearby?
But there was a time when the pickle commanded more respect. From the late 1800s through the mid 1900s, it was a staple of Jewish (and, by extension, New York) cuisine. Peddlers sold brined cukes right from the barrel, and bowls of half and full sours got plunked onto delicatessen tables, free of charge — a modest but tasty amuse bouche. During that time, more than 100 independent pickle sellers (mostly new Jewish immigrants) jostled for real estate on streets and in storefronts on Manhattan’s cramped Lower East Side. The thriving industry, which eventually spilled northward and into other boroughs, supported cucumber wholesalers, barrel makers and spice blenders, along with the picklers themselves.
From the piquant kimchi adored by Koreans to the pickled eggs sold in pubs across Britain, nearly every culture pickles something. But New York’s pickles were direct descendants of those eaten in Eastern Europe, where pickling was a central part of the diet. (Imagine living through a bitter Lithuanian winter without access to fresh produce, and the pickle’s value skyrockets.) Steeped in saltwater loaded with garlic, dill and spices, these pickles served as a tart connecter between the immigrants’ new home and the land they left behind.
Read the whole article here.
How to Preserve Foods and Our Food Culture: Wild Fermentation
Written by Brian Liloia
Published on October 28th, 2008
In his book Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz provides a deeply inspiring call to arms (or crocks?), suggesting that fermentation is akin to food activism. In a world infested with fast food chains, processed “food products”, artificial flavors, and unpronounceable food ingredients, wild fermentation is a DIY alternative to making and preserving foods in a sustainable way, with rich cultural tradition.
For more information of fermenting foods, I highly recommend Wild Fermentation. It’s one of the most well-written, personal, holistic, and rewarding books on the subject of food I’ve ever read. It’s not just a collection of fermentation recipes; instead, it’s a complete vision of not only the importance of food and healthy eating, but of a healthy food culture and traditions. A true gem, it is.
Review by Cathe Olson for VegFamily Magazine
I'm wild about Wild Fermentation. This cookbook is so inspiring. Sandor Katz, an HIV/AIDS survivor, believes that eating fermented foods played an important part in his healing. In Wild Fermentation, he shares his fermentation experiences and recipes.
Wild Fermentation covers just about every vegetarian food that can be fermented. The section on Vegetable Ferments includes sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. In Bean Ferments, Kandor explains how fermentation helps to improve the digestibility of beans and neutralizes the phytic acid that inhibits mineral absorption. The section contains methods for making miso and tempeh and includes recipes that use those foods.
Grain ferments contains recipes for porridges, amasake, and rejuvelac. There are methods for making sourdough breads, pancakes, and crackers. The book also includes sections on naturally fermented vinegars, wines, and beers. Dairy Ferments offers methods to make kefir, yogurt, and cheese and Katz includes vegan alternatives for most of the recipes.
I love the way the recipes are presented. Katz urges readers to trust their instincts - not to be bogged down by exact measurements or specific ingredients but to experiment and evolve. It's like Katz takes you into his kitchen to show you what he does and then sends you out to do your own thing. In addition to recipes, Katz includes lots of information on the benefits of fermented foods. He also briefly explores the history and politics of human nutrition, advocating organic and non-genetically engineered foods.
I liked everything about Wild Fermentation. The book is interesting and Katz's style welcoming. His candor about his health and lifestyle make this more than just a cookbook. After reading Wild Fermentation, I felt like I wanted to go and hang out with Katz at his peaceful intentional community in Tennessee and ferment some veggies with him. Katz makes fermenting sound like a fun adventure to embark on. Even if you don't make any of the recipes, this is a great book just to read.
Read the original review here...
Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
With Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, And Craft Of Live-culture Foods as their guide, meal time dishes involving fermented and live-culture cuisines are not to be thought of as being restricted to gourmet class professional chefs. Most of us would recognize a great number of fermented foods (bread, coffee, chocolate, beer, wine, cheese, miso, yogurt, sauerkraut) that find their place in our kitchens and on our dining room tables. These are foods that depend on complex bacterial activity in order to be nutritional and palate-pleasing ingredients to our dining. What Sandor Katz has done is to compile a book that explores the history and politics of human nutrition, draws attention to world food traditions, and demonstrates the vital connection between natural, "live culture" foods and good human health. Wild Fermentation deserves a rightful place in any personal, professional, or academic Food & Nutrition reference collection -- and should be read by every dedicated kitchen cook in America!
Fermentation is one of the earliest natural processes involving food and its preservation that humans sought to control. The earliest puffed-up breads, wines, and cheeses likely occurred by chance, and results were scarcely uniform or predictable. Disconcerted by off-flavors and spoilage in beer, wine, and baked goods, early peoples learned to control microorganisms whose existence would not be demonstrated for centuries. But in that process of control, people lost some of the benefits of wild fermentation. Sandor Ellix Katz has experimented with Wild Fermentation, and his book explains to others how to take advantage of natural fermentation processes to produce bread, yogurt, cheese, beer, wine, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods. A gold mine for science-fair projects, Katz's work presents properly supervised young people ample opportunity to explore both the science and the art of fermented foods (alcoholic beverages excepted).
Mark Knoblauch Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Katz, a gardener, cook, and writer, is also a long-term HIV/AIDS survivor who strongly believes that the live-culture ferments in foods have kept him alive and healthy. In this unusual book, he makes a case for the benefits of fermentation, an ancient preservation technique that he says makes foods much more digestible and nutritious and that is lacking in the Western diet. Among other weighty topics, he explores worldwide traditions of fermented foods, the history of human nutrition, and fermentation as part of the cycle of life; many chapters explain the science and techniques of vegetable, bean, dairy, and bread fermentation, with more than 90 recipes (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt, breads, wines and vinegar, and beers) included. Katz has obviously done comprehensive research on his subject and is passionate about it (although he tells readers much more than they want to know about his digestive process). While foodies who enjoy the sensual pleasures of the table will find Katz's attitude completely contrary to theirs, this specialized guide will appeal to those facing similar health challenges. For large collections.
--Mary Schlueter, Missouri River Regional Lib., Jefferson City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.