Archive for September, 2013

The Book that Fermented a Cultural Revival

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the first printing of Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation, a book that helped launch a fermentation revival in this country.

Since its publication, Katz has traveled the globe teaching hands-on workshops and learning from others about the many foods and beverages made by the process of fermentation. His travel schedule – and his personal appeal– aptly earned him the title of “The Johnny Appleseed of Fermentation” from Michael Pollan. To see why Katz has earned this reputation, check out his workshop DVD (a clip is below).

The additional knowledge Katz has gained since the publication of Wild Fermentation is found in The Art of Fermentation, Katz’s award-winning book published last year. The book landed on The New York Times bestseller list, was featured on Fresh Air, and won a Beard Foundation Book Award in the reference category.

To celebrate Wild Fermentation’s 10th anniversary, we asked Senior Editor Ben Watson to recount meeting Katz for the first time, and bringing this important book to print.

I will never forget the day I first met Sandor Katz, though oddly I can’t remember exactly what year it was—either 2000 or 2001. He was traveling, staying with friends in Vermont, and had arranged to come into the Chelsea Green offices to meet with our editorial team: myself; Jim Schley, our longtime editor-in-chief; and Stephen Morris, the publisher and president of the company at the time. This was when Chelsea Green was in the old Gates-Briggs Building in the center of White River Junction, an historic edifice with a lot of what could generously be called “character.” The drop ceilings in the editorial office were just that—ceiling panels would work themselves loose and float down periodically, exposing wiring and pipes. The theater just down the hall was the scene of summer musical rehearsals, with kids belting out chestnuts like “Tomorrow” from Annie . . . all day long. And of course the whole building shook ever so slightly whenever the Amtrak train would pull into the little passenger station across the street. It was the furthest thing from a typical corporate setting one could imagine.

Jim and Stephen were already used to meeting authors and signing up books in interesting places and circumstances. They had previously signed the contract for The Sauna in Rob Roy’s round, cordwood masonry sauna, trying hard not to drip sweat on it from their naked bodies. And there was even talk about arranging a meeting with Canadian author Robert Henderson in a hall in Newport Line, Vermont, which had entrances in both Canada and the U.S. (Robert’s wife, for reasons I never quite understood, was considered persona non grata in this country, and Quebec—on the other side of the building—was as close as we could get her to White River.)

Sandor arrived, looking very flamboyant in what I remember as a multicolor ring-striped sweater and corduroy pants that were very soft and velour-like in texture, and golden-mustard yellow in color. Clearly neither he nor we were going for the corporate image. He entered, carrying a jar of his homemade “kraut-chi” and a small, saddle-stitched pamphlet—the original, self-published version of Wild Fermentation. As the meeting progressed, and we passed around the jar, scooping out delicious fermented vegetables with our fingers, we became more and more impressed and fond of this bright, articulate, and passionate young man, who was part social activist, part cultural preservationist—and clearly obsessed with all things fermentable. It wasn’t a hard decision to sign up his book.

Time passed, and most of the staff turned over during a major reorganization at Chelsea Green. Our offices changed as well, moving a few hundred feet up the street to the Tip Top Building, a big open space inside what was once a production bakery and that had been converted into artists’ studios and other uses. The new, expanded edition of Wild Fermentation was one of the first titles Chelsea Green issued under our “new” Publisher, Margo Baldwin, who with her husband Ian had founded the company in 1984 and had run it for many years before taking a well-deserved break.

I remember when we opened the box containing the advance copies of Wild Fermentation. There was a stunned silence, then a mixture of bemusement and outrage. We had struggled over the cover design for a long time (“Should we have microscopic photos of bacteria on the front?”), but had opted in the end for a funky type-heavy cover. The color in the printer proofs we’d seen had been a dark forest green. Imagine our surprise then when we saw, on the front cover, a shockingly lighter, almost bilious pea green color, and a neon-pink, childrens’ chewable vitamins color in the title and on the back cover. Our first reaction was to reach for the light switch and see if the damn thing would glow in the dark.

We had no clue how this garish-looking, flamboyantly fabulous book that we were sending off into the world would sell. Fortunately, we had an equally flamboyant and fabulous author to promote it. Sandor carried this book to the four corners of the earth, tirelessly spreading the word and talking to everyone who cared to listen about the wonders of fermentation. And over the course of time, this book has grown to become a classic.

Like many of the books we have published at Chelsea Green, Wild Fermentation was way ahead of its time. Today fermentation is a “hot topic,” with everyone from self-reliant anti-government bunker dwellers to tragically urban hipsters from Brooklyn to San Francisco jumping on the bandwagon and eagerly discovering (or rediscovering) the traditional skills for transforming and preserving a wide range of foods. And with the 2012 publication of The Art of Fermentation—Sandor’s best-selling magnum opus—even more readers are now discovering Wild Fermentation, his first book. It’s the one that made it all possible, the original “culture” that started a great and growing ferment.

Eliot Coleman: Creating a Root Cellar

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

As we enter into autumn, the gardening locavore starts assessing her stock of pickled beans, dried herbs, and preserved fruits. But what about the potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots? What’s a gardener to do with those when the thermometer drops?

Most homesteaders opt for the simple solution of a root cellar. Eliot Coleman, a successful farmer in Maine, weighs in with some tips for building one below.

The following is an excerpt from Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman. It has been adapted for the Web.

No one wants second best. A slimy cabbage from a dingy corner of the basement will never compete with the crisp specimens on the vegetable shelf of the supermarket. Wilted, dried-out carrots look unappealing next to the crunchy, plastic-wrapped beauties in the refrigerator. When home storage is unsuccessful, a case can be made for artificial refrigeration. But the cabbage need not be slimy nor the carrots wilted. A properly constructed root cellar does not take a backseat to any other method of food storage. It is no great feat to manage a simple underground root cellar so that the produce will be equal or superior in quality to anything stored in an artificially refrigerated unit, even after long periods of storage.

A successful root cellar should be properly located, structurally sound, weather tight, convenient to fill and empty, easy to check on and clean, and secure against rodents. Proper location means underground at a sufficient depth so frost won’t penetrate. The cellar should be structurally sound so it won’t collapse on you. It needs to be weather tight so cold winds can’t blow in and freeze the produce. You need to have easy access to fill it, to use the produce, and to clean it at the end of the winter. And it should be rodent-proof so all the food you have stored away won’t be nibbled by rats and mice.

Provision must be made for drainage as with any other cellar, and the cellar should be insulated so that it can maintain a low temperature for as long as possible and provide properly humid storage conditions. Finally, microclimates within the cellar (colder near the floor, warmer near the ceiling) should allow you to meet different temperature and moisture requirements for different crops. The cellar will be most successful if it incorporates your underground food storage needs into one efficient, compact unit. It’s surprising how easily a hole in the ground meets all those conditions.

Any house with a basement already has a potential root cellar. You just need to open a vent so cold air can flow in on fall nights, and sprinkle water on the floor for moisture. The temperature control in the root cellar is almost automatic because cold air, which is heavier than warm air, will flow down, displacing the warmer air, which rises and exits. This lowers the temperature in the cellar incrementally as fall progresses and the nights get cooler. By the time outdoor conditions are cold enough to require moving root crops to the cellar (around October 21 to November 7 here in Maine), conditions in the underground garden are just right-cool and moist. With minimal attention, they will stay that way until late the next spring.

No wood or other material that might suffer from being wet should be used in root cellar construction. The ideal root cellar is made of concrete or stone with rigid insulation around the outside. Any permanent wood in a root cellar soon becomes damp and moldy. Wood will not only rot but also will serve as a home for bacteria and spoilage organisms and is subject to the gnawing entry of rodents. The stone or concrete cellar is impregnable. It won’t rot or decompose, and the thick walls hold the cool of the earth.

The easiest way to make a root cellar is to wall off one corner of the basement as a separate room. The best material is concrete block. There is no problem even if the rest of the basement is heated. You simply need to insulate one temperature zone from the other. Leave enough space between the top of the walls and the joists of the floor above so you can install a cement-board ceiling with rigid insulation above it. Also attach rigid insulation to the heated side of the cellar walls you build. The insulation can be protected with a concrete-like covering such as Block Bond. Install an insulated metal door for access, and the structure is complete.

There are several simpler options, especially for storing small quantities of vegetables. If your house has an old-fashioned cellar with a dirt floor and there is enough drainage below floor level, you can dig a pit in the floor 18 to 24 inches deep, line it with concrete blocks, and add an insulated cover. You will want to open the cover every few days to encourage air exchange in the pit. The pit won’t be as easy to use as a room you can walk into, but like any hole in the ground, it should keep root crops cool and moist. In warmer climates, you can use similar pits or buried barrels for storage either outdoors or in an unheated shed.

One of the simplest techniques we ever used, before we had a root cellar, was to dig pits in one section of the winter greenhouse. In that case we used metal garbage cans and buried them to their edge in the soil under the inner layer. To make sure they stayed cool we insulated their lids. We filled those cans with all the traditional root crops after their late fall harvest. Our whole winter food supply that year was in one central spot and when we went out to harvest fresh spinach and scallions for dinner we would bring back stored potatoes and cabbage at the same time.

Preserving and Conserving: 35% Off

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

As we harvest (and feast upon) the late summer, autumn fruits – it’s also time to preserve those flavors so they can be enjoyed throughout the winter.

To better enjoy the fruits of your labor, we’re offering a 35% discount on select books on drying, canning, and preserving food.

Below are a few easy, DIY recipes for building drying trays, and drying some fruit that can be easily foraged, or found close to home. Follow additional links below to even more books, resources, and savings.

Happy preserving from your fruitful friends at Chelsea Green Publishing

Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Easy-to-Make Drying Trays

Ever want to dry your own food, but didn’t want to buy a dehydrator? How about simple, DIY food trays?

Food is usually dried on a flat surface, such as a tray or screen, using a natural or artificial heat source. Trays should be placed in a dry, well-ventilated spot, generally out of the direct sun, or in specially designed solar dryers.

Drying trays are easy to make, and our friends from Centre Terre Vivante have two simple designs anyone can buildGet the Design »»

Wild Flavors: Choen’s Autumn Olive Fruit Leather

Autumn olive was first cultivated in United States in the 1800s, but don’t let the name mislead you. These shrubs grow berries, not olives, but their leaves resemble olive leaves. The berries appear in midfall and remain for six to eight weeks, offering a complex mix of tart and sweet flavors, intensifying in sweetness steadily from October through November.

Chef and author Didi Emmons explains how to make fruit leather from this foraged fruit. Get the Recipe »»

Resilient Gardener: Drying Prune Plums (and Figs, Apricots, Peaches and Nectarines)

Apples aren’t the only fruit to be picked in the fall. Prune plums, figs, apricots, peaches, and nectarines are also abundant (depending on where you live).

Resilient gardener Carol Deppe shares her favorite ways to collect and dry some of the various (non-apple) fruits in her backyard. Put those drying trays to good use! Get the Recipe »»


Wild Flavors Cover

Retail: $24.95

Sale: $16.22

The Resilient Gardener Cover

Retail: $29.95

Sale: $19.47

Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning Cover

Retail: $25.00

Sale: $16.25

More Preserving Books: 35% Off

From Asparagus to Zucchini Cover

Retail: $19.95

Sale: $12.97

Farm-Fresh and Fast Cover

Retail: $24.95

Sale: $16.22

Fresh Food from Small Spaces Cover

Retail: $24.95

Sale: $16.22

Letting in the Wild Edges Cover

Retail: $24.95

Sale: $16.22

Four-Season Harvest Cover

Retail: $24.95

Sale: $16.22

Seed to Seed Cover

Retail: $24.95

Sale: $16.22

Full Moon Feast Cover

Retail: $25.00

Sale: $16.25

Wild Fermentation Cover

Retail: $25.00

Sale: $16.25

Cooking Close to Home Cover

Retail: $24.95

Sale: $16.22

The New Vegetable Growers Handbook Cover

Retail: $27.95

Sale: $18.17

Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD) Cover

Retail: $29.95

Sale: $19.47

The New Food Garden Cover

Retail: $29.95

Sale: $19.47

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties Cover

Retail: $29.95

Sale: $19.47

Preserving With Friends DVD Cover

Retail: $34.95

Sale: $22.72

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm Cover

Retail: $34.95

Sale: $22.72

Perennial Vegetables Cover

Retail: $35.00

Sale: $22.75

Long Way on a Little Cover

Retail: $34.95

Sale: $22.72

The Holistic Orchard Cover

Retail: $39.95

Sale: $25.97

The Art of Fermentation Cover

Retail: $39.95

Sale: $25.97

The Resilient Farm and Homestead Cover

Retail: $40.00

Sale: $26.00

The Preserving the Harvest Set Cover

Retail: $54.95

Sale: $35.72

The Sandor Katz Fermentation Set Cover

Retail: $99.90

Sale: $64.94


per inceptos himenaeos.

 Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only). Sale runs through October 15th, 2013.

Is Cider the New Craft Beer?

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Autumn is arriving. And with it comes an abundance of everyone’s favorite fall crop—apples.

An increasingly popular, and mouth-watering, approach to handling the overflow of orchard-fresh apples is to make a batch—or five—of hard cider.

Claude Jolicoeur’s The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is the orchard-to-bottle book that amateur cider makers have been waiting to read. Jolicoeur guides cider makers through every step of the cider making process and provides in-depth direction for the more experienced craftsperson. “The book is really the book I wish I had had when I started to gain interest in cider making and wanted to know more,” writes Jolicoeur in the book’s preface.

“The last two years…have seen a surge in artisan producers bent on resurrecting the region’s centuries-old cider-making tradition,” writes Corin Hirsch in Seven Days. “Sales of U.S. hard ciders have tripled since 2007 — to roughly $600 million last year, according to market-analyst firm IBISWorld. For the first time since the 1800s, cider makers are a force to be reckoned with.”

The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is broken down into five parts: Basic principles of cider making; instruction on obtaining the best possible apples; how to extract juice from apple; properties of the apple juice itself; and, the actual fermentation and transformation that turns apples into cider.

“Cider has greater visibility in this country than at any time in the past 100 to 150 years, and is growing fast as a category,” says Ben Watson, Chelsea Green senior editor and author of Cider, Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own (Countryman Press, 1999). “The modern cider renaissance is spurring an interest in more distinctive, higher quality products now, made by small to medium-size cider makers. In this sense, cider’s rebirth mirrors the phenomenally successful craft beer movement. Claude Jolicoeur is a passionate cider maker who has mastered his craft both through his own experience and research, and from advice gleaned from craft producers and experts around the world. His book is the most useful one on the subject to be published in America in the past century.”

Whether you’re an orchardist, a cider connoisseur, or a novice apple-lover, The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is the definitive guide your bookshelf is begging for.

“This is the book so many craft cider makers have been waiting for,” writes Dick Dunn, president of the Rocky Mountain Cider Association. “At once comprehensive, detailed, and authoritative. It really is ‘orchard to bottle,’ with both guidance and technical background all along the way.”

The New Cider Maker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Craft Producers is available now and on sale for 35% off until September 23rd.

Read an excerpt from Part 1, The Basics of Cider Making, below:

The New Cider Maker’s Handbook: The Basics of Cider Making

Chelsea Green Across the Globe

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Here at Chelsea Green we love seeing how publishers from other parts of the world adapt our book covers for readers in their respective countries.

There are more than 150 foreign editions of Chelsea Green books in eighteen different languages, and each book has its own unique look and appeal. Each year we see more books being translated, thanks to an in-house team that travels to Frankfurt and London to meet with overseas publishers, as well as our helpful distributors in Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, and South Africa.

We’ve created a slide show containing a number of our favorite foreign covers and have two simple questions for you:

Can you recognize the U.S. edition by its foreign cover? What do you think of their interpretation?

Take a look at the photostream below OR chime in on our Facebook Page and let us know what you think.

Renewable Energy for Resilient Communities

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

How can we successfully bring our neighbors together and relocalize our food, energy, and financial systems?

To glean some of the best ideas percolating throughout the United States, and the world, sign up for the Community Resilience Chats—a webinar series that delves into details essential for communities that are ready to take the necessary steps to reclaim their future. These online discussions stem from The Community Resilience Guides co-published by Post Carbon Institute and Chelsea Green.

These online chats are co-produced by Chelsea Green, Transition US, and Post Carbon Institute.

In the next chat — Power from the People — community clean power visionaries, Lynn Benander of Co-op Power and Lyle Estill of Piedmont Biofuels will share their experiences in moving away from big energy. Join the conversation:

Community Resilience Chat: Power from the People – Webinar
September 10, 2013 at 2:00pm (EST)

The webinar is free, but space is limited so don’t wait to sign up. Participants will receive an exclusive 35% discount on Greg Pahl’s Power from the People. There will be a presentation and time for Q&A, but send in your burning questions on community clean power in advance to help shape the conversation.

If you missed the first Community Resilience Chat: Rebuilding the Foodshed with Philip Ackerman-Leist, you can watch it here:

 Next up on Community Resilience Chats: Local Dollars, Local Sense. Michael Shuman’s perspective sheds light on rebooting the economy to meet the needs of investors and entrepreneurs for a healthy and secure local economy.

Want to learn more about these books and how to make your community more self-reliant? Chelsea Green is offering  The Community Resilience Guides series as a special book set to make sure you and your neighbors have the tools and strategies you need to become more resilient.

One Million Strong for Marijuana Is Safer

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Quick: What do one million Facebook fans and the U.S. Department of Justice have in common?

Apparently, they agree that it’s a waste of time to crack down on individual marijuana smokers. So, will the feds move toward legalization next? If they follow the leads of voters in states like Colorado and Washington, then perhaps we can end the prohibition era mentality when it comes to smoking pot.

In celebration of the Marijuana is Safer Facebook page gaining the support of more than one million fans, and the federal government’s announcement that it’s easing off it’s crackdown on individual smokers, we are offering a special discount on the updated and expanded edition of Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? – just use discount code MIS35 at checkout to take 35% off!

The position that marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol is sparking a conversation in communities and legislatures across the country—forcing the media, policy makers and citizens to pay attention to this issue.

Renowned brain surgeon and CNN medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently defended and endorsed the use of marijuana in medicinal applications (and was rewarded with his very own aptly-named strand of the drug). Gupta also exposed hypocrisy of the U.S. government, and in the documentary Weed, examined the benefits and relative safety of marijuana. Between this level of exposure and growing interest in the debate, a policy shift is on the horizon.

Marijuana is Safer debunks many marijuana myths and provides research and evidence supporting the relative safety of the substance. This new edition includes the same message, but with even more research and facts, explains the Colorado victory, and lays out the talking points that can help enable change in your state and community.

Whether you’re in support or have yet to be convinced, Marijuana is Safer will educate you, open your mind, and empower you to take action.

Don’t forget to visit the Marijuana is Safer Facebook page and add your support to the one million (and counting) fans. And get Marijuana is Safer for 35% off with discount code MIS35 at checkout.

Get to know the issue. Learn about the facts. Share it with someone else. Make a difference.

We’re Hiring! Join the Team as our Online Marketing Intern

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Chelsea Green – an employee-owned, mission-driven book publisher — is looking for a creative, book-loving, savvy Online Marketing Intern to join our growing marketing and publicity team in the company’s Burlington, VT office.

If you’re interested, please send resume and cover letter to Online Marketing Manager, Gretchen Kruesi: [email protected] No phone calls, please.

General Description

Online Marketing Intern is responsible for assisting the Online Marketing Manager in updating our consumer and media websites, working on consumer email and analytics program, and other administrative tasks as needed.


• Support Online Marketing Manager including, but not limited to tasks listed below. Position will have opportunity to improve and expand skills and knowledge in website and online management.
• Assist in updating our ecommerce site (, keeping book data up to date and highlighting major media hits.
• Surveying website for problems and assist Online Marketing Manager to resolve quickly.
• Assist in updating media site for sales/media (, updating book data and marketing information as needed.
• Conduct research on new authors to provide publicity background information on
• Update other Chelsea Green content on other platforms as needed, such as: Scribd, YouTube, affiliate sales program, etc.
• Assist Online Marketing Manager with researching potential online outlets for targeted promotion campaigns.
• Potential for other online marketing opportunities, such as: limited graphic design, video editing, etc.

Position Details: 15- 20 hrs/week for 4 months with possible extension, paid $10/hour, based in Burlington, Vermont.

Reports to: Online Marketing Manager

Qualifications: This is a position for someone with a demonstrated interest in website management and marketing. Experience with Adobe Creative Suite and basic HTML and is required. The qualified candidate will be able to work within a team environment as well as work independently. Comfort with other multimedia experience and using Google Analytics and other online tracking software is helpful, but not required. Detailed oriented, reliable, strong computer skills and proficiency in Excel is essential. Successful applicant will have an opportunity to learn new skills and expand knowledge base.

About Us: For almost 30 years, Chelsea Green has been the go-to publisher for people seeking foundational books on the politics and practice of sustainable living, including organic gardening and agriculture, renewable energy, green building, eco-cuisine, and ethical business. In 2012, we decided to practice what we publish and became employee-owned. We are a founding member of the Green Press Initiative and have been printing books on recycled paper since 1985, when our first list of books went on sale. We print our books on paper that consists of a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer waste and aim for 100 percent whenever possible. We also don’t print our books overseas, but rather use domestic printers to keep our shipping costs (and impact on the environment) at a minimum.

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