The Fine Art of Funky Food

Last night I just wanted some comfort food. Something easy and warm. So I plopped a pack of ramen into some boiling water with a little salt, pepper, garlic, and toasted sesame oil. A little plain. Next I tossed in half a can of sardines. Better. But still, something was missing. I reached into the fridge and found that secret, spicy, pungent ingredient: kimchi. I removed the pot from the heat element (don’t want to kill those beneficial bacteria) and plopped in a few generous forkfuls of that wonderful stuff.


The kimchi and sardine combo insured I wouldn’t be getting any kisses from my girlfriend that night. But you know what? It was a sacrifice I was willing to make. That’s how much I love kimchi.

And, apparently, I’m not the only fermented foods fanatic out there.


My kitchen smells like a boy’s locker room. At least that’s what my roommate says. Feet and food just do not mix, so I lug my crock full of fermenting sauerkraut—45 lbs in all—into my bedroom, because it’s too cold on the back porch. After studying the smell for weeks, there are some differences between socks and sauerkraut, but, I’ll admit, it’s a fine line. A small price to pay, though, for a winter’s worth of fresh, crunchy kraut.

It might be time to get used to the smell. Whether it’s extreme brewers introducing wild yeasts to beers, chefs creating kimchi, or home-tinkerers culturing kraut, funk is back. Home brewers and cheese makers are very much in vogue. So are mead makers, kombucha companies, and distillers. New regional start-up pickle and fermented food makers seem to pop up every other week.

But the process of purposefully letting food rot probably began before humans first cultivated crops. “Obviously, all of these foods are ancient. There’s nothing new about any of them,” says Sandor Katz, the author of the seminal, how-to guide Wild Fermentation, and another forthcoming fermentation manual. “But there has been resurging interest in fermentation. There has been an explosion of awareness about health and nutrition. Then, there’s the whole local food movement. Anyone who lives in a temperate climate should think about fermentation if they want to eat local in the winter.”

Fermented foods have also been a classic way to add value to crops: Cabbage, milk, and apples are all more valuable as sauerkraut, cheese, and hard cider. They’re ultra-slow food, generally taking a couple of weeks to months to create. Still, the process is rather simple.

Read the whole article here.


Related Articles:

You may like...

Recent Articles

Survive the Winter Blues: Grow, Eat and Plan

There is no denying it: the days are short and unless you planned for a winter garden, fresh vegetables from your backyard have long passed. But don’t let the winter get you down. There are plenty of recipes to last you through the cold season and into the ‘hungry gap’. And we’ve shared a few…

Read More

8 steps to Fermented Hot Sauce with Wild Greens

Like hot sauce? Fermenting? Wild greens? This Fermented Hot Sauce with Wild Greens recipe from The New Wildcrafted Cuisine has it all! Wild foods are becoming increasingly popular, as more and more people want to learn how to identify plants and forage for their own ingredients, but self-described “culinary alchemist” deeply explores the flavors of…

Read More

Books to Curl up with this Winter!

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading…

Read More

3 Steps to Start Your Plants Off Right

How you handle your seeds and your practices around seeding is your first chance to get your plants off to a good start and help them achieve their full potential. Ben and Penny Hewitt, authors of The Nourishing Homestead, have developed a three-step process which starts with inoculating the seeds, then sowing them in high-quality…

Read More

All-Star-All-Sprout Salad

At this point in winter, if you haven’t already exhausted your cellar of root vegetables, then you’re probably exhausted with it. But just because the ground outside may still be frozen, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fresh greens.Without a greenhouse or expensive equipment, it’s hard to imagine a reality in which you can have fresh…

Read More