Monday, December 17, 2012

Fermentation Fun at MHC

Much excitement is brewing about fermentation at the Hub this season. Stephanie (Director of Education and Advocacy) and Kayte (Nutrition Education Coordinator) traveled to Louisville for an intensive fermentation workshop with Sandor Katz.  The day-long session was part of the ACRES USA conference and featured one of the leading voices in fermentation practice. Sandor Katz is the author of Wild Fermentation: the Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, and most recentlyThe Art of Fermentation: an In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World, which includes a forward by Michael Pollan. In MHC’s annual Food Preservation Workshops, Stephanie often raves about Wild Fermentation, claiming she “reads it like a novel,” so she was thrilled to finally have the chance to spend a day learning from “Sandy Kraut” himself.

The session is an  in-depth exploration of fermenting foods, from grains and beans to vegetables, dairy and beverages. Kraut was made, and samples were tasted, including some pickled turnips and a strawberry-rhubarb wine. Stephanie and Kayte expanded their fermentation knowledge base, and had many questions answered. In addition, the two educators picked up some important tips on leading large scale workshops.
The Louisville trip came at an opportune moment– the following week MHC partnered with the public library’s It’s Your Money financial literacy program for a workshop on fermentation! The session was led by devoted MHC volunteer/patron Barbara Lehr. Barbara’s passion for all things fermented is contagious, and because she has integrated a practice of fermenting all sorts of foods into her daily routine with her family, she has lots of practical advice and information.  She is also a skilled teacher, and this comes in handy when your workshop registration reaches  the 30 person capacity of the room, with a waiting list of another 30 people. Fermentation is hot right now!

Barbara talked about the benefits of incorporating fermented foods into your diet, and the ways it can save you money. She argued that regular consumption of ferments can reduce health care costs. Fermented foods  replenish the essential flora in the gut, and thus make food easier to digest and make the nutrients in the food more bio-available to the body. Besides, fermentation enhances flavor and produces some of our most beloved delicacies, such as pickles, cheeses, sourdough bread, yogurt, wine and beer.
Participants assembled their own customized jar of Kim Chi. This traditional Korean condiment  is made from cabbage, onions, garlic, ginger and red pepper, with as many variations and additions as their are Korean families! Salt is worked into the vegetables, and then the food is left to ferment on the kitchen counter until it develops the flavor and texture most desired by the consumer.

Participants also had the chance to sample a few ferments, including pro-biotic almonds, curried fermented cauliflower and carrots, kefir “soda” and pickled radishes.
As Barbara emphasized in the workshop, fermenting is a very friendly practice. It is an art, not a science, an you can adjust everything to your own tastes and lifestyle. It is also friendly in the sense that cultures such as soughdough starters, kombucha mothers and and yogurt cultures grow and can be shared with others! Home ferments are perfect foods for a place like Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, where we value community nurturing and DIY food production. Check out the Kim Chi recipe, along with a few resources from the workshop here.

No comments:

Post a Comment