Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wild Fermentation - Sandor Katz

I have really been waiting for this book for years and never knew about it. I have many books on the subtle science of fermentation, filled with charts and numbers that can really turn you off of the whole thing. Sandor Katz takes a very no nonsense approach to the art of fermented foods and drinks, everything from kosher pickles, to miso, to how to reuse old bread to make Kvass.

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture FoodsWhen you go into the culinary arts, you learn quickly about food safety, proper holding temperatures, and how to keep things safe. This is almost totally counter intuitive to how I was taught, until you understand the science, and tradition behind it. He debunks many myths around botulism and food poisoning and teaches you very clearly how to do things safe, and the benefits gained from eating these foods. Common pasteurised foods keep you safe, however it is non partial to destroying good bacteria as well as bad bacteria; you must also remember that in any case you are eating dead bacteria which from what I hear isn't that great for you either. In the past ten years we have been making a leap forward in the right direction with foods like pro biotic yogurt, kefir, pro biotic pills to aid your digestion, or help people dealing with gastric diseases, or harmful drugs that kill your natural bacteria. Not only are these things very good for your digestive tract, but they are also incredibly easy (and cheap) to make yourself.

The benefits of miso, a Japanese fermented bean were observed by a Doctor in post Hiroshima to counter and heal severe radiation poisoning. Lets hope we just need it because its delicious.

I found for me, there was a timidness about approaching these kinds of things, in the back of my head all that I could think was I was going to end up with food poisoning, no matter how much I understood the processes going on. I started off small, cultivating a sourdough starter; then I moved on to sauerkraut. Still alive, there must be something to this. I was flabbergasted to realize I could make my own yogurt with nothing more then probiotic yogurt and milk -also a much cheaper way. I was hooked. Now I have at least one little foodie science experiment on the go, and its all thanks to the guidance, and assurances of Sandor Katz. I have read, reread, and used many of the recipes in this book. None of them disappoint, well the Kvass was different...maybe not AS enjoyable as proper beer. Take baby steps in this direction, you wont be disappointed.