It seems that the subject of fermented foods is a hot topic right now. So I was thrilled to be invited by Vanessa Kimbell to The Sourdough School Fermentation Garden Party on a sunny day in June.
Besides a delicious lunch there were also plenty of tasty treats to sample, from MisoTasty, Kambucha, beer and wine from a local brewer and vineyard, local cheese and lovely scones with tea supplied by Nothing but the tea.
But the main event of the day was the hour or so, listening to Sandor Katz talking about his passion for all things fermented and making our own fermented vegetables under his guidance. He is known as a ‘fermentation revivalist” and he travels around the World learning about different fermentation traditions which he then shares with everyone in his workshops.
After the talk we all got chopping. I had forgotten to bring my chopping board and knife as instructed, but I was able to borrow one from a professional chef which meant it was very sharp (reminder to self, take all knives to professional knife sharpener, it makes all the difference). We chopped cabbages, white, red and green, spring onions, radishes, red and white, carrots, cauliflower and more and put them into a large bowl.
We then sprinkled salt over the vegetables with Sandor encouraging us to let our tastebuds be the guide to how much was needed (not too much, but enough). Then we put our hands into the bowl and mixed everything up and squeezed the vegetables until they started to give out their juices. Next we packed the vegetables tightly into a kilner jar, pushing down with our hands to pack in as much as possible with the brine rising up to cover the vegetables, (this was actually harder than it sounds, and I was helped by the ex-army man sitting next to me who had very strong hands).
And that was it. The next step was to take the jar home along with a loaf of sourdough bread exchanged for one that I had brought myself.
Back at mine, I left the jar in a cool place, out of the sun, opening it every day to release the gas that builds up. After a few weeks I tried the now fermented vegetables and put them in the fridge when they tasted just right.
I like to eat a little portion on the side with my lunch and aim to make it a daily habit. Not just because it’s good for me and my gut, but also because it tastes delicioius.
To learn more about Sandor Katz you can get his book
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003)-which Newsweek called “the fermenting bible”-
Go to his Website http://www.wildfermentation.com/
Watch his video http://www.wildfermentation.com/sandorkraut-the-video/
And finally Listen to him on The Food Programme on BBC Radio4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08xxfz5
With thanks to Vanessa for organising such a wonderful and instructive day and for the delicious sourdough bread swap and the kind lady that gave me a kilner jar.
And if you’re interested in learning more about sourdough and fermentation, The Sourdough School is the place for you to go.