Atlanta workshop shows fermentation is going mainstream

Did I ever inform you regarding the time I killed my kefir?

It occurred a decade or so previously. My Bosnian good friend Zemka had gifted me the kefir grains — the white globs that appear like miniature cauliflower florets and have the texture of cottage cheese — wished to make the tangy, yogurt-like drink. The grains acquired to Zemka by her good friend, who lived in Canada, and who’d traced their origin halfway all around the world to the nation of Georgia. Precious stuff, people.

Kefir is now readily purchased inside the dairy a part of most grocery outlets. But, it wasn’t once more then. That’s why a couple of us made it ourselves. Plus, it’s easy to do — and low value, too.

I nursed these gooey grains for a steady six months or further. As the custom grew, I divided the grains to take care of them healthful and, like an outstanding and helpful kefir grower, gave some away to individuals who I knew will be all for a cool fermentation problem.

To some degree, I went on the journey, nonetheless, I forgot to lease a kefir babysitter. When I returned, my grains had dropped lifeless. No worries, I believed. I’ll merely start over with a small cluster from what I’d given my mates. Wrong. They sheepishly admitted to not having been good kefir babysitters, each. Theirs, too, had keeled over from neglect.

My kefir adventures ended then because I didn’t know anyone else with a curiosity in fermentation. I had no funky ferment neighborhood.

I do now.

Last month, I was one amongst about two dozen people who attended a two-day fermentation workshop in Atlanta that was organized by Julia Skinner, founding father of meals historic previous and fermentation group Root Kitchens. Skinner teaches programs about fermentation and meal waste, along with a web-based course known as Preserving Abundance (uncover particulars at

For the January workshop, Skinner rounded up a couple of the prime fermentation specialists from throughout the nation. Presenters included Ferment Works founder Kirsten Shockey, Contraband Ferments neighborhood supported agriculture founder Cheryl Paswater (certain, a fermentation CSA truly exists), fermentation coach Jillian Ross and — look ahead to it — Sandor Katz.

Sandor Katz!

Exclamation degree explainer: Katz is the trendy fermentation pioneer. I’m not sure when folks started calling him a “fermentation revivalist,” nonetheless I do keep in mind his groundbreaking “Wild Fermentation,” revealed in 2003. The fermentation guru has gone on to jot down totally different reference books on the topic, and his 2013 “The Art of Fermentation” even earned him a James Beard Foundation Book Award.

Fermentation has come in a good way since Katz revealed “Wild Fermentation.” At the time, his DIY fermentation initiatives sounded so quirky. Now, loads of individuals are doing it.

Fermentation has gone mainstream for lots of causes. From a well-being perspective, everyone knows that fermented meals are good for our gut. You’ve heard the phrase “probiotics,” correct? Well, the meals that give your physique helpful probiotics are fermented. Live cultures are current in yogurt and sauerkraut, for example. It’s no shock that those who give consideration to their weight reduction program for greater well-being care into fermentation.

Second, umami is not an abroad phrase. We know that this fifth model could also be had in fermented meals, like miso, tempeh, dietary yeast, kombucha, kimchi, soy sauce, olives, wine, beer, sprouted grains, beans and seeds, and quite a bit further. Plus, DIY fermentation isn’t that onerous. It doesn’t require pricey gear, making it one factor that anyone — not merely cooks — can fiddle with.

Also, meal waste is a nationwide — actually, the world — topic of dialog. Fermentation could also be part of that reply — and at little to no worth — as meals scraps get one more use, their last little bit of vitality, vitamin and style extracted, sooner than being tossed into the compost bin or was tea for crops.

We workshop attendees had been there because of we’re in awe of the science of fermentation — the chemical course of by which meals are uncovered to micro organism and yeasts, which defend it — and the limitless prospects it presents.

“Fermentation is only limited by our imaginations,” Skinner acknowledged after we spoke on the phone various weeks after the event.

Like me, she geeked out to discussions about natto (the slimy, pungent Japanese meals constructed from fermented soybeans, with a style profile identical to that of a nutty, aged cheese), and of the groundbreaking work that cooks Jeremy Umansky and Rich Shih are doing with koji, the microbe behind the umami flavors of soy sauce, miso and mirin. Umansky and Shih are even using it for vegetable charcuterie — curing crops like dry-aged meat. (Their forthcoming “Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation” is likely to be launched in May, and I can not wait to crack open that info.)

But, what most excited Skinner about that fermentation gathering was the gathering itself. “Herbalists, chefs, home cooks, farmers — all these people came and formed this little community,” she acknowledged.

Attendees acquired right here from as distant as California to get impressed by Paswater, who runs her fermentation CSA out of her tiny New York home, stashing her ferments in every inch of the home — even under her mattress. They moreover acquired right here to get impressed by Shockey, co-author alongside together with her husband, Christopher Shockey, of “Fermented Vegetables” and “Fiery Ferments,” and to hearken to regarding the fermentation operation they run of their Oregon homestead. They acquired right here to be taught from Jillian Ross, aka the Ferment Lady, who lives a no-waste life in Florida.

Ross talked about how she saves citrus peels, tossing them in vinegar and using it as a kitchen cleanser. She does the similar to vegetable peels, using that as a flavored vinegar.

Both of those simple initiatives in the meantime are taking on the home on my kitchen counter. I tasted the vegetable vinegar the alternative day. I favor it. My husband doesn’t.

It strikes a chord in my memory of what Shockey suggested the workshop attendees: “If you like what you made, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”

Yeah, just like a decade previously, after I used to be the one in my family who liked consuming the kefir.

My kefir adventures ended because I didn’t know anyone else with a curiosity in fermentation. Now, I imagine I do know various people who would current me some grains to get started as soon as extra.

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