The Everyday Fermentation Handbook
Fermentation is everywhere. It’s a natural process, and humans, over the ages, have managed to control enough of the process in order to make a few delicious and healthy foods.
It’s a great way to get healthy foods into your diet. Of course, you can buy some fermented foods in the store, and probably do; your shopping list undoubtedly includes things like pickles and possibly sauerkraut. However, in this book you’ll find recipes free of preservatives and artificial ingredients for these delicious treats—much healthier than anything you can buy in a store. There are other health benefits: For example, as you’ll see later, fermentation breaks down lactose in dairy products.
Fermenting can preserve foods. Not surprisingly, many of the recipes for fermenting were first developed at a time when most humans didn’t have access to refrigeration. Fermentation was a way around this problem. Today, it can make storing foods much simpler.
Finally, of course, fermented foods are delicious and fun. We live in an age of refrigeration and highly processed foods. Most people are no longer required to preserve food in times of abundance in order to be able to survive extended periods of scarcity such as long winters. Now most humans can ferment food as a luxury.
I love fermented foods because I get to play amateur scientist in my kitchen. Learning about new ferments from around the world is an opportunity for me to explore where these foods originated and the necessity or desires that once shaped the fermentation process. And of course there are the flavors; although a picky eater as a child, I now crave the complex, intense, and sometimes funky flavors of fermented foods.
With all of this comes the opportunity to share knowledge with others. What were once commonplace traditions, passed down from one generation to the next, have in many cases been lost. The invention of alternatives and conveniences over the past couple hundred years has meant too few parents and grandparents handing down the skills of fermentation to the next generation.
While fermented foods can be purchased from commercial producers, it’s possible to make a lot more than what can be found in the grocery store. Some fermented foods are too strange for mass appeal and so are relegated to limited regions or not produced commercially at all.
Fermented foods don’t require specialized equipment, they offer endless possibilities, and often they’re less expensive to make than buy.
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