Archives for posts with tag: The Art of Fermentation

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Through all these years fermenting vegetables, I have often wondered why there is so little a tradition of this kind of food preservation in Britain.  Did the prevalence of beer easily make malt vinegar available for vinegar pickling? Perhaps the relatively mild winters meant less of a hunger gap than in colder climes eastward? Maybe the early entrance of rural workers into a wage economy cause an earlier loss of indigenous food traditions? Might there be foodways left to be discovered? I’d like to believe this last, but I don’t have an answer.

I scour old cookbooks and find not much– perhaps an occasional mention of making fizzy drinks with “yeast” (which of course could so easily be wild rather than derived from baking and wine making)  — elderflower champagne, for example, or bottled drinks of burdock and dandelion, or nettle.  But these are sugar ferments, and different from preserving in brine with bioactive bacteria– i.e. sauerkraut, kimchi, cucumber pickles. Somewhere in Hannah Glasse I once read a reference to wedges of cabbage in salt brine– but that didn’t feel like a common cultural practice.

It was a thrill when I learned about Beetroot Stout, a delicious, nourishing, medicinal vegetable-based cocktail.  When I queried Glyn Hughes of the incredible site The Foods of England Project, he responded  that the only thing  that came to mind for him was  Potato Cheese (to England– only hypothetically– via Germany):

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http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/potatocheese.htm/ Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 19 July 1855

The immediate association was with Kishk, a Middle Eastern cultured milk and bulgur wheat ferment, Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m on a kick to simplify, and Kvass in its method seems to be the simplest fermented drink possible.  Kvass just happens, really. Read the rest of this entry »

Was just out in the cool, long-light evening, turning the compost with a garden fork and musing on decay. When I see worms in bins, garden beds or in the soil, I imagine a better future in which that zoological multitude replenishes and renews the earth of Earth. Recent research is telling us how important earthworms are in the carbon cycle and offer some positive news regarding climate change. Read the rest of this entry »

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I cried yesterday. I cried reading about the death of Samar Al-Hallaq and her two little boys, and how she was pregnant. Through this siege of Gaza I’ve seen pictures of people fleeing and children in hospital and lots of gruesome horrendous imagery. This death touches me extra somehow. A mother. Two little boys. Pregnant. Working with embroidery. The details made this woman particular for me; I felt her death as a personal loss.

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Hello from Kombucha Central, where pretty little elderflower stars float in a firmament of fermenting tea, by the grace of a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. In other words, I’ve been given a Kombucha SCOBY and am having a ball experimenting with different floral flavours, having found a fab use for the flower syrups I make.  Well then…. Come Bucha with me…

Kombucha is pretty easy– at it’s most basic, you boil and cool black tea, sweeten it with sugar, and use your SCOBY “mother”– the creature thing that is your “culture”– to ferment the mixture in five days or so.  After, if you bottle and cover, you get a nice effervescence.  Read the great Sandor Katz on Kombucha in this Splendid Table interview; there’s also an excerpt about Kombucha from his The Art of Fermentation that is generously and conveniently on line.  (And here’s my love letter to that book in Permaculture Magazine.)

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