Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Review of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Hi, and a little wine readers! I’m Aundra and I blog at Fit for Life. Mostly, I blog about suburban homesteading, fitness, local food, and daily adventures, but today I’m presenting a review for one of my new favorite books!

The book is Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Katz. I had the opportunity to meet Sandor Katz during his visit to Chestertown this spring for the Locavore Lit Fest.

Let me start by stating that I knew very little about fermentation before opening this book. In preparation for Sandor’s visit to Chestertown, I purchased the book last fall and let it sit on my bedside table until a week before the event (typical).

I’m so sorry that I didn’t dive into it sooner!  Beginning with a foreword by Sally Fallon Morell, author of Nourishing Traditions, and well-known “real foods” advocate, Wild Fermentation sets the tone early as an easy-to-read, easy-to-digest book complete with recipe starters and lengthy personal experiences. I couldn’t put it down.

Why ferment? Fermentation helps preserve foods, makes food more digestible, more nutritious, and can even help prevent diseases.

The process of fermenting foods is relatively easy, too. The book has been organized into different categories:  vegetables, beans, dairy, breads, beverages, wines, beers, and vinegars.  While recipes are included in each section, there’s even more value in Sandor’s personal commentary and experience with each fermented food that surrounds the recipes.

Sandor writes about the cultural context of fermented foods, starting with how they’ve been an integral part of human diets for many, many thousands of years. These foods—some recognizable ones are sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, sourdough bread, cheeses—are beginning to make a comeback in Western diets.

After reading this book, hearing Sandor speak at the College, and watching his demonstration on making sauerkraut, I had to give making fermented foods a try.

I figured kraut was the best (and easiest) fermented food to make first.

 Using the recipe starter found in the book as a guide, I prepped 2.5 quarters of sauerkraut, adding shredded local cabbage, white Japanese turnips, and shredded carrots into the mix.

Using sea salt and my hands to mix, I encouraged a brine to form from just the water contained within the vegetables. I packed the jars, let the brine flood the tops of the jars, and sealed them. I’m so eager for the first taste test in a couple of days.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll come check out Fit for Life to see how the kraut taste test goes (and for more fermented food adventures. Well, and other adventures, too).


  1. "Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll come check out Fit for Life to see how the kraut taste test goes (and for more fermented food adventures. Well, and other adventures, too)."

    Yes, i love your fermentation process. Hmmm by the way, i'm really interested in fermenting foods like fermenting vegetables, any idea how to do it? Thanks!

    1. That's fantastic! You can ferment just about any kind of vegetable, but I've only tried cabbage, turnips, and carrots so far. I can't wait to give cucumbers a try!

      The most important thing to remember is that you really can't screw up.

      Brine is also helpful. With the sauerkraut recipe, I encouraged a brine to form from the cabbage/turnips/carrot mixture by adding kosher sea salt and working the mixture with my hands, gently squeezing as I mixed. Brine helps encourage the lactobacilli to form (the helpful bacteria that aid digestion).

      Give it a try! Like I said, you really can't screw it up. I'll offer a step-by-step sauerkraut-making tutorial on my blog soon!