I have fallen deep down the rabbit hole into the world of fermentation. First sourdough bread. Then beer, followed by kombucha. Miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi are on the bucket list. Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, you need this book. If there's anyone more fermentation crazy than us, it's Sandor Katz.
• Who wrote it: Sandor Ellix Katz, who also wrote that original bible of fermentation that we've all been using for years, Wild Fermentation
• Who published it: Chelsea Green
• Number of recipes: Too many to count! There are 14 chapters covering everything from basic equipment to fermented vegetables, fermented grains, and growing your own culture molds. These are more like projects than actual recipes, and there's plenty to keep an fermentation enthusiast occupied for a long time to come.
• Recipes for right now: Sauerkraut, Fruit Wine, Miso, Persian Yogurt Soda, Sprouted Grains, Dosa
• Other highlights: I'll say this upfront: if you're looking for a book that has straight-forward, clearly outlined recipes, this might not be the book for you. This is more a book of ideas and concepts, guideposts and suggestions. You might almost call this an encyclopedia of fermented foods and beverages more than a cookbook.
And this is all in keeping with Katz's main message: these foods and beverages have been around for centuries. The people who made them did so by feel, taste, and memory using whatever ingredients they had in abundance at the time. No recipes.
He repeats this message with personal stories from people who started brewing cider in their closet during college to those who learned fermentation techniques at their grandparents' knees. Katz also intersperses these stories with quotes from scientists and other professionals, underscoring the anecdotal evidence with descriptions of what's going on beneath the microscope.
Take this all together and you get a real understanding for the history, preparation, and health implications of these fermented foods and drinks. The lack of actual recipes can be a little frustrating to the literal-minded Type A folks among us (and I'm pointing at myself here!), but their absence stretches our creativity and problem-solving skills. After reading Katz's description of basic tofu-making, how would I go about doing it in my kitchen? Can making mead really be as simple as mixing water with honey and adding yeast? (Yes, it can!)
For those worried about food safety with all this fermentation experimenting, Katz gives plenty of information on what you're looking for and how you know things are going ok (or not). Again, this is about relying on your own instincts and using all your senses to figure out what's going on inside the crock in front of you.
• Who would enjoy this book? Anyone interested in making fermented foods and beverages.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World by Sandor Ellix Katz
• Visit Sandor Katz's website: Wild Fermentation
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Emma Christensen)