Practical Fermentation Presentation
Date: Sunday 5th May
Location: The Ballymaloe Cookery School
Practical Fermentation Demonstration
After publishing his first book, was Sandor Katz to know that what began as a book tour would become a life of itinerant teaching. Fortunately for us this has lead Sandor to us today to give a practical demonstration on the art of fermentation
Sandor Katz described himself as a DIY food activist and fermentation revivalist. He has a global cult following – so what exactly is all that all about? Well I met and heard him speak recently at the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference in San Francisco and I have to say it was an inspirational experience.
I’ve been following his trail and becoming more and more intrigued and fascinated since I bought the Art of Fermentation in a book shop in Skibbereen a couple of years ago.
I have felt for some time that our Western diet is seriously deficient in fermented foods and the paranoia around food hygiene and food safety has led to a lowering of immune systems. A growing body of research seems to indicate that children who are totally protected from bacteria seem to have higher rates of allergies and asthma. Sanitising the world can be counterproductive. The overuse of antibiotics has produced resilient bacteria more lethal than those we’ve managed to kill.
How arrogant and naïve are we who imagine that we can win the war against bacteria – over and over they out-evolve us, the battle is futile and in many cases counterproductive. We need to learn to work with bacteria and nature to re-establish healthy gut flora and guess what, they really like fermented foods like sauerkraut.
For the majority of us making fermented foods is an unknown or forgotten skill, unfamiliar names like sauerkraut and kimchi sound scary – we have no idea where to start. Nowadays most people are convinced that bacteria are all bad not realising that the majority of bacteria are beneficial and benign. Bacteria are everywhere, we are all made up of different types of bacteria and of course there are some pathogenic bacteria but the healthier we are the most resistant we are to dangerous bacteria. Ironically the more sterile our environment and more processed out diet the lower our resistance, so challenge your system with lots of live food, organic produce, natural cheeses and fermented foods.
So where do we start, whatever about bacteria the population at large is totally terrified of moulds – again people are convinced they are all scary and bad. Apparently the growing ignorance and paranoia about moulds is adversely affecting the growth of the cheeses, so people are missing out on that brilliant penicillium roqueforti.
In the past decade or two as food has become more and more processed, we’ve lost faith in our own judgment and become increasingly deskilled and put our faith in food manufacturers and sell-by dates.
We need to take back power over our own diet and re-learn forgotten skills, shake off our fear and learn to trust our instincts once again. As soon as I read the Art of Fermenting I googled Sandor Katz for his contact and invited him to speak at the inaugural Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine – 3rd to 6th May 2013.
My pantry larder is now full of bottles, crocks and jars full of experiments and ferments, I’ve been empowered by Sandor Katz who spoke so eloquently of his fascination with fermentation – and told us that there have been no recorded instances of food poisoning from fermented foods in the US so just scrape off that mould and enjoy the sauerkraut underneath.
Fermentation is the hottest new interest for many top chefs particularly in the US. I visited several during my visit to the West Coast. Apart from sauerkraut they are also and making pickles of all kinds. Kefir is now widely sold in supermarkets, so soon you’ll see fermented foods coming mainstream. At present Environmental Health Officers and food inspectors in the US are having difficulty coming to terms with this revolution. This new development, though time honoured, is unfamiliar and can be scary territory.
Sandor Katz is leading the way in our rediscovery of the ancient art of fermentation. His book the Art of Fermentation is the most definitive do-it-yourself guide to homemade fermentation ever published. There are two opportunities to meet Sandor at the Ballymaloe Lit Fest of Food and Wine – he and Ben Reade of the Nordic Food Lab will speak about The Art of Fermentation on Saturday 4th May at 11:30am in the Grainstore and a Practical Fermentation Demonstration at 9:00am on Sunday 5th May 2013 www.litfest.ie