Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

HHH copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz


Wild fermentation is about the process of fermentation in multiple food groups as a way of preserving the foods and unlocking more nutrients. Sandor covers an array of vegetables, beans, dairy, breads, grains, wines, beers, and vinegars with traditional recipes from around the world, including vegan alternatives for the dairy ferments!

What I Learned

Most techniques for fermentation were developed before climate control (like refrigeration) and were used by indigenous peoples around the world. Thus, the techniques are easy and a wide number of things can be safely fermented at home with the most basic of kitchens, provided attention to cleanliness. I use the word cleanliness rather loosely, as there are some recipes that will probably make readers cringe at first. An example is the one for chicha where a group of people chew corn and then spit the chewed corn into a vat to ferment.

The Thing I Found Most Interesting and Why in Wild Fermentation

Fermentation is a natural process with living organisms. When you make your own, the batches will all vary at least slightly for a number of reasons. Often the organisms that start you off are a wild mix of what is in your environment, instead of one species. This is why a homebrew beer or wine will not taste the same as commercial products. The commercial ones use sanitizing equipment and a controlled strain of fermenting organisms to ensure the same product every time. 

What I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like that the author did not include traditional meat-based fermentations, but I understand why. Improperly fermented meats can and have caused illness in people. 

Final Thoughts on Wild Fermentation

This book is a must for anyone interested in exploring fermentation. Wild Fermentation contains a significant amount of recipes and more than enough information so you start with confidence. I will note that this older version is grittier than his more streamlined newer version. While I have read the newer one, I don’t yet own it yet. I love the older one for it’s grit.

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