Eat It Alive

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Beer. Pickles. Bread. Yoghurt. Cheese. In my opinion, the best things in life involve fermentation.

It’s an opinion shared by fermentation guru Sandor Ellix Katz, who preaches ‘peaceful coexistence with microbes rather than warfare’. His first book, Wild Fermentation, contains recipes for everything from kefir to tempeh, and has completely re-energised what I do in the kitchen. I’ve got carrot miso pickles bubbling in jars, turnips fermenting in the cupboard and kombucha fizzing on top of the crockery cabinet. Making ferments has all the messy, gross-out appeal of the best school science experiments – but there’s also something magical about it. It’s a transformation – simple ingredients slowly turn into foods that are funky, complex and delicious – and there’s a healthy buzz that comes from eating live-cultures that you just can’t beat.

I want to know what’s fermenting in your kitchen this summer. Are you preserving the vegetables you harvested from your garden? Have you been inspired by the craze for local craft beer? Is that your mother in the fridge? We’re holding a pickle competition at the Cake Shop at our customer evening on 5th November. Let your ferments get ripe and bubbly over autumn, then bring them along to be judged by our Cake Shop Staff. Pickles, cheeses, vinegars, jars of hooch: they’re all eligible (anybody out there making home-made yoghurt?). The winner will receive a copy of Sandor Ellix Katz’s latest book, The Art of Fermentation: a veritable Bible of all things brined and pickled.

I’ll leave you with some words from Wild Fermentation to inspire you:

‘If your desire is for perfectly uniform, predictable food, this is the wrong book for you. If you are willing to collaborate with tiny beings with somewhat capricious habits and vast transformative powers, read on.’

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