It was with much excitement that I was looking forward to starting The Art of Fermentation, and I have been so happy to have started reading it a few weeks ago. Unlike a traditional recipe book, it provides in-depth history about the origins and cultural importance of various types of fermented foods. From alcoholic beverages, to various types of pickling, to yogurt and cheese, these processes have been an important part of the human diet, and have shaped the human experience.
While Katz does provide simple recipes, it’s definitely not a recipe book, in the sense that you’d expect to find a defined list of ingredients and tools necessary to prepare a dish for a set number of persons. Instead, Katz emphasizes that fermentation is so significant because it is a natural process that will occur on its own; and oftentimes without much human intervention. Indeed, I was so emboldened by how easy he made it sound to make an alcoholic beverage, that I decided I’d try to make a very small batch of mead.
After about a week’s worth of brewing, the raw honey I had along with the water I’d mixed it with, and some leftover apple slices, and the spices I’d decided to add because they seemed like they’d be tasty (Katz encourages going with your gut on these things) and if it didn’t work out, at least I’d learned that much. The mead was slightly sweet, and closer to a very lightly alcoholic punch, because it had a fruity taste without tasting like a cider, and the nose was floral. My guess is that it was under 2% A.B.V., but I was impressed that it could be done with such simple ingredients.
It’s definitely something I’m thinking about making in a larger batch, the next time I’m feeling up to it. As it’s officially Fall (we had rain yesterday and today) I think I would want to next try my hand at a sauerkraut. If you’re interested in food, history, and have thought about trying your hand at a ferment but were worried about how to do so successfully, I’d suggest picking up The Art of Fermentation.
What are you reading or cooking up this fall?