Raincoast Books – Ferment for Good!

The more I read, the more I learn, the more I find out that the traditional way of cooking, which included plenty of fermented foods, is the better way for our bodies! And so, I’ve been trying to include more fermented foods in our diet. Now, it’s been easy for me. I’ve always enjoyed sauerkraut and I’ve started eating kimchi and have found two brands of kimchi that I really, really like! Convincing my family to eat those fermented foods has been a bit harder! However, I also make water kefir and have that on the table on a daily basis and everyone in the family likes it. My littlest just prefers it less bubbly! I’m also experimenting with kombucha and sourdough – so far I’m failing at kombucha and winning at sourdough! Haha! It’s all a balance right? Gotta win a few and fail a few!

When I saw “Ferment for Good – Ancient Foods for the Modern Gut – The Slowest Kind of Fast Food”, I was intrigued! Maybe I could find a few more recipes for fermented foods that I could convince my family to eat! More importantly, maybe it could help me on my way back to full health! One thing I’ve noticed with every book I’ve read on fermentation is that the author had a very personal journey with fermentation – because either a loved one was sick or they, themselves, were sick. To me, that personal experience always adds a depth. This book isn’t just about someone learning to ferment, but it’s about someone learning to ferment because they have seen the very positive benefit of fermenting – someone regaining their health! Really, what better motive could you find for learning a new skill!? Sharon Flynn, the author of this book, has a daughter who was very sick when she was five. She had had multiple rounds of antibiotics and so it made sense to Sharon that her daughter needed “living” foods! And so began Sharon’s journey of fermentation!

This book is beautiful – hardcover, with thick pages and loads of pictures! Sharon begins the book with the basics – information you need to know about basic fermentation, the tools, the containers you can use from the simple to the finer, and so on. If you’ve never entered the world of fermentation, take a few minutes to read through these beginning pages. From these basics, the book is split into five main chapters; Vegetables, Milk & Dairy, Drinks, Japan, Condiments & Dressings. Oh, and the pages of each section are coloured differently, so you can easily find the four main sections!

The Vegetable chapter starts off with the classic – sauerkraut – because, as Sharon says, “it’s hard to ruin”. It may be hard to ruin – but I find I’m a researcher and then a “sit back and think about it forever” kind of person. Does that make sense? I read lots, but then it takes me a while to get up the gumption to try something! Given the amount of sauerkraut and kimchi I’m eating these days, though, I better hurry up! I know it’ll be much cheaper to make my own than to spend $10 for a small jar of kimchi! I like how Sharon includes the basic recipe, but then at the end, she gives a whole bunch of ideas of different additions to make! I did try one batch of sauerkraut once – with apples – but I think I failed on a couple fronts – pretty sure I don’t remember pounding the cabbage and I also know I had no weight or anything on the top to keep the brine above the vegetables! Needless to say, it ended up in the compost some time later! Other vegetables included in this section are ones like garlic (gotta try this!), corn on the cob (what? really!?), carrots, green beans, and so on! Lots of choice, folks!

The Milk & Dairy section includes recipes for yogurts and kefir and the accompanying recipe you can make from there! You know, like cheeses and dips and smoothies and such! I do have a bit of experience from this section as I have made my own yogurt (Instant Pot, anyone!?). I also have made milk kefir, though I have to confess I have not succeeded in making milk kefir that has been perfect. So far, it’s always been too tart or too runny. However, I keep those grains in my fridge and every now and then I pull them out and try again! I think my biggest problem is not checking the kefir frequently enough – perhaps I need to ferment it for only 8 hours (given my kitchen temperature) rather than 24. In any case, more experimentation is needed! I also wish that I could find someone willing to trade me raw milk! I like Sharon’s though on raw milk; “It’s a very controversial topic that seems blown out of proportion when you remember how long we’ve been consuming milk in far less sanitary conditions. We’ve only had home refrigeration for about 100 years, yet we drank milk before that and have had a relationship with dairy of all kinds for thousands of years.” Agreed! It’s bizarre to me that Canada will not allow raw milk to be sold. However, thankfully, you can still end up with great yogurt and kefir even with store-bought milk.

Next there are the Drinks. Water kefir, the one I’ve mastered, is a great way to “eliminate a soda addiction”! We don’t buy pop anymore – but we can have any juice flavoured carbonated drink we want! Once I’ve made the first fermentation, I add a portion of juice and let it ferment for another 24 hours, during which time the fermentation process eats up most of the sugars and you end up with a tasty carbonated drink with a fraction of the sugar that you get in a regular pop! I need to experiment more with adding fresh fruit, ginger, and other flavorings! Funny how we tend to get in a rut with the things we know our family loves! Did you know that you can use the leftover whey from making cheese or yogurt or butter to make drinks too? You can make ginger ale or beet kvass. Then there’s the ginger bug you can grow to carbonate ginger beer. There are so many options! There are also recipes included for mead, pineapple wine and vinegars!

Next comes the Japan section. You might wonder – Japan – really, why? Well, the fact of the matter is that the Japanese have an “impressive lifespan” and they make so much homemade and fermented food! You may have heard of “umami” – it’s a Japanese word that means “delicious taste”. This section includes recipes for things like koji, sweet sake, miso, natto, and others. I do wonder, for all we hear about the negatives of soy, does fermentation make most of them null and void? We know that fermentation provides a host of positives, so perhaps fermentation can overcome those negatives? It would be interesting to experiment with a few recipes out of this section – like homemade soy sauce!

The last section on Condiments & Dressings is a section that I’ve not delved into much. Honestly, I didn’t realize there was such a selection of such things! I love mustard – time to try making my own fermented version! (I do occasionally make a homemade mustard, recipe courtesy of my mother!) How about ginger pickles!? I love the ones that come with sushi – I just eat them by themselves – not necessarily with the sushi! Haha! There are other recipes for things like idli and dhosa and injera that I’ve never heard of. That’s no excuse, time to check them out!

If you’ve never experimented with fermentation but are curious about it, this book is a good place to start. It’s an easy-to-read, easy-to-follow book that will let you in on all the secrets of fermentation (that Sharon knows, anyway, goodness knows there are loads! Haha!). You can start easy with water kefir and sauerkraut and once you’re addicted, branch out into the many other recipes that are offered! To your gut health!

Thanks to Raincoast Books for sharing this fabulous book with me. Head over to Facebook and give them a Like. You can visit Sharon at The Fermentary or on Facebook and Instagram. Be inspired. Be healthier. Be the best that you can be.

**Disclosure: The product(s) mentioned have been given free of charge from the company or PR firm in exchange for being featured on Glimpse. The opinions expressed in this post are those of Glimpse and have not been influenced in any other way. Please see the full Terms of use.

Comments

  1. I have not explored the topic of fermented foods in our diet.

  2. Thank you for your thorough and informative book review! There is so much to learn about fermented foods.

  3. I do love sauerkaut, but have not tried water kefir, but will in the future.

  4. kathy downey says:

    This sounds really interesting !

  5. I recently went to a fermenting workshop and LOVE the idea of it! I am just nervous of something going wrong so I haven’t tried anything yet!

  6. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    I do like that the pages of each section are coloured differently, so you can easily find the four main sections. Fermenting isn’t for me though, I don’t like sauerkraut nor pickled anything so I’ll give this book a pass.

  7. It is nice to get a guidance in fermenting from professionals as products changed along with methods. My grandma’s recipes is hard to follow these days, they should be adjusted.

  8. Fermented vegetables are very healthy.

  9. I would love to try this but I’m afraid of bacteria getting into the food and causing food poisoning or worse.

  10. I have never heard or try kimchi. This books sounds interesting!

  11. Debbie White Beattie says:

    I’ve never heard about this stuff but it doesn’t really appeal to me

  12. kathy downey says:

    Wonderful book review,thanks for sharing !

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