In my opinion Sandor Katz almost single handedly brought the ancient art of fermentation back to the fore with his first book – Wild Fermentation – published in 2003. And this week I spent a really informative evening listening to him giving a talk at the College of Naturopathic Medicine. His passion and clarity of the process of fermentation came through so well that I would like to share some of his key points with you:
He started by saying how ubiquitous fermented foods are throughout the World – so far he has not found a a culinary tradition that does not ferment some of its food. The nutrients in fermented products are more easily absorbed due to them having been ‘pre digested’ by the bacteria – both lactose and gluten have been partially broken down – which probably make them easier for our bodies to process. Toxic compounds in the food are very likely to have been made safe due to the action of the good bacteria – for example the acidity of lactobacillus in high concentrations could preclude the need to sterilise the jars used in the bottling of sauerkraut. Finally he explained that the probiotic potential of fermentation – the generation of nutrients, B vitamins, bacteria – are indeed the ‘matrix of all life’.
We’re so excited to be involved in this event. Urban Village Fete is a free one-day music and arts festival that features a range of unique pop-ups, walkabout entertainment and curated marketplaces, made possible by Greenwich Peninsula, curated and produced by HemingwayDesign.
The Hill Larder has a retail space and a workshop area in Peninsula Square. We will be selling kefir and kraut and there will be kefir grains to buy as well if you fancy having a go yourself. We are running three fermentation workshops where you will make a jar of sauerkraut, and learn how to make delicious live cultured water kefir. There will be opportunities to taste some of The Hill Larders products, and you will leave with an understanding of lacto-fermentation and its health benefits. The workshop will give you the confidence to experiment and to explore cheap seasonal produce and flavours to make your own healthy and delicious fermented food and drink. You can register here
So do come on down for a chat and to enjoy all that Urban Village Fete has to offer, you know the sun will be shining!
The blossom on the trees has been pretty gorgeous this Spring, though I’m not sure that it has made up for the rain, the gales or the hail. In the meantime we have been loving the ‘start of the year’ fruits: rhubarb, winter citrus such as blood orange, tangerine and lemon.
It will be a while before we get the delicious Summer fruits, but very much enjoying Spanish raspberries, fragrant Sorrento lemons and apricots this week. These are now flavouring our Spring water kefirs along with the garden herbs. The downpours and the extended daylight has brought the sweet anise, lemon verbena, mint and rose geranium out of hibernation, so all that rain is good for something! Roll on sunshine, we’re here for ya! Photos by @hannahelisabethdesign
We have been taking inspiration from global spice mixes to brighten the flavours of the current crop of Winter Sauerkrauts. These spicy krauts are great at perking up a manchego or gruyere cheese, to sprinkle on a potato and leek chowder, or to complement a chive omlette. Not only tasty but really good for aiding the digestion.
These warming spice blends take inspiration from the North African marinade Chermoula – with highlights of toasted coriander seeds, cumin & garlic, smoky Spanish flavours of paprika & smoked garlic producing a robust Pantone 2028 C coloured Kraut, and the spicy grassy Chinese Five Spice that combines star anise and Sichuan peppercorns.
On a sunny day this November Hannah took a great series of Autumnal kefir photos. The light was gorgeous and the ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ abounded.
All photos by @hannahelisabethdesign
Our friend Jane who lives in Cognac came over to stay for a few days. She bought with her some lovely figs that she had picked that morning from her gorgeous garden. They were whizzed to a puree and added to a fermentation of water kefir along with an infusion of raspberries.
These unusual mandarins – Citrus Miyagawa – are green on the outside though perfectly ripe and orange on the inside and are the first citrus of the season. They add a nice citrussy twang to the sweet dusky damsons.
Water Kefir is a live cultured beverage made with filtered water, water kefir grains, fruit and organic sugar. The grains are a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY) that feed on the carbohydrates in the sugared water and the fruit. Beneficial bacteria develops creating a gut friendly drink rich in probiotics, minerals and B vitamins.
The fermentation process metabolises the sugar, produces lactobacillus and carbon dioxide and the resulting drink is tangy and carbonated with little of the sugar remaining. Depending on how long or rapidly the fermentation is the drink can be drier or sweeter, and so can appeal to both children and adults. It can be very tasty in a gin instead of tonic!
The flavourings are all seasonal, so this month we will be taking advantage of the lovely range of autumnal fruits – plums, damsons, greengages and apples – all to be paired with late Summer herbs such as lemon verbena, thyme, mints …
“Kefir helps to alleviate many intestinal disorders, promotes regular bowel movements, reduces flatulence and enhances the digestive function overall. It enhances immunity and replenishes healthy gut bacteria that are essential to fight infection…” Asa Sorenson