Who doesn’t like new fermentation books, right? I can’t think of anyone…except maybe our teenage daughter, who to her credit likes whole food smoothie books. The ‘love good food gene’ is in there…
Two recently released books have caught my attention and excited me, so much so that they now grace our bookshelves—Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer and Preserving the Japanese Way by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. (Opinions are my own I have not received anything for these reviews. We also do not receive any affiliate funds for these books.)
In this wonderful renaissance of fermented foods and fermented vegetables in particular, author Amanda Feifer is truly in the camp of fermentistas. Based in Philadelphia she is creator of the blog Phickle.com where she pushes the art in fun and flavorful ways. Her book Ferment Your Vegetables is no exception—while we have been on the road and I haven’t had a chance to try any of the recipes, I have read this book and have a number of recipes bookmarked. Quite a few of these bits of ripped pieces of paper are holding space in the Kvass chapter. I admit I have not thought outside the beet kvass jar at all—beets with other flavors yes, a vegetable other than beets, no. Cucumber Fennel Kvass, Lettuce Kvass—intriguing. Given the time of year I plan to start a batch of the Winter Herb Kvass this week, which has the potential of becoming a Woodsy Gin and Tonic—mmmm—I’m thinking tasty.
Ferment Your Vegetables has clear instruction and approaches some of the methods differently. The recipe sections contain inspired krauts, kimchis, pickles, and alternative ferments. One of the beautiful things of vegetable fermentation is that unlike canning, the rules are simple and flexible. Keep everything anaerobic so that it acidifies is the overarching goal—the methods and ingredients to get there can vary.
Preserving the Japanese Way is more than just a collection of recipes – it is a beautiful journey into life on a sustainable farm in Japan. Nancy Singleton Hachisu sets the stage of her life in the introduction and we are brought along through the rest of the book with recipe headnotes and vignettes. The poignant afterword also reminds us of the fragility of the farming life. I once again have to admit I have had the time to read this work but not actually make any of the recipes so, again, torn bits of scrap paper poke up from the pages inviting me to ferment miso, koji and many other traditional Japanese ferments. The Salted Cherry Blossom recipe inspires me to experiment with other edible flowers (after all Spring Cherry blossoms seam a long way off. So I wonder about borage, calendula, and one of my favorites: nasturtium blooms, which I happen to still have in the front yard.
The recipe section is complete with recipes for meals employing your new Japanese style fermentation project. There is something for everyone —some of the ferments are very simple in ingredients and time—like the lactic acid fruits and vegetables while others (perfect for the DYI, fermentation overachievers) require procuring special ingredients or cultures and months of waiting. (There is a complete resources list.)
Writing this post I’ve encouraged myself to quit waiting for some mythical perfect time to dive in to these recipes. I am headed out on this bright fall day to pick some nasturtium flowers to salt, and rosemary, sage, and thyme to kvass. Meanwhile, I would love to hear what you are fermenting these days.