It was back on May 1st that I featured a conversation with Kathy Strahan of KathyStrahan.com to talk about fermenting food using cultures. View my previous post with links to both that show and helpful resources here. This week Kathy cohosts as we engage in a chat with Sandor Katz of WildFermentation.com. In a nutshell, wild fermentation doesn’t depend on starter cultures, but makes use of bacteria in the natural environment.
But before I go further, I should let you know who Sandor is, which will explain why Kathy and I sought him out for DestinySurvival Radio.
Fermentation’s Wild Method Revivalist
Sandor Ellix Katz is a self-taught fermentation experimentalist. He wrote Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003)–which Newsweek called “the fermenting bible”–in order to share the fermentation wisdom he had learned, and demystify home fermentation. Since the book’s publication, Katz has taught hundreds of fermentation workshops across North America and beyond, taking on a role he describes as a “fermentation revivalist.” Now, in The Art of Fermentation, with a decade more experience behind him, the unique opportunity to hear countless stories about fermentation practices, and answering thousands of troubleshooting questions, he’s sharing a more in-depth exploration of the topic. Katz is also the author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements (Chelsea Green, 2006).
His fermentation experience grew from his overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition and gardening. He discovered the need to preserve an abundance of cabbage from the garden. The solution? Sauerkraut. One thing led to another, culminating in authorship of three books to date as well as the numerous workshops he’s done in the U.S., Canada and several countries overseas.
Fermentation’s Basics and Benefits
Sandor ferments a variety of foods, not just sauerkraut. It’s a mainstay in his life, and he heartily recommends the rest of us practice food fermentation, starting with wild fermentation of vegetables.
Fermentation supports good health. Fermented foods are probiotic, which is helpful for good digestion, among other things. You can preserve produce from your garden or the farmers market by using fermentation. Plus, it’s safe and easy to do.
Specialized equipment isn’t required for wild fermentation of vegetables, unlike making cheese or fermented meats. In our conversation, Sandor described how simple it is to make up a batch of fermented veggies in a quart jar. When it comes to keeping fermented foods for a long period of time, salty, acidic foods which are kept cool can last for years. This makes the case for a root cellar in the absence of regular refrigeration.
A key benefit of wild fermentation for you and me as preppers is that it can be done without the use of starter cultures, which means it can be done at any time, wherever your survival kitchen may be. While you need a starter culture for something like yogurt, it’s not necessary for vegetables.
Fermentation’s Power Source
Nutritional bioavailability is improved through fermentation. In other words, our bodies can more easily take in and use the nutrition from cultured foods. Also, the level of some vitamins and micronutrients is amped up through the fermentation process.
Sandor says we need to diversify and replenish our gut bacteria if we want to function well. A testimonial to this is that he lives with HIV/AIDS and takes drugs for it as a result. Fermented foods have helped him maintain good health. However, he’s not claiming these foods are a cure-all. Improved digestion and immune function can benefit each of us though, no matter what our health situation.
The many discoveries in recent hears concerning the benefits and importance of friendly bacteria have helped spark a growing interest in fermenting foods. There may be other causes for this revival, too, such as the interest preppers and others have shown throughout the past few years in living a simpler, more healthful way of life.
Find Out More
Also, below this post is a short video to give you a sample of Sandor’s wit and wisdom regarding wild fermentation.
If you have any thoughts on what you’ve seen in this post or heard in this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Are you fermenting any of your own food? If you do, what benefits have you noticed by doing so?