Kombucha, kefir, and kimchi are delicious examples of the many fermented foods that are appearing in trendy supermarkets nowadays, and they can cost a pretty penny as well. The probiotics they contain are key to good gut health and strong immune systems, but making your own versions of these fermented noshes can be intimidating…until now. Alex Lewin’s latest book, Real Food Fermentation: Preserving whole fresh food with live cultures in your home kitchen, takes the fright out of home fermentation, and puts the power of creating your own probiotic food square in your hands.
Lewin knows that the true understanding of fermentation as a way to preserve food has been largely lost in modern America, and that most folks equate it with spoiled food. He quickly covers the reasons for different preservation methods, their pros and cons, and why fermentation is important for both the food and the folks eating it; Lewin engages the reader without getting lost in kitchen science mumbo-jumbo, and makes it clear that even a five-year-old can make fermented real food goodies.
He begins by clarifying the differences between natural food preservation methods, and moves into a much-needed primer on home fermentation, the equipment required, and the reasons for using the different types of fermentation styles. After these basics have been laid out, the book breaks into fermenting almost anything. Lewin also uses photography to further clarify the step-by-step processes in preserving with fermentation.
The old standard recipes for sauerkraut, lacto-fermented pickles and other veggies are there, as well as dairy foods like yogurt, sour cream, and butter; but Lewin opens the door wider to include the lesser-known fermented foodstuffs, such as preserved lemons, chutneys, and pico de gallo. There is an entire section devoted to fermented alcoholic beverages (think mead, wine, beer, and ginger ale), but the unexpected bonus was the final chapter, where Lewin gives a basic recipe for corned beef, and lightly covers soy, fish, and other fermented foods.
Overall, Real Food Fermentation is a great introduction to the world of fermenting food for better health, and also gives the reader a solid set of tools to experiment beyond the book. Lewin has made this often-confusing and intimidating kitchen skill easy, attainable, and completely understandable. For those of us with serious “spoiled food phobia,” this book was long overdue.
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