Book Review: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Even though the title simply says “Wild Fermentation”, this book tries to be much more than a simple fermentation guide / recipe book. The recipes and techniques described in the books are very interesting! Some of them are definitely easier than I thought, and I’m quite excited to try sourdough, plus some of the trickier wine ferments.

Like I said, this book does not solely consist of recipes though. The author starts out with a history of fermentation and a description of what makes wild fermentation different than aided or chemical ferments. This is an interesting melding into the narrative of his recipes and attitudes towards fermentation. Furthermore Katz gives a little bit of his own personal history and situation, which helps to make the book feel authentic and sincere.
However, there are some digressions and almost ranting chapters that get a bit out of hand. For example, after reading the first pages, then scanning some more, on his subjective opinion on GMO’s, I decided to skip forwards to something more meaningful.

The introduction to microorganisms and its influence on fermentation is awesome and engaging, but then he gets a bit lots in the maze of homogenization of food crops and the evolutionary melding of culture in general; he loses the plot by quite a wide margin, with socio-economic consequences of agriculture through the centuries… and then he brings slavery into his fermentation book… All of these topics are worthy of being explored, discussed and written about, but perhaps a fermentation book is not the best platform. I understand that Katz believes in what he is saying (he really takes issue with global culture being oppressive in his opinion), but I didn’t expect to be getting a rally talk when I picked up a book on how to make miso, you know?

Anyway, four chapters later we’re back on track with clearly described, flexible approaches to wild fermentation. I like how Katz gives household alternatives to potentially expensive equipment as well as explaining their roles in the whole process.

I think I will experiment with easier ferments that have a faster yield (bread, cider, kombucha) and later on I’m looking forward to the more complex processes (wine, miso, etc).


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Filed under Books, Brain farts & ramblings

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