Book Review - The Art of Fermentation

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World by Sandor Katz

Evita borrowed this book from a friend. I picked it up a few times and flipped through it - each time finding whatever I stopped to read really interesting. So, I decided to read the whole thing cover to cover. I am glad I did.

It is well written and full of detailed information about all things ferment related. It starts off with how fermentation created humans and the extent to which fermented food and beverages are consumed (about one third). How people have long harnessed the power of fermentation to make food more digestible, less toxic, and/or more delicious. And to store surpluses for the future.

Katz details all the basic concepts and equipment and how to use them. Then he starts by explaining the methods for converting sugars into alcohol - meads, wines, and ciders. This is followed by vegetables and then sour tonic beverages. Milk ferments, including yogurt, kefir, and cheese precedes the chapter on grains and starchy tubers (sourdough of course!). Beers and other grain based beverages give plenty of choices for experimentation with grains we all have sitting at home, for example rice or potatoes. Growing mold cultures explores tempeh, koji, and amazake. Beans, seeds, and nuts includes some I knew about - miso, tofu, soy sauce and some I'd like to try - natto and dawadawa. Fermenting meat, fish, and eggs - the only slightly risky ferments where the main caveat is to avoid botulism by following recipes closely and not using plastic that will create a totally anaerobic environment - finishes off an inspiring dive in fermentation.

I liked the references throughout to permaculture related tips such as growing your own food, buying local, re-purposing items instead of buying new, and buying local from small businesses when you decide not to have a go yourself. Sandor Katz definitely has a clear passion for the subject and has input from many people in his extensive network of ferment enthusiasts. is his website. We watched this excellent little series he made when he explored some Chinese ferments in 2016.