The Art of Fermentation is a comprehensive guide to home fermentation. The author covers the theory of fermentation, and its cultural context, but most importantly gives practical guidelines on how to ferment a wide range of food, from vegetables to meat.
I am wary of "acorn inflation" and I know the point of these reviews is not to just make it look like these books are all good, so let me explain why I think this is truly a 10-acorn book. First off, this is not a book of recipes, this is a book describing types and techniques of fermentation. It contains all the info you would need to begin developing your own recipes (salt concentrations, vegetable types and possible variations on a style, etc.) with useful information about methods and techniques. Where the book really shines is in its completeness; if there are other types of fermentation that Mr. Katz left out, then they are obscure indeed. It contains information about African fermentations that take less than a day in the blistering heat, to Scandinavian traditions of pit-buried fish that last all winter. The other exceptional feature of this book is the clear presentation of information with no agenda. This book is much more "brown" than "purple," presenting well documented and referenced information, and letting the reader draw their own conclusions. His discussion of botulism is especially good and well-researched. As far as readability, you need to be pretty jazzed up about fermentation in order to sit down and read this book for hours. I have read it cover-to-cover, but it is much more useful now as a reference book as I participate in the collective re-learning of fermenting traditions. When I am ready to try a new ferment, I always revisit that section in The Art of Fermentation. It's a book that will have a space on my shelves for a looooong time.
Canning has been the way to preserve the garden harvest for many, I of course had to find something wrong with the conventional method of heating to the point of sterilization. I tried it, and i tried to like it, but the outcome was mushy and disappointing. All this crisp, alive, food being pressure canned to death just made me sick. Here i had spent so much time working on increasing the microbial count in my soil to increase the enzymes and good stuff in and on my veggies only to remove it before consuming. This was when i found fermentation. THE alternative to canned dead food, fermentation invites good microbes to begin breaking down your food for you. The process called lactic acid fermentation actually increases the nutrients in your food. Vitamins D, B, A, K and folic acid as well as enzymes, probiotic bacteria and beneficial yeasts are created during the ferment. Now this process won't keep things from rotting forever, more like a suspended animation, allowing you the winter and early spring months to enjoy the summer and fall harvest. The variety of ways to ferment all kinds of fruits and veggies are almost as great in number as the amount of health benefits associated with eating them. If you have the book Wild Fermentation you will want this book just for the sheer volume of ferment types from all regions. It opened my eyes to how you are truly only limited by your imagination when it comes to the fermentation of food. It also illustrates just how important fermented foods are to a healthy immune system, and why we as Americans are so unhealthy. This book speaks to the balence of nutrients gained by adding back just a few ferments to your diet, and just how widespread the process of fermentation has been worldwide. Great read with plenty of historical as well as recent accounts of the art of fermentation.
"We're all just walking each other home." -Ram Dass
"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder."-Rumi
“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution
In this book, Sandor Katz takes a comprehensive look at fermentation. He wrote an earlier book called, "Wild Fermentation", which focuses on allowing yeast and fermentation to naturally occur to food. In this book, he talks about the science of fermentation and how it works. He addresses questions of food safety in ways that are logical and help you understand how to avoid problems. Katz takes us on a journey in which he describes what kinds of containers can be used, some inexpensive ways in which to find them, what foods are often used, and in what cultures fermentation has been a traditional part. Then he explains the historical and practical differences between different methods, showing how they came about and why they were important to that culture. This is an amazing book to introduce people to making fermentation. It was the primary text that I used to start fermenting, and it has been invaluable. This book has profoundly changed my life and that of my family.
I also give this book 10 out of 10 acorns. Hugely informative, as well as interesting reading. The first review above says it all, except that I would amend one comment in it. The book does leave out Indian pickles, but considering that about 1/6 of the world's human population is Indian and eats those pickles, I wouldn't say it's an obscure type of pickling. However, the books doesn't seem to leave anything else out!
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Hi Everyone I give the Art of fermentation 9 out of 10 acorns. My wife and I are food people/geeks. Prior to purchasing this book, we were making traditional Kefir and the odd batch of yogurt. I've always loved full/half sour pickles (kosher style) and naturally ferment sauerkraut and for years wondering about the complexities of making these with old world knowledge and mystery. I read the Art of fermentation cover to cover minus all the parts on alcohol (not really our thing) and found the depth and breadth of information tremendous. Any question that you have on fermentation can be found in this book. From the art and science of fermenting to simple guidelines and trouble shooting, this is a book that will be able to fill your fermenting needs. This book fits with permaculture so well, and is a good lesson just as in permaculture there is no exact recipe just some parameters to guide you. Back to the pickles, they could not be any easier to make: salt, water, garlic, and observation. That is all it takes. We would pick cucumbers from our garden and make gallon after gallon. YUM YUM YUM PICKLES!!! I work with pickle aficionados and been told they are the best they have had. You can literally ferment anything that your garden/farm provides. This year alone we made 5 gallons of fermented hot sauce,10 gallons of various sauerkrauts, fermented radishes, carrots, squash, onions, greens, cauliflower, green cherry tomatoes, corn... the list goes on. This book also encouraged us to make yogurt with a mesophilc culture, so no incubation just milk with a little yogurt on the counter next day its all yogurt. Less work, more YUMS. Half our fridge right now is fermented food. It is January and we're still eating from our garden (we are zone 6). This book will give you the confidence and a place to start fermenting. I never got around to reviewing this book on amazon and felt guilty but would much rather share this review here. As permaculture people, we all have lots of surplus in the garden and fermentation is a great way to explore more depths of flavour, while preserving the harvest.
This book has had a profound influence in my life and is one of my most frequently referenced kitchen books.
This massive codex of fermented foods is written for those with at least some experience with culturing their own ferment. Although, Katz easy going and open writing style makes this welcoming to beginners, at 498 pages, it's size can be daunting.
The Art of Fermentation dives deep into the the culture of fermented foods. In depth discussions on different cultural techniques that involve fermentation, both historical and current, as well as in depth instruction on how to make these cultured foods. Katz talks about the relevance of fermented foods in our modern world, , different equipment we can use, a whole world of different kinds of foods, how to make these foods, how to make money making these foods, and even finishes up with a few words about compost.
This isn't a recipe book, nor is it meant to be. It is a reference book that also happens to provide guidelines on how to create your own cultured foods at home.
This seems like a short review for such an important and thick book. To fill up some space, let me give you an example of what I've made using the information from this book (please forgive my spelling as I really do need a more powerful computer so my dyslexia stops overwhelming my spell check - also some of these have more than one way to be written in English anyway):
Nuka Pickled all sorts of things
sourdough - techniques for improving my baking
Some other things I can't remember
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
posted 3 years ago
I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns.
An in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world
I don't think there could be a more extensive guide to fermentation of food from meat and dairy to fruit, grains and vegetables. It's extensive. If I try to tell you how extensive, I'll just be rewriting the table of contents.
I plan to get his other fermentation book, Wild Fermentation and review it as well.
In the Art of Fermentation, Katz explains various traditional approaches to any given process, but not specific recipes. He leaves it to the reader to take it from there. His instructions are adequate. I was able to make pickles and vinegar, and probably will make dry salami using the information in The Art of Fermentation.
I am guessing the Wild Fermentation has specific recipes which includes amounts and times and will post a review of that book when I can get my hands on a copy.
The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz
I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns.
Your copy of Wild Fermentation is worn and creased, the pages spattered with a multitude of colorful brines. All this time you’ve been collecting mason jars, and carboys, and strainers, and more mason jars. You buy your salt in bulk, and bring something pickled everywhere you go; people would be worried if you didn’t. As much as you love Wild Fermentation, you wish there were a few more chapters, actual color pictures, lots of variations on the recipes, and that the history and tradition of each type of culture were explained for you in rich detail by Sandor himself. Listen folks: you need to buy ‘The Art of Fermentation’, it’s all true!
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