Cory Hershberger
October 23, 2014

The Book For Eating Fermented Veggies at Every Meal (HobbyFarms.com) #bookreview #books #ferment

At a Glance 

Title: Fresh & Fermented: 85 Delicious Ways to Make Fermented Carrots, Kraut and Kimchi Part of Every Meal
Authors: Julie O’Brien and Richard J. Climenhage
Publisher: Sasquatch Books
Release Date: Oct. 28, 2014
Cover Price: $24.95
Target Audience: Ferment fans looking for additional ways to use their creations; anyone interested in learning about fermented foods and their versatility

Celebrated around the world for centuries, fermentation is an essential food-preservation technique to the cuisines of many diverse cultures. If you consider yourself a chocolate or cheese connoisseur, or if you’ve enjoyed a cup of coffee, glass of wine or mug of beer in the past, you’re a fermentation fan. In fact, the list of fermented foods goes on and on. Given the technique’s recent popularity boom as a healthy way to get powerful probiotics into our digestive systems, it’s no surprise that foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are experiencing a kind of fame and zeal like never before. Julie O’Brien and Richard J. Climenhage, founders of Seattle’s Firefly Kitchens, are capitalizing on that boom and trying to bring the trademark zip of ferments to every meal of the day with their new cookbook, Fresh & Fermented.

Featuring 85 recipes ranging from a cardamom-chia breakfast bowl and a sun-dried tomato tapenade to paprika potatoes and an apricot goat cheese tart, Fresh & Fermented leaves no culinary stone unturned. Opening with a comprehensive section on how to make Firefly Kitchens’ most basic creation, Classic Kraut (only two ingredients: green cabbage and sea salt), and building from there into six other Firefly ferments before expanding into 80 recipes, O’Brien and Climenhage’s unbridled enthusiasm for fermentation suffuses every page of their book, both from a health and taste perspective.

To wit, from the book’s introduction: “We live kraut every single day—we make it, jar it, sell it, talk about it, and teach people to make it. The more we listened to the stories of our customers and friends across the country about how kraut has changed our lives, the more we realized just how little was known about this incredibly healthy food, and how few people were eating it. How could we keep this delicious and healthful secret to ourselves? We wanted both to tell people about it and empower them to do something about it. So we wrote Fresh & Fermented to bring the bright magic of fermented foods from Firefly Kitchens into your kitchen at home.” Delicious and healthy foods need passionate evangelizers, and sauerkraut is lucky to have O’Brien and Climenhage at the forefront of its PR team.

As a fermentation fan myself, particularly of kimchi—I remain unconvinced that any savory dish can’t benefit from the Korean condiment’s signature tang—I must admit that I was a little wary of the authors’ all-in approach to using their ferments. After checking out their recipe descriptions and reading their reasoning behind adding krauts and kimchi to a variety of dishes that may not traditionally contain them, however, I was firmly on board with the idea. O’Brien and Climenhage aren’t just trolling the fermentation haters out there or writing a book that’s clever in theory, but not execution; they’ve curated a thoughtful, eminently edible collection of recipes that are actually enhanced by the mild juxtaposition of flavors that results from the addition of fermented foods, complete with their added vitamin and probiotic benefits. Some of these dishes, particularly the ones in the smoothies and drinks chapter, are an excellent way to begin dabbling in fermented foods, especially for those who are put off by the admittedly strong flavor of sauerkraut.

Even if you remain a little put off by mixing fermented carrots into your next batch of carrot cake—don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, that’s all I’ll say—Fresh & Fermented is still worth a look for the base ferment recipes alone. From sauerkraut that includes beets and red cabbage, appropriately called Ruby Red Kraut, to a fermented riff on Salvadoran curtido, the seven basic recipes provide a foundation for exciting side dishes all year long.

The Final Word: You may not make every single recipe in Fresh & Fermented, but it will get you thinking about incorporating ferments into all areas of your diet. Consider it money well spent for your digestive system.

Find more recipes for fermented food on HobbyFarms.com:

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