Book Review: Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys

In his new book, "Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys," the fermentation expert explores fermentation traditions from around the world.

by Robin Hackett
PHOTO: Chelsea Green Publishing Company

Title: Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys: Recipes, Techniques and Traditions from around the World

Author: Sandor Ellix Katz

Cover Price: $35.00

Publication Date:  October 28, 2021  

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

If you’re at all into fermentation, chances are you already know Sandor Katz.  His previous books The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation (among others) have introduced untold numbers of readers to the world of fermentation.

Subscribe now

And if you’re not into fermentation, you frankly should be.  If you farm, homestead or just avidly garden, preserving the harvest is part of what the lifestyle is all about.  And freezing a few bags of sauce tomatoes just doesn’t cut it. 

Beyond helping you process your harvest, fermentation can be healthy and is also just really fun.

A Global Perspective

Channeling how fun fermentation can be is one of the things that Katz does especially well in Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys.  As much as the book is a fermentation cookbook, it is also part travel memoir and culinary history.  Throughout the book Katz pairs each recipe with a story of where he initially encountered the technique as well as any adaptations he’s made himself.  

Together these stories work to create the sense that Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys is a kind of informal, global survey of fermentation.  And maybe it is.  Katz makes a point of mentioning how similar fermentation techniques are in cultures from around the world. 

And the book is structured to suggest those connections.  The section on grains, for instance, contains recipes from numerous regions, including Eastern Europe, Appalachia and China.  And the section on beans and seeds (one of my favorites) contains recipes from Japan, Nigeria and Italy (among others).

Take from all of this whatever you will.  I personally choose to see Sandor Katz as studying “comparative fermentation” in the same way Joseph Campbell studied comparative religion and literature. 

Maybe fermentation is just another way in which many cultures are far more similar than they appear at first glance.

Read more: In Fermentation as Metaphor, Sandor Ellix Katz draws important lessons from the process. Read an excerpt here. 

A Practical Cookbook

For those simply looking for a practical fermentation guide, Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys, is that too.  I’ve personally been making batches of Kisiel (a technique for fermenting grains) and a kind of Chinese rice-water pickles since reading the book. 

And beyond containing recipes from many countries, the book also provides a wide sampling of fermentation techniques.  Katz includes recipes for vinegars, meads, breads and numerous processes for fermenting vegetables, dairy products and even meat and fish. 

There is, in short, something for everyone to ferment.

Perhaps most importantly, Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys is sure to inspire you to start fermenting as well, which alone makes it well worth picking up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *