I keep two main books, or should I say encyclopedias, on fermentation on hand to refer to from time to time. The first one obviously is the award winning The Art of Fermentation and the second – Wild Fermentation. Both books are by the same author – the guru of fermentation, as he is known-Sandor Ellix Katz. Today, I will be reviewing his book Wild Fermentation.
Before we proceed…
Wild Fermentation is definitely what you should read first if you are serious about fermenting. Katz’s The Art of Fermentation tends to be more technical and anecdotal and it doesn’t really contain your usual step-by-step recipes.
Wild Fermentation is the book for the novice fermentor. Sandor Katz takes you deep down into the processes as he empowers you, hooks you, and leads you from start to finish. Wild Fermentation will definitely inspire you to test those unchartered waters – don’t be surprised if you find yourself buying mason jars by the dozens.
A bit about Sandor Katz
Sandor Katz (or Sandorkraut, as he is fondly known) believes that fermented foods have helped him prevent digestive problems which after having to use a lot of drugs due to medical problems.
Sandor states that his recipes keep his body strong since they replenish good bacterial colonies which are killed by the strong drugs. Sandor believes that fermented, probiotic foods are the key to longevity and disease-free lives. He hopes to revive this ancient tradition and culture of fermenting everything we grow: from grains to vegetables to fruits to beans to sea food.
The author has experimented and learned from the best, the correct ways to ferment carefully to create rich healthy meads, probiotic pickles, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut and sourdough bread.
Sandor Katz, apart from writing these well researched books, has also conducted hundreds of fermentation workshops to educate people about this ancient art and science; process which he believes to be the very basis of existence of life on planet Earth.
- Ships from Vermont
- Sandor Ellix Katz
- Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
- Edition no. 2 (08/19/2016)
- Paperback: 320 pages
Main points of Wild Fermentation
Not your everyday recipe book
This is not your cookie cutter recipe book that you refer to and toss in your cupboard only to forget about. This is a rare book that you’d want to read cover to cover and savor every page of. This is the book that will inspire every newbie to take up fermentation. This is a cookbook as much as it is a manifesto. It is a guidebook that just might lead you to a self sufficient life.
Includes a wide range of recipes
In Wild Fermentation, you will find a wide range of recipes including sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, sourdough bread, miso, Ethiopian Injera bread and so on. It also talks about delicious fermented fish sauces, homemade cheeses, honey wines and probiotic fermented drinks.
The best part is the author’s anecdotal take on each recipe and how he learned that makes it a far more interesting read than a dry ‘add x to y and let sit for z days’ kind of recipes.
Gives detailed scientifically proven benefits of fermentation for a disease free life
Katz is an AIDS survivor. He believes that fermented food is what has kept him healthy for so long. He strongly believes that we need to change the way we think about food, and especially about friendly microbes – bacteria and fungi – that are the basis of life. He passionately encourages us to rethink the way we cook today.Katz is a man on a mission – he wants to change the world with one fermented recipe at a time. He strongly and passionately asks readers to stop eating processed foods and turn to fermented foods instead to change their health and the world for the better.
Through fermentation, Katz believes we can return to our roots and our culture and lead more holistic, more eco friendly and more sustainable lifestyles. Katz has visited communities that eat these foods and found them to be a lot healthier. Many modern diseases which United States battles today are actually unheard of in many communities and cultures across the world because of the way they eat. Stop eating processed foods, urges Katz passionately, and we just might conquer these lifestyle diseases.
The book hasn’t been well-received in all circles. Many readers feel that the author tends to become a bit overly political in some areas. He also has a habit of making ideological rants when talking about certain recipes and not everyone would agree with them.
Additionally, there are few, if any, colorful photos in the book-something readers would expect a cookbook to have. The layout of the book is also slightly boring and textbook-like. Almost all recipes are given for gallon sized portions; so if you want to make smaller batches, you might need to extrapolate. Some people who tried the recipes did not succeed in the first, even their second attempts- but I am not sure if the author is to be blamed for that.
All in all Wild Fermentation is a great fermentation encyclopedia for people who want to lead healthier lives by making fermented probiotic foods a part of life. It is certainly a simpler read as compared to Katz’s award winning Art of Fermentation.
However, Wild Fermentation does try to be too many things all at once: a recipe book, a social commentary, a biology manual as well as a reference book on cultures and politics.
Nonetheless, it is captivating and informative, if overwhelming in some places.