3 Reasons We're Glad Fermenting Pickles (and More!) is Kind Of Old News

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It's no surprise to us that you're probably already loving fermenting pickles at home -- making homemade pickles has quickly become one of the trendiest DIY movements. In fact, fermenting pickles at home has become so popular amongst foodies that it's nearly mainstream... and we're loving it.

When fermenting pickles started to become old news, projects based on fermenting started to come into the limelight. Today, fermenting 2.0 has taken the cooking world by storm -- these aren't your grandma's pickles anymore. Here are just some of the fantastic initiatives we've uncovered that are taking advantage of newfound interest in fermenting at home.

1. Because Fermenting Food Trucks Exist

We know all about fermenting and all about food trucks, but what about fermented food trucks? Tara Whitsitt is a Texas native and nomadic fermented food evangelist, owner of Fermentation on Wheels. Her goal? Share her love and interest for fermented foods.

For nearly two years, she has been driving around the United States introducing fermented foods like sauerkraut, sourdough starter and more to citizens of different towns and cities. She teaches old-fashioned preservation methods to anyone willing to learn and touts the value of their benefits to digestive and immune systems. She also offers workshops that bring these techniques of the past firmly into the present.

For Ms. Whitsitt, the interest that already exists in fermented foods helps bring in more clientele, while the fact that the trend hasn't quite reached every nook and cranny of the country means she still has a bit of ground to cover. Interested parties can even volunteer to help with the cause.

2. A Design Approach with the Fermentation

fermentium

Image: Nicholas Stevens

Nicholas Stevens first discovered the pleasure of homemade fermentation on a camping trip. "While camping, someone was sharing his homemade mead," he says. "It was delicious and something I'd never had before. When I got home and read about mead's long history I was really eager to attempt my own. I love trying to recreate old recipes and taste what people might have had hundreds or thousands of years ago."

This combination of a love of historic foods and a desire to bring fermenting into the lives of others led him to design the Fermentium with his friend Justin Crocker. "I came to him with the idea of making a simple home fermenting kit that wouldn't take up any extra space and he came with the cool design features that make it work."

fermentium

Image: Nicholas Stevens

The Fermentium is a porcelain container that can be filled with vegetables, salt and spices to make pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods. The cost of the Fermentium offsets purchase of ready-made pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut in as little as a few batches, and its ease of use means that home fermentation is a breeze, even for those who find the idea a bit overwhelming at first glance.

One of the most important factors for Nicholas was the aestheticism of the Fermentium itself -- and not for the reasons you may think. "The aesthetic goal I had when we were designing this was to make something that would still look good in 100 years. Fermented food recipes that people are creating are going to be passed down. Why not the actual fermenting vessel? That is also why it is made out of porcelain, I want it to feel solid and to last."

3. Transmission of a Savoir-Faire with Sandor "Kraut" Katz

Sandor Katz loves fermenting so much, his friends call him Sandor Kraut -- he shares his knowledge of home fermenting via his website Wild Fermentation, amongst other channels. He's a long-time lover of the flavors of fermented foods who started following a macrobiotic diet in his mid-twenties. "Macrobiotics emphasizes eating pickles with every meal to stimulate digestion, and I started to notice that my beloved pickles made my salivary glands go crazy and began associating them and other live-culture foods with good digestion."

But it wasn't until he started his own garden in 1993 that he started fermenting at home. "When a row of cabbage was ready to harvest all at once, I figured I'd better learn how to make sauerkraut. I've been making it, eating it, and learning how important bacterial stimulation is to our health ever since."

He's a huge proponent of people learning to ferment at home, even when they've never done it before. "Fermenting vegetables has been a constant in my life," he says. "It's also what I always recommend to people as a first fermentation project. It's easy, you can enjoy it relatively quickly, it's delicious and supportive of good health."

But while he's a proponent of even the simplest fermenting recipes, he's discovered a few unique recipes that he likes to share. "Recently I met indigenous Bribri people in Costa Rica who make chicha (corn beer) using a molded corn cake as a starter. People across Asia use molded rice as a starter but I'd never heard of or seen this in the Western Hemisphere, so that was a surprise."

And while he does emphasize that fermentation has always been part of our lives, he does have some interesting insight into how fermentation has been on the upswing in recent years. "I see two explanations for this. In part I think it is a manifestation of a broader renewed interest in food, where it comes from, and how it is produced. Once you start interrogating your food with questions such as these, fermentation is always part of the answer.

"Another reason for the renewed interest in fermentation is growing awareness of the important role of bacteria in our bodies. Live-culture ferments are bacterially rich, and there is a rapidly growing appreciation of the positive implications eating these foods can have for our well-being."

So keep up the good work, Organic Authority readers! Fermentation is still on the upswing, and the future is only looking brighter for even more techniques, recipes and opportunities for home fermenting fans.

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