Have you been hearing a lot of “brewhaha” about fermentation? Have you heard of kombucha, kimchi, or kefir but weren’t quite sure what they tasted like or if you should bother to try them? Have you heard how fermented foods are good for you but didn’t know how to start getting them into your diet? If so, check out the Vermont Fermentation Festival at Green Mountain College on Oct 3, hosted by the Rutland Area Food and Farm Link (RAFFL) and Green Mountain College.
Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years. Almost every culture in the world has some kind of fermented food as part of their traditional diet. Japan has miso and natto, France is known for their wine and cheese, Indonesia has tempeh, and Korea has kimchi, to name just a few. In the course of the last century, however, much of our industrialized food has become processed, pasteurized, and artificially preserved, wiping out the live culture and good bacteria that previously existed. Fortunately, the growing awareness of eating more locally, sustainably, and healthily has brought back the art of fermentation.
Briefly, fermentation is a process that converts sugar to acids, gases or alcohol. All fruits and vegetables have naturally occurring bacteria on their surfaces. When vegetables are fermented, these bacteria convert starches and sugars into lactic acid. The process is called lactic acid fermentation. As it turns out this ancient method has many benefits, from preserving our harvest to enhancing our digestive health.
It is harvest time here in Vermont, and fermentation is a great way to preserve the bounty from our gardens and CSAs. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi will last throughout the winter months, and not only enhance the taste of the vegetables but also preserve the nutrients. Fermenting vegetables actually adds nutrients to your foods such as a variety of the B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C. Research has now validated that the probiotic-rich fermented foods have beneficial effects on our immunity and intestinal health. Fermentation breaks down foods, making nutrients more readily available, thereby aiding digestion.
The Vermont Fermentation Festival aims to help get some culture back into our diets by making fermented foods. Whether you are an experienced fermenter or a novice, you are sure to find something of interest at the Festival. Workshop topics include fermented vegetables, hard cider, beer making, cultured cheeses, komboucha, kefir, yogurt, soy products and dosas as well as the nutritional benefits of eating fermented foods.
This year’s keynote speaker and storyteller is Eliza Greenman, a farmer activist, fruit and nut explorer, and heirloom apple orchardist. She is part of the Gnarly Fruit Collective, a collaboration of fruit professionals who rehabilitate abandoned orchards and harvest them for organic hard cider production in the Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont. Her unconventional orchard musings can be found at www.elizapples.com.
Local vendors at the event will offer samples and sell their fermented foods. Flack Family Farm, Chrysallis Cultures, Real Pickles, and Blackwell Roots will all have their krauts and kimchis for sale.
All day lunch offerings include Rhapsody Natural Foods’ fermented vegetables eggrolls with Aqua Vitea’s Kombucha or Consider Bardwell’s fine cheeses paired with Groenfell Meadery’s honey wines. Deanna Mach’s wood-fired pizza will be a delicious warm treat.
For more effervescent culture in your life come join us on Saturday! Tickets are $10/person, $5 for students with an ID, and are available at the door the or online at www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/events/ferment. To learn more about the Festival, visit our Facebook page Vermont Fermentation Festival.
Vermont Fermentation Festival: October 3, 2015. 9:30-4:30.
Leslie Silver has had things bubbling on her kitchen counter ever since she took her first sauerkraut workshop 25 years ago. She also teaches yoga, makes herbal products, and grows most of her family’s produce.