We had a great time at our cooking class this past weekend. More than a dozen CSA members met in the home of Terry and John Burke this past Saturday, to learn about the wonders and fun of fermented food from Shane Brill. Class participants learned how to prepare a host of fermented foods and were able to take samples ad supplies home with them to fuel their new inspiration for fermenting. We all had a lot of fun as we cooked and ate together, sharing knowledge and community over the food products of organisms we often take for granted: microscopic organisms like bacteria and yeast.
The class helped me to better appreciate the vast microscopic communities of organisms around us. A seemingly whole other world, where vast colonies of alien looking creatures live out their lives; creatures that we live with symbiotically every day through our food. Many people have heard of the bacteria in our digestive systems that help us to process the food we eat, but people have also been working with bacteria and other microscopic organisms to make/prepare food since before recorded history.
Though they may not have appreciated that they were making a deal with invisible organisms to digest, prepare and preserve foods in exchange for steady meals, our distant ancestors reaped the benefits of bacteria and yeasts, same as we do today. In fact, many of the processes Shane taught about in the class had very old origins in the cultures they arose from. Kefir comes from the northern Caucasus Mountains, Kimchi from Korea, pickling from India and sauerkraut from Germany (although the process is thought to have been introduced to Europeans by Genghis Khan after he invaded China).
Needless to say, the class was a big success! Hopefully all those who participated are inspired to continue their own experiments in fermenting foods. One thing we learned is that the limits of what and how you can ferment foods (farm veggies included) seems to only be limited to your supplies and imagination. For all of those who missed out on the fun, don’t worry, we hope to offer more classes on fermenting in the future. Stay tuned! In the meantime check out more exciting cooking class opportunities with us over the next couple months, featuring locals chefs like Sabrina Sexton and Glenn May!