Book Review

Wild Fermentation
by Sandor Ellix Katz
Review by Cathe Olson

Wild FermentationI'm wild about Wild Fermentation. This cookbook is so inspiring. Sandor Katz, an HIV/AIDS survivor, believes that eating fermented foods played an important part in his healing. In Wild Fermentation, he shares his fermentation experiences and recipes.

Wild Fermentation covers just about every vegetarian food that can be fermented. The section on Vegetable Ferments includes sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. In Bean Ferments, Kandor explains how fermentation helps to improve the digestibility of beans and neutralizes the phytic acid that inhibits mineral absorption. The section contains methods for making miso and tempeh and includes recipes that use those foods.

Grain ferments contains recipes for porridges, amasake, and rejuvelac. There are methods for making sourdough breads, pancakes, and crackers. The book also includes sections on naturally fermented vinegars, wines, and beers. Dairy Ferments offers methods to make kefir, yogurt, and cheese and Katz includes vegan alternatives for most of the recipes.

I love the way the recipes are presented. Katz urges readers to trust their instincts - not to be bogged down by exact measurements or specific ingredients but to experiment and evolve. It's like Katz takes you into his kitchen to show you what he does and then sends you out to do your own thing. In addition to recipes, Katz includes lots of information on the benefits of fermented foods. He also briefly explores the history and politics of human nutrition, advocating organic and non-genetically engineered foods.

I liked everything about Wild Fermentation. The book is interesting and Katz's style welcoming. His candor about his health and lifestyle make this more than just a cookbook. After reading Wild Fermentation, I felt like I wanted to go and hang out with Katz at his peaceful intentional community in Tennessee and ferment some veggies with him. Katz makes fermenting sound like a fun adventure to embark on. Even if you don't make any of the recipes, this is a great book just to read.

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