Fermentation: What's Old (and Rotten) is New (and Tasty) Again
Fermentation has been around awhile. At work in the rainbow of jars in your grandma’s cellar and literal life-saver to any of your winter-/ocean-/desert-faring ancestors. Both a preservation technique and a flavor enhancer, fermentation at its most basic is the process of controlled rot; tipping the scales in favor of ‘good’ bacteria (good in this case meaning both delicious and non-life-threatening) so as to prevent the propagation of the ‘bad’ (though possibly delicious, definitely life-threatening).
Now, fermentation seems to be more popular than ever, among chefs, foodies, and the general public alike. This is reflected in the Kombucha tap at your local (not granola-y) grocery store and the view counts on YouTube series such as Bon Appetit’s It’s Alive with Brad. Cat ladies have become Kombucha ladies and miso is now a pantry staple from New York to Nebraska. And for restaurants, what’s old is new again, as chefs - especially those in places with long and cold winters - rediscover the power of fermentation to add flavor and depth to dishes in increasingly new and creative ways.
Over the next few days, I’m going to explore this growing interest in fermentation and try to highlight some of the ways we use it here at the school including preserving the summer harvest, injecting some umami into our winter dinners when produce is sparse, and building a community around a new club of fermentation fiends.
Buckle up for a fantastic, fermenty, and farty ride.