Reading & Recipes

Fermentation Revolution

Tracy Turlin
Written by Tracy Turlin

Fermentation Revolution

70 Easy, Healthy Recipes for Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kimchi and More

By David Côté and Sébastien Bureau

I  spend a lot of time reading about food. Where and how it’s prepared, who cooks it and why they make it the way they do. Every once in a while I find a book that changes the way I see food. These are the gems I look for.

One such book is Fermentation Revolution; 70 Easy, Healthy Recipes for Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kimchi and More. It’s written by Sébastien Bureau and David Côté, two men who have spent their working lives pursuing something a little different in the food industry. Bureau is a food scientist with a background in plant and molecular biology. He’s the founder and president of MannaNova, a consulting company specializing in the production of natural, fermented beverages and food. Côté is an entrepreneur in the field of living food. He co-founded RISE Kombucha, the raw food restaurant Crudessence, and LOOP, a circular economy business that produces juice from imperfect produce recovered from the grocery industry.

I thought I knew a fair bit about fermenting food and beverages. I’ve made pickles, bread, cheese and yogurt at home. My husband has been making his own beer and keeping us both supplied with wine for years. When I came across Fermentation Revolution, I thought I might find a few variations on recipes I already knew. I didn’t think I would find a whole new understanding of living food.

Sébastien Bureau

Bureau and Côté take us boldly through the process of fermentation. They discuss safety precautions, and the difference between fermenting food and just plain “bad” food in a way that makes perfect sense. This can be hard to get your head around if you come from a society that sanitizes its hands before cleaning the house. What this book does best is demystify the world of microorganisms that are in, on and around us all the time.

If you are a nerd like me, you may also be amused by the idea that the first fermented food and beverages were almost certainly made by accident. I do wonder who was the first to look at the primordial soup that is a bowl of soggy grain fermented into beer and thought, “Yeah, I should drink this.” Bless their heart. 

David Côté

Many recipes in Fermentation Revolution can be made with readily available ingredients. Baker’s yeast, yogurt and sauerkraut are found in any supermarket and probably in most of our fridges already. Kombucha, kefir and sake require specialized cultures to get them started. These are available on the authors’ website, revolutionfermentation.ca. A quick search for fermenting supplies in our region will also turn up a surprising number of local resources.

There are many potential benefits to fermenting food. You may be looking for health benefits or to extend the life of food items. You might try it just for the fun of learning something new. Homemade Cheese Spread is one recipe that is easy enough for anyone to make but has enough steps to make you feel you’ve accomplished something really cool. Don’t be put off by people who will inevitably ask you why you don’t just save time and buy cream cheese spread. The difference in taste and texture is worth every minute you put into it. 

Vinified Fruits in Beeswax might not be something you’ll make every week but you have to admit, it looks very impressive. I imagine it hanging from the beams of my imaginary country cottage, somewhere between the bundles of drying herbs and the copper pots.

Whether you see food fermentation as traditional or trendy, it is a weird and wonderful journey through the world of kitchen chemistry..   

Photo credit for images : Mathieu Dupuis
Courtesy of Fermentation Revolution: 70 Easy Recipes for Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kimchi and More by Sébastien Bureau & David Côté © 2017 www.robertrose.ca. Available where books are sold.

Homemade Cheese Spread

No cheese is easier to master. You’ll regret that it took you so long to try your hand at making it!

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Fermentation Time: 8 hours

Equipment

16-cup (4 L) pot, thermometer, dehydrator or oven, strainer, cheesecloth, 2 plates, airtight container

16 cups (4 L) whole milk, unhomogenized if possible
1 packet cheese or yogurt starter culture or 2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh cheese or yogurt
¼ rennet tablet (sometimes life is complicated)
3 tsp (15 g) sea salt, or to taste

1 In the large pot, heat milk over medium heat to 95°F to 104°F (35°C to 40°C).

2 Add starter culture, then rennet. Mix together. Cover and let stand for 4 hours, without stirring.

3 Place covered pot in dehydrator or another incubator (for example, the oven of an electric range, with heat off but oven light on) at 90°F to 104°F (32°C to 40°C). Let ferment for 4 hours. The milk should be solidified and the unmistakable aroma of cheese should be apparent. To check, scoop up a spoonful; the curd should maintain its shape on the spoon.

4 Using a knife, cut solidified curd into cubes, like a chessboard. Let stand for 15 minutes. Stir very gently without breaking pieces, then let stand for another 15 minutes.

5 Transfer cheese to a strainer lined with cheesecloth and let whey drain off for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste, stirring to blend.

6 Make a knot in cheesecloth to form a bundle. Press down a little with your hands to release whey. 

7 Transfer bundle to a plate and lay another plate on top as a weight. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

8 Transfer solids to an airtight container and mix until texture is uniform.

9 Spread generously on one (or several) wood oven-baked Montreal bagels.

Keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Vinified Fruits in Beeswax 

Here is one of the book’s signature recipes that is guaranteed to impress! (We give you the right to usurp our intellectual property and say you thought of it yourself.)

There are two versions of this recipe: one with added yeast and the other using wild yeast already present on the fruit. Both recipes yield good results, but adding yeast speeds up the process and placates the impatient.

In case of spills, use boiling water to remove the beeswax. To avoid this unpleasant task and the animated discussion that will ensue with your roommate or significant other, it’s best to cover your work surfaces with newspaper.

Type of Fermentation: Alcoholic
Preparation Time: 1 to 2 hours
Fermentation Time: 2 days to 3 weeks, depending on whether yeast is added

Equipment

Scale, small bowl and toothpicks (if using yeast), small deep saucepan, foil, clothespins, safety pins, thick cord or cheesecloth to hang fruit, pillowcase (if necessary)

Champagne or bread yeast (optional)
3 tbsp + 1 tsp (50 mL) warm water (if using yeast)
10 to 15 ripe fruits with stem, depending on size (plums, apricots, figs, kiwis, cherries or other soft fruits with a skin)
18 oz (500 g) beeswax

1 Optional: If using yeast, mix it with warm water in a small bowl. To start the yeast, dip a toothpick in yeast mixture, then insert toothpick a few millimeters into the fruit. Repeat procedure two or three times in different places on each fruit.

2 Line interior of small saucepan with foil. Place wax in foil in saucepan and melt over low heat just until fluid, without heating it too much. (Smoking wax can kill the yeasts on the skin of the fruit.)

3    Working with one piece of fruit at a time, place a clothespin on the stem. Holding fruit by the clothespin, dip fruit in beeswax. Let set for a few seconds, then dip again, five to seven times, until fruit is completely coated in wax. Remove clothespin and fasten safety pin to stem. Pin fruit to a cord or hanging cheesecloth. Repeat with the remaining fruits.

4 In winter, the fruits can ferment as is, in the air, without much risk of a fruit fly invasion. In summer, all fruits need to be protected by a pillowcase or another type of shelter to keep insects away.

5 The fruits will ferment inside the wax. Deprived of oxygen, they will not grow mold and will turn effervescent. Once the wax cracks or juice brims over the base of the stem — after 2 or 3 days for fruits with yeast added or 2 to 3 weeks for fruits without added yeast — the fruits are ready to eat. Not all the fruits will be ready at the same time. You can look forward to a daily harvest!

6 Cut in half and served with chocolate shavings, vinified fruits can be eaten like oysters! An exotic treat for a romantic evening for two or to share with your adventurous friends.

If you want to eat all the fruit at the same time (for example, on a special occasion), store the fermented fruits in their wax shells in the fridge for a few days, until all of them are ready.

Tip

If your fruit doesn’t have a strong stem, wrap a string around the fruit to hold it and to pin it up. Dental floss seems to do the trick.

About the author

Tracy Turlin

Tracy Turlin

Tracy Turlin is a freelance writer and dog groomer in London.
Reach her at tracyturlin@gmail.com.