Fermenting in Berkeley

Last night I took a really interesting class on home fermentation techniques. Hosted by the Institute of Urban Homesteading, our teacher, Ruby Blume, literally wrote the book on it. She guided about 10 students through lacto-fermentation, including fruit sodas and vegetable ferments (think sauerkraut) and gave us nice chunks of her Kombucha mother. Totally weird looking, but delicious nonetheless. I'd be lying if I said there weren't any heebee-geebee moments to the experience. Somehow, eating fermented carrots that have been living in a fridge for two years didn't exactly get my culinary juices flowing. But I ate it. I kind of liked it. I remained open minded.

Besides trying a variety of fermented vegetables the teacher had on hand, we also sampled some really delicious raspberry lemon fermented soda. It tasted exactly like a homemade Italian syrup soda, but with the flavor of very fresh berries and lemon. The effervescence is light and really digestible. Unlike carbonated sodas, I didn't experience that intense, bubbly feeling on my tongue. It was much smoother and easier to drink.

Also on the menu was home brewed ginger ale. It was incredibly light while still having that ginger kick I was hoping for.

Overall, I learned so much from the class and am looking forward to enjoying a raspberry lemon soda of my own when its ready in a few days.

We also created a group vegetable ferment to finish off the class. At least ten kinds of fresh, local vegetables combined in a giant pot with a tiny bit of salt and some seriously aggressive hand mixing to create what I hope will be a delicious side dish in a few weeks. Though, as a serious lover of spicy foods, I'll probably add an absurd amount of chili, garlic and vinegar to this and pair it with some sushi rice, rather than eat it straight.

To learn more, check out the Institute of Urban Homesteading website. Their cheese making course sounds fantastic and may be on my calendar for next month!