Follow the fashion for funky fermented drinks that give you a good buzz
Make kombucha, kefir and kvass in your kitchen
Fermented drinks are a food fashion that’s really taking off. Photograph: Getty
If the words probiotic drink bring to mind over-priced little supermarket-bought plastic bottles of questionable efficacy, think again. Dearbhla Reynolds of The Cultured Club (theculturedclub.com) is an expert in the art of of making fermented and cultured foods and drinks, and it’s one of the fastest growing areas of interest in the food world.
Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, introduced the ancient skill to an enthusiastic audience at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine in 2013, and next month Charlotte Pike, a UK food writer and graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, returns to her alma mater for a sold out fermentation workshop at the Festival on May 16th. She will publish a book on the subject this summer.
Reynolds is much in demand to share her skills too. “My interest and understanding of food as medicine is undeniably linked to the fact that I am the cross between an old school pharmacist and a Home Economics teacher. So when I first discovered fermented foods, during what seems like a very extended maternity break, something felt very right,” Belfast-based Reynolds says.
She began studying the subject, but soon found that “the learning is very much in the doing and with a kitchen rapidly resembling a lab, the nitty gritty details were discovered.”
“It was a very steep learning curve over two years, which turned a few noses, but the benefits and effects became so undeniable that I was prompted to share the skill.” In 2012 she set up The Cultured Club with the aim of reviving interest in fermentation and encouraging others to take it up.
“Fermentation is a process of relearning,” she says “and trusting that this wonderful process is more than good for us.”
Reynolds is running a class where you can learn how to make fermented drinks such as kombucha, water kefir, kvass, ginger bugs and traditional lemonades, at Killruddery House & Gardens in Bray, Co Wicklow this Sunday, May 3rd at 1pm. She returns to Killruddery in September to give a class on fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and various pickles. The drinks masterclass costs €70, or €120 for both classes, and tickets can be booked at http://bit.ly/1FxQcTN
Reynolds is also doing a fermentation night at Alchemy in BT2 on Grafton Street in Dublin 2 on Thursday, May 21st (7-9pm). The two-hour demonstration, Q&A with Reynolds and Irish Times columnist Domini Kemp, and three-course supper costs €45, and can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org