Get fermenting: Good for your gut and your pantry

There’s more to fermentation than preservation and flavour

Fermentation is an age-old process of preservation and production. Photograph: Getty Images

Fermentation is an age-old process of preservation and production. Photograph: Getty Images

 

I can’t remember the first time I fermented something. I think it was in 2012. I remember sending a Facebook message with a photo to Sandor Katz (the fermentation guru) to ask advice on some mangetout I had fermented. Surprisingly, he wrote back and that was that. I was hooked.

Fermentation is an age-old process of preservation and production (in terms of bread, wine and beer). In the last 10 years its place has been growing steadily in the public consciousness.

We most likely all know what a kimchi is now. (If you don’t, it’s a fermented Korean cabbage. See Carmel Somers’ recipe for it here.) It will unlock the fermentation door for you. For many, kimchi is the gateway drug of fermentation.

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We ferment just about everything in Aniar. Sometimes to preserve stuff out of season, other times for flavour. Mostly now, it’s the latter.

You could argue we no longer need to ferment to preserve food because of modern technology. But this is nonsense. Fermentation is not only about preservation; the production of lactic acid in the process of fermentation means it’s incredibly good for your stomach. We’re terrible at getting enough acidity into our diet in Ireland, so fermentation is a great way to get more acidic food into your diet.

If I had to guess just one trend for 2019, it would be koji. Koji is a fungus used to ferment soya beans to make soy sauce and sake. In the last 10 years, it has taken off in the west, with restaurants using it to ferment different types of grains and legumes such as barley and dried peas. Most famously, Noma in Copenhagen has developed its use as a flavour to enhance many aspects of its food. It represents a curious fusion of its Nordic terroir cooking with the ancient art of Japanese fermentation.

The reason I believe it’s going to be a top trend of 2019 is due to the publication of its book, The Noma Guide to Fermentation. This book, with its detailed descriptions and illustrations, is set to reignite the world of fermentation in 2019. Get yourself a copy and get fermenting!  

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