Beyond Sauerkraut: A Brief History of Fermented Foods

Wild FermentationIn January of this year, I had the opportunity to attend the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference in Ames, Iowa. While the focus of most of the workshops was decidedly modern, one of the workshops I had the pleasure of attending was centered on fermentation. Fermentation is rapidly becoming a health trend in modern society, but it isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. The speaker was one of the modern experts on the subject, Sandor Katz, known for his books Wild Fermentation (which is a staple in our interpreters’ library at the museum and makes frequent trips to the 1900 Farm) and more recently, The Art of Fermentation. This post will hopefully serve as a very basic history of the process and an introduction to some general principles of how it works. There will likely be more fermentation-related posts in the coming months, especially since Living History Farms’ season theme this year is focused on health and fitness.  (more…)