At this Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market, Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel will host a live fermentation booth where she will give out samples of locally made sauerkraut and information on how to ferment at home.
Fermentation is an ancient process where microorganisms in our food extend their usefulness and enhance flavor. Fermentation is used in a wide variety of food from around the world, including the yeast that helps make bread, wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, coffee, soy sauce, and more. Sandor Katz, who wrote The Art of Fermentation, calls it “the flavorful space between fresh and rotten.”
Another advantage to fermentation is it can extend the shelf life of many foods. “It’s not forever, like canned foods that you can put into a pantry or storm cellar and forget about for 10 years and still eat it,” Katz said. “These foods are alive, they’re dynamic, but they’re extremely effective strategies for preserving food through a few seasons, which is really the point.”
Recently, one of the big discussions about fermentation is how it can help replenish healthy gut bacteria, especially when items are fermented by lactic acid bacteria. These helpful probiotics are essential in an age where so many of our foods include chlorine in the water, antibiotic drugs, antibacterial cleaning products, and other sanitizing methods that kill healthy bacteria with the bad.
In addition to learning how simple it is to make sauerkraut, visitors to the booth will be able to learn about and taste kombucha. Bring a small jar to the market so you can take a kombucha starter home with you. This week’s Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the market.