Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

Cookbook Review: Fermented Vegetables

Posted by Bjorn Bergman on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

As I was perusing Reedsburg, Wisconsin’s 2014 Fermentation Fest guide this past summer, I paused on a Fermented-Vegetables-Cookbook-Review-with-Bjorncourse description. “This is not your grandmother’s sauerkraut!” proclaimed the write-up for the course “Finding Your Inner Fermentista.” The description went on to talk about how the class would focus on fermenting vegetables beyond your typical cabbage-based ferments. This was intriguing to me as I had wet my fermenting whistle over the past four years making sauerkraut, kim chi, and curtido, all of which are cabbaged based ferments. I was interested in learning how to go outside of the cabbage box. This class taught by fermenting guru Kirsten Shockey seemed like the perfect fit so I signed up for the two hour course along with about 25 other eager fermenters.
Kirsten and Christopher Shockey live in Southern Oregon on a 40-acre hillside farm. They began their fermenting careers by running a commercial fermentation business. After a number of years, they realized that their true love was for teaching others how to ferment at home.

Throughout the class at Fermentation Fest, Shockey taught us about techniques for fermenting gingered carrots, hot peppers, garlic paste, herb pastes, and just about any vegetable. We got to taste a number of her concoctions and even make our own non-cabbage ferment to take home. Upon completing the class, I immediately purchased Kirsten and Christopher Shockey’s new book, Fermented Vegetables. To say I was inspired and excited to ferment new things was an understatement.

Two months after taking the course and buying the book, I can say that I’ve used the Shockey’s Fermented Vegetables as the primary guide to a new chapter in my foray into fermentation. The 376 page paperback is laid out flawlessly and features many full color, tantalizing photos of many of the recipes. In the beginning of their book with pages of detailed color photos, they thoroughly cover the four fermenting techniques they use in their kitchen: 1) sauerkraut 2) kim chi 3) brined pickles and 4) chutney, relishes and pastes – and asks the readers to reference them frequently in the recipe section. The recipe section alphabetically-organizes recipes for fermenting just about every vegetable and herb you can think of (the book covers 46 vegetables and herbs, to be exact). If you have an excess of eggplant in your fridge or garden and want to ferment it, all you need to do is open up the book to the eggplant section on page 174 and learn how to make garlic eggplant wedding pickles. With  Fermented Vegetables as my guide and inspiration, I have successfully made two delicious batches of both fermented pepper paste (pg. 213) and fermented garlic paste (pg. 181). Beyond the recipes, the Shockey’s give readers the tools and encouragement to experiment with fermentation and make up their own recipes using their techniques.

I can honestly say that Fermented Vegetables has helped me refine my fermenting techniques while giving me the confidence and inspiration to ferment just about every vegetable I come across in my garden, at the farmers’ market and VFC’s produce department. For those of you who are new to fermenting vegetables or excited to go beyond cabbage-based ferments, I highly recommend this book to help guide you on your adventure to ferment any vegetable you can get your hands on. You can find Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey for sale in the VFC cookbook section.

Bjorn Bergman, Outreach Coordinator

Tags: cookbook