Finding Inspiration in Culture & Community: The Reedsburg Fermentation Fest
October 26, 2012, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Farm, Fermentation, Food | Tags: , , , , , ,

I went to one day of the more-than-a-week-long Reedsburg Fermentation Fest last Saturday. WORT’s “In Our Backyard” interviewed Sandor Katz and Erin Schneider live on the radio the week before the fest started, and because I ended up filling in as co-host with the amazing Rob McClure, I got to ask Sandor some questions on air. The day I drove up to Reedsburg, I went to one of Sandor’s workshops, and one with Vanessa Tortellano and Alla Shapiro of NessAlla Kombucha here in Madison. I interviewed all three of them.

We aired the interview with Sandor on Wednesday and with NessAlla on Thursday. That part was totally fun, which I expected.

What I didn’t quite expect, maybe because I’ve been fermenting things for a while and started to take it for granted to some extent, was to walk away totally inspired and reinvigorated to ferment, to preach fermentation, to try new things, to share, and to “bubble over.” A lot of it was Sandor’s talk on the bigger picture of fermentation.

Sandor Katz on Fermenting Social Change

When I got home to Madison that night — well, first I had to do a few hours of work on a report that we published at work today, but then soon afterwards — the first thing I wanted to do was ferment something. And, in Vanessa and Alla’s workshop, they’d shared some lemongrass ginger kombucha that was delicious. So I decided to try making some. I’d never made flavored kombucha before. Not for any good reason. I just hadn’t tried it. Cosmo Joe was here with me after painting on State Street all day, so he got to watch the process.

Can you see that funny-looking little nugget floating amidst the various tea bags in the middle there? That’s a dried reishi mushroom from Kingbird Farm. I boiled it with the ginger before I added the oolong and fresh lemongrass (from the Dane County Farmers Market). Does anyone know what reishi does to kombucha? I didn’t, but I decided to try it.

I tried the brew for the first time today, a little early I thought, but what the heck, it had been warm for a few days. It was downright tart! I haven’t had kombucha ferment that quickly in a while. Maybe it was just because I poured a new batch of sweet tea in with my scoby right after bottling the last batch rather than waiting a while, maybe it was because of the reishi, who knows — I don’t, anyway.

So I bottled it up and added a little maple syrup to see if I can get some bubble.

My last batch, which I bottled right before making the sweet tea for this batch last Saturday night, doesn’t seem to have had enough residual sugar when I bottled it, because it stayed flat.

Speaking of bottling, a few weeks ago I bottled the red wine vinegar I’d started a while back.

That same night (October 6th), I started the batch of root kimchi I’m about to jar up for this month’s CSYay. It has (can I remember it all?): cabbage, multi-colored carrots, daikon, beauty heart radishes, black radishes, French breakfast radishes, rutabaga, scallions, garlic, ginger, and Thai chiles. I know I’m forgetting something.

I pulled off the cloths and tried it today, and it’s delicious (especially the stuff in the lighter colored crock, which is *supposed* to be the same as what’s in the brown but apparently is just different enough).

Back to today: I bottled that last batch of kimchi and made the sweet tea for the next batch. This time it’s half black tea, half green tea, with some roasted dandelion. I’ll add some frozen raspberries after it’s done fermenting, if it seems like it’ll go well.

And I’ll leave you with this: some foggy bottoms at Trautman Family Farm this last Tuesday:

For the rest of the images that accompany this post, please visit my F(ermentation)Log on Posterous.