It is all about the passion, or maybe even more like an addiction.
Have you ever tried fermenting? Starting a ferment and watching it grow and evolve – it is a beautiful nature morte in a jar coming to life, taking its first baby steps. First come the little happy bubbles, then more and more bubbles, lots of bubbles, blow the top off kind of bubbles, and then everything slows down, colors meld together and it matures, developing its own unique smell, pungent and inviting. You taste it as it grows because you simply can’t wait until the end, and you’re amazed at how the flavor evolves over time, enjoying the different nuances of it as it develops. And then you simply can’t wait to start another one, to see what happens and to have that excitement again stopping to check on it in the morning on the way to your coffee pot. How is my baby doing today? Yes, it is like watching babies grow. And then you want more babies…
They are all so different, depending on what you are fermenting and what type of ferment you are doing. And they are different even being two batches of the same ferment started the same way on the same day! You open it and they taste different, not always dramatically different, yet different. And there is not much you can do about it, you just watch the magic happen as the little microscopic bugs do their job. I think it is amazing and fascinating! And you try to figure out what they like and what they don’t like. What temperature they prefer, how long they go for. Not everything goes so beautiful and smooth all the time. You sometimes make mistakes, they sometimes get sick and that helps you learn. When you get things figured out everything flows like a good song but it is often a long trial an error journey.
When I was growing up in Russia, where I am from, fermentation was a way of life. Sauerkraut, and brined cucumbers and tomatoes were sold in bulk sections in most grocery stores and made at home by many families in the fall to make the harvest last through almost 8 months of snow. Bread Kvass, a drink easily compared to Coca Cola in popularity – a staple in Russian food – was sold in the streets from huge barrels by the mug (yes, a big fat glass mug with a handle!), bag or you could have your own container filled with the tangy foamy brown goodness. There was nothing like ice cold Kvass to quench thirst on a rare hot summer day! Besides being a soft drink Kvass is a base of super popular Russian summer soup called Okroshka! Kombucha was also a staple windowsill or refrigerator top (based on a placement) item in many houses, only instead of Kombucha it was called Tea Mushroom. The jar with with the creature floating in the sweet tea was usually covered with gauze and rubber band and kids drank out of it right through the gauze often having mouth and nose buried in the SCOBY… Everyone survived, even the SCOBY 🙂 And of course there are all of the wonderful cultured dairy products – kefir, sour cream (yes, sour cream goes on everything!), tvorog, ryazhenka and sourdough bread! To paint the whole picture, Russia is very fond of fermenting fruits and particularly grains, but it is a different kind of fermentation and a totally different topic ;)) I really don’t remember ever thinking of all those products as something fermented but that does explain the ‘addiction’ and why I was craving it so much after I left the country.
I am so happy and grateful I am able to make and share my creations, grateful for the amazing help in my kitchen, and I really hope you enjoy what we make as much as we do!