Sunday, 24 January 2016

Review of Ferment Your Vegetables Book

I felt a lot of synergy between myself and author Amanda Feifer when reading through her recipe notes in her latest book Ferment Your Vegetables  published by Fair Winds Press.

Reason being Amanda, like myself, has Ukrainian/Polish heritage and this has influenced a lot of her blog work and the contents of the book.  Eating fermented foods was a definitive way of keeping a larder of food going during cold winter months in years gone by, especially in the Eastern European village dwellings of our ancestors where conveniences such as fridges were unheard of – so this was the perfect way of storing food.

So, focusing on fermented foods itself.  Very much a catchphrase from the last couple of years in foodie circles which continues to gather momentum in 2016.  People are latching on to the health values that fermented foods offer from the natural  (good) bacteria they produce and in turn are enjoying the ‘going back to basics’ method of producing fermented food for oneself.

I think most are familiar with the fermented/pickled forerunners of sauerkraut and pickled gherkins (which I adore incidentally) and perhaps more recently the variety of Korean kimchi available which is gaining a fashionable following in many restaurants.

But Amanda opens up this arena to showcase it can be more than the above and she helps the reader understand the principles of fermentation and to promote it as an easy process to accomplish.  Fermentation is explained in essence as being a product of the union of salt + vegetables. 

Paraphrasing Amanda’s introduction -  a higher output is gained from quite a low input and the result is an achievement of food that has probiotics and specialized enzymes which contain a higher vitamin content than if consumed in its raw format.  Also, fermentation prolongs the longevity of food which means you can consume it all year round rather than just having it when in season.

The book really does take the time to explain everything which is very handy for those that are absolute beginners and no doubt there is something new to learn for those who are fermentation veterans.  To add to this, there is a Troubleshooting/FAQ section which is really interesting and can provide some scientific reasoning as to why the fermentation process happens the way it does.  It has a good number of photographs to illustrate the recipes with added hints/tips.

Split into various sections, the book has European influenced classics such as krauts and pickles and then there is the Asian inspired kimchi/Japanese pickles/miso chapter which as mentioned above are en vogue right now. 

Kvass Drinks
Photo:  Extracted from the book

A further chapter entitled Kvass discusses fermented drinks, again full of probiotics and Amanda makes them attractive by offering suggested flavour pairings.  I’m already in the know about Kvass as my father talks about it frequently stating how back in his native Ukraine he would drink it regularly and what a positive thing it was.

Recipes which have caught my eye are:  Very Veg Vegan Kimchi, a twist and play on words with Mac & KimCheese and the imaginatively titled Dilly Root Kraut.  I love the write up for this recipe:  Amanda writes:  (Referring to being of Ukrainian/Polish descent), “I am legally required to crave dill and root veg” – something I can relate to!  The kraut has a base of rutabaga (swede), red cabbage and beetroots and I look forward to trying it.

I've really enjoyed reading through this book.  I am already planning what I want to make and it will be nice to say “I made this” rather than “I bought this” when preparing my picnic basket or BBQ table this summer.

The book serves as an informative introduction to fermenting/pickling and gives some great suggestions of ingredients to use and demonstrates the flexibility of this process.  The recipes seem easy to follow and the assembly of the goods is quick and simple, the longest part is to wait for the fermentation magic to happen but with some planning ahead regarding timings, this will be feasible to achieve.

For more information about Amanda Feifer visit:


Disclosure:  This post was written following kind receipt of a complementary copy of:  Ferment Your Vegetables published by Fair Winds Press.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 



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