Getting Bubbly – The Art and Science of Fermentation

By Margaret Boeger, Youth and Community Project Manager

Kombucha? Kvass? Sauerkraut? Pickled beets? Have you ever wondered when the craze of fermenting started and what is it all about?  Read on to learn about this delicious science!

The science of fermenting food, or “zymology”, dates back to ancient civilizations, as early as 7000 BCE. The first known fermented food was a wine, made from rice and produced in a small rural mountain area in China.  Evidence of other fermented foods and beverages has been found in areas all around the world for the past several thousand years.

The science of fermentation consists of changing sugars into either alcohol—such as in wine, beer, and cider—or into lactic acid, via anaerobic processes by adding bacteria or microorganisms. The latter produces familiar foods such as bread, cheese, olives, and pickles. Considered the “father of modern fermentation”, Louis Pasteur connected the role of yeast in fermentation in the 1850’s, and coined the term “zymology.”  Later in the 1890’s a German chemist, Eduard Buchner,  won the Nobel prize for discovering that fermentation can occur without the presence of yeast.*

From ancient times to modern times, people have enjoyed fermenting all kinds of foods and beverages. Societies have benefitted from being able to preserve food longer, enhance the taste of food, add protein, and reap the health benefits of fermented foods such as the gut-friendly lactobacillus culture found in yogurt.

Over the past several years, a fascination with fermentation has infiltrated our culture and has intrigued hipsters, hermits, and DIY-ers alike.  No longer limited to traditional fermented foods like pickles and sauerkraut, the fermentation movement has included pickling a wide variety of root vegetables, brewing up tasty beverages, baking hearty and healthy breads, and producing rich cheeses and yogurts, among other products.

PEPPERWOOD SPRING RETREAT | Fermentation and Foodies: Workshops on the Mountain
Saturday through Sunday, April 7 & 8, 2018

Catering to this growing cultural shift to create a bond from farm-to-table with locally sourced ingredients, Pepperwood is excited to offer a Spring Retreat weekend that will be spent exploring several ways to ferment different foods, and making drinks such as kvass—a vegetable drink similar to kombucha—hard cider, and beer.

You will learn from some of the best Sonoma County crafters about their specialties, including kvass expert Adam Johnston (Biotic Beverages), Ryan Johnston (Ethic Hard Ciders), and Dominic Padua (Domchi Ferments)—all local fermentation producers.  You’ll also hear from Matt Colby and Tanner Boeger, two seasoned homebrewers, about different ways to make beer.

The evening culminates in a tasting of all the products from the day, and includes a catered locally-sourced dinner with grass-fed beef and organic vegetables.  The night ends with a campfire and camp-out, and the weekend winds to a close with a morning hike in the oaks and a catered brunch.

Pepperwood’s Spring Retreat costs $200 per person ($180 for Pepperwood members). Register before March 1st for $30 off! Includes two catered meals and overnight camping at Pepperwood’s Bechtel House. Click here to register.


*Wikipedia was used as a fact-based source for the historical references

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