Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz: A Book Review

Wild Fermentation contains a wide range of recipes for making home-made fermented, cultured or probiotic foods.

The book is written by author Sandor Katz, who having personally experienced the health benefits of cultured foods, became a true advocate of home-fermentation. Indeed fermented foods have played and still play an important role in Katz’s life, forming part of his daily health regime, helping him to maintain a state of good health in spite of his AIDS diagnosis.

During his journey with AIDS, Sandor Katz has experimented widely with different food fermentations. His book is a culmination of his home-kitchen fermentation experiments. The result is a wonderful collection of recipes for culturing many different foodstuffs including dairy, vegetable, bean, grain and beverages. Dairy recipes include probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir and cheeses, whilst grain-based probiotic recipes cover sour-dough bread as well as traditional grain fermentations from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.

Indeed the book with its international recipes reads like a fermentation tour of the world. With over one hundred recipes, it is one of the most comprehensive guides to home-fermentation on the market.

In addition to his wonderful recipes, Katz's book also provides an interesting cultural insight into food history including a well referenced section on the health benefits of probiotic foods. Sandor Katz also covers current food production techniques and provides an insight into the microbial world around us, as well as including a very informative and easy-to-understand explanation of exactly how fermentation works. Intermingled throughout this book are also wonderful, often personal stories, which complement the reading experience, making Wild Fermentation a very good and often entertaining read.

Finally and importantly, Wild Fermentation also includes a very useful section on sourcing the probiotic starters or cultures, equipment and more unusual foodstuffs. This is particularly useful for the beginner to home-fermentation.

This book covers a very wide range of ferments and also provides dairy-free alternatives for milk-based fermentations. Additionally all the recipes included in Wild Fermentation are meat-free, and thus the book can be considered suitable for vegetarians and (with its dairy-free alternatives) vegans alike. Indeed prior to his diagnosis of AIDS, Sandor Elliz himself was a vegan. That said, the recipes included in this book also make fermented or probiotic foods that are wonderful companions to meat and fish dishes and therefore the book will also appeal to carnivores as well. All in all this book is an excellent resource – heartily recommended for both the novice and more advanced home-fermentation chef!





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