I was provided by the publisher with a copy of this book to facilitate my review. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
It’s exciting that fermenting is catching on, because that means resources are multiplying for rediscovering this lost skill. Traditionally Fermented Foods has quickly made its way onto my list of top picks, as one of the best all-around fermented food books available.
Author Shannon Stonger has been a writer for Cultures for Health, and has been living largely off-grid for several years, so she knows her stuff. This book is beautiful in a rustic way (the cover image is representative of what you’ll find inside), and I love that it really captures the traditional-ness of this method of food preparation. I mean, it uses modern tools, like mason jars, but it sticks with simple, natural ferments and avoids unnecessary starter inoculations and weird, processed ingredients. It’s hard to even put into words, but reading this book truly feels like rediscovering or recapturing the way food used to be prepared.
Traditionally Fermented Foods starts with information about fermentation. Without being excessively academic, it describes the fermentation process in enough detail to help the reader understand it. This goes a very long way toward removing the fear factor. I’m much more comfortable now with the process, and less nervous about food poisoning someone by accident. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had that concern. The unfamiliar tends to be a bit scary!)
Following this introduction, the recipes are divided into sections: vegetables, grains, dairy, beverages, and condiments. Each section opens with information that pertains specifically to that section’s topic, then offers a variety of recipes.
Some of these recipes are the “old standards,” but there are some new & interesting ones, too.
One thing I was very excited to see was gluten-free sourdoughs! ( There are some super-delicious-looking GF English muffins.) And there are no weird ingredients in anything, either. (For instance, the GF bread uses psyllium instead of gums & other highly-processed ingredients. Such “clean” GF recipes for baked goods are a rarity.)
There’s also helpful “extra” information scattered throughout, like what to do with excess sourdough starter, second-fermenting kefir to make the flavor milder, how to avoid mushy ferments, etc.
Traditionally Fermented Foods is really an excellent all-around treatment of the subject, and lives up to its title.