October 2, 2010 | Sarah Spearman, Education Sales Coordinator

Somewhere in the jungles of Indonesia, soybeans wrapped in banana leaves are curing into soft, tart tempeh. In backyards across the Korean peninsula, families faithfully set their spiced seasonal vegetables into kimchi pits underground. In Ethiopia, ground teff grain is comingling with yeast to form the flatbread Injera, while in the rolling hills of Tuscany, Italian vintners are waiting for the precise time to harvest grapes for wine.

Fermented food and drink has been an integral part of the human diet for millennia. By partnering with beneficial bacteria and yeasts, societies across the globe have discovered ways to protect our foods against spoilage, enhance their flavor, and increase their nutritional value. Indeed, only in modern times has home fermentation become a forgotten skill, as these benefits were traded for the convenience of artificially refrigerated, sterilized and preserved diets.

On October 9th, urban permaculturalist, Adam Brock, and friends will be leading Fermentation Station - an interactive workshop reviving the art and science of “gardening with microbes”. In this four-hour class, held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Denver Botanic Gardens' Morrison Center, you'll learn:

  • recipes for Yogurt, Kimchi (a traditional spicy Korean vegetable dish), Kombucha (a carbonated fermented tea), Tempeh (fermented soy made into a cake form), and other fermented food and drink
  • the nutritional benefits of probiotic foods
  • the advantages to home fermentation over buying commercially-made fermented foods
  • proper techniques for ensuring safe fermentation

We'll have the ingredients on-hand to prepare several fermented foods that you can take home with you.  And, of course, you'll be able to sample some delicious examples of home fermentation in action!

Here’s just a taste of what you’ll learn in class:

Adam’s Kimchi

•    1 medium-sized head of organic cabbage - green, purple, or napa
•    1 lb organic root vegetables - carrot, burdock, turnip, radish, etc
•    4 tbsp non-iodized salt
•    1 inch organic ginger
•    1 medium or 1/2 large white onion
•    1 head garlic
•    2 dried chili peppers or 1 tsp cayenne pepper

•    Chop cabbage into 1/2 inch wide strips, leaving 2-3 leaves unchopped. Place in a large pot, adding salt as you go.
•    Thinly slice or grate root vegetables and add to pot.
•    With the heels or knuckles of your freshly-washed hands, press salted vegetables in a rhythmic motion until they release enough water to be fully submerged. You can add a little salted water if you like.
•    Meanwhile, peel garlic, ginger, and onions, and blend together with pepper in a food processor to make a smooth paste. Mix thoroughly with submerged vegetables.
•    Place the mixture in large glass jar or crock pot (don't use metal or plastic containers, as these will affect the taste). Place the unchopped cabbage leaves on top and weight down the whole thing down with a water-filled jar or plastic-wrapped brick. Make sure that there's at least 1/4 inch of water on top of all the vegetables.
•    Let sit in a cool place for 1 to 2 weeks, checking the water level and taste every so often.
•    When the fermentation process is well-enough along for your liking, skim off the top 1/2 inch of vegetables and discard. Place the rest in jars and refrigerate. The kimchi will stay active and fresh in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
•    Mix your kimchi with salads, put on sandwiches, or eat it plan as a tasty side-dish!

Please register online or call 720-865-3580 to ensure your spot in the class.

Article written by guest blogger, Adam Brock.  Adam is a permaculture teacher, ecodesigner, and sustainability consultant based in Denver, Colorado.  Visit his website, Wild Green Yonder, for more information.  Adam will also be teaching the Introduction to Permaculture class here at the Gardens on Saturday, November 20th.


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