On Saturday 19th January, I attended a fermentation masterclass, taught by raw food expert chefs Amy Levin and Jo Balfe. The venue was Russell James’ fully-kitted out space, a perfect venue for the class.
Fermentation is a process that has been around since the dawn of civilisation, employed by people to preserve foods, make them more digestible and more nutritious. Amy and Jo are both masters at fermentation and through extensive experimentation and practice, have created recipes simple to learn and to make, with fantastic results both in taste and nutritional abundance.
The first thing we learnt to make were various fermented nut cheeses. Nuts in their raw state are not so easy to digest, but when fermented, they become a probiotic rich food, much easier to digest. Amy demonstrated clearly and efficiently how to make cashew, macadamia and almond cheeses. The cashew cheese was used to make the filling for a mocha chocolate cheesecake. She also made a macadamia cheese rolled in chives and parsley and an almond cheese covered in a crust. The results were absolutely delicious.
Lunch was a wonderful mix of many of the foods made on the day. Salad with sauerkraut, almond and macadamia cheese, tomato salsa, chutney and crackers were all served and hugely enjoyed by all!
Jo then demonstrated how to make a number of other fermented foods. First she made chutney. Due to the high fruit content, chutneys do not require a long fermentation time. She made a pear and ginger chutney, using date paste as the sweetener. Next to be demonstrated was a tomato salsa, an excellent way to preserve tomatoes ripened over the summer, beautifully flavoured with cumin and red onion.
Kimchi was the next recipe, a spicy ‘kraut’, which is a staple food in Korea. It usually consists of Chinese cabbage and other vegetables, mixed with hot spices and ginger, not only amazing tasting, but also full of health benefits, including anti-cancerous properties. Koreans actually have a separate Kimchi fridge in their homes, as they make and eat so much of it!
Sauerkraut is another incredibly healthy fermented food that has been eaten for centuries. The naturally occurring bacteria present in cabbage produces lactic acid, which helps our digestive process. It is easy to make and Jo and Amy made it with a mixture of red and white cabbage, resulting in a sauerkraut with a beautiful pink colour and a fantastic taste.
Last to be demonstrated were the fermented drinks Kombucha and Kefir. Kombucha is made when a Kombucha mushroom or ‘scoby’ is mixed with sugar, water and tea. The resulting fermented drink is full of enzymes, probiotics, B vitamins and Vitamin C to name a few. Kefir contains up to 30 strains of beneficial bacteria, vitamins and amino acids and is slightly quicker to ferment that Kombucha. Whereas Kombucha has a slightly more acidic and vinegar-like taste, kefir is more carbonated and milder tasting. We tried hibiscus Kombucha, mango and goji berry and also mixed berry Kefir. The possibilities for different flavours are endless!
Amy and Jo were incredibly supportive and answered questions throughout the whole day. They have also set up a fermentation Facebook group to provide on-going support and expertise to all those that attended the course.
I left feeling totally inspired, educated and eager to get fermenting! This class is a must for anyone into fermenting, looking to boost their health or simply a lover of great food.
For further details on upcoming courses with Amy and Jo, please visit http://www.ooosha.co.uk/teaching1.html.