Twelve of us took part in our second workshop on fermented foods with Gill Jacobs. Gill, a food writer and sociologist from Transition Kentish Town, is also a member of nutrition education group, the Weston Price Foundation.

Whereas our sauerkraut evening involved much chopping and pounding to make a vibrant healthy veg mix, this was more of a tasting session, demonstration and discussion - with a bit of practical to end with.

Our tasting menu started with beetroot kvass - a rich ruby coloured fermented beetroot-infused liquor, best drunk first thing in the morning.

We then tried kefir – a fermented drink, most often made with cows milk. Next we were treated to a couple of kefir smoothies – raspberry with cinnamon &coconut oil, and a very delicious pear and chocolate. Gill told us about the health benefits of raw milk, whole milk and non-homogenised milk (anti-arthritic). These are available at farmers' markets, and Duchy Originals milk is one of the few non-homogenised brands you can get at supermarkets. It is the beneficial bacteria that is good for digestion and overall health.

In traditional societies such as in Mongolia, milk is still fermented to preserve it. The process breaks down lactose, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerance. Kefir returns milk to its raw state; it requires fermenting grains and takes several days. A recipe can be found here.

After tea and enjoying more food that people had brought to share, we then got down to making fermented carrot sticks. This involved crushing garlic, grating ginger (which we learnt to peel easily with a teaspoon) and cutting carrot batons to fit our jars. With brine poured in, we topped the sticks with circles of cabbage. These will take a while to ferment, so we tasted a batch prepared earlier, and found it just the thing to dip into hummous – a strong garlicky baton with a gingery kick. The full recipe is here.

Many thanks to Frances who hosted us again.  We hope to invite Gill back another time.

See photos here.

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